June 2006

Film Title, Eight Letters

by Alan Rapp on June 30, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Wordplay
  • IMDB: link

wordplay-posterIntellectual pursuits can be fun.  The new documentary Wordplay looks at those who enjoy a good crossword puzzle from the makers, to the casual fans, to those who take the competition seriously enough to challenge each other in open competition.  It’s an entertaining look at a world that many probably aren’t completely aware of.

The documentary breaks down into three different parts.  First, there is a look at the puzzlemakers, most notably New York Times Crossword editor Bill Shortz.  Second, the film documents many celebrity fans of the New York Times Crossword.  And third, it examines the annual contest and the contestants who journey to Stanford, CT to be crowned the crossword champion of the year.

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Superman Returns

by December Lambeth on June 30, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

Superman Returns lives up to the big “S” (rather, small “s”); romance, action, suspense, mystery and everything us old folks remember of our childhood super hero. It’s very similar to a remake of the first, with actors portraying more of the original characters than their own and certain events being repeated. There are certainly a few flaws in the mix, like Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush) playing the busy buddy smoking reporter, Lois Lane, and then there is the little issue with a rubber suit and 2” platform moon boots. Brandon Routh is the perfect pick for Clark Kent/Superman; much younger and a bit smaller than Christopher Reeve, but he’s got the chiseled features and the honest farm boy look. Even with, a few flaws and the unoriginal storyline, Superman Returns is one of the best main stream films out in 2006, so far.

Superman Returns
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Christopher Reeve would be proud. Superman has returned in his finest form. No worries, it’s not one of those campy part 10 that completely fails on all levels, but rather, a very similar return paying homage to Christopher Reeve and his, on screen, depute in 1978’s Superman: The Movie.

After being away for 5 years Superman lands right back where he started, in his mom’s back forty. We get a couple of farm scenes, a mom & son moment, a short flash back to a 10-year-old running and jumping through the corn field by the speed of light and off to the big city. Clark (Brandon Routh) returns to the Daily Planet to find his life long love living with the young and handsome Richard White (James Marsden), heir to the Daily Planet, and a headline “Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman” (or something like that). Right out of the gates, he’s off to rescue Lois from a plane crash (didn’t he save her from a crashing helicopter in the first one?), caused by none other than Lex Luther (Kevin Spacey).

Lex has stolen the crystals from Superman’s hidden fortress of solitude, in the Arctic, to create his own island and destroy the U.S.. He wants to attempt to take over the world again, with the help of his new little trollop, Kitty (bat shit crazy) Kowalski (Parker Posey) and a few dumb thugs from jail. Superman must go and save the day, but is helpless against a certain little green crystal that Luther has planted in his new piece of real estate. Our super hero must count on the strength of the sun and help of others to nurture him back to health, so he can crush Luthor’s plans and save the world.

Superman saves the day, that pretty well sums it up. Just like the new suit, it’s darker than the predecessor and has a few secrets.

Let me make this simple for you, GO SEE IT!!!

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Aaron Spelling

by Alan Rapp on June 29, 2006

in Uncategorized

The Love BoatMatt HoustonCharmedStarsky and HutchFantasy IslandThe Mod SquadBeverly Hills, 90210Charlie’s Angels7th HeavenHart to HartMelrose PlaceT.J. HookerDynasty.  You probably watched one of those or one of countless others that sprung from the mind of TV producer Aaron Spelling.  Sadly Spelling died last Friday at the ripe old age of 83.  Spelling was a tiny man who had huge influence on the genre of television creating hit after hit (ok, and a few misses – anyone remember Models, Inc.)?  He was one of the most prolific producers in the history of television including a run in the 80’s where he had seven shows airing on one network the same year!  Spelling earned adoration from fans over the years but little critical praise, but that never bothered the man who when one show failed had at least two in development to take its place.  In a time where good new shows on television are becoming as scarce as good Democratic candidates for President a man like Spelling will sorely be missed

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The Love BoatMatt HoustonCharmedStarsky and HutchFantasy IslandThe Mod SquadBeverly Hills, 90210Charlie’s Angels7th HeavenHart to HartMelrose PlaceT.J. HookerDynasty.  You probably watched one of those or one of countless others that sprung from the mind of TV producer Aaron Spelling.  Sadly Spelling died last Friday at the ripe old age of 83.  Spelling was a tiny man who had huge influence on the genre of television creating hit after hit (ok, and a few misses – anyone remember Models, Inc.)?  He was one of the most prolific producers in the history of television including a run in the 80’s where he had seven shows airing on one network the same year!  Spelling earned adoration from fans over the years but little critical praise, but that never bothered the man who when one show failed had at least two in development to take its place.  In a time where good new shows on television are becoming as scarce as good Democratic candidates for President a man like Spelling will sorely be missed

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Superman Remade

by Alan Rapp on June 28, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Superman Returns
  • IMDB: link

superman-returns-posterWhat’s with Hollywood and rubberized super hero suits?  Is there some kind of run on cloth?  Did they buy it all in bulk a few years ago and have to use it all up before buying something new?  Anyway…

Superman Returns isn’t a great super hero flick, but it does have charm and heart which left me happy, though not ecstatic, with the outcome.  Given its similarities, it’s impossible to not compare it to Donner’s original, and find it wanting.  Still, in a summer that’s given us X-Men: The Last Stand and Nacho Libre this Superman looks damn good.

Five years ago (sometime not long after the events of Superman II) Earth’s scientists found the remains of Krypton and, without saying his goodbyes, Superman left his adopted home.  As the movie opens Superman (Brandon Routh) crashes back to Earth on the Kent farm.  After a brief talk with Ma Kent (Eva Marie Saint – very nice casting choice!) Clark returns to Metropolis and his life as a reporter for the Daily Planet.

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The Story So Far

by Alan Rapp on June 27, 2006

in Uncategorized

We’ll have our review for the new Super-flick tomorrow.  But before we see where we’re headed it’s always a good idea to look back to see where we’ve been.  So join us as we take a look back at the first four films – the good, the bad, and that one with Richard Pryor (ugh!).

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He’s the story so far:

The Saga Takes Flight:

Richard Donner gives us the first big comic book movie, and man is it good.  The film breaks down into two parts.  The first chronicles the politics and demise of Krypton and Jor-El (Marlon Brando) sending his only son to Earth who is raised by the Kents, Jonathan (Glen Ford) and Martha (Phylis Thaxter).  The second part of the film follows Clark (Christopher Reeve) in his new job at the Daily Planet with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and as Superman saving the day and stopping Lex Luthor’s (Gene Hackman) evil plans.

Superman Soars:

“Come to me, son of Jor-El; kneel before Zod.”  The second film involves the Kryptonian criminal Zod (Terrance Stamp) and his two followers breaking out of the Phantom Zone prison and travelling to Earth to rule and take vengeance on the son of their jailer.  While this is going on Lois discovers Clark’s secret and Clark decides to give up his powers to be with Lois , but has to give up his new life to become Superman again to stop Zod.

Crash and Burn:

Richard Pryor is the man who almost killed Superman.  The third entry into the franchise involves Pryor as a computer programmer, Robert Vaugn as a billionaire and Pamela Stephenson as his slut of a secretary, who together plan to use a computer to kill Superman.  Interesting only for the fact of casting Annette O’Toole (Smallville) as Lana Lang.  Horrendously awful entry that forever cursed every third film in comic book franchises.

Superman Stumbles Into Oblivion:

As Superman plans to rid the world of all nuclear weapons, Lex Luthor returns with a kinda’ clone of Superman (though it doesn’t look like him and his powers and weaknesses are a little different) called Nuclear Man.  Superman and Nuclear Man fight all over the planet and on the moon.  Subplots involve the Daily Planet’s new publisher (Mariel Hemmingway) and her crush on Clark.  Hard to imagine why we had to wait 19 years for another film.

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Suggested Further Reading

by Alan Rapp on June 27, 2006

in Comics

With the new Superman hitting theaters tomorrow we’d thought we’d suggest a few little nuggets of joy for comic fans that want to read some Superman’s tales.  We’ve got plenty for you, so take a look inside…

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We’ve organized some Super-reading material for you.  It’s broken down into three categories: the first are books that explore similar themes to those in the new film, the second are a group of “Elseworld” tales (sort of “What If?” stories based in alternate realities), and the final lists some Man of Steel reprinted collections.  Enjoy!

Movie Tie-Ins:

The “Superman Returns” theme is strong in Kingdom Come.  After the death of Lois Lane by the hands of the Joker, and the public praising a new hero’s brutal retaliation winning public approval, Superman removes himself from a society he no longer understands and the old guard follow suit.  As the story opens the next generation of heroes is out of control and heading towards a final conflict.  Superman returns with the heroes of yesteryear to battle the newbies and has one of the best knockdown drag-out fights in comic history with Captain Marvel.  Mark Waid’s story is brought into brilliant clarity by the beautiful artwork of Alex Ross.  The graphic novel is available in softcover ($19.99); it’s also available in novel form, and soon to be released into DC’s new Absolute Line.  One of the best graphic novels of all time; a must have.

Contrary to popular belief Superman IV: A Quest for Peace didn’t kill Superman, but DC Comics did decide to do just that in the 1990’s.  The Death of Superman chronicles Superman’s fight against the unstoppable Doomsday in a planetwide battle that Superman wins, but not without paying the highest cost possible.  The follow-up, World Without a Superman, examines the world and Metropolis getting on with their lives without the Man of Steel.  Both are available in paperback ($9.95) and ($7.50).

Superman Returns: The Prequels is a joint conjunction with director Bryan Singer and co-screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris and DC Comics in an attempt to retell the tales of the movie Superman from the first film to the events that unfold in Superman Returns.  The book will explain events leading up to Superman’s leaving Earth and the effect of his absence on the likes of Lois Lane, Martha Kent, and Lex Luthor.  You’d think the release would be timed with the film, but strangely enough, it won’t be available until October (way to drop the ball marketing tie-in people!), but you can pre-order it online if you are interested.  It will be available in softcover ($12.99).

Elseworld Stories:

Elseworld tales take DC Comics heroes (usually Superman or Batman) and place them into a reality similar yet different from that of their current origin.  What if Superman didn’t crash land in Kansas and was found by someone other than the Kents?  How would his life and the DC Universe be different? 

Speeding Bullets rewrites history placing baby Kal-El’s spaceship crashing in Gotham rather than Smallville and it is Thomas and Martha Wayne who find and adopt young “Bruce.”  Interesting combination of DC’s greatest heroes that involves young Bruce witnessing the death of his parents, burning Joe Chill alive with his heat vision, and growing up to become one very scary super-powered Batman.  It’s out of print and a hard find but worth it if you can locate a copy. 

Several others have followed similar themes: in Red Son Superman grows up in the USSR during the height of the Cold War, in a more humorous take True Brit finds him landing in Britain, and in JLA: The Nail the Kent’s flat tire means they are too late and he is raised in seclusion by an Amish couple.  All three are currently available in softcover: both True Brit and Red Son Red Son for $17.99 and JLA: The Nail for $14.99 (and its sequel JLA: Another Nail is available for $12.99). 

The other tale I’ll mention here isn’t actually an Elseworld title per se, at least not when it was written.  In 1986 DC gave Superman to writer John Byrne to revamp, but before he did writer Alan Moore wrote the end to the previous Superman line which was the last Superman story ever told (at least for that continuity).  Since DC didn’t care what was going to happen in those final issues Moore was allowed to do basically anything he wanted and so we get Alan Moore’s vision of what happened to Superman.  Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?  Its a thin grapic novel ($6.95) that you might be able to find in your local comic book store if you’re willing to look hard enough.

Collections:

Many of Superman’s earlier comics are available in DC Comic’s Archival Collections.  The Superman Archives is now up to seven volumes chronicling his first adventures up to his WWII saga.  All are hardback and are available for $49.95 each.

World’s Finest collects the 10-issue miniseries that recounts the first 10 years of the uneasy alliance between DC’s two biggest heroes – Superman and Batman.  Each issue brings the characters back years later to commemorate a tragic event and shows how they two heroes, and their relationship, has evolved.  It’s available in softcover for $19.95.  And the World’s Finest Archives reprints some of the original Silver Age team-ups with Superman and Batman and Robin.  They are available in hardcover for $49.99 each.

There are also volumes like Superman in the Fifties (and Superman in the Sixties, etc) that reprint a collection of adventures from a various decade of Superman.  Each volume is softcover and is available for $19.99.

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New on DVD

by December Lambeth on June 27, 2006

in DVD Reviews 

We’re here to keep you informed on hot choices for renting or buying new DVD releases. Released this week: Failure to Launch, Imagine Me & You, Madea’s Family Reunion, Cache (Hidden), Annapolis, Untraviolet (Unrated, Extended Cut),  Ren & Stimpy ‘Adult Party Cartoon, Beavis & Butt-head (Volume 2), Broken Saints, Strangers With Candy (Complete Series), Blue Collar Comedy Tour-One For The Road and, finally, Yellowbeard.

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Here’s what is getting released today on DVD:

Film:

Failure to Launch – Failure to Launch is yet another regurgitated romantic comedy where people are put together and kept apart through elaborate and contrived circumstances that could only happen in a film.  You’ve seen (and if you are like me hated) this exact film many times before. Get the rest of Alan’s opinion on Failure to Launch.

Imagine Me & You – Imagine Me & You is a hopeless romantic comedy about love at first sight between two women.  The problem?  One is getting married to her fiancé at that very moment.  Not a great film and it certainly has more than a few rough edges yet the performances and charm of the picture make it worth checking out; though despite my puntiffic title the movie itself is rather tame given the subject matter.  Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, Matthew Goode, and Anthony Head star. Get the rest of Alan’s opinion on Imagine Me & You.

Madea’s Family Reunion – Director Tyler Perry, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, gives us another gun-totting grandma moment. Not quite as humorous as his plays and his latest piece, but does have a few moments. Here it is with 2 relationship troubled nieces and an unruly wild and uncontrollable foster teen living under the same roof, what is Madea to do? A mix of humor and serious situations, just like life.

Annapolis – How tough can it be to go through Naval basic training? Pretty damn tough if you ask Jake (James Franco), the lead in Annapolis, he gets dealt a tough hand cause he’s just that good and he’s from the wrong side of the tracks. Ssshhhhh, don’t tell, but it’s actually a boxing film, I think. Cole (Tyrese Gibson) plays the training officer that does everything in his power to make Jake quit, cause he sees a little of himself in Jake and thinks he can do better. The two box it out in the ring during the annual boxing competition.

Special Edition or Series Release:

Ultraviolet (Unrated, Extended Cut) – Why? I’m not sure why they created an extended cut, of a film that didn’t deserve the original cut. I must admit it was better than Aeon Flux and it had an interesting idea with the whole vampire hemophagia thing. Ultraviolet is protecting a 9-year-old boy who could be a threat to humans, but finds out to be the cure to their own disease. There is some pretty awesome affects and butt kicking action if you’re looking for a brainless bullet and beat’em up flick. Don’t get too excited the extended edition is a whole extra 7 minutes.

Animation: Better Late Than Never:

Ren & Stimpy ‘Adult Party Cartoon – Here is a collection, “The Lost Episodes” of Ren & Stimpy, but really, they are just the newest of a failed attempt to make us laugh. There isn’t anything like the old Ren & Stimpy, nothing compares, no matter how hard big time execs try to make up for canning the brilliant creative team that created this crazy duo.

Beavis & Butt-head – The Mike Judge Collection, Vol .2 (Released ???) – “40 cartoons hand-picked by Mike Judge”, what makes him an expert? What is this, wrong week? Beavis and Butt-head, Ren and Stimpy Adult Party, Yellowbeard, Strangers with Candy and Ultraviolet a special edition? It’s Bevis & Butt-head folks, what else is there to say, either you like them or you don’t. Then again, how could you pass on owning a DVD with titles such as, “Premature Evacuation”, “TP” and “Bungholio: Lord of the Harvest”. Fire! Fire!

Broken Saints – Company Line from their site: Broken Saints is a 24-chapter serial graphic novel that was launched on January 17 2001, new installments were posted every few weeks. Games, art, story and hidden secrets, the whole thing was online. Storyteller Brook Burgess worked with Ian Kirby and Andrew West to prove that something really outstanding, compelling and cool could be found online and that was their story of 4 warriors and there challenge against the Darkness through love, loss and sacrifice. Here is a concept from finish to not quite end, almost completely independent coming to you first ever on DVD. The creators will and have followed through with story, animated series, live-action television, graphic novel (print), interactive entertainment and toys/collectibles. Visit a Broken Saints for details.

TV:

Strangers with Candy – The Complete Series – Jerri Blank, a 46 year old “boozer, user and loser” tries to go back to school and be cool. There is everything wrong with this series, it’s just that damn funny. Jerri learned nothing from her past years as an addict, tramp, alcoholic and all around no common sense gal; to top it off, she tries to return to high school and fit in with a crowd more than a third of her age. Really, you can’t help, but laugh your butt off with this collection and all it’s very wrong lessons in life. There are deleted scenes on this collection, joy for us!

Blue Collar Comedy Tour – One for the Road- With each previous comedy tour, Blue Collar progressively got worse. The first one was a riot, the second was a tickle and this one blows. One for the Road, more like a case of Wild Turkey, so you can pretend to laugh. Of course, yes, there are a few moments that you can giggle at, but for the most part, there isn’t enough to add up to anything substantial. How many times can you hear the same “red neck” joke told over and over again, in different forms?

Finally:

Yellowbeard Yes, they have finally done it, Yellowbeard, freaking awesome. What the hell took them so long, a laugh out loud riot from 1983, with a mix of adventure, pirates, silly humor, Cheech and Chong, add a dash of Mel Brooks (no he didn’t create it, but just add the dash) and certainly a bit of Monty Python; you can’t help, but laugh. It’s completely silly and nonsensical. You would never believe that the director has done Charmed and Lois & Clark since his early 80’s glory days.

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The Many Faces of Superman

by Alan Rapp on June 26, 2006

in Uncategorized

Many men have played Superman.  How many can you name?  We’ve got the list and a little about each one of these Men of Steel.  Come on and take a peek at these actors who were faster than a speeding bullet and could leap tall buildings in a single bound.

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Bud Collyer

Perhaps best known for his role as host on game shows such as Beat the Clock and Break the Bank, Collyer also provided the voice for both Superman and Clark Kent on the radio show and the classic Fleischer Superman Cartoons and would go on to do the voice of Superman in the late 1960’s in various cartoons such as The Batman/Superman Hour, The New Adventures of Superman, and The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.

Danny Dark

Sadly Collier died in 1969 and was replaced by Dark who provided the voice for Superman on all of the various Super Friends shows in the 1970’s and early 1980’s which were made possible by the popularity of those original 60’s shows.  Dark was also known as the “voice” of NBC television for years as an announcer and did narration for comercials.

Kirk Alyn

Alyn donned the cape in 1948 in a fifteen-episode serial The Adventures of Superman and resumed the role in the sequel Atom Man vs. Superman two years later.  Some critics argue that despite lacking the size and muscularture of later actors that Alyn was the best ever cast in the role.  Alyn did several serials including Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom and guest roles in televison shows such as Naked City and the original Battlestar GalacticaRichard Donner, in a very cool casting move, also cast him in the first Superman film in the cameo role as Lois Lane’s father (along with actress Noel Neill who played Lois Lane along side our next entry who Donner cast as Mrs. Lane).

George Reeves

Reeves became a national celebrity which led to personal appearances around the country and became a role model for millions of children.  Reeves was the first version of Superman many people saw and he became so sononomous with the role that it typecast him for years after the show ended.  His life ended tragically in an apparent suicide in 1959 just one year after the show ended though many including friends and family point to evidence that contridicts those findings.  Despite the tragic ending Reeves brought joy to millions during his life and his status as “the Superman” would persist for an entire generation until…

Christopeher Reeve

George Reeves was great, but for those of my generation there is only one Superman and his name is Christopher Reeve.  Reeve was chosen in 1978 by Richard Donner for Superman, and its success lead to one good sequel Superman II and two that we’d rather forget.  He was largely hailed for his ability to create two separate and interesting characters in Clark Kent and Superman and to this day remains the marker to which all future Supermen will be measured.  His good looks, his honest face and sense of depth and morality came across even in the silliness of the later films.  Reeve went on to star, direct, and produce many other films, and after his tragic accident became a vocal supporter for stem cell research.

John Haymes Newton & Gerard Christopher

The Superboys.  Newton was chosen for the title role in the 1988 show Superboy.  Newton left after the first season and Christopher replaced him for the final three seasons of the show.  Though the role wasn’t a breakthrough for either star, both continued acting on various TV shows in guest spots (oddly enough they both turned up in Melrose Place).

Beau Weaver

Weaver provided the voice of the Man of Steel for the short lived cartoon put out to celebrate Superman’s 50th Anniversary simply called Superman.  Weaver has worked steadily in voice acting and radio starring as the voice of Mr. Fantastic in the animated The Fantastic Four and The Silver Surfer, and providing the voice of Octane in the Transformers.

Dean Cain

A college football star whose NFL career was derailed by injury Cain popped up in various TV guest roles before he landed the coveted role of Superman in ABC’s new hour drama Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman co-staring with Teri Hatcher.  Since the show’s cancellation, after four years on the air, Cain has starred in the short lived Clubhouse and has made TV appearances in made-for-TV films such as The Perfect Husband The Laci Peterson Story and guest spots on Law & Order SVU and Hope & Faith, and also worked as the host for Ripley’s Believe it or Not

Tim Daly

Most remembered for his starring role as anal retentive pilot Joe Hackett on the sitcom Wings Daly has worked guest starring on several televsion shows (including a reunion of sorts with Tony Shaloub on Monk), starred in the TV remake of The Fugitive, and has worked in several films.  Daly is the younger brother of actress Tyne Daly (Cagney and Lacey).

George Newbern

When Daly was unable to do the voice for Superman on the new Justice League show Newbern took his place providing the voice of Superman for this new super team.  Newbern has worked in various films (Switching Channels, Adventures in Babysitting, Father of the Bride) and several guest roles on TV shows such as Chicago Hope, Providence, and Friends

Tom Welling

The only Superman on the list to never wear (or be drawn in) tights.  A construction woker turned model turned actor, Welling got his big break when he was cast to play Clark Kent on the new WB hour long drama Smallville which centers around Clark’s teen years in Kansas.  Welling has gone on to star in movies such as The Fog, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

Brandon Routh

The last of the Supermen (at least for this list).  A relative unknown before he was chosen by director Bryan Singer (who insisted on an unknown for the part)  for the title role in the new Superman Returns.  His early career involves an appearance in a Christina Aguilera music video and guest spots on shows such as Gilmore Girls and Will & Grace, and a short run on the daytime soap One Life to Live.  On screen Routh presents many of the qualities of the Christopher Reeve Superman including a vulnerability and earnestness that Singer believes is crucial to the character.  Routh has already signed on for two sequels; so if this Superman is a hit expect to see more of him in years to come.

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Superman on TV

by Alan Rapp on June 26, 2006

in Uncategorized

Old Supes is about to hit the big screen once again, but over the years he’s been more at home on the small screen.  Let’s look back at the various incarnations of Superman in television shall we?  Indeed we shall…

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Fleischer Superman Cartoons – The original Fleischer cartoons are how many first viewed Superman.  The seventeen animated shorts were produced for Paramount Pictures in the early 1940’s; they still hold up remarkably well today.  The cost of each short was $100,000 dollars (remember that’s 1940’s cash you’re talking about) which was almost quadruple the amount of Popeye or what Disney spent on its shorts at the same time.  In terms of style and look it was vastly ahead of it’s time (and its look strongly influenced Batman: The Animated Series – half a centruy later).  In the series Superman fought an onslaught of sci-fi themed villains and creatures such as robots, dinosaurs, mad scientists, and meteors.  The last few episodes produced without Max and Dave Fleischer when Paramount took over the studio feature WWII themed stories with Superman fighting against America’s enemies.  Bud Collyer provided the voice of Superman and Joan Alexander played the voice of Lois Lane.

The Adventures of Superman and Atom Man vs. Superman – Kirk Alyn stars as Superman in this serial and it’s sequel.  In the first Superman battles the Spider Lady (Carol Forman) and in the second battles Lex Luthor (Lyle Talbot) who is using a teleportation device and holding Metropolis hostage while calling himself Atom Man.  Noel Neill plays Lois Lane, Tommy Bond is Jimmy Olsen, and Pierre Watkin plays The Daily Planet’s editor in chief Perry White.

Adventures of Superman – The popular syndicated television show brought Superman to an entire generation.  The show’s 104 half-hour episodes first premiered in 1952 and ran until 1958.  Despite a low budget, change in theme and mood of the show, and a dramatic change from black and white to color television during the series run, the show had charm and class that many enjoyed.  Geroge Reeves starred as Clark Kent and Superman, with Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen and John Hamilton as Perry White, and Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill starred as Lois Lane over the series run.  Bill Kennedy provided the narration to the famous opening sequence “Faster than a speeding bullet!  More powerful than a locomotive!  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!  Superman.”  Of the 104 episodes a fan favorite “Panic in the Sky” (episode 38) stands out.  In fact future Superman show creators loved it so much that the plot was remade in two future shows (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Superboy).

Superboy – The series followed young journalism students Clark Kent and Lana Lang (Stacy Haiduk) at Shuster University.  Superboy also helps out a government organization investigating unusual and parnormal disturbances while battling villains such as vampires,  Lex Luthor (Scott Wells), Metallo (Michael Callan), and Bizarro (Barry Meyers).  John Haymes Newton starred in the title role for the first season and when he left the show was replaced by Gerard Christopher.  Despite a limited budget the small syndicated show lasted four years and has earned itself a loyal following.

Superman – The short lived Saturday morning cartoon was created to coincide with Superman’s 50th Anniversary in the late 1988.  Episodes included Superman (Beau Weaver) saving the Earth from Lex Luthor (Michael Bell), aliens, robots, and helping Wonder Woman stop the Soceress of Time.  The series is notable for special “Superman Family Album” segments which chronicled Clark Kent’s life between his arrival on earth and his first appearance as Superman involving Clark Kent getting a driver’s license, a birthday party, and graduating from high school.  Ma Kent was voiced by Tess MacNeille (of Futurama fame).

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman – The ABC hour long drama starred Dean Cain as Clark Kent/Superman and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane.  The show focused much more on Clark than Superman and delved into his career as a reporter and his relationship with Lois.  The show kept to the John Byrne revamp version of the character and even worked out a tie-in campaign where Lois and Clark were married in the comic and on the show at the same time.  Other than focusing more on Clark, a few other notable differences from other adaptions include Jonathan Kent (Eddie Jones) alive and well, Superman didn’t support his trademark hair curl, and Lex Luthor (Jonathan Shea) had a full head of hair (at least for the first season).  The show ran for four seasons.

Superman: The Animated Series – After the success of Batman the Animated Series the creators moved onto a new Superman cartoon with a similar design but a lighter and cleaner look.  Tim Daly (of Wings fame) was tapped to play Superman and Dana Delany voiced Lois Lane.  Many of Superman’s rogues gallery appeared on the show including Lex Luthor, Braniac, Darkseid, Bizarro, Parasite, Toy Man, and new villains such as Live Wire.

Smallville – A new millenium take on Clark Kent’s teenage years in Smallville, Kansas.  The show centers around Clark Kent’s (Tom Welling) life on the farm and the odd events and occureances in Smallville due to “meteor rock” contamination from the meteor shower that brought Kal-El to Earth years ago.  The show’s “No Flights, No Tights” rule was a drastic change from other Superman/Superboy shows as creators agreed Clark would never fly (though he did once on the show, oops!) or ever don the Superman suit.  The relalitonships examined on the show include the friendship between Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) and Clark, Clark’s relationship to his father Jonathan Kent (John Schneider), and Clark’s love for Lana Lang (Kristin Kruek).  Though none of that got in the way of fighting all kinds of “meteor rock freaks” every week.  Recent seasons have Clark moving on to college, the introduction of Lois Lane (Erica Durance), the introduction of Jor-El (voiced by none other than Superman II bad guy Terrence Stamp), the end of the Clark/Lex friendship, and the arrival of Braniac (James Marsters) and the Fortress of Solitude.  Of interest to true Superman afecianadoes – besides Stamp, both Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder also guest starred on the show.

Super Friends & Justice League – Superman also has played prominent roles in super-team shows.  Super Friends was a 1970’s and 1980’s Saturday morning cartoon show that focused on a band of heroes (Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman) working together out of the Hall of Justice.  The shows different season sported different sidekicks such as Wendy, Marv and Wonder Dog, and later the Wonder Twins and Gleek.  Later incarnations involved the “Challenge of the Super Friends” which introduced the Legion of Doom and added heroes Green Lantern, Flash, and Hawkman.  Later shows added more multi-cultural heroes such as Samurai, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, and El Dorado.  The final seasons introduced younger hereos such as Firestorm and Cyborg, and the villainous Darkseid.  Though often cheesy and full of bad coloring errors the show is fondly remembered for the narration provided by William Woodson and the overally campy fun of the show.  Cartoon Network’s Justice League was a much more serious teaming of heroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Hawgirl.  The third season opened up the league to more heroes including Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, the Question, Black Canary, Shining Knight, and the Atom.

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Superman Week

by Alan Rapp on June 26, 2006

in Film News & Trailers

It’s Superman Week boys and girls.  For the next couple days we’ll take a look at the big blue boyscout, the man of tomorrow, the last son of Krypton – Superman – all cumulating in our reviews for the new film directed by Bryan Singer and staring Brandon Routh this Wednesday.  Of course that’s not the only movie getting released this week.  Check inside for the full list.

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Here’s what’s scheduled to hit theaters this week.  Want to know more, just click on the title for film info including a full cast list.  Want a closer look, just click on the poster to watch the trailer.

Opening Wednesday:

Superman Returns

Bryan Singer’s remake/sequel involves the quick retelling of the Superman origin and then Superman’s return from space after a five year absence following the events of Superman II.  Richard Donner’s vision, Christopher Reeves’ Clark Kent, and Hackman’s Lex Luthor and more are all lovingly recreated here.  Unknown Brandon Routh takes on the role of the last son of Krypton, beach babe Kate Bosworth is Lois Lane, and Kevin Spacey goes bald as the new Lex Luthor.  A little too long, and a little too familiar, but it’s heart is in the right place and has quite a few nice nods that Superman fans will recognize.  Check back Wednesday for our review.

Who Killed the Electric Car (New York and Los Angeles)

The new documentary by Chris Paine examines the mysterious destruction of what was one of the most efficient, cleanest (it produced no dangerous emissions), fastest, AMERICAN built cars ever made, whose invention should have transformed the auto industry and how it disappeared overnight.  Martin Sheen provides the narration as the film documents the odd story of the car that might have, and should have, been.  Included are interviews and clips from various celebrities including Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Peter Horton, and former Baywatch babe Alexandra Paul.

Opening Friday:

The Devil Wears Prada

Young nobody Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) moves to New York and lands a job as an assistant to the ruthless fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Maryl Steep).  The film was adapted by Aline Brosh McKenna (Laws of Attraction, Three to Tango) from the novel by Lauren Weisberger.  Close’s character is based on Vogue editor Anna Wintour who was less than pleased with the portrayal or film and rumors of her attempting to keep the cast from shooting in fashion locations have received more interest than the film itself.  After her work in more grown-up roles (Brokeback Mountain, Havoc) Hathaway retuns to yet another of her sweet and innocent bread and butter roles.

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