Sunday, December 7, 2008

Forrest J. Ackerman dead at 92

R.I.P, Forrey. Thanks for everything.

Beverly Garlan dead at 82

Beverly Garland, famous actress of classic sitcom and cult B-move fame, has died at the age of 82. Among her many films, Garland starred in the Peter Graves/Lee Van Cleef sci-fi fick It Conquered the World as Cleef's wife. It Conquered the World is one of the films written about in MONSTER RALLY. Beverly Garland will be both missed and remembered by everyone behind the scenes at Idea Men Productions.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The T-Shirt - MST3K Slogan Shirts

This Movie Sucks usually doesn't promote merchandise, but special exception had to be made here. MST3K taught many people like us to enjoy bad movies, and whenever a Mistie product rears its ugly head, it must be acknowledged.

The wonderful folks at Satellite News recently asked MST3K fans what some of their favorite quotes were. 135 of the best of the best are now available on T-Shirts through Cafe Press.

That's all there really is to say. Go pick one out. You know you want it, pink boy.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend Box Office Estimates 8/8-8/10

(Statistics Courtesy of

1 1 The Dark Knight WB $26,030,000
2 N Pineapple Express Sony $22,400,000
3 2 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Uni. $16,113,000
4 N The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 WB $10,770,000
5 3 Step Brothers Sony $8,900,000
6 4 Mamma Mia! Uni. $8,081,000
7 5 Journey to the Center of the Earth WB (NL) $4,855,000
8 7 Hancock Sony $3,300,000
9 6 Swing Vote BV $3,106,000
10 8 Wall-E BV $3,045,000

The Dark Knight for the fourth straight weekend is the number one film at the box office with an estimated $26,000,000 take. The film is currently holding the number 3 spot for all time grosses ever. Only Star Wars with $460,000,000 (which it will surely top) and Titanic with $600,000,000 stand before it. There's been a lot of debate on whether or not this film can top Titanic's all time gross. It's still too soon to tell but to think this film can't crawl it's way to just a mere $159,000,000 more to top the $600,000,000 mark almost seems crazy. it's only been out 24 days. I think it'll come damn close at the very least.

Pineapple Express opened with a very respectable $22,000,000 it's first weekend. The film only costing $27,000,000 helps very much with that as it's already turning a profit regardless of what else it does for it's entire run.

The Mummy : Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor dropped from it's second spot last week down to third this week. It lost more than 60% of its opening weekend tally with only $16,000,000 this time around. With those kind of numbers one might be a betting man and say it will not make back it $145,000,000 budget domestically.

To round out the top ten, everything slid down the rabbit hole except for The Dark Knight. Even though both are out of the top ten, who would have thought that Space Chimps would be having a better run than the new X-Files: I Want To Believe movie? I guess it truly is the sequel that no one asked for.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Film Critics Attack! - The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2

"It doesn't measure up to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Which is sort of like saying Rocky V wasn't as good as Rocky IV. Sort of."

Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor, courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

Bad Fight Sequence: Undefeatable

Bad Martial Arts films are sort of a cliche, but even a genre with a wealth of poor quality productions has the occasional gem that outshines the rest.

Behold, the climactic fight sequence of the 1994 action-fest Undefeatable (original title: Cui hua kuang mo), featuring Cynthia Rothrock, John Miller, and Don Niam as the evil Stingray. I'm assuming some other martial arts villain had already taken The Porpoise.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Weekend Box Office Estimates 8/1-8/3

Links and Statistics proved by

1 1 The Dark Knight WB $42,664,219
2 N The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor $40,457,770
3 2 Step Brothers Sony $16,506,526
4 3 Mamma Mia! Uni. $12,615,515
5 5 Journey to the Center of the Earth WB $6,662,406
6 N Swing Vote BV $6,230,669
7 6 Hancock Sony $5,087,756
8 7 Wall-E BV $4,603,179
9 4 The X-Files: I Want to Believe Fox $3,385,878
10 9 Space Chimps Fox $2,720,177

While i was watching TV Sunday there was a ticker scrolling across the bottom of the screen that said "The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor beats The Dark Knight with a $15 million take". Now i said to myself this has to be a mistake on two accounts. One, that there is NO WAY these films made only $15 million for the weekend take and two there was no way that The Mummy 3 was going to make more money than The Dark Night its opening weekend. They blatantly tried to make you believe something that wasn't. How's that for original?

Step Brothers is still holding strong with a $16 million take. The "shake and Bake" duo seem to have some chemistry that audiences genuinely like. I'm sure they'll pump out a few more of these before their time is up.

I won't get into Mama Mia! or the fact that it's still in the top 5. Please God make it stop. Why, WHY?!?

To round out the top ten X-Files: I want to Believe is just about ready to exit the top ten. It's only been out 10 days and is a huge flop. Critics and fans alike are fairly disappointed at this film and it shows for everyones lack of caring to see it.

Space Chimps...Only a couple of more seconds.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Film Critics Attack! - X-Files: I Want To Believe

"Astute readers will note that I have abstained from making cheap cracks about the I Want to Believe title, an almost superhuman feat given this movie's abundance of sheer nonsense."

- Peter Howell of The Toronto Star, courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Box Office Estimates 07/18-07/20

(Stats and Links courtesy of
1 N The Dark Knight WB $158,411,000
2 N Mamma Mia! Uni. $27,605,000
3 2 Hancock Sony $14,000,000
4 3 Journey to the Center of the Earth NL $11,910,000
5 1 Hellboy II: The Golden Army Uni. $10,038,000
6 4 Wall-E BV $9,813,000
7 N Space Chimps Fox $7,350,000
8 5 Wanted Uni. $5,097,000
9 6 Get Smart WB $4,085,000
10 8 Kung Fu Panda P/DW $1,750,000

There was no doubt that The Dark Knight would break all sorts of records, let alone the all time opening weekend record, formerly held by Spider-Man 3. When your first single day take (midnight showing included) is a whopping $67 million, you know that greatness is on the horizon. Will Dark Knight make $400 million, $500 million or possibly even $600 million and top Titanic as the all time top grossing film of all time? Quite possibly. How or why Titanic made so much is still being pondered by statisticians and philosophers alike. Realistically, Dark Knight's second weekend should not be nearly as large (probably about half). Although with it going up against the premieres of X-Files: I Want To Believe and Step Brothers, I can't imagine that it isn't going to be the first choice for many yet gain. I'm seeing it a second time and I've only done that once in my lifetime. The DVD cannot come out soon enough.

A major shock and a "how did that happen?!?" moment, Mama Mia! actually made money this weekend. It brought in an estimated $27 million. How did this film do so well with The Dark Knight taking in so much money and selling so many tickets? Are there really that many ABBA fans? One would be that many film goers intending on seeing The Dark Knight were forced to shed a tear and resort to seeing Mama Mia! when they came upon that 'Sold Out' sign. Needless to say, the team studying Titanic's success will be mulling this one over during lunch breaks.

did quite well in it's third week with a take of $14 million, for a grand total of $191 million so far. This is Will Smith's fourth film to open on the July 4th weekend, and they have all been blockbusters. This film is no different, even though not being so well received by movie goers and reviewers alike. Which only goes to show that even a halfway decent Will Smith film will pack them in like sardines.

Lastly, Space Chimps grabbed the 7th spot with $7 million. Studio Execs will be hoping for DVD sales to help bring some profit to this film, as it should disappear completely in the next 2-3 weeks. Expect the DVD to be out in record time, as well as a speedy journey to cable stations and premium movie channels in fire sale fashion.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight Midnight Take 7/18/08

As it is truly no surprise:

"Dark Knight" midnight opening: $18.489 million at 3,040 theaters.

Tops 'Revenge of the Sith's $16.5 million record.

Please take notes on this, you Hollywood goons. This isn't a magic trick or slight of hand. This is what happens when you take a classic franchise with a long history, huge fan base, and rich tapestry of past story lines both simple and complex, and put them in the hands of competent filmmakers.

This is what happens when you don't let delusional self-important artists turn a borrowed concept into a canvas for their own half-ass surreal artistic expressions. This is what happens when you don't dumb down an idea until the cartoons based on the same subject seem more mature and logical. This is what happens when you don't cram as many villains as possible into a film so there is no time for actual character development and reasonable plot advancement, because you are too busy giving everybody a chance to pose for promotional stills and blurt out one-liners that would have made Adam West storm off set. This is what happens when you don't give Batman's suit nipples.

This is what happens when you make a real movie.

People pay to see it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Weekend Theater Threat Alert - 7/18/08

Weekend Movie Threat Level: Green (Low Risk) - Why So Serious? Relax and buy a ticket.

As rare as it may be, this weekend is a completely safe for film audiences to view new releases. No worries, no concerns, no fears. Buy a ticket and some overprices concession stand snacks, and relax in your semi-reclining stadium seat with complete confidence. You simply can’t lose.

In all fairness, we should probably warn you about Space Chimps, another mediocre animated movie built upon a flimsy concept, annoyingly cute talking animals, and second-rate voice acting talent (Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels, and Patrick “The Tick” Warburton). We should also probably caution you about Mama Mia, yet another in a long line of film adaptations of Broadway musicals, this one even doubly obnoxious as it is based on ABBA’s greatest hits. But we aren’t. As a matter of fact, we’re just going to ignore them. You might as well ignore them, too, because the rest of the country isn’t even giving them a second thought. Why?

They’re all going to be watching The Dark Knight.

How does a comic book movie sequel create such an overwhelming atmosphere of anticipation that it it practically sells out at every theater offering reserve ticket purchases? There are a lot of contributing factors that one can point to (screenplay by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan, direction by Christopher Nolan, performances by Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart, phenomenal art direction and set design), but the simplest answer is really a two word reply: Heath Ledger.

Despite what many might imply, this mad rush to see The Dark Knight has nothing to do with Ledger’s accidental death, and the tasteless rumors that immediately flooded the media. It might have sounded cool to claim that playing the role of the Clown Prince of Crime drove Ledger to madness and suicide, but those fanciful deductions were proven false and laid to rest before the week was out. Admittedly, the Oscar nominated actor’s untimely death heightened the nation’s awareness of his upcoming performance. But it is a great insult to imply that millions of people are flocking to the theaters simply to satisfy their morbid curiosity by watching the last film of a great actor who died at a tragically young age. It is an insult, because it overshadows the true reason why this film is promising to break an ass load of box office records.

Heath Ledger’s Joker is freakin’ scary.

For the first time in a long time, American audiences are being confronted by a villain that is truly and undeniably evil in the creepiest sense of the word. This isn’t Sid Cesar mugging for the camera and giggling like a fool. This isn’t the loveable smart-ass Jack Nicholson acting nutty and occasionally killing people. The Joker that the Dark Knight trailers have introduced us to is a darkly disturbing lunatic, criminally insane in the purist sense of the term. This is a kill-happy lunatic with a pocket full of knives, a face full of running greasepaint, a talent for creating havoc, and a spine-chilling chuckle that would make Peter Parker wet his Spidey underoos.

What was the last movie bad guy that was both unimaginably scary, yet frighteningly believable? The closest one that springs to mind here is Hannibal Lecter, and only from the first film. Its been that long, and like the rest of the people out there scrambling to secure opening weekend tickets, we can’t wait to bear witness to that kind of entertaining evil once again.

As Michael Caine so eloquently explained in the dialogue-only teaser, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” After getting a mere glimpse at the Joker in the Dark Knight trailers, we just want to watch him try and set it on fire.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bad Movie Reveiw Coming Attractions - The Happening!

Coming soon to This Movie Sucks! A detailed look at M. Night Shyamalan's latest exercise in alienating his audience: The Happening!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Weekend Box Office Estimates 6/6-6/8

(Statistics and links courtesy of

Kung Fu Panda, Dreamworks answer for not having a Shrek film this Summer certainly didn't disappoint at the box office bringing in a whopping $60 million. A smart man once told me that children's films bring in the most money as they are getting one or in most cases two extras tickets sold due to the parents tagging along. With that said, did anyone really think this film wouldn't have a big opening weekend?

You don't Mess With The Zohan proves that the dumber the Sandler film, the more people will flock to it. There's one thing that has to be said about Adam Sandler, the man has some knack for making stupid films that people come out in droves for. With an opening weekend of $40 million you can expect Zohan 2 to be a possibility or worse yet, exactly the same Sandler movie with a different title.

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull fared quite well for it's third week with a modest $22 million weekend. Although the film is starting to wane at the box office but not before taking in a whopping $253 million in only 17 days. From here on in it's a creeping crawl to the $300 million mark in which it will surely hit.

Finally the Sex And the City movie that's flimsier than Samantha begging for Botox injection jokes holds strong for it's second week coming in at $21 million. With box office numbers like this you know the studios won't be able to help themselves to make multiple sequels. Although i've been told that they didn't open it up for another film, they'll always find a way if the $$ is right.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Weekend Theater Threat Alert - 5/23/08

Weekend Movie Threat Level: Blue (Guarded)
Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull has everything going for it. It has an all star cast, one of the best director's in the biz, amazing stunts crew and most importantly, it's the ONLY new movie opening this weekend. To say this film is going to do huge at the box office this weekend is a complete understatement. Expect to not get in just about anywhere and dare i say it, a new opening 3 day record is possibly on the horizon. Is it any good? Who cares! It will be big box office regardless. The main plot consists of Indy being sucked back in for one last adventure by the Soviets (led by Cate Blanchett) talking him into finding a lost crystal skull. He can't help himself and is always thinking of his beloved museum, he decides to take on the adventure only later to be betrayed, damned Ruskies. Shia LeBeouf and Ray Winstone add sidekick comic relief. Even Karen Allen returns as Marion Ravenwood. There should be plenty of twists and turns and hopfully as long as you don't get your hopes too high you may even enjoy this.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weekend Box Office Estimates for 5/2-5/4

(Statistics and links courtesy of

Iron Man Par. $100,750,000
Made of Honor Sony $15,500,000
Baby Mama Uni. $10,332,000
Forgetting Sarah Marshall Uni. $6,132,000
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay NL $6,015,000
The Forbidden Kingdom LGF $4,200,000
Nim's Island Fox $2,750,000
Prom Night (2008) SGem $2,500,000
21 Sony $2,100,000
88 Minutes Sony $1,600,000

Iron Man in true blockbuster fashion came in at number one at the box office with a whopping $100 million dollar weekend. There were many factors that sealed its current position in the top ten movie opening weekends of all time (10th). When you have your movie shown on 4,105 screens that certainly helps, but most importantly is the fact that there was nothing, absolutely NOTHING it had to compete with. A producer’s wet dream. All of this along with the simple fact that it was actually a good film leads up to Jon Favreau as a real consideration for real films and obviously sequels to come.

Considering its competition and one trick pony screenplay Made Of Honor actually had a modest weekend coming in at number two and a $15.5 million opening. In only its second week Baby Mama dropped to the third spot with $10.3 million and has already topped its production budget and is now officially making a profit, God save us.

As for the rest of the top ten? Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay is losing it’s luster fast amongst theater goers as it dropped to the fifth spot from holding second just one week ago. Forgetting Sarah Marshall was not forgotten this weekend as its held the fourth spot yet again. To round out the top ten it’s looks as if 88 Minutes and Prom Night will be heading out of the top ten in the next week or two. I can’t think of two better candidates.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Weekend Theater Threat Alert - 5/2/08

Weekend Movie Threat Level: Blue (Guarded) - Rich Industrialist in a flying suit of armor Vs. Wealthy Playboy in a dress. Back the right horse, and you'll find yourself in the winner's circle.

Made of Honor

Tom (Patrick Dempsey, the sickeningly nicknamed “Dr. McDreamy” of Grey’s Anatomy) is a wealthy playboy living the ultimate bachelor’s life, but when his platonic best friend Hannah (the cute but forgettable Michelle Monaghan) decides to tie the knot with some guy she found in Scotland (Rome’s own Kevin McKidd), he suddenly realizes that he’s been in love with her all along. Hilarity ensues when Hannah asks Tom to be her ‘Made of Honor’.

When both your movie title and tagline (‘An Unbridled Comedy’) are puns based on the film’s one-trick pony of a screenplay, you know that you’re in for a world of hurt. Your ultimate Chick Flick Rom Com, men are uncultured slobs who eat potpourri and talk about getting laid all the time, and the really cute and wealthy bachelor fulfills the woman’s dreams by marrying her after being repeatedly humiliated. The only people buying tickets for this one will be women who have to mark their Harlequin romance novels so they can tell which ones they have read, and men too whipped to say no to their wife/girlfriend. The rest of us will be seeing…

Iron Man

On the other side of the coin, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., America’s favorite ex-junkie actor) is a wealthy playboy who designs missiles and weapons, then has a change of heart after being kidnapped and tortured by terrorists, and suddenly realizes that he’d rather build a cross between an Armani Suit and a Sherman Tank and blow things up himself. Hilarity ensues when evil mastermind Obadiah Stan (played by The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges) gets his hands on Stark’s design notes and decides to make a toy of his own.

John Favreau, whose directorial credits consist mainly of one underground cult hit and two cheesy kids films, is probably hoping that Iron Man has a Sam Raimi Effect on his career. He’s most likely also thanking the Fates that he was passed over to direct The Fantastic Four.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend Box Office Estimates for 4/25-4/27

(Statistics and Links courtesy of

1 Baby Mama Uni. $18,271,000
2 Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay NL $14,570,000
3 The Forbidden Kingdom LGF $11,230,000
4 Forgetting Sarah Marshall Uni. $11,014,000
5 Nim's Island Fox $4,525,000
6 Prom Night (2008) SGem $4,400,000
7 21 Sony $4,000,000
8 88 Minutes Sony $3,600,000
9 Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Fox $2,410,000
10 Deception (2008) Fox $2,225,000

To say I'm not surprised that Baby Mama topped the weekend box office would be an understatement. When you have a comedy that's been done so many times and is stale as yesterday's diaper, you have to wonder why everyone keeps paying to see this?!? This weekend's box office numbers just encourage the studios to make more, more and Oh GOD more! This film may not get a sequel, but consider Tina Fey might be allowed to write just that much longer because of it.

Harold and Kumar came in a close second, no surprise there, either. Their first adventure was laugh-out-loud funny, so you'd expect the following, despite the film's content. Maybe it's just because enough people like White Castle and Newark.

Deception just managed to just squeak into the bottom of the top ten with a horrific opening of only $2.2 million. Being shown on only 2,000 screens doesn't help, either. Did the studio seem less than optimistic about their own film? It wouldn't be the first time.

As for the rest of the top ten? No real surprises there; three new films in, three films out. Street Kings (7th last week) , Leatherheads (9th last week) and Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (10th last week) was knocked out, which will hopefully signal the end of Ben Stein's pop culture appeal. Bueller? Bueller?

Note: The fact that Prom Night is still in the top ten and is making enough money to spawn more remake-sequels is enough to make a grown man beg for a three-razor-blade lemon-lime Martini. Why does a decent horror film such as The Ruins make no money at all, yet PG-13 fluff like this break the bank? Which of you senseless clowns out there are actually throwing great wads of cash at this crap? Don't you realize that you are only encouraging them? How the hell do you sleep at night? Bastards...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Weekend Theater Threat Alert: 4/25

Weekend ad Movie Threat Level: Blue (Guarded)

Baby Mama – Baby Boom (87) meets The Odd Couple (68). Serious, responsible, intelligent, and completely barren upper-class businesswoman (Tina Fey) hires wild, irresponsible, stupid, and amazingly fertile white trash chick (Amy Poehler) to gestate a tax-deductible dependant for her. The two live together, clash in that wacky ways opposite personalities tend to do on the big screen. Hilarity ensues. But fear not, before the end of the film, the white trash chick will grow up, and the up-tight businesswoman will learn to enjoy life. Who says there aren’t any original ideas left in Hollywood? Leave it to the screenwriter whose claim to fame is the Austin Powers series, Undercover Brother, and the unbelievably live-action Thunderbirds remake to serve us up the same stale crap in a shiny new box.

Deception – The basic plot to this one seems very similar to Ewan McGregor’s earlier suspense thriller remake Nightwatch (97), except he and his untrustworthy new friend are businessmen instead of med students. It better be damn good; Hugh Jackman still has a long way to go before he can be forgiven for Vanhelsing. The copious amounts of nude flesh and steamy bedroom scenes promised by the trailer (Michelle Williams, Maggie Q, and Natasha Henstridge all look promisingly slutty) might dull the aching throb a little.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay – Is it too soon to base a teen stoner comedy around a highly controversial detention center while our government is being exposed for repeatedly violating human, civil, and legal right? Not really. In fact, we could have used this a few years ago. Not sure if the humor of this one-joke title can be sustained, but it can’t be worse than White Chicks. Now if they could promise me a scene involving Chris Tucker being water boarded, I would invite all my friends and spring for the popcorn.

Nothing too scary here, folks. Don't expect much, and you'll probably get through unscathed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Superman Returns, And So Does the Nausea

Meant to be a the latest epic addition into the Superman franchise, Superman Returns ends up being nothing more that a prolific entry into the ‘Let’s see how much money we can spend on CGI’ school of filmmaking, doing for superhero films what Troy did for historical action dramas: reminding the world that ‘loads of cash’ + ‘popular genre trend’ does not always = ‘good movie’.

With a budget that topped out at $270 million, the big question is where did the money go? Sure, we got to see Superman take a bullet to the eyeball, but is that the best we can do with over two decades of filmmaking experience under our belts since Christopher Reeves made the world believe that a man could fly? Can you really justify blowing a wad like that on set design and computer graphics without concerning yourself with character or plot development? This film could have been easily made with half the budget and two-thirds fewer screenwriters, and the end result would have possibly left a better taste in the audience’s mouth afterwards. With that said, $200 million domestically and $191 million at the foreign box is plenty enough to guarantee that the guilty party will be cranking out a sequel sometime soon. Do we want one? No. Do the studios want one? Hell yes.

Normally, the review format at This Movie Sucks involves a chronological breakdown of the film, our personal way of sharing our misery with you one painful scene after another. Superman Returns defies this approach, as there isn’t really any cohesive plot to follow. As a whole, the film is nothing more than a random series of romantic interludes (yawn), lame comic relief (Doesn’t Clark look like Superman? Nah!), evil Lex Luthor moments (like driving cute dogs to cannibalism for humorous effect, or destroying a giant toy train set as miniature voices scream in terror), and the occasional attempt at story development. Like a three-hour Magic Picture movie, the best you can hope to do is gaze at the whole mess and hope that your peripheral vision creates the illusion of having seen a Superman movie.

The beginning is the perfect place to start, however, as Superman Returns manages to annoy and repel before the first scene opens. Unless you’re going to remote-block it like the FBI warnings on DVDs so we can’t fast forward them, lose the fifteen minute opening credits sequences. They were impressive back in the day when going to the theatres was actually an experience, and the special effects couldn’t be duplicated on a teenager’s laptop.

Any film that features a shot of a Scrabble board with ironically relevant words on the triple letter score is always a bad sign, especially when the word has a double meaning to the plot. The focus on Alienation in the beginning is even more painful because it is reminiscent of the film Alien Nation, and brings to mind two other things I’d rather do; watch a bad 80’s sci-fi movie and drink sour milk.

Superman’s actual ‘Return’ in the movie starts off a huge string of logic issues with the film. If Superman is now as super as he is because of our yellow sun, why would he need to return to earth in another meteor space pod? And why is he so drained and fatigued when he collapses into Ma Kent’s arms? He seemed rather un-phased by the crash landing as a toddler. So the adult Superman is too weak to handle interstellar travel without collapsing into a heap, yet the first film’s Super Toddler is energetic enough to stagger out of a crater buck-naked and giggling, wave down a passing childless couple, and fill in for their car jack. Apparently, the modern-day Superman is a bit of a wussy.

Of course, this is where the geniuses behind this one made their biggest mistake. If they had just chosen to reinvent the franchise like Batman and Spiderman, then much could be forgiven. Considering Singer’s obsession with the original that apparently motivated him to recycle huge chunks of it, simply remaking the film would have probably been a wise choice. But when you decide to recast every role, modernize the script and setting, and call it a continuation of the previous films in the franchise, you are setting yourself up for a world of dissatisfaction. Keeping Brando and the original score intact makes it hurt so much more. William’s score is such an integral part of the film it’s like a character all by itself. When you hear it you expect great things, you just never get it and makes it all the more disappointing. Having the score swell dramatically every time someone glances out a window doesn’t help, either.

This vast disappointment is especially unavoidable when you cast actors in the lead roles that are younger than the original stars in the first film. The actor’s portraying Clark (Brandon Routh) and Lois (Kate Bosworth) make you appreciate Christopher Reeve and Margo Kidder all the more. Reeve’s nerdiness and Kidder’s abrasiveness actually added depth and personality to the characters, while Routh and Bosworth just manage to squeak by.

Brandon Routh was obviously hired based solely on his spandex-wearing abilities, and his performance is nothing short of an insult to Reeve’s memory. His version of Clark doesn’t even bother to change the part in his hair, leaving the glasses and not-too-untrendy clothing to do all the acting on their own in between hunky outer-space cheesecake poses. His ‘impression’ of Reeve’s Clark Kent is passable on occasion, but falls far short of what you would call a ‘performance’.

As for Kate Bosworth’s watered-down version Lois, the airplane disaster sequence that introduces her comes way too early in the film. Bosworth is bounced around the cabin like a rag doll long before the audience has been exposed to enough of her blandness to actually wish suffering upon her. After two hours you actually end up rooting for Lex Luthor’s goon on the Evil Yacht when he tries to bash her skull in with a paperweight. All that remains of Kidder’s hard-nosed, chain-smoking, semi-illiterate journalist are a couple of spelling corrections, some not-quite-probing question, and two attempts at lighting a cigarette. It is also oddly perverse that the filmmaker’s would go out of their way to avoid having their lead character smoke, yet they have no problem with showing her five year old son kill a man with a grand piano.

The list of aspects stolen directly from the original extends far beyond the poor attempts at mimicking the first film’s performances. Lex Luthor is the main villain once again, and his flakey female sidekick is yet another dizzy dame with a soft spot for the Man of Steel. I can’t even begin to figure out why Lex Luthor thought a runaway car careening through traffic would be the perfect way to distract Superman while he steals Kryptonite from a museum unnoticed, but I guess that’s why they call him a criminal mastermind. Hell, he’s gotta be smarter than the screenwriters. After all, they’re the ones that have him marrying a wealthy widow while behind bars and swindling her family out of her vast estate, when you’d think an evil genius like himself would be more than capable of amassing a fortune through online day trading. It would be much more convincing to imply that Lex Luthor was single-handedly responsible for the housing market crash through online mortgage refinancing. Robbing from the elderly, that’s just mean. But House Flipping for cash and destroying real estate values in the process, now that’s downright diabolical.

Which leads us to the question of why, five films into the Superman movie franchise, Lex Luthor seems to be the only villain they can scrounge up as a sinister plot device? Except for Superman III, that brilliant bald bastard has been behind every plot to destroy superman. DC Comics has been churning out Superman adventures for seventy years, and they can’t scrounge up another bad-guy to stir things up? Did the screenwriters do any research beyond watching the first film five or six times? How about Mr. Mxyzptlk? Metallo? Brainiac? Doomsday? Bizarro Superman? Hell, even Ambush Bug would be a welcome change of pace. In the old days you could argue that it was cheaper to have Luthor instead of spending any real money on super villains. Back when Superman I (1978) and II (1981) came out, they were the most expensive films ever made at $55 and $60 million respectively. In this day and age, with budgets exceeding anything resembling realistic figures, there is no good excuse not to explore other evil-doers.

Oh, and surprise, surprise! I hated the drawn-out romantic flying sequence from the first film, and what do you know, I hate the carbon-copy version they slapped into this one. If they had trimmed out all of the pointless romantic angst melodrama, the film would have easily come in under two hours.

Of course, the romantic aspect of the film raises the question of why the filmmakers decided to redefine American Pop Culture’s favorite bulletproof boy scout as the type of morally ambiguous screw-up that would not only have sex outside of marriage, but give her a super-sperm injection without using protection, knock her up, skip town while the girl’s still pregnant, only to return years later and try to muscle in on her new relationship, going so far as to spy on her and her new paramour. This is the kind of behavior you expect from a US Senator, not the Man of Steel. On top of all of that, he’s a shade dumber than the old Supes, as he not only doesn’t bother to keep tabs on the one man who has tried repeatedly to kill him, but also can’t sense the presence of a mile-wide slab of Kryptonite until he’s standing on top of it. It’s hard to feel sorry for old Supes when Luthor shanks him prison-style with a jagged blade of Kryptonite. Even Super Dog would have seen that one coming.

Despite the romantic padding that weighs the film down to a hefty 154 minutes, the screenwriters still managed to squeeze in plenty of other useless wastes of time. Like Jimmy Olsen. As if the film isn’t long enough, the writer’s felt the need to inject a Jimmy Olsen sub-plot that is almost as brief and useless as the character itself. A one-minute scene of a kid using his camera phone to take a picture of Superman, a one-minute scene in which Perry White tells Olsen that children are taking better pictures than him, and a one-minute scene in which Jimmy takes a great picture of Superman. Presto! Three minutes of conflict resolution and you have a story arc as useless and unnecessary as Superman’s horrendously painful outer space crucifixion pose. Why the religious community didn’t flip over this obvious comparison of The Man of Steel to the Son of God is beyond me.

But so much of the film’s so-called story is unnecessary, except to set up meandering eye-candy. Superman hovers in the earth’s stratosphere and listens to everyone on the planet simultaneously, only to fly right back down to Metropolis so he can foil a bank robbery. Not only is it cliché, but it shows a strange wall-eyed xenophobia that pervades the film. Except for a quick Luthor Cruise Lines visit to the Fortress of Solitude, the film doesn’t stray far from Metropolis. Even the previous films visited Canada, France and Italy. The best this one does is give a brief glimpse of Superman helping foreigners where the rest of the world seems to belong in Singer’s vision; in the background on news. Even after he flies into deep space to get rid of Kryptonite Island, his unconscious body still manages to crash straight back down into midtown Metropolis!

Bitter griping and complaining over this film’s numerous errors and shortcomings could stretch on longer than the movie itself, but the basic point is unavoidable. The only thing super about this movie is the feat of herculean strength of will it takes to make through to the end credits.

And if you actually manage to run the gauntlet, you may be begging for a bullet in the eye yourself.

Oh, and the new heat vision sucks.

Editing Room - What we would change:

*When Superman falls to the ground unconscious, military units arrive and whisk him away before concerned citizens and paramedics can make it to the scene. Superman is reported dead by officials. He is then carted off to Area 51, where scientists armed with diamond tipped laser drills hollow him out like a canoe in a vain attempt to figure out how to create a race of superhuman soldiers. Later, at Superman’s symbolic funeral, his bastard child forgets his own strength while hugging Lois and pinches her head off like a dandelion.

*The giant pothole Superman creates when he falls to Earth at the end creates nothing but problems for the city. Traffic is rerouted and backed up for hours, public utilities are knocked out for miles around, and the shock wave weakens the foundations throughout the city. Lex Luthor leads Metropolis in a class-action lawsuit against the Man of Steel, and the end credits roll over him performing community service by using his super breath to aid the street sweepers.

*Clark Kent challenges Richard White to arm wrestle for the girl and the kid. Superman lets Richard think he is winning then tears his arm out of the socket at the last minute. Clark mugs at the camera, ‘Hooray for Hollywood’ plays in the background, and the credits roll.

*Superman fails to save Metropolis. Everyone dies. In a desperate attempt to fix everything, he flies around Earth at super speeds, reverses the planet’s rotation, and effectively turns back time. (Richard Donner had originally planned on reusing this at the end of Superman II, so it isn’t as far fetched as you might think.) He rewinds things a bit too far back, however, and when time finally starts moving forward again he finds that he is now in the first film. Then, in the confusion, Brandon Routh’s Clark bumps into Christopher Reeve’s Clark at the Daily Planet. Reeve’s snaps Routh’s neck like a pretzel, and stuffs his body in a nearby broom closet.

Thursday, March 27, 2008