Tag Archives: Clark Kent

Movie Review: Man of Steel Nothing More Than a Hard Body

Superman, Henry Cavill, movies, General Zod, Clark Kent

Superman is really nothing but a hard body.

I had the misfortune of wasting time watching Man of Steel. I don’t know if the producers and director thought they were being edgy by having dark and tornadoey vignettes of Clark’s childhood but seriously, it made little difference. Of course, before we get to those little blips of what is a condensed first five seasons of Smallville, we see a woman in birth sounding more like she’s being tortured than popping out a baby (and yes, I have attended live births and unless they’re doing a C-section without any anesthetic, no one sounds like that). And there is concerned dad Russel Crowe watching over the first natural birth in centuries, little Kal El. And then along comes Zod.

Damn that Zod, he’s just a megalomaniac out to destroy. Except, yep, Krypton is already dying. But Russell, or should I say Jor El, dies first at Zod’s hand. Though considering the wooden dialogue, it was probably a mercy killing and I’m not sure why an actor of Crowe’s caliber got caught in the trap. We have to suffer Zod a while longer, of course. Sound familiar? I’m sure most people born in North America in the last 40 years or more have read the comics or seen one of umpteen Superman spinoffs,  such as the above mentioned Smallville, Clark and Lois, or one of the many  movies.

When we drop onto an ocean trawler, the “greenhorn” is getting in the way, until they see an oil rig going down and he saves the day. Tender short moments of Mom Kent and Pa, before he dies, are shown. In this case Kevin Costner has few lines and gives the adages of truth and justice but is afraid Earth ain’t ready for a mighty alien. Lois Lane comes along as well and a few of the other tried and trues.

Clark or Kal El spends half the movie finding himself…again. Good god, is there no original material out there? Sure,they updated Supes’ outfit but they did that in Smallville too.  Played by Henry Cavill, who definitely has the Superman body of steel to drool over, Clark is big on fighting naughty Zod. And that’s all this film is; massive fight scenes with Zod and his crew, who of course, coming from Krypton, have the same powers. I gotta say, I like their armor and the air filter masks they wear. Lois Lane is a damsel as usual, albeit she’s always been played with brains, and she helps solve how to get rid of those bad Kryptonians who want to terraform Earth. (It’s a good thing the nerdy scientist explains to us dumb viewers what terraform means…duh!) She also tracks Clark down like any good stalker or reporter, and convinces him to do good. Etc. When Zod asks for Kal El to give himself up, Clark does, to save Earth. But Zod also asks for Lois, for no apparent reason but to add some meat to a worn-out plot and have the damsel on hand for threats and rescues.

Superman, heroes, movies,, Man of Steel, Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill is pretty yummy under the new outfit. Too bad they didn’t lose the dorky cape. DC Comics

There is no great dialogue in this movie, and while Clark battles his own people there’s a touching scene of Perry rescuing a co-worker, just so you know that humans can be all helpful and caring as well. But having seen this just two nights ago I’m already forgetting most of it because it was indeed Smallville all over again (and actually not as good) but condensed into one movie with a massive budget for special effects and smashing up all, and I mean all, of Metropolis. It’s always interesting how these movies never mention all the people that get killed and while Clark saves Lois several times, there are countless others who no doubt die, but like any good military tactical double-speak, the collateral damage is never mentioned.

Considering how many Superman movies there have been and the fact that everyone knows the story and genesis of Clark’s powers, I wonder why director Zack Snyder even bothered to go there yet again, ad nauseum. The movie was so boring, and so much smash em up fighting just went on and on, to the point that I was falling asleep. Save yourself from being weakened by the green kryptonite and give this one a miss. The Man of Steel is as interesting as watching lead melt.

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Book Review: The Damned Busters

Being released this month  from Angry Robot books (a UK division of Harper Collins) is Matthew Hughes‘ new book The Damned Busters, first in the “To Hell and Back” series. I know Matt as a fellow writer in SF Canada, the Canadian professional writers’ association, and have had the chance to read a couple of his stories on Henghis Hapthorn and Luff Imbry. The stories struck me as not just competently written but having a fluid mastery of language and style that leaves me thinking magic is involved. Of course, Henghis is a detective, and I find the best mystery novels are like magic in how the author worked out plot and solutions to dire murders, mysterious disappearances or misleading heists. Matt has already proven himself a master at this.

I didn’t know what to expect from the review copy I received but knew that I’d at least read a masterful story. Whenever I read any book I also look at the quality of the book and publisher. This includes the package as well as the editing. The cover is what I’d call delightful and tells me right away there is going to be humor in this story. It’s done in a cartoony or comic book style that would not work for several titles but I know this is going to include a demon and a superhero. The book is a 5×7 (or close to) trade format, not too large and bulky, and comfortable to hold in the hand.

The editing/proofreading itself is fairly clean with very few errors that my copy editor’s eye picked up. The worst though is misspelling the main character’s name on the back cover. Ouch. There are a few odd word usages such as “sneaked” instead of snuck (one is more British and one more American and since Canadian English is a bastard cross you can just read about it here), and “comix.” We use comics this side of the pond so I can only presume these are UK preferences. Yet the punctuation is distinctly the N. American style so I must presume this is the edition meant for distribution here.

Now, the story. There have been takes on making deals with the devil, with ingenuous twists and some spectacular losses. We start with Chesney Arnstruther and his accidental summoning of a demon. Accidental is new but not outstanding. Where will this go? Sure enough, Chesney, a nerdish actuary who seems to be a person with Asperger syndrome has caused a big fuss in Hell because he refuses to sign the contract or accept the deal. This causes Hell to go on strike. The first three chapters sum up nicely with Chesney, although nerdy and in love with number crunching, managing to work a deal that doesn’t render his soul to Satan. I thought this could have been a short story, or  novelette, and when you read Matt’s afterword the idea did indeed start this way.

This isn’t a bad thing at all and sums up one act within the story arc.  I should mention that Hughes’ characters have fairly Dickensian names, or those that inspire images and feelings about the characters as Dickens’ best work did. Arnstruther evokes someone who might stutter or be ardent but who is not a Trump or a Rothschild of the world. There is the televangelist Reverend Billy Lee Hardacre who is what we would expect but then much more. W.T. Paxton and his beautiful blond daughter Poppy Paxton are Chesney’s foils and possible helpers. Polly (as well as Melda McCann), true to the time-honored tradition of comic book love interests of old like Superman, joins the ranks of the names that repeat the first letter (Lois Lane, Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Lana Lang) and I believe Matt is paying homage to this, but only slightly. I must also believe that with the intelligence and insight that Hughes has given in his other stories that there’s no accident with the Dickensian touch to the names.

Hell and Satan are not that unique in their domain but some of the demon descriptions are, and there is always that touch of the Hughes’ trademark wry humor.  What happens when a mostly anti-social, highly intelligent, pretty good in the good-vs-evil fight  number cruncher makes a deal with the devil? Some would go for fame, riches, power or lust but Chesney chooses to do good as a superhero likened after his favorite comic book, about a UPS courier called The Driver.  And like most heroes, Chesney has a sidekick, a reluctant Jimmy Cagney acting, rum swilling demon named, Xaphan.

But being a superhero isn’t so easy, as Peter Parker well knows, and Chesney must face other demons than Hell’s; a possible manipulation of forces seen but not known, a disgruntled detective and two women who seem to be attracted to the hero uniform.  Chesney thinks it’s all simple and that he’s thought everything out but it gets convoluted, and one deal with the Devil can lead to tricks and traps.

Hughes’ bow to comic books is carried off well. There are also not many writers that can use the word “darkling” where it fits so perfectly, or “wuthering.” Wuthering…I  don’t think anyone has dared to use it since Wuthering Heights.  If there were any faults with this book I would say I don’t really get the title and it seems awkward. Damned, sure that refers to all the goings on with Hell. But Damned Busters? It’s a little vague. I’d also hope where this book has a strong-willed righteous mother and two rather feisty femme fatales who veer some from stereotypes that we might see more variance in  the second book but those are minor quips.

Since I”ve been “sinning” and eating cheese, which I shouldn’t I’ll compare this story to a cheddar cheese (which I do love). It’s not like Velveeta which casts aspersions on the good name of cheese. Nor is it some cheap plasticky, slightly bouncy orange-colored thing. It’s not a Kraft cheese nor one you would find in most chain grocery stores. It is a cheese of respectable lineage from a specialty shop; a tongue tingling, well-aged, firm cheddar where the cows were sung to every morning while they were being milked.  I’d give Damned Busters a solid eight cheese wheels worth of fun and entertainment. A Hell of a good read.

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