Man Of Steel Review

Warning: minor spoilers

First off, let me state I’ve never read a comic book, so I have no idea how Man of Steel fits into or compares to the wider Superman universe. That said, I love the superhero genre, and we’re currently living in a golden age of superhero films (with some, or should I say Four, notable exceptions). I’ll be comparing Man of Steel to Superman 1 & 2 which I consider to be the only films worth watching (yes, not even Kevin Spacey could salvage the mess that was Superman Returns).

Man of Steel is a very worthy addition to the recent canon of serious superhero films – it has the grittiness and brutal realism of the Dark Knight (Nolan’s influence is clear), the spectacular clashes of the Avengers, and the emotion of Iron Man, but yet still retains the core of what makes Superman Superman. It ‘s a great re-interpretation of the character, played to perfection by Henry Cavill – and his history. He captures Clark Kent’s inner turmoil and sense of not belonging, without turning him into a walking pile of angst like Batman; he also puts the steel in his incarnation as the Man of Steel.  I will say this, however: Cavill has a lot of work to do on Clark Kent’s ‘hiding in plain sight’ act at the Daily Planet, which Christopher Reeve nailed. It’s ridiculously obvious he’s Superman.

Amy Adams is a Lois Lane for the 21st century. Gone is the woman who throws herself off waterfalls to provoke Clark into proving she’s right about him being Superman; she figures out who he is very quickly and is considerably wiser in how she acts on this knowledge. She’s almost a sidekick as well as a love interest, proving to be far more of a help than a hindrance. Kevin Costner also revealed hitherto unsuspected acting skills as Pa Kent. Costner is an actor I have been singularly unimpressed by in every movie I’ve seen him in – notably Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, where the only thing he managed to outact was Sherwood Forest and that was by being more wooden – but here he brings the right emotional depth as Superman’s adoptive father, and you can see and believe the deep influence he’s had on Clark’s moral and emotional development.

Superman’s true father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) plays a far more active role here than he does in the previous films, while not altering the key means by which he communicates with his son. Crowe turns in a performance vastly superior to Marlon Brando’s phoned in effort. Of course, Brando making no effort is still better than many an actor giving it their all, but the Jor-El of Superman 1/2 still serves purely as an expositionary figure rather than a fleshed out figure connecting us (and Superman) emotionally to Krypton.  A far greater level of importance is attached to Superman’s origin story this time around: Jor-El’s status as a heretic and his reasoning behind sending young Kal-El to Earth are what set up the key conflict between Superman and General Zod.

Right, on to said villain of the piece. While Superman calls General Zod a monster. He does indeed do monstrous things, but just how much choice does he have in the matter? Zod is the literal creation of a society where your sole purpose in life is determined by geneticists, and you are basically stored in a test tube until Krypton needs you. Zod was made to be a soldier, so while what he does is heinous, you can see why he does it. To him, Jor-El and Superman are taking his raison d’etre away from him, therefore he must stop them by all means necessary. It makes him a serious villain with understandable motives, a far cry from the General Zod of Superman 2 who took over Earth for kicks and was soon bored to tears by how easy mankind was to subjugate.

With regards to the film as a whole: the fight scenes were great; my only complaint would be they went on a little too long, and I found myself thinking “when the hell is Superman going to defeat these guys?” They don’t go lightly on the destruction either – the joint really gets wrecked here. On a meta level it was hilarious watching a virtual parade of characters from my favourite TV shows appear one by one – why hello West Wing’s Toby Ziegler, Elliot Stabler of SVU, Boardwalk Empire’s Nelson van Alden, Hannibal’s Jack Crawford and Doug Stamper from US House of Cards!

All in all: Man of Steel is both a fantastic movie and a really great reboot which should do for Superman what Batman Begins did for Batman.

Being A Comedian Is Not A Licence To Be A Jerk

Tricky Ricky

So, I logged on to Twitter this morning and saw that Ricky Gervais had appeared to have poked a hornet’s nest with a stick again. Nothing unusual there, I thought – he’s always coming out with jokes designed to outrage people (that’s his shtick he shares with his fellow outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins). What did stop me short though was that one tweeter had objected strongly – and in strong language – to a joke about self-harming, having been a self-harmer herself.

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And Gervais had retweeted her without comment, or responding to her. What followed for the unfortunate critic was several hours of non-stop vitriolic abuse. Gervais, hours after the fact, deleted the retweet that had kicked it all off. He then deleted the passive-aggressive abusive subtweets he’d aimed at her, but alas for Ricky, the mighty Print Screen button has been the downfall of many an ass-covering attempt:


It’s pretty clear from those tweets that not only did Gervais know what the result of him retweeting her would be, he didn’t care.

Finally, hours too late, he instructed his pack of wolves to leave the poor woman alone –

rickygervaistwitter

This was utter bullshit. Gervais’ actions were the equivalent of throwing chum in shark-infested waters. He knew what would happen. He knew his followers would rip her to shreds. Because he’s done it beforeand bragged about retweeting people who insult or criticise him and siccing his 4 million followers on them. Now, here’s where some point out well, these people are abusing him, they want him to see their nasty or critical tweet, so they’re getting what they deserve. Except for that number I mentioned above: 4 million followers. One retweet from Gervais and these nobodies on Twitter attract the instant ire of at least hundreds of rabid fans, who proceed to fill their mentions columns with particularly poisonous bile. As a comedian, Gervais should have a thick skin. In addition there are the options of blocking or ignoring the tweeter. This is not an equal power dynamic. Gervais gets one uncomplimentary tweet from them, they get hundreds of people abusing them back. It is cowardly. In other words, it is also bullying. And bear in mind this is a man who’s considered ‘edgy’ and ‘brave’ for mocking Hollywood moguls at an awards ceremony.

Moving on then – in other news, Ricky Gervais is teaming up with Katie Price to end…online bullying of people with special needs.

You’ll appreciate the extreme irony already, but the irony intensifies and becomes more bitter when you discover what he, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington did to Victoria Wright, a woman with facial disfigurements which they cruelly mocked on the Ricky Gervais Show. It happened 10 years ago, but this kind of cruelty scars people, especially those who receive it regularly in a world that’s not kind to those who are different. Victoria tells her story here.

So, it’s great you want to end the bullying of the vulnerable Ricky, but first I suggest you look up the saying ‘physician, heal thyself’.

Rufus Hound? More Like Rufus Dog

In the same 24 hour period, another British comedian, Rufus Hound, displayed a deeply unsavoury side in a tweet to former Tory MP Louise Mensch:

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Charming.

Whether you agree with Mensch’s politics/approach to feminism or not (and she has plenty of detractors) this is beyond the pale. Hound pathetically attempted to justify this misogynist slur in a long equally misogynist tweet saying how in his experience, it wasn’t sexist. Oh and how suggesting a woman’s blowing her boss only in a figurative sense is totally not sexist. Yeah, you’re not a woman, Rufus – you don’t to be the arbiter of what is or isn’t considered misogynist, OK? And let me tell you now – the tweet was definitely sexist, and in that follow-up tweet you took an industrial digger and tunnelled all the way to Mansplainersville.

Which brings me to a wider pattern I’m noticing among modern-day comedians. I enjoy black comedy and edgy humour that cuts close to the bone, but there’s an increasingly nasty undertone or basis to a lot of jokes and skits these days. And judging from these comedians’ behaviour off-stage, it’s less to do with them trying to be provocateurs than the kind of person they really are. Ricky Gervais exemplifies this – we have two clear-cut examples of him bullying two women who are ill-equipped to deal with it, and it’s not a coincidence that the conceit behind his highly successful series An Idiot Abroad is he and his mate putting another of his mates in increasingly uncomfortable situations. The difference of course is Karl Pilkington’s in on the joke, but part of the humour (aside from Karl’s reactions, thoughts and sayings) is derived from him making someone uncomfortable.

So if you need an outlet for your unpleasantness, comedians, restrict it to your stage or show. Otherwise it’s just human bear-baiting.

Dumb Belles Of The BNP

When I initially read this, I called Poe’s Law – it simply had to be a spoof, because while I’ve seen a lot of breathtakingly idiotic stuff from following US politics, I thought nobody could actually bring the weapons grade stupid you are about to see in this article interviewing BNP ‘babes’. But parody it is not.

You no longer need to be a hatchet-faced National Front refugee to join the whites-only club. The fascist menace no longer wears jackboots. It no longer flags down the number 25 bus with a hearty “Sieg Heil”. Nope, ours is a new, gentler, more airbrushed age. Feminism’s here, so now girls can dig race hate too. As the BNP’s attempts to reposition itself as a mainstream party have advanced its perimeter far beyond the usual crewcuts-n-tats brigade, we spoke to three of the more acceptable new faces of the unacceptable. What a bunch of hotties! Phwoar! Makes you aroused to be British.

Basically, Vice.com decided to interview/take the piss out of these brownshirt bombshells. The result? 24 carat comedy gold. Here’s one of them, Rebecca Edwards, 23, showcasing her formidable intellect:

When people say the BNP is a fascist party, what do you think?
Fascist – I don’t understand that word.

Think of Nazi Germany, or 1930s Italy.
I can’t even remember when that happened really, but I’m against them anyway.

This girl should run for office.

She follows that up with this gem:

What do you think symbolises Britain best?
Well, I used to know Britain as strong, and over the past couple of years, I don’t know if I’ve grown up, but I’ve seen it going soft. The memory I have is the war, and how we fighted [sic] all the people in WWI and WWII, and it makes me proud to be British.

So, she can’t remember when Nazi Germany happened, but World War 2 makes her click her Ginger Spice Union Jack platform heels to the tune of Rule Britannia for a country she loves can’t wait to get out of. Move over Einstein.

What’s the best thing about living in Britain today?
I hate Britain and I want to move to Spain in the next couple of years, ’cause our country’s not England any more. It’s very rare for English people to live here any more. When I went to Lanzarote, I felt more English there than I do here, and that’s no exaggeration.

So, if you just can’t handle your country being taken over by an imaginary tsunami of foreigners, be a foreigner taking over someone else’s country! That’ll learn ’em. Oh and please, please do move to Spain. Britain’s collective IQ would rise at least 50 points, with the added bonus that you would finally have done something genuinely patriotic. Win-win.

Read the whole thing and the other interviews with other hilariously thick racist chicks – and also this interview with Miss Edwards which basically goes: “How dare you post things I actually said? Now people think I’m racist and dumb, which I’m totally not! Dumb, that is.”

Stuff like this proves that Andrew Sullivan and co, instead of promulgating the horrendous Bell Curve bullshit, should consider the theory that there is a strong correlation between racism and lack of intelligence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheryl Cole ‘Back’ In US Version Of X Factor

Only a cynical person would say Cheryl Cole was never actually kicked off the show at all.

Only a cynical person would think this was all a big publicity stunt orchestrated by Simon Cowell to drum up interest in the show.

And surely only a really jaded, misanthropic, bitter soul would say that Cheryl Cole isn’t the sweet, all-too-easily hurt, Britain’s Sweetheart the media’s portrayed her as since we first found out Ashley Cole cheated on her.

 

 

 

Jedward Going To Eurovision

Jedward are what I imagine Draco Malfoy on acid would look like.

Finally, the Talentless Twins will have a go at something which actually suits them. And to be honest, I’d rather see them win than the UK’s painfully earnest acts – Brits never seem to get Eurovision. At least Jedward will be joyously tasteless.