Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Box Office Poison reviews "Superman Returns" or ("How many 'P's' in catastrophe, chief-???")

CHERYL ("THE TERMINATOR"): "I like your friend, Jerry. He's so dark - and disturbed."

GEORGE COSTANZA: "Jerry-? DARK and DISTURBED-??? Are you kidding me-? His whole life revolves around Superman and cereal!"

Well, Cleveland, I tried to bring the premiere of "Superman Returns" to our hometown, where it all started back in the 1930's with the creators of The Man of Steel, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Unfortunately, I failed because Bryan Singer and the fine folks at Warner Bros. decided to screen it for Shaquille O'Neal, instead, out in Hollywood. It seems like the only thing coming out of a phone booth in Cleveland, these days, is "Super Host."

I guess I should go sit in the corner now and eat my Valu-Time Beans out of a can like Jerry Siegel...

The good news - for Cleveland anyway - is that "Superman Returns" thumps like a brick - or one of Shaq's many fabled free throws. The bad news (again) is that I actually had to sit through this mess of a movie.

The good news (sort of) is that at least I did not have to sit next to director Bryan Singer at the Cleveland premiere. Can you say: "Awkward!"

It's hard to tell exactly where "Superman Returns" makes a wrong turn. The casting, for the most part, is right on the money. The only costly exception is Kate Bosworth as "Lois Lane" who - is so bad - makes ME look like a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist!

It's not awful - in fact, it had it's moments. You truly want this movie to succeed. But it's too long - and boring - in too many parts to pass as acceptable. This installment of "Superman" tries so hard to be emotional that it often derails and feels like an over-the-top episode of "One Life to Live."

Yes, the special effects are spectacular - but the script stifles any attempts by the otherwise splendid Kevin Spacey as "Lex Luthor" to rise above this recycled storyline that borrows (too heavily) from the earlier "Superman" films directed by Richard Donner.

Bryan Singer never seems to grasp what this modern-day version of "Metropolis" should look like - and it ping-pongs unevenly between an art-deco version of the 1940's Max Fleischer comic book cartoons and today's technology.

And when this cold and sterile story and script decides to branch out on it's own to challenge the "Superman" mythos - it misses the mark by (um, excuse the pun) leaps and bounds.

Although the cast of "Superman Returns" is talented - they never seem to work together as an ensemble. They have as much "chemistry" between them as an arranged Scientology marriage out in Hollywood...

Brandon Routh as "Superman/Clark Kent" is not bad - but it's hard to tell if he is making this character his own, or just trying to mimic the one-and-only substance and style of the late (great) Christopher Reeve.

That being said, "Superman Returns" misses the mark on so many levels and pales in comparision to the fantastic efforts of the "Spider-Man" series, the wonderfully inventive "X-Men" movies (where Bryan Singer excelled) and the high-water mark of revamped comic book movies: the dark and delightful "Batman Begins." This movie, to say the least, feels more like "The Fantastic Four."

It's sad to say, but "Superman Returns" feels more rushed and regurgitated ...and not at all refreshing.

In fact, it's about as invigorating as a "Kryptonite colonic."

Grade: C (for "Can't standz ya!")

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

An open letter to Warner Bros. and Bryan Singer, director, of "Superman Returns"

Dear Bryan Singer and (Super) Friends:

Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio! - As you may know, the original home of "The Man of Steel" and the two kids who created him, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. Although Jerome Siegel was born in Cleveland on October 17. 1914, he did not meet a young artist named Joe Shuster until 1931, when Shuster relocated from Toronto to Cleveland with his family.

But that's neither here nor there. In the hearts and minds of Clevelanders, Siegel and Shuster are both considered "native sons."

It was in Cleveland that these two young men with a dream created "Superman." And it was in Cleveland that an American icon was born.

Although the basis of the fictional city, "Metropolis," has been heavily debated by fans throughout the world (some believe the blueprint was based on Shuster's hometown of Toronto), I personally cannot help but believe that Cleveland, a medium-sized, midwestern city, had some influence as the actual inspiration for Superman's beloved hometown in the 1930's.

Could The Cleveland Press have been the inspiration for The Daily Planet? Could the late John D. Rockefeller (Another Clevelander, who built Standard Oil into the largest company in the world, and was for a time the richest man in the world; his business career was controversial; he was accused of being a monopolist and was bitterly attacked by investigative journalists) be a veiled inspiration for arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor (a rich business tycoon and the most powerful man in Metropolis), and "LexCorp." - Luthor's own "infamous" company?

Interestingly enough, both "characters" (Rockefeller and Luthor) later went on in their careers to cultivate a popular image as great philanthropists.

These Superman "fun facts" and "fictions" could be debated endlessly by historians, as well as pop culture aficionados, alike - until the end of time. The FACT remains: There is no denying that the city of Cleveland had an early, heavy, influence on the creation of the character of "Superman" as he is known to the world today.

With that, Mr. Singer, I would like to invite you, the entire cast and crew of your film, "Superman Returns," as well as the living relatives of Mr. Jerry Siegel and Mr. Joe Shuster to attend and have the world preview of your movie Cleveland.

As a native Clevelander myself, I have seen firsthand both sides of the city that I have come to love and call my own: One side is naive, timid and insecure (like "Clark Kent") while the other side of Cleveland is constantly striving to rise above all the turmoil and be a symbol for greatness ("Superman").

It's for all these reasons (and MORE), that I invite you, Bryan Singer, to bring the world premiere of "Superman Returns" to Cleveland - the official hometown of "The Man of Steel."

Just two guys from Cleveland with a dream: And I cannot think of a town like Cleveland more deserving.

Like Jimmy Olsen, himself, I have activated my "Superman signal watch" - Now I can only sit back, like the rest of Cleveland, and hope you respond to our request as we wait with optimism for your arrival.

"Superman's pal"
Chris McVetta

Friday, June 02, 2006

Toobin' The Tube: Are the castaways on "Lost" just some Sea Monkeys for space aliens?

So I guess I am supposed to write some thesis on "Lost" or something, seeing that I have been tagged "the pop culture kid" by The Others on the opposite end of this "remote" cyber-island (there certainly does seem to be an unusually large number of lit torches surrounding my camp, as of late).

But that's neither here nor there...

Summer. There's no better time to live in Ohio - unless, of course, you are a fan of the hot and cold Cleveland Indians. In which case, there's no better time to hit the open road in search of ...other "Adventures in Babysitting."

Chief Wiggum on "Talkin' Tribe" to The Indians Vice-President of Public Relations: "Um, Ralphie, you can get off the stage now, sweetheart." ("My Indians made an ouchie!")

So I called my travel agent at Roswell Airlines and was on my merry way - to Austin, Texas-? Or Notre Dame, Indiana-? Or Chicago, Illinois-? Or maybe all of the above. The id and I is nothing, if not mobile...

"The hatch" has been blown sky high, we have crawled down inside to discover it's secrets, and "the code" no longer needs to be mindlessly punched into the computer before hitting the "EXECUTE" button (to avoid another "incident").

But enough about my former job at Arthur Andersen - and the school of journalism building that followed it. Time to go Semisonic now because it's "Closing time - every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

Let's get back to getting "Lost" - shall we?

Since we last chatted up our beach-bound band of misfits, Shannon, Ana-Lucia and Libby have all (literally) bit the dust. I sure hope the survivors of Flight 815 found a bunch of "Dharma-brand caskets" down in that pantry of theirs - because the body count on Mystery Island is really starting to pile up!

Michael found boy ("Walt"). Then lost boy ("Walt"). Then found boy again ("Walt!!!"). Locke found his religion (sorry "TomKat," not Scientology, I don't think). Lost his religion (sorry R.E.M.). Then found his religion again (still not Scientology, Travolta!).

Desmond came back on his boat (and on a drinking-binge to end all drinking binges) which sets up a nice flashback-homage to "Planet of The Apes" as he smashed his roommate's skull on the rocks of the nearby shore (Talk about your roommates from hell - I guess his roomie, Kelvin, must have been late with The Hatch rent-check or something!).

The only thing that was missing was a half-buried Statue of Liberty in the sand.

Kramer: "Hey, Elaine, you're pretty smart. Is it statue or statute-?"

Elaine: "It's STATUTE!"

Kramer: "Oh, no - I really think you're wrong!!!"

But the fact remains: There was a statue. A statue of a giant foot with four toes. Begging the question from Sayid: "Dude ...WTF???" (Translated from his native Iraqi tongue ...I think.)

Meanwhile, sitting on the dock of the bay, Jack, Kate and Sawyer were left as hostages of "The Others" while Hurley was told to "hit the bricks, pal, because you are going ...OUT!" Jack took that time, meanwhile, in his last moments of freedom to steal a page from Han Solo's playbook and blink to gal-pal, Kate: "I love you." Princess Kate blinked back in a coy fashion: "I know" as third-wheel Sawyer snarled off to the side in disgust (McEditor's note: Hey, back off man ...I'm a Communications major!).

So what does this all mean-? Oh, who the hell knows! All I know is that I'm on summer break, tanned, buzzed, and looking for my next Blue Moon Belgian Ale from our Tiki Bar waitress out here in... well, it really doesn't matter in "the grand scheme of things." I just hope that somebody remembers to come over and feed my Pet Rock, "Sprinkles," on a timely basis while I am away...

The only thing the season-finale of "Lost" has really shown me is that ...there is an actual "world" outside of "the island."

Meanwhile, I'm on holiday, sunning myself on some rock like Patty and Selma's beloved iguana, "Jug-Jug," and writing my baggy-pants farce/one-man play: "Wahoo's on First? A Comedy of Errors starring The Cleveland Indians!"

Coming soon an abandoned hatch near you! (Dharma-brand buttered popcorn sold separately.)