Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Superman vs. The Elite Review

In Superman vs. The Elite, the latest from DC Entertainment's direct to dvd animated line, themes of  pheomenal power and even more phenomenal restraint are at the forefront as the man of steel's reverence for the sanctity of life is challenged  when an edgy new team of super powered individuals calling themselves "The Elite" burst onto the scene. Led by the charasmatic and calculating Manchester Black, The Elite instantly garner public apporoval by demonstrating their willingingness to get their hands dirty and make the hard choices that Superman avoids. Namely, in dispensing lethal force on the world's criminal element. As people everywhere seems taken with the rockstar-esque Black and his motley crew of  hard hitting anti-heroe's and their promise to clean up, Superman recognizes the immense danger The Elite pose through their casual and reckless displays of "might makes right" and  braces for the inevitable showdown while all the while contemplating if the world truly has moved on to a place he cannot follow as his old fashioned, mid-western values seem to have lost their relevance and become somewhat of a parody in an increasingly fearful and calloused modern world.
I enjoyed this movie a lot. Not only does it deliver the goods in terms of action and thrills, but it also manages to be a moving and thought exploration into what truly makes Superman a hero and why his high moral standards and no killing policy when dealing with the world's most vicious monsters, though not an easy road to tread by any means, is at the end of the day superior to the instant gratification of eye for an eye championed by The Elite.
That is not to say that the thought never crosses Superman's mind, and during his brutal standoff with the volatile team, one actually experiences a twinge of panic for Superman as the paragon of truth, justice, and the American way comes closer than ever to crossing that line.
Simply put, this is one of the best from DC Entertainment's animated line thus far and, for readers of Superman in comics, a refreshing alternative to the characters attempted more edgy and sci-fi ish "New 52" revampment that, aside from Morisson's current run on "Action Comics" has left a decidedly sour taste in the mouths of many longtime DC loyalists. Now more than ever we need to be reminded why the ideals embodied by heroes like Superman are still a pivotal part of our culture and this movie does the job near perfectly.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Prometheus Review

In "Prometheus," colossus of cinema Ridley Scott's intense and ambitious quasi-prequal to his 1979 "Alien," questions of science, theology, and the all around riddle of human existence are placed under close examination as the crew of the space ship Prometheus, like the Greek god whose namesake it shares, are punished for trying to bring a symbolic "fire" to the human race in the form of the true origins for life on earth.
The movie takes place in the distant future close to the next turn of the century were what are now only theoretical scientific concepts such as cryogenic hibernation, interactive holograms, and artifical intellegence are an everyday reality. A pair of young explorers who study the markings on ancient ruins from lost civilizaitons think they have discovered a common theme of the deification of celestial, god-like beings that they are somehow able to trace to a faraway planet that orbits the rings of Saturn. A planet, that like our own, has its own sun and is capable of sustaining life. The couple theorize that this advanced race race engineered life on earth before returning to their own world. When their research captures the attention of a corporate titan with very deep pockets and a hidden agenda to boot, the two along with a team of other proffessionals are sent on a scientific expidition to this mysterious planet to uncover find this race of "engineers" who at their apex, gave birth to the human species itself. Though what awaits them when they arrive is something far more sinister...
This is a movie that tries to be a lot of things and succeeds more or less. In parts, it is a dazzling sci-fi space epic. In others, it is a sqeam inducing thrill ride complete with creepy crawlers and the trademark gothic horror of Scott's classic "Alien." In others, it is a serious study of the age old question, "why are we here?" "What is our purpose?" "Where did we come from?" In this way, the movie's ambition seems to be its greatest enemy as some of these themes tend to undermine one another especially as the action picks up and the stuff starts hitting the fan. Simply put, it is hard for a movie to be too philisophical without coming off as silly when the only thing the audience cares about is whose going to buy it next and how gross is it going to be?
Pretty good performances all around. The standouts probably being Michael Fassbender as David, an Android who turns out to be far less artificial than he lets on and Noomi Rapace as Explorer/Scientist Elizabeth Shaw, who probably undergoes one of the most truly terrifying birth sequences ever in a film.
In some ways, I feel like Prometheus, is trying to sell itself as more of an "experience" than an actual story. This is not an entirely bad thing. Especially in stunning 3D the the sheer scope and aura of film is both wondrous and terrifying to behold. Despite its flimly philisophical conjectures and somewhat shcizophrenic sense of identity, Prometheus is definately a horror/space spectacle that delivers the metaphorical "fire" and manages to return a great deal of dignity to Scott's floundering Alien franchise