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Filtering by Tag: Batman

You Got to Have a Mother Box For Me: Justice League, reviewed.

Chris Klimek

How Green Was My Screen: JK Simmons, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ben Affleck, and Ezra Miller (Warner Bros.).

How Green Was My Screen: JK Simmons, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ben Affleck, and Ezra Miller (Warner Bros.).

Early in Justice League, while director Zack Snyder abuses yet another Leonard Cohen song, we see a glimpse of a Metropolis Post front page with a headline about vanished heroes that puts Kal-El in the middle of a triptych with Prince and David Bowie. It feels like a joke from Men in Black (another comic book-derived movie) 20 years ago. Anyway, it's good to see that Metropolis is still a two-paper town.

Here's my review of Justice League, where I did not really have room to complain that J.K. Simmons, the J. Jonah Jameson of Sam Raimi's no-longer-canonical Spider-Man trilogy, is now Commissioner Gordon, which feels like double-dipping, or that Gordon has once again been demoted to empty trenchcoat after being a vibrant, fully-developed character in Christopher Nolan's no-longer-canonical Dark Knight trilogy. These movies, man.

Hear Me Threaten the Life of Co-Host Josh Larsen on Last Week's Filmspotting!

Chris Klimek

The Terminator is one of my favorite movies. When my Windy City pals Adam Kempenarr and Josh Larsen announced the other week that they would make writer-director James Cameron's low-budget, high-concept sci-fi classic the subject of one of their "Sacred Cow" reviews, I knew that the likelihood that Josh—a critic who generally seems to dislike action films, with the bizarre exception of the Fast & the Furious franchise, which to me represents the genre at its most derivative and least inspired—would rain on it. He hates Predator, people! Predator! A film I saw last year at the Library of Congress!

So I took action. To paraphrase Al Capone, you can get farther with a kind word and a quote from The Terminator than you can with a kind word alone. The threatening voice mail I left for Josh opened last week's episode.

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Self-Inflicted Wound: Suicide Squad, reviewed.

Chris Klimek

"I loved you in that movie  Focus."  Will Smith and Margot Robbie. (Clay Enos/Warner Bros.)

"I loved you in that movie Focus." Will Smith and Margot Robbie. (Clay Enos/Warner Bros.)

I was genuinely curious about Suicide Squad, because I admire many of writer-director David Ayer's films, and because I like the sturdy bad-guys-on-a-dangerous-mission premise in general. (I finally saw William Friedkin's 1977 thriller Sorcerer a few months ago, and I loved it.) But Suicide Squad is at least as awful as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and probably would've been lousy even if a panicked studio hadn't commissioned an edit from a company that specializes in trailers. Anyway, I performed an autopsy for NPR.

While can't endorse the movie, I strongly endorse my friend Neda Ulaby's All Things Considered piece about Kim Yale, who co-wrote many issues of the late-80s Suicide Squad comic with her husband, John Ostrander. He gets shouted out in the movie in the form of a sign for the "John F. Ostrander Federal Building," but Yale does not. I'm glad Neda stepped in to correct the record.

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 288: Batman v Superman and Objects We Desire

Chris Klimek

Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne remembers his fallen partner Robin in  Batman v Superman  (Warners).

Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne remembers his fallen partner Robin in Batman v Superman (Warners).

I was happy as always to join Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and my Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon on this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein we perform an autopsy on the rotten corpse of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which I was expected to defend but could not. The precedent for this was my defense of Man of Steel on this show three years ago.

Since none of us liked this film — in fact we all disliked it so much that the controversial issue of Henry Cavill's height never even came up — we decided to broaden the topic to try to pin down the elements that make a would-be action blockbuster work or not work. I forgot to say so on the show, but I wrote about this for Linda two summers ago after helping the staff of The Dissolve, may it rest in peace, to determine the 50 Greatest Summer Blockbusters.

Blockbuster Patient Zero:

I Like Pink Very Much, Lois: Top Five Superman/Batman Movie Moments, on this week's Filmspotting

Chris Klimek

Michelle Pfieffer and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's  Batman Returns,  a film I like more now than I did in 1992.

Michelle Pfieffer and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's Batman Returns, a film I like more now than I did in 1992.

It was a true pleasure to be on Filmspotting again, this time in a World's Finest-style team-up with my Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon. Glen is "unauthor" (his joke, people) of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography and author the just-published, even-better The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. Host Adam Kempenaar invited the two of us to join him for this episode's Top Five segment, Superman/Batman Movie Moments. Adam and Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips reviewed Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in the show's first segment. They didn't like it any more than I did.

There's always at least one thing in my notes that I forget to say when I'm on a podcast/radio show, and this time it was a big one: In my No. 1 Superman/Batman scene, the Lois/Superman patio interview from Superman '78, the big guy actually volunteers to the Daily Planet reporter that he can't see through lead. Hey world! I know I seem invulnerable, but I do have a few exploitable weaknesses which I shall now reveal!

I love this, because it shows us that Supes' belief in humanity's goodness is so absolute (and unchallenged, somehow, even though we know from this very film that he attended high school) that it doesn't even occur to him that he should keep his vulnerabilities to himself. But when Lois asks his age, he will say only that he is "over 21," a line that perfectly encapsulates the discreet but palpable sexual tension of the scene. It's a huge improvement on Superman’s reply to this question in an earlier draft of the scene that was used to audition actors for the role of Lois once Christopher Reeve had been cast: “Thirty.”

Everything that's weird about this conversation — "Krypton with a 'C-R-I?'" "No, Krypton with a K-R-Y." — feels like a deliberate, and inspired, decision by screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz  (whose formal credit on the picture was "Creative Consultant") and director Richard Donner. There's plenty in their Superman that I don't love, starting with all those wacky komedy scenes of sacrificial fat guy Ned Beatty falling off of ladders while tuba music plays. But the stuff Superman gets right is as right as any superhero flick has ever gotten anything. The patio interview is one of those.