Leslie Newman

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Superman Review


Good
Yeah, it was 1978 when Superman first hit theaters in the version most of us remember -- with Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel and Marlon Brando as his disco-inspired pop. Superman is a lovable epic full of quaint nostalgia and incredible mysteries of logic (because if the earth spun the other way round, time would apparently reverse... riiiight). The story tells the bulk of the Superman legend -- his escape from Krypton, coming to terms with his powers as a youth in Smallville, moving to big old Metropolis and becoming Clark Kent (and falling for crusty Lois Lane), and dealing with a Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman, excellently over the top) plan to buy up real estate in Nevada and then destroy most of California, thus making his new coastline worth millions. Watch for Terence Stamp's Zod in the first scene -- he'll be back to rule as one of cinema's great villains in Superman II.

Continue reading: Superman Review

Superman II Review


OK
"Kneel before Zod."

Superman II had all the signposts of a disaster. Richard Donner, who shot much of the footage during the production of the first Superman, found himself forced away from the movie and replaced by Richard Lester, who claimed never to have heard of Superman before signing on to the franchise. To top it off, Marlon Brando sued to cut out all his scenes as Jor-El. And Gene Hackman was unavailable to shoot after Lester took the reins.

Continue reading: Superman II Review

Superman III Review


Weak
The third entry in the Superman series stands as one of history's most infamous cautionary tales about the danges of computers, and it's also one of the silliest. Not only does Richard Pryor engineer a way to steal all the rounded half-pennies from his employer, he manages to synthesize kryptonite (using tobacco tar as an ingredient where needed) and design an artificial intelligence system that "wants to live." No Lex Luthor this time out; Pryor's employer is Robert Vaughn -- a corporate mogul trying to use technology to cause world disasters and profit from them. There's barely any Lois Lane either -- she's on vacation -- so Superman/Clark Kent finds himself with his highschool crush, Lana Lang (Annette O'Toole), who is about twice as much fun as Margot Kidder ever was.

Superman Review


Good
Yeah, it was 1978 when Superman first hit theaters in the version most of us remember -- with Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel and Marlon Brando as his disco-inspired pop. Superman is a lovable epic full of quaint nostalgia and incredible mysteries of logic (because if the earth spun the other way round, time would apparently reverse). The story tells the bulk of the Superman legend -- his escape from Krypton, coming to terms with his powers as a youth in Smallville, moving to big old Metropolis and becoming Clark Kent (and falling for crusty Lois Lane), and dealing with a Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman, excellently over the top) plan to buy up real estate in Nevada and then destroy most of California, thus making his new coastline worth millions. Watch for Terence Stamp's Zod in the first scene -- he'll be back to rule as one of cinema's great villains in Superman II.

Superman III Review


Weak
The third entry in the Superman series stands as one of history's most infamous cautionary tales about the danges of computers, and it's also one of the silliest. Not only does Richard Pryor engineer a way to steal all the rounded half-pennies from his employer, he manages to synthesize kryptonite (using tobacco tar as an ingredient where needed) and design an artificial intelligence system that "wants to live." No Lex Luthor this time out; Pryor's employer is Robert Vaughn -- a corporate mogul trying to use technology to cause world disasters and profit from them. There's barely any Lois Lane either -- she's on vacation -- so Superman/Clark Kent finds himself with his highschool crush, Lana Lang (Annette O'Toole), who is about twice as much fun as Margot Kidder ever was.

Track Down Review


Grim
For this film review, we begin with a history lesson. Kevin Mitnick stands as probably the most famous, the most notorious, and the most successful computer hacker of all time. After nearly 15 years of hacking (alternating with jail and probation time), he was finally apprehended for the last time in 1995, for a collection of tech crimes. and was released from prison in early 2000. (The story of his questionably legal incarceration is itself enough material for a book and a movie.) I interviewed Mitnick shortly after his release; today he's a computer security consultant (though he's not allowed to touch a computer as a term of his release).

Track Downwas produced shortly before Mitnick's release amid much controversy. Mitnick, as you might expect, is a cause celebre among the hacker community, while he's been vilified by the corporate and legal communities. The story of his long career as a hacker was the subject of two major books -- The Fugitive Game, written mainly from Mitnick's point of view, and Takedown, written by the man who captured him. The latter book (widely dismissed by the hacker community as propaganda) got optioned by Miramax, and against all odds, the Kevin Mitnick story became a movie, starring Skeet Ulrich as Mitnick and Russell Wong as Tsutomu Shimomura, the man who "captured" Mitnick and the co-author of Takedown.

Continue reading: Track Down Review

Superman II Review


OK
Superman's sequel is probably as good as the original, thanks to Terence Stamp's inimitable Zod, released (thanks to Superman himself, the big lunk!) on earth with his posse of goons, Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran). This time out, Lois discovers Clark Kent's true nature as the Man of Steel, and his computerized mother convinces Supe to give up his powers in order to marry the gal. Er, great call, Mom. Clark hightails it back to the Fortress to get the powers back, just in time for a duel with the three Zod folks at the end of the movie.

Continue reading: Superman II Review

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