Europa Report (2013)

Europa Report poster

Europa Report poster

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

I watched Europa Report because Netflix thought that I wouldn’t like it; I found that suggestion both mysterious and slightly offensive. For the record, I did like the film, but in fairness to Netflix, I suppose that I didn’t love it.

Briefly, Europa Report focuses upon Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, and perhaps the most likely place within the solar system to find life outside of Earth. Specifically, the movie follows the journey of an international team of astronauts and scientists that embark upon an ill-fated mission of exploration to the eponymous moon. Is that a generic enough synopsis for you? On the one hand, that’s intentional, in order to avoid spoilers, but it’s also because the film is, to be sure, rather uncomplicated, though it is very sophisticated.

On its storytelling merits, I think this is a solid three (out of five) star movie, though as work of science fiction, I think that it might be somewhat better just owing to the craftsmanship evident in the production and the pains that the filmmakers took in order to imbue the overall experience with a good degree of plausibility and scientific authenticity.

I also can’t fault the acting, which on the average is quite good, particularly in light of the fact that the script spends hardly any time at all defining the ensemble cast. It falls squarely on the shoulders of this capable group to convey the essence of these people we’re meant to care about. And we do. Care about them, I mean. Sharlto Copley gets some of the best character building material in the film, but he deserves it–he’s a stand-out character actor and always fun to watch.

Where I fault the filmmakers is at the level of narrative structure, which they’ve somewhat awkwardly shoehorned into the mold of a found footage horror film. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but they’ve also decided to order the scenes non-chronologically for dramatic purposes in addition to employing another kind of narrative flip in the climax that, while not unclever, feels a bit over-contrived. These contrivances are especially problematic in Europa Report, because the film suffers a bit from multiple-personality disorder. It starts as a documentary, with commentary from the ground crew juxtaposed against the main action, but the filmmakers have no follow-through for that storytelling conceit.

In short, I think that Europa Report would have benefited from ditching the horror genre trappings and playing it more or less straight. But…I don’t know. Maybe that’s just pointless Monday Morning Quarterbacking. On the whole, I enjoyed Europa Report, but I nevertheless felt that I had been sold a bit short on something.

Europa ReportWith that said, if you consider yourself a connoisseur of science fiction films (one apt line that I read somewhere stated that Europa Report puts the “science” back in “science fiction”), I would suggest that you probably owe it to yourself to watch Europa Report, if for no other reason than to support filmmakers who elect not to dumb down the science content in order to court mass market appeal. Make no mistake, this is a niche film, but if you frequently find yourself within that niche, I think you’ll enjoy the journey, even if the destination isn’t, perhaps, terribly thrilling.

After all, Europa is probably a bit difficult to get really excited about unless you are an inveterate science nerd. And try as they might, the filmmakers behind Europa Report faced an uphill battle making ice and radiation into compelling drama, twists notwithstanding.

White House Down (2013)

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Rating: ★★★½☆ 

I’m going to make a statement at the outset that I am sure to contradict at some point in the future (perhaps within this very review!), but here we go: one can only honestly rate a film on a scale that comports with its intentions and the efficacy with which it is executed. Through a critical lens that accounts for the expectations commensurate with a genre film of this ilk, White House Down is a very decent action smorgasbord and much better than many other recent offerings in its weight class.

In other words, if one were to attempt to review a film like White House Down on, say, plausibility…well, you’re doing it wrong. If one were to become flabbergasted by the naive political agenda driving the narrative…well…you’re doing it wrong. Basically, if you’re unable to disassociate the more rational part of your mind from the part of your mind that can simply appreciate technique and style, then you shouldn’t be allowed to watch this brand of explosive, sweaty, guns-blazing, car-chasing action film. To be clear, I don’t mean to imply that White House Down is a dumb film–in some ways (for example, the way it parcels out its surprises), it’s quite smart. But don’t expect it to be a compelling political treatise, because it’s not.

So let’s keep this simple, shall we? Did you love Die Hard? Did you enjoy The Rock? How about Airforce One? Well, this is a film that easily could have been a sequel to either of its afore-mentioned spiritual precursors–and a damn fine sequel at that. Only…you know…not as good as those films.

Channing Tatum doesn’t have the smart-alecky charisma of a young Bruce Willis or the eccentric watchability of Nicolas Cage, but there is something undeniably appealing about his laconic portrayal that goes beyond just generally being handsome and affable. Tatum plays well against the film’s colorful antagonists, so his understatedness is, perhaps, more of an asset than one might initially realize. Where White House Down finds itself wanting for a more forceful personality on the white hat side of the fence, the filmmakers provide us Jamie Foxx, who in retrospect seems a bit underutilized, but he does round out whatever deficiencies Tatum may have as a leading man. The two work well together, though to be quite certain, this isn’t a buddy film.

White House Down is more in the vein of, say, the original Die Hard than, say, Die Hard with a Vengeance. In that respect, White House Down is as outrageously over-the-top as one would expect, as the film allows the protagonist to single-handedly outwit and dismantle a collection of mercenaries that one-shot kill myriad other trained law enforcement and military personnel. But that’s just how things work in these sorts of films.

In other words, if you get a migraine wondering why the Imperial stormtroopers in Star Wars couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn when they were firing at the main cast, then please avert your eyes.

And I suppose this all amounts to the largest asset of White House Down and its largest problem: it conforms to every genre expectation, but at least, it pulls out all of the stops without ever getting annoying about it–it doesn’t wear the viewer down the way, say, Man of Steel did. White House Down is a film that knows exactly what it is, and delivers it with even pacing and a plot that, while ludicrous, is nevertheless well constructed and filmed.

In short: entertaining as hell.

Bless This Mess

Don’t ask me why, but I’ve decided to dig into WordPress theme development, at least for the purpose of my own blog, which I almost never use anymore. I’m sorry if you hate where I’m going with this. Obviously, I’ll get more of the standard functionality and more specific styles tweaked in eventually, but I think this will be the general aesthetic. I just wanted something simple, which doesn’t give short shrift to all of the comments that I don’t receive.

Oh, it will also be mobile responsive at some point. I mean, it kind of is now, but I wouldn’t really recommend looking at it on anything smaller than the landscape orientation on your iPhone. Some work to do there.

TRON: Legacy (2010)

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Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

What the…?

Let me get the good stuff out of the way. Style, sets, CG, Daft Punk soundscape, all top-notch. The world of the Grid looked amazing, and the effects crew should be commended. For this reason alone, I have to score this film at least average, because it’s just a unique visual and sonic environment, and certainly worth visiting for a little while.

The bad…? Where to start? I didn’t dislike TRON: Legacy, but I didn’t particularly like it either. At any rate, it certainly didn’t go out of its way to make itself comprehensible. Hugely important plot points are simply left vague. The isomophic programs, for example, are largely visited in voice-over flashback. Kevin Flynn tells us that they were going to change everything–that they would be a quantum leap forward–but the film never indulges the audience by explaining precisely how. Frankly, programs that create themselves sound like a pretty dangerous thing, and I’m almost inclined to side with the film’s villain, Clu. What if isomorphic programs were a virus that would eventually corrupt the entire Grid? But the film is too shallow to address these sorts of questions.

It’s also worth mentioning Tron, himself, who actually is in TRON: Legacy…as a minor character named Rinzler. First of all, a small thing on this that, perhaps, is not that small: the film never even bothers to show Tron’s face. And I only mention that because the de-aged Jeff Bridges (Clu) gets a ton of screentime. Meanwhile, Bruce Boxleitner is actually much better preserved than Bridges. Would it have killed the filmmakers to just once allow the helmet to come off, especially after Flynn reveals that Rinzler is Tron?

Second of all, the character is hardly important to the film at all, yet the film’s climax hinges on a totally unearned redemption for the “repurposed” Tron, in blatant and shameful sequel baiting. None of this has any emotional resonance, and it’s just a wasted opportunity. In a way, that’s the story of TRON: Legacy: it’s a film chock-full of wasted opportunities.

I’m not even going to get into Clu’s master plan, to use the portal to leave the Grid and conquer the real world, because that’s beyond dumb. Or the fact that we’re told Flynn can’t stop Clu without re-integrating with him, which would destroy them both, though like so much in TRON: Legacy, that’s just a very important plot point that we have to take on faith. The film doesn’t much care to explain itself at any given time. It merely sets up arbitrary rules so that it can invoke them later when the time is right. It’s a very cheap form of screenwriting, using bogus devices like this to advance the plot.

Anyway, you get the point. Dumb movie. Great to look at.

Recommended Reading

  • “Tron: Legacy” on my friend Donald’s website, Blessed Are the Geeks. He liked it more than I did, I think.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The problems with Star Trek Into Darkness are fairly evident in the pre-title sequence–an extended set-piece in which the crew of the Enterprise attempt to detonate a “cold fusion” bomb in order to freeze a volcano that is about to destroy a primitive world (“cold fusion”–I’m not making that up).

Kirk and McCoy are being chased by the natives–we don’t really know why. The Enterprise is on the bottom of an ocean–we don’t really know why (we’re led to believe they’re hiding there, so that the natives won’t look up to the sky and see the Enterprise in orbit…yet somehow they managed to land the damn thing just outside a major city without anybody noticing). Improbabilities continue to pile up, and I pretty quickly got the message J.J. Abrams seemed to be attempting to communicate: this movie will be entertaining but dumb.

That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but this is Star Trek, and I guess I expect better. This was the dumbest entry in the movie franchise since Star Trek V, and that was a film that had the crew journey to the center of the galaxy to meet God–and no, I’m not making that up either.

The thing of it is that Abrams and crew made a lot of decisions in Star Trek Into Darkness that were for dramatic purposes and dramatic purposes only, but many of them just didn’t play very well to anybody who bothers to give them even a moment’s thought. The larger problems have been discussed elsewhere (like the fact that Star Fleet’s war room, apparently, has a full wall of windows), but here’s a smaller thing that I found unintentionally funny. Slight spoilers here.

There is a fight sequence between Spock and Khan toward the end of the film in which Khan is getting the upper hand. At this point, the Enterprise crew have the opportunity to beam down anybody to assist Spock, so who do they send? The ship’s communications officer, of course! They’ve got a boatfull of trained security personnel, but they send Uhura with a phaser and a mini-skirt. Of course it had to be Uhura, because there was a subplot involving a lover’s spat between Uhura and Spock, and saving Spock’s life was deemed essential to closing out that thread–showing that she has forgiven him. But man…it’s just dumb.

“But, Justin,” you may be saying. “Nobody wants to see Spock rescued by some random redshirt.” To which I say, “Exactly! Which is why a better idea would have been to not write that scene at all. Let Spock defeat Khan on his own.”

Oh, and they could beam somebody onto a moving vehicle , but they couldn’t just beam Khan and Spock off?! Hell–they can, apparently, teleport people from Earth to the Klingon homeworld (I’m not making that up either)!

These sound like nitpicks in the context of a brief review, but over the course of an entire film, they began to grate on me. Though to be sure, it was more than the accumulation of these logical problems and plot holes that offended my analytical brain: the characters were problematic for me, as well. Particularly Captain Kirk and Khan.

The former, because he just isn’t written as a very competent starship captain, and it seems wholly inconceivable to me that this character would have ever been given his own command. Compare to Shatner as Kirk in the original series, who was effortlessly charming, but also authoritative, wickedly smart, and wide open to the expert advice of his crew–that character is a natural leader, whereas Chris Pine really just feels to me like a kid playing dress up as Captain Kirk. I don’t blame Pine for that, necessarily. I blame the poor writing that mischaracterizes Captain Kirk, emphasizing Kirk as testosterone-soaked action hero rather than a savvy commander.

On a related matter, Star Trek Into Darkness trades too heavily on decades of camaraderie between Kirk and Spock. In this film, they barely even seem to like each other, yet the emotional climax of the film relies upon us believing they love each other. It didn’t work for me.

Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_Kirk_Spock_Cumberbatch-610x406[1]With regards to Khan–and yes, I’m going to just assume that everybody knows he’s the villain of this film–I just didn’t care for Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal. He had the evil part down, but none of the charm required for the character. It was a very one-dimensional interpretation. Perhaps that’s down to the writing, but Cumberbatch didn’t bring anything noteworthy to the role, and the character, himself, is just uninteresting, with a set of strangely muddy motivations.

In the original Star Trek, Khan is a man of vision–ableit a twisted, evil vision–as well as great passion and intellect. He is fascinating as a leader of men, which is why he counterbalances Kirk so well. For Into Darkness, the filmmakers have reduced him to something somehow petty. A solo operator who doesn’t seem to have any purpose beyond destroying Starfleet. Maybe that’s John Harrison (the pseudonym used by the character in order to attempt to deceive the audience–another contrived story device), but it’s not Khan.

So why should you see Star Trek Into Darkness? Well, primarily, it looks amazing. And on the whole, it is entertaining but for a lull somewhere in the middle. Action sequences are well-conceived and well-realized. The musical score by Michael Giacchino is fantastic. And I suppose there are other reasons.

But as a Trek fan reviewing for other Trek fans, I can’t say that I wholeheartedly recommend it–or even, necessarily, recommend it at all.

Recommended Reading

Tron: Uprising – Season One (2012)

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Rating: ★★★★☆ 

I’m erring on the side of a higher rating for Tron: Uprising based upon style and likability, more so than, necessarily, the quality of the series narrative. I don’t know that I would consider Tron: Uprising a great television series, but it is consistently entertaining, and I found myself more or less marathoning through the season whenever I could find a block of time to watch the episodes.

To be certain, I’m not specifically using the word “entertaining” in the way that, say, a bunch of stuff blowing up in a summer blockbuster is entertaining. Though Tron: Uprising is, to be sure, never short on kung fu, chases, and stuff blowing up, I think there is real substance to this series based upon character, themes, and lore. It does have trouble, however, rising above its episodic constraints.

If I had any issue with Tron: Uprising, it is that–especially in the first half of the season–the writers didn’t script in enough forward momentum for the overarching plotline. Even if an episode was interesting on its own, it almost felt as though a mandate existed that the reset button needed hitting by the end. In a way, it’s strangely reminiscent of The Prisoner, in the sense that the main character is on a kind of a treadmill.

But that’s problematic for the series, because Tron: Uprising actually works best when it alters the status quo or otherwise surprises you by taking a dramatic turn one wouldn’t necessarily expect in a show marketed to kids. But for this first season, it felt as though the creative team weren’t willing to push those boundaries too hard.

Fair enough. But I have higher expectations for Season Two. Or at least, I would have, had the show been renewed. The information about this series that exists online is a bit confusing and conflicting, though I think it’s relatively safe to say that the show has been cancelled, though it may in fact be “unofficial”. Who knows, though? Maybe it will gain a second lease on life through Netflix.

Tron-Uprising-No-Bounds-Able-tries-to-disarm-the-bombIn any event, it really is a shame, I think, that we’re not likely to get more of this series, because faults notwithstanding, Tron: Uprising just doesn’t look like anything else on television. The art style is intentionally cribbed from Æon Flux (which is, for me, a good thing, though I understand why others would have a problem with that), but it also does something very interesting, borrowing from the original Tron film, in that the base palette is actually black and white, with colors (largely black and red) seemingly painted in. It’s a neat effect, pulled off well, and whatever you may think of the highly stylized character design, it’s difficult to argue that Tron: Uprising isn’t gorgeous.

And hell–it’s the world of Tron in a TV series. Though the series doesn’t delve extensively into what that entails, it’s still just plain cool.

Check it out on Netflix. You’ve got nothing to lose. And if you don’t have Netflix, you can watch the first episode, “Beck’s Beginning” on YouTube.

Solomon Kane (2009)

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Why do I keep watching movies like this? I’m always disappointed. If the IMDb rates something a 6, I should really just assume it’s going to be a waste of my time. But there’s always this voice in the back of my head that keeps saying, “Maybe the masses just didn’t get it!”

I’ll tell you why I watched this one, specifically: because Robert E. Howard invented some really neat pulp fiction characters (not, merely, Conan the Cimmerian)–I really appreciate his unique mix of sword and sorcery; and because it stars James Purefoy, who was so brilliant as Mark Antony in HBO’s Rome.

Well, he’s not as good here, but it isn’t his fault, really. Even had it been more competently devised, Solomon Kane probably isn’t a character that would give an actor a great depth of motivation and emotion to plumb. I appreciate what Purefoy attempted to imbue to the role, but had the narrative been truer to the source material, it would have sufficed for Kane to merely be the BAMF he’s meant to be, without all the needless pathos.

I suppose I see what the writers were attempting to do in giving Kane a very wide character arc, but someday, I’d enjoy watching a movie that just dispensed with that sort of nonsense and embraced this brand of pulp character as they are, without regard for modern Hollywood sensibilities. Can’t Solomon Kane just go around killing bad people because of some strange, dark compulsion that even he doesn’t understand? Did he really need an entire moral journey that culminated in reclaiming his soul from Satan? Keep it simple, I say.

It wasn’t a totally incompetent film. It hangs together well enough as a narrative, and the effects and acting are largely fine. But ultimately, I didn’t find enough compelling characters to care about, the most visible baddie, himself, is a complete cypher, and Solomon Kane was too conflicted a character to carry the film.

Reviewapalooza

Some microreviews of a bunch of stuff I’ve streamed lately on Netflix.

redhoodCOVER[1]Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

I haven’t read the comics upon which this film was based, but I put off watching Under the Red Hood, because as I recalled, the Red Hood plot line hadn’t gone over very well with some fans. I can’t speak to why, however, because I felt this turned out pretty well for all characters concerned. There’s a very problematic plot point with regards to the ulterior motive behind the Red Hood’s actions, but it’s forgiveable.  The narrative delivered a twist when, perhaps, it didn’t need one, but at least it helped get the story to its logical conclusion.

Any writing issues are more than made up for by very well-executed action sequences (the way Nightwing moves in this film is brilliantly animated) and great voice acting turns by Bruce Greenwood as Batman and Jensen Ackles as the Red Hood.

220px-Planet_Hulk_DVD[1]Planet Hulk (2010)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

This probably deserves a slightly better rating on its own merits, but I felt that the translation from comics to film probably excised a lot of explanatory details that could have brought this story up to the next level. To be sure, I haven’t read the Planet Hulk comics, and I don’t necessarily feel compelled to do so after having seen the film, but I am willing to believe it’s probably a very decent storyline when told in its entirety. All of the elements for a great story are there, but I simply felt slightly irritated by a bunch of small things.

For example, I really didn’t feel that the opening sequence with Tony Stark narrating his reasons for sending the Hulk into space was an adequate explanation, especially given the characterization of the Hulk that followed, which actually made him seem rather rational and at times compassionate. And on that score, this isn’t the classic Jekyll/Hyde portrayal of the Hulk, but the film never bothered to address that.

DC-Showcase--Superman-Shazam--The-Return-of-Black-Adam[1]DC Showcase: Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010)

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

This actually contained four different short features, all roughly the same length. The lead-in feature is the Superman/Shazam short, and I was looking forward to this, because Jerry O’Connell was reprising the role of Captain Marvel that he so perfectly voiced in Justice League Unlimited. This was a lot to like about this, but sadly, Jerry O’Connell didn’t get much to work with. It’s an origin story, so Captain Marvel is only in about half of it, and during that time, the story asks him to go a little dark for the climax, and that works against the earnestness and incorruptibility that the actor sold so well in JLU.

My favorite short in the set was easily the Green Arrow one, which had some really nice action set-pieces, and was simply a ton of fun. The Jonah Hex short was also fantastic. Of the four, the only one for which I didn’t really care was the Spectre short, if only because it seemed out of place. The other protagonists–even Jonah Hex–are all heroic, but the Spectre is just really sadistic, and would have worked better in, say, a horror anthology.

220px-DoctorStrangeDVD[1]Doctor Strange (2007)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Just too melodramatic to be much fun. In my opinion, it didn’t manage to capture the weirdness of the world of Doctor Strange. It leaned too heavily on standard horror movie beats and imagery. For me, it’s just not Doctor Strange unless you have something that looks like this. I just wanted something more exotic, and maybe something that tried a little bit less to be a stand-alone film and origin story.

11153114_800[1]Hulk Vs. (2009)

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

This contained two mini-features: Hulk vs. Thor and Hulk vs. Wolverine. Of the two, the latter was probably more interesting, though it probably tried a little too hard to mesh together every major Wolverine plot line form the past 30 years. Both features wisely (I think) understood that the Hulk was the least interesting character in the cast, so they made the narratives more about the other characters. I felt Hulk vs. Thor was a little awkward in the way it physically separated Banner from the Hulk–it isn’t the way that I think of the character. For me, Banner is the Hulk, not just a trapped soul inside some rage monster with a soul of its own.

1344701352_iron[1]The Invincible Iron Man (2007)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

I didn’t really care for it, to be honest. It changed up the Iron Man origin too much in order to shoehorn in a plot about the resurrection of the Mandarin. In addition, the CG-rendered Iron Man armors were a jarring distraction. Additionally, the denouement hinges upon a romance between Tony Stark and another character that just seemed false–but worse, it doesn’t allow Stark to really do anything directly to defeat the Mandarin, such as he is in this film. Amidst other problems.

600full-hellboy-animated--blood-and-iron-posterHellboy Animated: Blood and Iron (2007)

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

If you can get past the Saturday Morning Cartoon style of the animation, this is pretty neat. Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, and John Hurt lend their voices, but I don’t know if this is in the continuity of the films or the comic books or just some sort of hybrid. Perlman is great as Hellboy, as usual, and the narrative is interestingly ordered, with flashbacks in reverse chronological order interspersed between segments of the main action.

I wish the animation had been up to the task of attempting to reproduce the distinctive atmosphere of a Hellboy comic book. A property as stylistic as this deserved better.

155356.39026146[1]Justice League: Doom (2012)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The underlying plot is flawed, I think. Is Batman really the only person on Earth (and beyond) capable of inventing a plan to take each member of the Justice League out individually? But I suppose if you can accept the fact that Vandal Savage would go out of his way to steal Batman’s failsafe plans and put together a legion of doom in order to implement them, this is rather enjoyable.

There’s something rather odd about watching this, however, when one has seen the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, as this film uses the same voice actors. As a result, it felt kind of weird that this story should have been told in the continuity of the mainstream DC universe. Also, the climax was kind of ridiculous, even for a comic book film.

District 13 (2004)

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Rating: ★★★½☆ 

This movie was written by Luc Besson and directed by Pierre Morrel. If those two names mean anything to you, then you already know whether or not you want to see this film. In fact, if those names mean anything to you, then you’ve probably already seen District 13.

But I hadn’t. I had heard about it–probably about the time that Casino Royale came out, and everybody was suddenly talking about parkour. I didn’t bother to find out anything about District 13, though, even to the point of watching it on streaming Netflix last night, so I had this notion in my head that it was merely going to be some sort of plotless parkour exhibition. On the contrary, this was a rather good movie.

Obviously dumb, but still, rather good.

It takes place in the distant future of 2010, at which point the Paris ghettos have gotten so bad that they’ve decided to wall in the worst districts and just abandon the inhabitants to the wolves. But when a powerful clean bomb is accidentally stolen by the drug lord running the district, the government is compelled to send somebody in to find it.

The way I’ve written that plot makes it sound stupider than it actually is, though at the point that one stops to actually think about the bomb plot, it does begin to break down pretty quickly. But it’s not actually very important–in fact, that plot only begins in the second act, after the audience has already been introduced to the two protagonists through individual sequences of bad-assery that, had the first act been a movie on its own, it would have still been pretty cool.

I liked this film, unreservedly. It wasn’t a masterpiece, obviously. It was intended to not be boring, and it never was. It’s in the vein of The Transporter and Taken, so understand, it will never slow down long enough for you to wonder why you’re still watching it. If you’re into parkour, then take that for a pleasant bonus.

Superman vs. the Elite (2012)

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Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

This should really be called Superman vs. The Authority. Because that’s what it is (The Authority have been reimagined as a smaller group called The Elite, but the parallels are, of course, glaring). So if you ever wondered how that would go down, this is how. Spoilers: he beats them.

Me, personally, I never wondered how that would play out, because these characters exist in vastly different comic book realities. And the fact that I kinda really loved the first couple of volumes of The Authority made me actively feel as though I didn’t want to see this confrontation. Let me just enjoy Superman and The Authority individually, please, and for different reasons.

And there’s an additional irony, of course, in the notion that The Authority, itself, is meant to be a sort of deconstructed version of The Justice League. But I won’t go there.

There were, to be sure, bits that I liked in this narrative. It isn’t an unworthy plot idea to want to explore how Superman’s version of truth, justice, and the American way fit into a post-9-11 worldview (I don’t believe that 9-11 actually happened in the DC universe, so this is just a meta commentary embodied in the comic book world by villains being more difficult to define and solutions existing in more of a grey area). At the same time, the structure of the story is a bit heavy-handed.

If nothing else, it’s just a bit difficult to reconcile the fact that members of the Elite go from worshipping Superman to wanting to kill him within a matter of days, and then, apparently, half the world basically going along with it just because Superman’s not cool anymore. I think the creators just tried to cram too many ideas into too short and lightweight a story.

Oh, also, –BEGIN SPOILERS– Superman lobotomizes a guy with his heat vision at the end. No joke. –END SPOILERS–

With all of that said, it was entertaining. But I wouldn’t recommend it over All Star Superman, which contained a lot more of what I consider to be the quintessence of the character.

By the way, animated version of The Authority, please!