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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

Conduct Unbecoming Review


OK
The movie looks hideous: What, was this made for the BBC? The weird lighting and bad camera work (not to mention the music and even the credits) screams Movie of the Week. Good thing the story is far better than its technical pedigree, a case of military justice about a women, ostensibly raped by a soldier in British colonial India. A number of solid performances can be found in the courtroom (especially Michael York's earnest defense attorney), though the machinations of the case border on the absurd. The ending -- the sole part of the film that is visually moving -- almost makes it all worthwhile.

Tunes of Glory Review


OK
After WWII, Alec Guinness gets passed over for promotion of command of his Scottish garrison. This leads to a tussle between he and the new boss, played by John Mills. What follows is the slow decay of morale at the base, followed by the mental breakdown of Guinness in what is often heralded as one of the best performances ever put to film. Too bad then that the story gives Guinness and Mills little chance to shine, as the script is crafted from weirdly insidery Scots arcana (lots of dancing, lots of bagpiping) and interferes with the character study. Interesting counterpoiont to Guinness's Bridge on the River Kwai, but the overall, washed-out look and mopey pacing of the film drag it down.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Review


Excellent
I didn't get what all the fuss was over. Dance marathons? A couple of hours of the charleston and eventually everyone quits, right?

Wrong. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is set in the real dance marathon world of the Great Depression, when people were willing to do anything for a buck. Even if that means staying on your feet for 1,200 hours or more, with a few rest periods along the way. That's nearly two months. Dancing.

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Happy Birthday, Wanda June Review


Grim
Slaughterhouse-Five excepted, Kurt Vonnegut has had rotten luck with movie versions of his books. Happy Birthday, Wanda June is no exception: It's actually one of his few plays (or possibly his only play, memory fails me...), and it's pedestrian work at best. The story concerns a soldier (Rod Steiger) who returns home after seven years on the front, only to find his family's moved on. He gets a bit uppity about this, with presumably hilarious consequences. Too bad Steiger doesn't do comedy, the acting is stilted and terribly stagey, and overall this mess just collapses within the first 15 minutes.

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 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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