Children of the Corn (1984)

Fritz Kiersch

Peter Horton - Burt Stanton
Linda Hamilton - Vicky Baxter
R.G. Armstrong - Diehl
John Franklin - Issac Chroner
Courtney Gains - Malachai Boardman
Robby Kiger - Job
Anne Marie McEvoy - Sarah
John Philbin - Richard 'Amos' Deigan

Genre - Horror/Killer Kids/Supernatural

Running Time - 92 Minutes

Based on a Stephen King short story from 1977, CHILDREN OF THE CORN takes place in Gatlin, Nebraska - a small, quiet town that cherishes family values and morality. One morning, an evil looking kid named Issac (John Franklin) orchestrates a mass murder of Gatlin's adults [or anyone 19 or over] - via the children of the town. Apparently, Issac has been listening to someone called "He Who Walks Behind The Rows", who supposedly lives in the town's corn field.

Three years later, a young couple named Burt (
Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) travel towards the town of Gatlin. A young child, who was already injured, is hit by the couple's car. This stops the trip for Burt and Vicky, making them curious about Gatlin and what really happened to that child. The two look for help, but are detoured or given the cold shoulder.

After driving in circles, the couple decide to travel into Gatlin. Instead of finding help, they experience a ghost town dirtied with dried corn husks, not knowing that children are watching their every move. Eventually, Vicky gets kidnapped by Issac's first officer, Malachai (
Courtney Gains), to become a sacrifice for "He Who Walks Behind The Rows". Burt must realize what's really happening in Gatlin in order to save his girlfriend, and quite possibly, Gatlin itself.


- The opening sequence. CHILDREN OF THE CORN has always been one of my least favorite Stephen King adaptations. To this day, I still don't understand why it has gotten so many sequels [which I haven't seen as of yet]. But there are some things about this adaptation that I do quite like.

Probably the highlight of the film [for me at least] is the opening sequence where the children murder their parents and any other adults in that restaurant. It's just a really effective scene and a great set-up to a mediocre film. Director Fritz Kiersch captures a creepy scene in which children lock up adults in a restaurant as the adults are being poisoned, while Issac watches chillingly through a window. Instead of letting us witness the children's reactions as they kill [we really only see Job's reaction as he's helpless to stop the massacre from happening, which unfortunately leads to his father being the last victim inside the restaurant], we see close-ups of weapons just striking these people until they're dead. It makes the sequence more personal - more chilling - as we don't know why children would want to murder their parents and elders in a group setting. I had believed the scene was gorier [my childhood eyes played tricks on me], but it's fairly tame for the most part [although there is blood].

This opening sequence is just really striking and really teases you for a really good follow up. It never happens, sadly, but those opening minutes still put a smile on my face. Kids can be scary sometimes, and CHILDREN OF THE CORN proves that.

- The premise and ideas behind CHILDREN OF THE CORN. While the execution of these ideas are flawed, at least the film has ideas that go beyond just the typical horror template. The opening sequence deals with patricide/matricide, which even today is still considered taboo and hard to understand. Why would a child murder their parent? What kind of force drives a kid to do something like that? Sure, the answer here is purely supernatural. But it does happen in reality, and it's something hard to grasp.

We also have this idea about religion and how strongly it motivates people's behaviors. This aspect of the film is probably the one that still resonates strongly today, especially when it comes to certain social issues we're still unbelievably dealing with. I'm not sure if Stephen King or the screenwriters were criticizing people worshipping religion [I don't think that's the case here], but the film does seem to judge how some use religion for their own gain and brainwash others. The idea of cults is extremely scary, but one solely involving children is even scarier. Children are molded by outside sources, so Issac preaching the words of "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" as if doing a sermon from the Holy Bible has really screwed up these children and has clouded them from the reality around them. They are totally loyal to this God, never questioning what He asks of them. If He wants someone dead, they follow. And since they don't know better, they lost their humanity in order to follow this being the right way. That's really frightening.

I think the idea of children running a town by themselves by killing anyone over 19 is just a really great premise for any story or film. CHILDREN OF THE CORN is not the first film to accomplish this, but it's a premise certainly made for the horror genre. Adults can barely govern and lead others and themselves. What makes anyone think that children could do it? Once you're 19, you must sacrifice yourself to this "God". And if you're an adult, you're an "Outlander" and must be killed. Hell, Issac and Malachai can't agree on certain issues, both wanting to be in charge. CHILDREN OF THE CORN really deals with some great societal issues that we've all have faced from one time or another. I just wish the film would have focused more on the commentary while bringing the horror at the same time. But I'm just glad the film does make you think somewhat.

- The cast. The actors in this film are pretty good. Peter Horton, probably best known for his television role in thirtysomething, is pretty good here as the yuppie Burt. His dialogue is pretty terrible sometimes, but Horton gets props for keeping it professional and being a decent leading man. Linda Hamilton is great as Vicky, bringing some maternal charm to her role. I thought she and Horton had some great chemistry, coming across as very convincing as boyfriend and girlfriend.

John Franklin is pretty memorable as Issac, giving off a Shakespearean type of delivery when it came to his dialogue. Courtney Gains is probably more memorable as Malachai, looking quite menacing with his soldier-like delivery. Anne Marie McEvoy is cute as Sarah, and Robby Kiger is pretty good as Job. The other kid actors were very convincing in their roles. I wish the script was better, but the actors managed to take the story seriously and make it somewhat affective.

- Some of the direction. Fritz Kiersch's direction is a mixed bag for me. But Kiersch does have his moments visually. I already mentioned the awesome opening sequence. But I also loved the scene where reality becomes a dream, which in turn comes back to reality. It's a very effective scene and shows how haunted Vicky is over hitting a young child on the road. I also thought Kiersch used some nice angles and used great shots to establish how desolate Gatlin was. Gatlin is a character in itself, and it makes the film creepier when you don't see people around while things are covered in husks of corn. I'll get into what I didn't like in a moment, but some of what Kiersch did here I did enjoy.

- The screenplay. For those who don't know, the short story that CHILDREN OF THE CORN is based on was originally published in an issue of Penthouse, before being added to the Night Shift collection. The short story and the film [at least the 1984 version - the 2009 remake is more in tune with the short story] are very different. The original story is pretty dark and downbeat. The story establishes that the adults who are murdered by the children had it coming. The children learn that the blasphemy and sin that the adults had committed led to the troubles the town was experiencing. In some way, the adults are the villains in the short story, not the children [even though what they've done is still wrong]. Burt and Vicky, in the short story, are not a happy couple - but a married couple on the verge of divorce. Bad things also happen to the couple, not like the happy ending in the film. Also, the ending is more creepy and depressing than it is in the film. Plus, "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" is never revealed, and is kept pretty much a mystery in the short story.

Honestly, I'm glad this version kept much of the premise and certain moments of the story intact. But it's just way too happy. You never really feel threatened after that opening sequence. The murder of the adults comes across as tragic, rather than somewhat justified by the children to save their futures by rebuilding Gatlin themselves. Vicky and Burt are always happy and supportive, even when they don't agree on things. The story makes the couple more interesting by having them be estranged, leading to their downfall at the end [which represents the ending of their marriage - "To Death Do Us Part"].

Also, we know too much about "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" here. We actually "see" what it is, taking away much of the mystery and creepiness. The narration by Job doesn't help either. In fact, I'm not even sure why it was even needed. It's more distracting than anything. Let the audience figure things out for themselves. I don't want some kid telling me what I'm seeing and how I should feel about it. Ambiguity with a premise like this is more effective than drawing us the full picture.

Also, a lot of the dialogue is just painful. Burt uses words like "gosh" and "oh golly gee". No real person speaks like that while they're about to be killed, do they? Also, some of the dialogue that Issac and Malachai speak is just awful and comes across as laughable rather than threatening.

The screenplay isn't garbage or anything. Like I said, I'm glad they managed to maintain how most of the story played out. But instead of taking a chance of creating a dark film that truly reflected what Stephen King was trying to express, it plays out way too safe and way too upbeat. The ending pretty much says it all, as the end credits roll even before the survivors exit the screen. The sad part is that there's a pretty tense scence right before the credits roll, but seeing the cast and crew a second after that moment destroys all tension and suspense the film probably wanted to create. The film tries too hard to have people leave with smiles on their faces, rather than let them walk out unsure with a thought provoking ending that could lead to some debate. Not all horror films need to be intelligent, but if the story that it's based on allows that, why shouldn't the adaptation? I'm curious to see the remake, because I hear it's more like the short story. Let's see if a true adaptation works better on screen than this adaptation does.

- Some of the direction. While Kiersch does some great things visually, he does some not-so-great things as well. In particular, the pacing of CHILDREN OF THE CORN is just bad. I don't know how many times I can watch Burt and Vicky drive in circles before finally entering Gatlin. Instead of adding to the story, it just feels like padding to make the film longer. Also, my tolerance level is tested as Burt walks around the deserted Gatlin, looking for help even though there's no one around. Hell, he left his wife alone in a strange place thinking she'd be safe. What a dumbass. I also felt the ending was rushed and just kept spinning on its wheels. Instead of making me feel tense, I just wanted the film to end. Yet, it had multiple endings! It's sad that after an exciting opening sequence, the rest of the film just meanders. Honestly, this film put me to sleep a few times. Sometimes stretching a short story into a feature length film has its negatives...

- The special effects. I honestly don't know how to express how bad and laughable the special effects in CHILDREN OF THE CORN are. Even for 1984 low-budget standards, the visuals shouldn't be this terrible. I mean, the scene where someone is sacrificed and this neon glow cocoons them makes me shake my head in disbelief. The effect is done so lazily and you can noticed the flawed execution. I'm sure people were laughing at this 29 years ago. I know I probably would have!

And don't get me started that "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" is some sort of gopher thingy or something. At least that's how he travels. Even his powers looked unimpressive and fake. And the make-up for a certain character looked "meh" as well. I'm sorry, but I've seen low budget indie slasher films with more impressive special effects. For a Stephen King adaptation, you would expect more care in this department. I'm really floored by how lame the special effects are here. Maybe that's the appeal of CHILDREN OF THE CORN, but I just couldn't deal with the execution.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN is one of my least favorite Stephen King adaptations. Still, it's not entirely terrible. The opening sequence is great, some of the direction is inspired, the cast is more than okay, and I like the premise of the story. It's too bad I find most of the film pretty dull, slow, and disappointing - especially compared to the actual short story and the "special" effects. I respect that the film and franchise has its fans, but I can't consider myself one of them. A pretty mediocre adaptation to a great short story.

2 Howls Outta 4


Indie Horror Spotlight: "Leaf Blower Massacre" (2013) by Anthony Cooney

Anthony Cooney

Anita Nicole Brown - Girlfriend
Shavar D. Clark - Shavar
Anthony Cooney - Bobby D
Patrick Anthony Hozjan - Pat
Miguel Perez - Jose

Genre - Horror/Slasher/Comedy

Running Time - 12 Minutes

This edition of Indie Horror Spotlight comes from director Anthony Cooney. I'm Facebook friends with Mr. Cooney and he asked if I was interested in watching his short film and possibly reviewing it on the blog. And with a title like LEAF BLOWER MASSACRE, how could I refuse?

Written by Cooney and Josh Stephenson, LEAF BLOWER MASSACRE begins with a toddler named Martin looking out the window during an Autumn day. Everything looks fine, until you see that some of the leaves are drenched in blood. We move past twenty years, where the same town is being terrorized by a costumed, masked man using a leaf blower as his choice of weapon. Could this be Martin? Or is someone else entirely?

This 12-minute film is an obvious homage to slasher films of the 1980s shot on video, in particular the 1985 hilariously bad THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE. Just one look at the ridiculous costume, and the killer's voice and puns within the situation tells you that Cooney and Stephenson are huge fans of that 1985 film. The only difference is really the choice of weapon.

The idea of a leaf blower as a weapon is pretty funny. I was seriously expecting something offensive, like how STAN HELSING took the Leatherface character and gave him a leaf blower instead of a chainsaw. But here, the leaf blower is a serious weapon, being used to blow leaves at the victim, enough to distract them for a punch or blow to the face. The stalk-and-slash portions come across as more humorous than anything, as the victims just act foolish prior to the attack. The last attack is the most vicious though, as the killer attacks a victim and prepares to torture her. In my opinion, the change in tone comes out of nowhere, and the ending is such a tease that it annoyed me. It took me out of the film, making me wish it hadn't ended like that. But maybe the budget didn't allow more of the story and footage to be shot.

The characters are all ridiculous and over-the-top, but I liked that. It's obvious that LEAF BLOWER MASSACRE wants to be silly, so the dumb behavior of the characters reflects that. The poker scene had me chuckling, as well as the initial attack from the killer. There's no gore or T & A unfortunately, but this is the type of story I would love to see extended and made full-length to be honest.

The direction by Cooney is very good. It looks like a film shot on video and follows the horror conventions well. It's also quick paced [it has to be at 12 minutes] and flows well. The acting is also pretty decent, as you can tell the cast were having fun making this.

All in all, LEAF BLOWER MASSACRE is more hit than miss. While I disliked the ending and the tonal change towards the end, the rest of the film entertained me quite a bit. I look forward to watching more from both Anthony Cooney and Josh Stephenson. It's a shame about budget limitations. I would love to see this film as a full length movie. I think it could be a lot of fun, just like this 12-minute film.

3 Howls Outta 4

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The 600th Review: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Jim Gillespie

Jennifer Love Hewitt - Julie James
Sarah Michelle Gellar - Helen Shivers
Ryan Phillippe - Barry William Cox
Freddie Prinze, Jr. - Ray Bronson
Bridgette Wilson - Elsa Shivers
Anne Heche - Missy Egan
Johnny Galecki - Max Neurick
Muse Wilson - Ben Willis

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 101 Minutes

Since this is my 600th review and all - yay me! - I honestly had trouble deciding what to review for such an occasion. At one point, I wanted to review 1939's THE WIZARD OF OZ. Then, I switched over to 1968's ROSEMARY'S BABY. Then I was thinking of starting my journey to watch every zombie movie ever made by doing a review for 1932's WHITE ZOMBIE. I seriously had no idea what I wanted to review.

Then, I was going through some VHS tapes and saw it - a film so perfectly timed for this occasion. Summer has just started. The Fourth of July is headed our way soon. And it was a horror film from the late 1990s - when the genre had a rebirth due to 1996's SCREAM. In fact, while SCREAM reinvigorated the slasher sub-genre, I believe the film I'm reviewing for you cemented that one-two punch the genre needed to grab teen audiences and fans looking for mainstream horror. And that film is 1997's I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER - a film I hadn't watched since the early 2000s, yet remembered almost every detail about it all these years later.

Now don't get me wrong - I never found I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER to be the greatest horror film ever. In fact, it has many plot holes and follows the slasher film manual to a tee, although turning the sub-genre on its head and calling everyone out on it was what made the genre so popular again with SCREAM. Critics weren't big fans, yet horror fans ate it up and made the film a success. Hell, I watched it mainly for Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar, who at the time were coming into their own as two of the biggest teen stars. While I always preferred SCREAM, and even URBAN LEGEND to an extent, I still enjoyed I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER for what it was - an 80s slasher polished with 90s nu-ness. And even after 16 years have passed, I still find a lot to like about this film - even if it isn't anywhere close to horror perfection.

On a very memorable Fourth of July, four high school seniors decide to have fun before moving on with their separate lives as they prepare for college. The beautiful Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has won a beauty pageant and is now her town's beauty queen. Helen's boyfriend Barry (Ryan Phillippe), her best friend Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), and Julie's boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) celebrate her victory by drinking and partying. After a detour at the beach, the crew decide to drive and enjoy their happy night.

Unfortunately as they drive, the car hits something huge. As they investigate the damage, they discover a bruised and bloody person on the road. Julie and Helen suggest calling the police, but Barry and Ray refuse, afraid that they'll go to jail for manslaughter. The guys decide that they should deal with the body themselves, dumping it into the ocean. The girls reluctantly agree, helping Barry and Ray dispose of the body.

A year passes and all four friends are all emotional messes due to the events of the hit-and-fun. After returning home from college, Julie receives a note, stating that "
I know what you did last summer." Julie shows it to her estranged friends, wondering if someone had seen what they had done. And if that's the case, they need to find out who is the messenger before he/she takes them out one-by-one.

Surprisingly, I can't believe how well I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER has dated since 1997. Sure the 90s fashions and music date the film, but the story and the mystery are still pretty effective even today. I still don't think the film is great horror cinema or anything, but it's an enjoyable and breezy 101 minutes that most modern horror can't really say. It created four stars in Hewitt, Gellar, Prinze Jr., and Phillippe, as well as give cred to screenwriter Kevin Williamson - who had an impressive last half of the 1990s with SCREAM, Dawson's Creek, TEACHING MRS. TINGLE, SCREAM 2, THE FACULTY, and this film.

The screenplay for I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER is based on a novel by Lois Duncan, pretty much using the same plot and main characters. Williamson, instead of following the self awareness that he used in SCREAM, decides to play it pretty straight with this film's script. While there are references to other horror films, mainly SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, the story pretty much plays out seriously. A lot of people criticized this at the time [maybe they still do now] about why going back to the way things were when making fun of these cliche horror conventions is what brought the mainstream back to begin with. But I think that's what makes IKWYDLS stand apart from SCREAM. And while SCREAM deserves the credit for bringing the masses back to horror in 1996, I don't think the genre would have been seen as a true cash cow until the success of IKWYDLS. And I think the story it's telling has a lot to do with that same success.

Now is the screenplay perfect? Not in the least. It definitely has its issues and I'll get to them shortly. But what I like about this film is how well Williamson writes for younger characters. There's something genuine in the way these characters speak, and the way they behave with each other. They're focused on superficial crap like fame, fortune, and sex. They tell each other stories and urban legends that may, or may not, be true. When they're under pressure, they lash out without really thinking logically about the situation.

In fact, the best part is how Williamson actually lets us in on how this "murder" has affected every one of them. They all look like former shells of themselves, barely able to look each other in the eye and hold on to what make them all so close in the first place. It's a realistic character progression that we don't really see in slasher films. These characters are haunted, in total denial about what they've done in order to maintain some semblance of a life. And since these characters are fairly one-dimensional stereotypes, this added layer does allow some depth to shine through - depth one wouldn't expect out of a slasher film. I think that's why many people still enjoy this film. I do wish the film focused more on this aspect of the story, since it is the most interesting part about it.

To be honest with you, the "whodunit" part of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER is the weakest part of the screenplay. I enjoy mysteries and detective work. But the way IKWYDLS executes this portion is extremely flawed and pretty ridiculous. All the red herrings and the potential suspects feel very forced. Ooh, she's squinting her eyes! Oh no, he's frowning at them! How subtle! The stuff with the Egan family is an interesting addition, but I felt these scenes ran too long. That's probably due to the fact that these scenes are nothing but exposition to sustain said mystery. These scenes, or these red herrings, aren't bad. They just feel kind of unnecessary. I mean, we all know these random characters are NOT the killer. Even a newbie could figure that one out. So why bother really? Cut down ten to fifteen minutes of runtime and you'd have a much tighter script.

It doesn't help that the actual identity of the killer doesn't really make his true appearance until the final twenty minutes. Yeah, it's supposed to be mysterious. But you could at least present this person before the actual reveal for it to mean something. That way the climax could resonate more. Instead, it just feels like this person popped up at the most convenient time so the film can finally end. Even back in 1997, I thought how they executed the identity of the killer to be pretty weak. This is something we should see coming. This is something the film should be building towards. But it's a twist that exists for the sake of having a twist. The twist in I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER was obvious, but at least it was there in your face the entire time to figure out. The reveal just feels random to me.

And about this killer - what is his/her deal here? Cutting people's hair? Running down people but not killing them? Sending notes with great penmanship? For a person who almost got killed via vehicular homicide, he/she sure enjoys playing with people instead of just killing them. I oddly find it fun how the killer tortures his/her victims. But I still don't understand why he/she needed to kill side characters that had no knowledge of the event. Nor do I understand how he/she managed to stuff a corpse covered in crabs inside Julie's car trunk, only to clean it out spic and span in about a minute. I can suspend my disbelief with films like IKWYDLS, but that's disbelief overload. While I enjoy the visual of that, I still can't wrap my head about that implausibility. Still, the screenplay isn't terrible, as it probably does more things right than it does wrong.

Even though this is a slasher film, the gore here is very tame. It's kind of a let down really. The guy getting hit by a car is pretty brutal. And then a side character gets a hook under the chin in a pretty violent moment. But after that, it's pretty PG-13 in terms of horror violence. You'd think the deaths for the main characters would be more brutal and gruesome for audiences to truly be affected by these moments. But nope. It's actually kind of backwards. I know IKWYDLS isn't that type of film [the 90s were pretty tame compared to the 80s when it came to slashers], but a little more blood wouldn't have hurt.

The direction by Jim Gillespie is probably the film's highlight. The film's picture looks great. I love the use of overhead shots. There's some nice style in terms of angles, lighting, and composition of shots. There's also some nice tension and suspense in this film. Probably the best scene in the film is the chase scene involving Sarah Michelle Gellar and the killer. It's usually the scene I remember whenever the film is brought up. It follows the slasher conventions to a tee, yet it's still effective due to the actors involved and the way it's executed. I also love the scene involving Ryan Phillippe on the balcony as well, mainly due to the light and shadows that play inside that moment. Gillespie, who would later direct 2005's underrated horror film VENOM, really gives the film a great polish and is definitely one of the better directed nu-slashers out there.

The acting in the film gets some criticism, but I don't find it that bad honestly. Will it win major critic awards? Probably not. But all the actors convey the story well and you care about their characters, as shallow as they may be. Jennifer Love Hewitt was probably the bigger star here at the time, as she was on FOX's Party of Five. She looks great in a tank top and manages to give a sweet performance that displays a lot of vulnerability, confusion, yet a quiet strength that makes her a memorable Final Girl of the 1990s. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who had just started to appear on WB's Buffy The Vampire Slayer [one of my favorite television shows ever], also does well as Helen. She's more of the superficial character, but Gellar gives the role some depth that probably wasn't in the script. She also looks great in a tank top.

The men aren't as good as the ladies, but they aren't terrible. Ryan Phillippe has the angry jerk of the group down to a tee. He's the kind of guy you know will get killed really early in the film because he's such a douche. Yet Phillippe does a great job playing him. Freddie Prinze, Jr. is probably the weakest actor in the film with his "aw shucks" delivery. But I've seen worse actors than him. Bridgette Wilson plays a cold bitch for a bit and does it well. And Anne Heche is probably the best actor as Missy Egan, the sister of the suspected hit-by-car victim. She had the backwoods role down pat, really giving a convincing performance even if it was pretty short. While SCREAM had great actors, IKWYDLS set the trend to cast popular television actors in one horror film that would last for years to come. And this film is still one of the better ones within that trend.


- Helen said that through art, she will serve her country. I knew watching porn made me more patriotic.

- Julie continued to reject Max's romantic advances. I guess his Big Bang Theory is much smaller than Julie would like.

- Max looked down on Ray. The film wants you to think it's about their different class and social statuses. But it's really because Max had watched WING COMMANDER and that disgust of failure hasn't left yet.

- Max got a hook to the chin, killing him. I knew that Darlene Conner would grow up to be a real bitch.

- Barry was almost run over by his own car, which was stolen and driven by the killer. Or more likely, Resse Witherspoon and her current drunk husband just went joyriding and accidentally hurt Barry. Talk about some CRUEL INTENTIONS.

- Helen got her hair cut while she was sleeping. Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake can be a real cut up sometimes.

- Missy Egan enjoys slicing and dicing fish. No wonder Ellen DeGeneres dated her for a while...

- An idiot cop got hooked and killed by the killer. For a fisherman, the killer sure knows how to skewer a pig.

- The fisherman slashed Elsa's throat. Uh...fatality?

- The fisherman got his/her revenge on Helen. I guess he's the Vampire Slayer...Slayer.

- The fisherman seemed mainly focused on killing Julie. She must have refused him/her a "happy ending" as a member of The Client List.

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER is one of the better nu-slasher films of the 1990s. It holds up surprisingly well. The direction by Jim Gillespie is solid. The acting isn't too bad. And the story, while cliche, works well enough to be memorable. I wish there were better death scenes, a stronger execution of the mystery, and more of a focus on the characters' downhill spiral after the hit-and-run that sets up the film. But IKWYDLS does more right than it does wrong. I wish I could say the same about the two sequels...

3 Howls Outta 4


The Winner of The Purge Giveaway!

So only 7 people entered Universal Pictures' giveaway for their mega-successful horror-thriller, THE PURGE. And after I put these names on pieces of paper and shuffled them inside one of my baseball caps, I picked out a single piece of paper. And the name on that paper was...


So Chris, I will contact you through e-mail so I can receive your information so you can receive your prize from Universal Pictures! Thanks everyone for entering and I hope to do more giveaways down the line. Congrats again to Chris Alejandro!

This Is The End (2013) & Hatchet III (2013)

Seth Rogen
Evan Goldberg

James Franco
Jonah Hill
Seth Rogen
Jay Baruchel
Danny McBride
Craig Robinson
Emma Watson
Michael Cera

Genre - Comedy/Horror

Running Time - 106 Minutes

Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to hang out with his buddy, Seth Rogen. Although Baruchel wants to spend one-on-one time with his friend, Rogen wants to go to a party that's happening at James Franco's newly built home. Baruchel reluctantly agrees, although he's not exactly friends with Franco or anyone else at the party.

After experiencing strange behavior from actors like Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson, Baruchel feels uncomfortable and wants to leave. All of a sudden, the world starts to end like how the Book of Revelations had described, creating earthquakes, fires, and a giant sinkhole right in Franco's front yard. As famous celebrities start dying, Baruchel finds himself shacked inside of Franco's house with Rogen, Franco, Robinson, and Hill - with an ignorant Danny McBride joining the crew in the morning missing the devastation that night. They realize that they will eventually run out of food and water, leading to truths coming out - both personally and Bibically.

THIS IS THE END is probably the funniest film of the year so far, and by far the funniest film I've seen in years. Just a hilarious theater experience from beginning to end, only helped more if you know who these actors are, their tabloid stories, and the films they starred in with each other. Add in extreme portrayals of their real personalities [Michael Cera's is totally the opposite one would even expect, which makes him a highlight], and you got yourself a winner.

The real surprise is how much horror and science fiction THIS IS THE END really has in its story. You know by the trailers that the film is a comedy about the Apocalypse. But we also get parodies of classic horror films, done pretty damn perfectly, which made me enjoy the film even more. I won't spoil what's parodied, but it's way funnier than anything SCARY MOVIE has ever done. And I thought the CGI and special effects were pretty bad, yet great at the same time. And let's just say now I know why the Devil gets so much love from Saddam Hussein on South Park. Geez...

I also like that the film is just really about friendship. Even through the horrible stuff they go through, the actors still bicker over stupid stuff, talk behind each other's backs, and insult each other - even when the Apocalypse is around them and that being nice to each other would bring them one step closer to salvation. They are still willing to live this life of excess and act better than everyone else, knowing that's the reason why they're still dealing with the Rapture while others have been saved by God. It's a great social commentary which I'm sure was a nice catharsis for the actors involved. It's as if they know that celebrity and fame are really just superficial things, while their strong friendships with each other is what keeps them going in life - and probably why THIS IS THE END even exists to begin with, as they probably just wanted to do a film together and entertain audiences. And I'm not sure how much of the film was improvised [I could tell some things were], but I found the dialogue hilarious and believable. We all talk with our good friends like this, which makes THIS IS THE END more endearing to me.

The direction by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen was really well done. I honestly had no idea they both directed THIS IS THE END until after I watched the film, which really impressed me because it was done so professionally. The film looks good. The editing is solid. I loved the fake trailers, the way the parodies were shot, and the use of the special effects. It flowed very well and felt a lot shorter than it actually was.

The acting is great, as the actors seem to enjoy making fun of themselves. The chemistry between Baruchel [gotta love the Zombie vs. Shark shirt from Fright Rags], Rogen, Franco, Robinson, Hill, and McBride is perfect. Even if some of it comes across as self-indulgent and self-absorbed [that's some of the complaints I've heard about this film], the acting is so good and so funny that it doesn't really matter. I also loved the cameos, especially by Michael Cera, Rihanna, and another actor towards the end I don't want to spoil. All the actors seemed to be having fun and it made THIS IS THE END fun to watch.

THIS IS THE END is one of my favorite films of 2013. It's raunchy, it's ridiculous, and it's funny as hell [no pun intended]. The actors have great chemistry, the visuals were silly but great, and the script was hilarious. THIS IS THE END is probably the sleeper hit of the summer and one of the best horror-comedies ever created. Definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of these actors and their brand of humor.

4 Howls Outta 4

BJ McDonnell

Danielle Harris - Marybeth Dunston
Kane Hodder - Victor Crowley
Zach Galligan - Sheriff Fowler
Caroline Williams - Amanda
Derek Mears - Hawes
Cody Blue Snider - Schneiderman
Rileah Vanderbilt - Dougherty
Robert Diago DoQui - Deputy Winslow
Parry Shen - Andrew
Sean Whalen - Randy

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 81 Minutes

Beginning right where HATCHET II left off, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) is still finishing off Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) for the deaths of her father and brother by chainsawing him right down the middle of his body and shooting his face off. She grabs a piece of his scalp and walks into the nearest New Orleans police station to prove that Victor Crowley is finally dead and giving the police a location to find Crowley's victims. Due to the blood all over her and the gun and body parts she's carrying in her hands, Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan) arrests her and locks her up, thinking she's the prime suspect for all these murders.

As Sheriff Fowley goes out to investigate the crime scene at the swamp, Fowley's ex-wife, Amanda Pearlman (
Caroline Williams), visits the station to meet Marybeth. As a journalist and a believer in the legend of Victor Crowley, Amanda tells Marybeth that Crowley is really a ghost and must relive his death every single night. The only way to stop Crowley is to reunite him with his late father and it must be done by someone with the same bloodline as the person who killed him, meaning Marybeth. As Amanda's theory comes true, as Crowley awakens once again, Amanda convinces Deputy Winslow (Robert Diago DoQui) to help her and Marybeth find the tools they need to end Crowley's reign of terror for good.

The HATCHET franchise is one either you like or you don't. In fact, it seems a majority of my horror film friends tend to be down on this franchise for many reasons. Personally, I didn't mind the first two films at all. I felt HATCHET had the better story, but HATCHET II had the better visuals and gore. Are they the rebirth of old school horror? Probably not. But I don't think the films are all that bad really. However, HATCHET III should be the end of this franchise. While not a terrible film, it's definitely the weakest of the trilogy of films. Not only is the story generic and bland, but the gore loses its meaning due to how repetitive it all is.

The story in HATCHET III seems exhausted and tired. It's your standard second horror sequel within the same franchise. You have faceless characters getting butchered by a superhuman beast of a monster who can rip limbs pretty easily while trying to extend the legend of the monster. Nothing more, nothing less. There's nothing really special about HATCHET III at all. The characters are stereotypes, some better than others, but none of them really get that much development. There's a lot of exposition on Victor Crowley and why he can't be killed physically. I felt the main characters were treated like secondary characters for much of the film until the end, especially Mary Beth.

I did like a lot of dialogue, however. There's one moment where Sheriff Fowler is criticizing Marybeth's Victor Crowley story, calling it ridiculous and contrived - which leads to a shot of Adam Green [in a cameo as a drunkened partygoer] making an offended face, that had me laughing. The method to end Victor Crowley is very standard, but fit a classic slasher trope. And the exposition, while a bit much, was necessary to move the story along. I also thought some of the characters had some funny and witty lines that made the sequel kind of fun to watch. And I did like the ending. But for me, the story wasn't as fun or as witty as the two films before it.

The gore in HATCHET III is very good, but way too repetitive. There are so many times I can watch someone rip off a limb or an appendage from a human body before it loses its luster. I mean, we get a chainsaw cutting someone in half. We get a fist through a face. We get arms, legs, heads, and organs ripped off and out of people. We get a rocket launcher death. We get someone killed by a grinder. There's a whole bunch of stuff here to please gorehounds in HATCHET III. I just felt it was a bit overboard at times and these scenes just blurred together. The reason why people remember certain death scenes is because they happened randomly, which made them special. HATCHET III seems to have gore because it's expected, so it decides to just let loose. I appreciated that, yet wished there was less at the same time. At least it looked good and the make up on Victor Crowley was probably the best of the three.

The direction by BJ McDonnell is very good, especially since the switch from Adam Green is pretty seamless. There's more of a focus here than in HATCHET II. Plus the film looked pretty nice and there was some decent tension here at times. At 81 minutes, the film does move fairly fast. I thought visually, HATCHET III was pretty great and used its budget in all the right places.

The acting is also pretty good as well. Danielle Harris looks great and does what she can in the role of Marybeth. Unfortunately, she doesn't really get much to do in this installment. Kane Hodder is still a presence as Victor Crowley. Caroline Williams is great at Amanda, playing a tough journalist well. Zack Galligan is a welcome inclusion as Sheriff Fowler. Sid Haig has a funny cameo as a racist citizen. Derek Mears is good as a soldier/agent, but his confrontation with Hodder is extremely disappointing. Those expecting "Jason" vs. "Jason" will be very disappointed. Parry Chen returns as Andrew, in a funny role and a nod to the previous two films. The best actor, however, was Cody Blue Snider as police officer Schneiderman. He had the best dialogue and portrayed his fear so well and so hilariously. He was the standout in my opinion.

HATCHET III is an above average sequel that's fun to watch, but isn't as good as the first two in my opinion. The characters aren't as interesting and the use of gore is a bit overdone and uninspired. But the acting is decent, the direction is solid, and the screenplay has its moments. HATCHET III probably won't make haters like this franchise, but it should satisfy most fans with what it has to offer. I just hope this is the final installment because I'm not sure how much fuel Victor Crowley has left at this point.

2.5 Howls Outta 4


The Watchtower of Justice: Man of Steel (2013)

By Mike Huntley

Superman, an alien from another planet yet raised here on Earth to become the greatest hero that the world would ever know.  We feared his presence in the beginning, but have come to know him and love him as if he were one of our own. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster really created something epic when they gave Superman life on the printed page all those 75 years ago. Ever since, the Man of Steel has captured our imaginations, our hearts, and showed us the kind of people that the Human race can and should strive to be. Kal-El gave the world his gifts when his rocket ship flew across our sky and landed in Smallville. He was taken in by a loving farmer and wife who could not have any children of their own and they gave baby Kal-El the love and warmth as if he was their own biological son. Kal may not be one of us, but he is one of us in his heart. The character has been played in many cartoons and TV shows, but the man who truly brought the last son of Krypton to life was the late Christopher Reeve. To many, he is Superman. Back in 2004 when he died, it was like that last battle with Doomsday from "The Death of Superman". A legend may have fallen, but he still lives through those movies (yes even III and IV). He showed us that a man can fly and gave the adults and children of all ages hope for the 20th Century. In 2006, Brandon Routh tried his best to restore that feeling, but the world was in a new century, a new generation. This world has seen its share of despair, beginning with 9/11. In this darker and more cruel world, we need someone to look up to. Many superhero movies have come since Superman The Movie. Batman gave us hope that one man could make a difference in The Dark Knight Trilogy. But with all of these great superhero movies, Superman (considered the Granddaddy of the superhero genre) was missing besides that average last effort at making Superman cool again. But, director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David Goyer have done it. They have taken our beloved savior to new heights in a way that is mind blowing and the ultimate thrill ride of emotions, action, and sci fi epicness. Christopher Reeve was the Superman for the 20th Century, but Henry Cavill is the MAN OF STEEL for the 21st Century and beyond! 

The planet Krypton is nearing its final hour. Jor-El and his wife Lara have kept the news about their baby a secret from the others since baby Kal-El was naturally conceived where he could choose his own destiny. The people of Krypton are born artificially to be either a scientist, part of the council, or a military warrior. Jor-El wants his son to be the shining hope and example for the people of Earth by giving them an ideal to strive towards. He has built a rocket ship to save his son. When General Zod, Krypton's fiercely devoted military leader, discovers that Lara had a baby naturally, he wants to kill Kal-El to protect Krypton and carry on its legacy. Zod and his warriors are sentenced to the Phantom Zone inside a ship. Kal-El was found by farmer couple Jonathan and Martha Kent. Naming him Clark, Kal grows up in Smallville experiencing super hearing and X-Ray/heat vision, causing problems at school. He's an outcast and the other kids pick on him. When he's 13, Clark's school bus crashes into a lake and he saves young Pete Ross, the kid who picks on him, from drowning. This freaks out both Pete and Lana Lang who was also on the bus and saw what Clark could do. Pete's mother expresses her concerns to Clark's parents. This causes Jonathan to show Clark the space ship in the barn and telling him the truth. In the present, Clark is on a quest to find out who he is and where he came from. He's taking jobs like being a fisherman or a bus boy. Clark discovers a ship in ice and finds that it is from Krypton. There, he is greeted by a computer version of his father Jor-El who tells him what he wants to know and gives him a special suit that is Kryptonian. Clark puts on the red and blue suit with a cape and realizes that he has the ability to fly. Meanwhile, investigative reporter for The Daily Planet, Lois Lane, has been on Clark's trail to find out more about him to tell her story even if it is against her editor's (Perry White) demands.  Clark realizes that he can confide in Lois. Then, General Zod and his army show up on Earth demanding for Kal-El to surrender himself over to them or Earth will suffer the consequences. This of course reveals to the people of Earth that aliens exist and one has existed among us for decades. Clark has to not only face General Zod and his army to save our planet, but he must also prove to the people of Earth especially the United States military that he is not our enemy. Kal-El and Zod go to war in the most epic Extra-Terrestrial war you will probably ever see captured on film!

WOW! Man of Steel, to me, is not just the best superhero movie so far or even just amazing, but it is THE superhero movie! Never in my life have I seen a superhero movie with this much action and this much mind blowing special FX. If you thought that the last fight in The Avengers was amazing, you ain't seen shit till you see the battle between Superman and Zod! Holy shit! These two flying through the air punching each other across the city of Metropolis just put the biggest smile on my face! And while Zod is a monster and is definitely up there with the best of the superhero villain Hall of Evil, his femme fatal warrior Faora was a ruthless monster. She was probably even more of a villain than Zod was! I'll never forget that part where she holds up Martha Kent by the throat. You could feel the viciousness in her character. I absolutely loved the take on Superman in this film. Him being an outsider was briefly touched on in Superman The Movie, but it is fully explored here. 

Also really dug this Lois Lane. It was refreshing seeing Lois actually right there in the middle of all the action. She's a strong willed woman who will do whatever it takes to get the story. Clark's idealism is what really attracts her to him. They just have this instant attachment to each other. While not love (yet), they are on that path which will more than likely be explored in the sequel. Yes, Superman has to save Lois but it is only like two times. Lois is not just sitting around The Daily Planet and trying to figure out if Clark Kent is Superman. SHE KNOWS! Thank God they didn't try to make this film around her trying to figure it out. She put the pieces together and helped him. I loved that! They didn't try to make her the love interest. She is just a good looking woman searching for an amazing story and of course a woman is going to be attracted to a man that puts others before himself.  I think the biggest difference with this film and all the other versions of Superman aside from a more serious and slightly darker tone is that we, the audience, really feel like we are in the movie. I can't remember the last time I ever felt that way about a movie. When Zod attacks both Smallville and Metropolis, I felt like a bystander. I felt like I drifted out of the theater seat and right smack dab in front of Superman and Zod going to war with one another. It was breath taking!  I liked that we got a little more time in Smallville this time around and got more of Jonathan and Martha Kent who were basically cameos in Superman The Movie.  Jonathan's lecture to his son was heartfelt when he tells Clark, "You ARE my son." I could feel the tears in the back of my eyes. Jonathan Kent is the perfect Dad and the kind of father we all wish and want to have. Then the scene where 9 year old Clark keeps hearing sounds from everywhere and his mother helps him through it. Just these little moments. Yes, Jonathan and Martha aren't huge characters in the film, but they play their role and we know what kind of people they are and how much they love their son and fear what others will think of him. It's interesting because Clark's birth mother Lara tells Jor-El, "He'll be an outcast, they'll kill him", so she too was worried about how the people of Earth would view her son.  

The opening on Krypton is beautiful! The scenery is just amazing. I don't know how else to describe it.  Man of Steel has some crazy special FX that will blow the minds off many Superman fans and superhero fans in general. There's also a couple of references. One is the LexCorp building which was seen in the trailer. Another is a logo on a certain satellite. I wonder what that W stands for.  I love that Jor-El actually has a large role in this movie and even gets to fight! This film just hit me from all angles and will take several viewings to be able to process completely. 

The music by Hans Zimmer is just amazing. I'll say it could end up becoming almost just as iconic as John Willaims' epic Superman score. Everytime I hear it, I believe I can take off and soar through the clouds and over the moon. Just epic!

I already know that two parts of the movie are gonna stir up controversy among the die hards. One involves a tornado and the other is how Superman is able to defeat General Zod. I did have a small issue with one character's death simply because he is a big Superman character and I had figured that he would become a bigger character in the sequels and a possible Justice League film. But, this is a new and fresh interpretation so I can kinda forgive that and plus the guy went out a hero in his own right so I can grow to be cool with that.  The scene that you see in the trailer with 9 year old Clark running around in the yard with the red towel tucked in his shirt just about made me cry tears of both joy and sadness. Joy because most boys grew up doing that, pretending they were Superman so it was a pleasure to actually see the little boy who would grow up to be Superman pretending he was a caped hero and sad because of what the scene represents for Jonathan Kent.  As many fans know, Pa Kent dies in the comics and in Superman The Movie. Let's just say it deals around that with Martha talking to Clark about his father by his grave. Really emotional and heartfelt. 

The Kryptonian outfits in this film were cool and I love that the Superman suit actually came from Krypton. I know people are funny about the suit not having the red undies, but you know what? The suit was better off without them. It looked alien yet very iconic. I dug it. Zod and his army had some slick battle armor suits with this mask thing. Dug it all. 

The casting of this movie was perfect. Henry Cavill IS Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman! We finally have a Superman who can guide us through the much darker 21st Century. Amy Adams was a great, fresh, and different kind of Lois Lane. So what if she's a redhead this time around? She took Lois to a different level that matched this movie and I can't wait to see her and Clark's relationship blossom in Man of Steel 2 or whatever the sequel will be called. Michael Shannon was a great General Zod, bringing a ferociousness to the character that could rival Terence Stamp's iconic portrayal in Superman II. He kinda reminded me of Callum Blue's Zod in season 9 of Smallville. Russell Crowe IS Jor-El! I love that Crowe actually had a large role and not some small cameo at the beginning of the film. Plus, him and Shannon fighting was great. Antje Traue was evil as Faora. Plus really hot! Diane Lane was great as Martha Kent. Kevin Costner IS Jonathan Kent. He plays a great Dad and it was sad to see him go like that. Laurence Fishburne was really good as The Daily Planet's Editor-In-Chief, Perry White. Richard Schiff did good as Dr. Emil Hamilton. He actually looks the role too. Too bad his character wasn't as big as I think he should have been. Christopher Meloni was good as Colonel Hardy and Harry Lennix was good as General Swanwick. Both Dylan Sprayberry and Cooper Timberline were great as young Clark Kent. And Ayelet Zurer was great as Superman's biological mother Lara. There were also two actors who played on Smallville in small roles. Great ensemble cast and I hope it gets even better once we move into sequels. 

While David Goyer has crafted a great story and pretty good screenplay, Zack Snyder brought this epicness to life in ways that I never could have imagined. Snyder always gets slammed by critics and fanboys, but I have always loved him as a visionary artist. The man is a genius at visuals and doing these heavy special FX movies. I really hope that WB gets Snyder for Justice League. Hell, I think he'd make a great Green Lantern movie. The dude knows how to show epic science fiction action and makes us feel like we are in his movies with the characters. I want that for Justice League and Superman movies going forward! 

Overall, Man of Steel is THE superhero movie. It reminds us of who Superman is and where the superhero phenomenon began. Superman is a hero for all ages. So, do yourself a favor and see this movie. Got kids? Take your kids with you! Take your parents! Take your grandparents! Take your aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, nieces, nephews, or whomever to see this movie. It's a film to be seen several times in the cinema then again and again on Blu-Ray on a giant television set. By the way, there is no during/after credits scene so you can leave when the movie is over unless you just love to read all the credits or are so floored that you can't get out of your seat yet. 2012 was a pretty dark year for me even though I got three awesome superhero movies in The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Avengers. In August 2012, I lost my grandfather who was basically a real life Jonathan Kent and a big influence in my life. But, he was my hero and so is Batman and now Superman! Christopher Reeve made us believe that a man can fly. Man of Steel made us believe that this man can exist among us and be the symbol of hope to inspire us to aspire to being a better race of people! 



The Watchtower of Justice: Superman Returns (2006)

 By Mike Huntley

After the box office failure of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace in 1987, it seemed that the Superman saga was indeed closed for good.  Hollywood suddenly went crazy with that other costumed DC Comics character who wears a cape when Batman came to the cinema in summer 1989. Batman became a sensation and you couldn't go anywhere without seeing the Bat logo. Batman spawned three sequels and just like Superman, faded from the public eye after 1997's epic failure Batman & Robin. The 2000s saw a revival of the superhero genre with Fox and Marvel's 2000 hit X-Men, directed by Bryan Singer. Then in 2002, Sam Raimi found success with Spider-Man. All the sudden the superhero film genre was booming. Warner Bros. decided that it was time to resurrect their top two costumed heroes. Summer 2005 saw a rebirth of Batman when director Christopher Nolan released Batman Begins to good success. After achieving success with 20th Century Fox with his X-Men sequel in 2003, director Bryan Singer turned down directing X-Men 3 in order to revive the long dead Superman franchise.  Before Superman IV was a failure, WB and Christopher Reeve had planned to make a fifth film. In 1995, actor Christopher Reeve was in a horrible horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Sadly, Christopher Reeve passed away due to heart failure from complications due to his illness in 2004. Bryan Singer wanted to revive Superman by treating this new film as if it were Superman III and a direct sequel to Superman II, yet set in modern day. Brandon Routh would replace Christopher Reeve as Superman/Clark Kent, Kate Bosworth would replace Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and Kevin Spacey would take over the role of Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor from Gene Hackman. In summer 2006, Superman Returns flew into theaters to mixed reactions and not so super box office results. 

Superman has been missing for 5 years after he went away to see if there was anything left out there of his home world of Krypton. Suddenly, he falls from the sky and crashes at the Kent Farm. Clark Kent returns to The Daily Planet to find that Lois is upset with Superman for leaving without saying good bye, is married to Perry White's nephew Richard, and has a 5 year old son. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor has been released from prison and is trying to destroy Metropolis and create his own continent by causing tremors in the ocean's crest. Luthor also wants revenge on Superman for putting him away. Will Superman's return make the world better or was the world better off without him? 

I can remember first seeing the trailer for Superman Returns back when I went opening day to see Batman Begins. At that point in my life (I was 17 years old), I had never seen any of the Superman movies. Only bits and pieces of Lois & Clark, most of Superman The Animated Series, and the first few seasons of Smallville. Superman Returns was the first and only Superman movie I have seen in the theater before Man of Steel in a few days. My Dad and I went opening night. I remember thinking it was okay, but I preferred what I was seeing on Smallville and in Superman The Animated Series.  I gotta be honest, this is probably the fourth time I've actually watched this movie and the third time I've seen it on DVD at home. Yeah, this ain't the kinda superhero film I find myself watching over and over. Hell, I've watched Batman & Robin more than this film and that film was terrible. BUT, I was entertained by it so the 2 hours breezed by. One of my biggest complaints about Superman Returns is that it is too damn long and drags a lot. The Dark Knight is 2 hours and 24 minutes. The Dark Knight Rises is 2 hours and 36 minutes. But, both fly by because they are ACTION PACKED and ENTERTAINING! Superman Returns has some cool special FX, I give them that but it is not an action packed movie. All Superman does is basically mope about Lois or lift heavy shit. The scene where Superman saves the people in the airplane and lands it at a baseball stadium right on the field was cool. All of the scenes of Superman flying were cool. Superman using his heat vision and super breath was cool, but we don't get to actually see him fight anybody because all the villains are Human Beings and Superman can't punch one of us because it would kill us unlike someone with super powers like General Zod or a alien artifical intelligence like Brainiac or a Hell God like Darkseid! Thank the Heavens that we get to see some super action in Man of Steel this week! 

Another issue I have is that this film didn't do anything fresh or different than Superman The Movie and Superman II other than having a whole new cast/crew and having a bigger budget for better special FX.  In my honest opinion, WB should have just rebooted the franchise like Nolan did with Batman, which is what they are doing this summer with Man of Steel. While I like the first two Christopher Reeve films a lot, they have kinda haunted the character. For too long, the general public and fans too wanted new Superman stuff to be like those movies. And apparently Bryan Singer did too as he played this as a sequel to Superman II set in 2006. Also another thing that truly irritates me and everyone else is that Lex Luthor is basically the main villain in every movie except for Superman II and III. Therefore, we haven't had the chance to get more of Superman's rogues in a film. It would be like having The Joker be the main villain in every Batman movie. Fans and audiences would get sick of it and want someone else as the villain. The Batman movies have been good about having a different set of villains in each movie.  That's not to say that I never want Lex Luthor to be a villain again, but give me a villain who's an alien along with him. I have a strong feeling that we will see Lex Luthor as a villain in Man of Steel 2, but I pray they use Brainiac along with him to give Superman both a Human and alien threat. One to outsmart and the other to physically punch through space. 

The characters for the most part were played very wooden especially Superman and Lois Lane. In fact, Lois came off as a bit of a bitch in this film. Superman just looked sad and bored most of the time. Although Clark Kent seemed a little more alive. I dug the new Jimmy Olsen. Perry White wasn't angry enough for me unlike the other films. Also, Superman has a kid? Interesting...

Negatives aside, I did love Lex Luthor in this movie. I actually liked him more than the Luthor we got in the Christopher Reeve films. He seemed a little darker and more deranged while still being a maniac.  Like I said before, the special FX were pretty solid. Would have been better with some action though. I dug the opening credits sequence and the classic John Williams music score. I kinda dug the new suit. The movie looked good visually. The flashback scene with young Clark doing giant leaps through the cornfield was fun. I didn't feel like I was being tortured, just sitting for too long. The scene where Lex and his crew beat up Superman and Lex stabs Supes with a shard of Kryptonite was intense. I also dug when Superman tells his son what Jor-El told him, "The son becomes the father and the father becomes the son."  

The acting varied. Brandon Routh was one I didn't care for as Superman, yet thought he was an okay Clark Kent. Still no Christopher Reeve though. He lacked the charm and warmth that Reeve brought to the role. Did not care for Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Sam Huntington was a good Jimmy Olsen I thought. Parker Posey annoyed me as Eve Teschmacher's replacement, Kitty Kowalski. Frank Langella was okay as Perry White but Jackie Cooper was better. James Marsden was okay as Richard White. It's obvious that Singer cast him after working with him on X-Men and X2: X-Men United. And Kevin Spacey outshined everyone in his performance as Lex Luthor, the greatest criminal mastermind of our time. I LOVED Spacey in the role so much more than Gene Hackman. It's a shame that Spacey didn't have an epic Superman movie to star in because I think he would have been great in a more action packed Superman movie. 

The direction by Bryan Singer was hit and miss. His visuals were good, but the pacing just dragged and dragged. The movie should have just been 2 hours and had more action to juice it up to being more entertaining. Also many Marvel fans are pissed off at Singer for abandoning the X-Men franchise to direct this film, therefore letting Brett Ratner create X-Men: The Last Stand. Singer should have made the franchise feel fresh instead of trying to be Superman The Movie again. We're in a new generation than we were back in 1978 and want a Superman to be one for the 21st Century, not dwelling on the past. I would have been curious to see that Kevin Smith Superman movie. But, I am happy that we didn't get the Tim Burton Superman starring Nicholas Cage as the Man of Steel. Yikes! So with that, Singer's visuals were right but the story and tone were outdated. 

Overall, Superman Returns is not a bad film but it is not really a good film either. It's just an average Superman movie, but not the thrilling sci fi epic that we DC Comics and Superman fans have been waiting for. That film my friends comes to theaters Friday to a theater near you! So go check out Man of Steel where we actually get to see some hardcore action and a Superman for a new generation! 


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