Saturday, September 24, 2011
TALE OF THE TAPE
Title: Back To The Future Title: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Tomato Meter: 97% Tomato Meter: 82%
IMDB Rating: 8.4 IMDB Rating: 6.8
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter
Director: Robert Zemeckis Director: Stephen Herek
Box Office: $210 million Box Office: $40 million
Academy: 1 win, 3 nominations Academy: n/a
Year: 1985 Year: 1989
Time travelling teenagers from the 80's go head to head. It's the irresistible force of the DeLorean meeting the immovable object of the phone booth.
Back to the Future, set in the then present day of 1985, see's Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) go back to the year 1955 in a time machine built out of a DeLorean by his friend and crack-pot scientist, Dr. Emit Brown (Christopher Lloyd). In 1955 he accidently interferes with a sequence of events that cause his parents to meet and fall in love. As a result, if he doesn't fix this issue, they never get married and he doesn't exist. To make matters worse, he has to get them to fall in love in less than a week or so, or he misses his opportunity to go back to his own era. Stephen Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment go out of their way to truly create a setting with the look and feel of 1955. Everything from props, costumes and dialogue create this illusion. Marty is truly the fish out of water when his 80's sensibilities conflict with 50's reality. He orders a drink "with no sugar" at a malt shop. His fashionable 80's orange vest is routinely mistaken for a life preserver. And the President of the United States is just an actor at this point in time. The writers adopt one of the many more plausible theories regarding time travel, the butterfly effect, and the grandfather paradox, into a cohesive story element that is presented in an easy to understand format for general audiences, as well as a water-cooler discussion piece for sci-fi enthusiasts. 26 years later, it is still regarded as the definitive time travel movie that blends considerable scientific theory regarding the premise, as well as comedic and dramatic moments that seek to entertain us.
Bill & Ted are two underachieving slackers with delusions of becoming rock stars. However their dreams may be crushed under the weight of reality, as they are doomed to fail history class. What's worse, Ted's Father is threatening to send him to an Alaskan Military School if he fails. But don't worry, Rufus, played by George Carlin, arrives from the future with a time machine that looks a lot like a phone booth to help them with their history report. Rather than travel time and learn about history first hand, they decide to kidnap historical figures and bring them back to the 20th Century to help them with their oral book report. Unlike Back To The Future, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure doesn't concern itself with science, and goes straight for laughs. Napoleon becomes a water-slide enthusiast at a water-park coincidentally called Water-Loo. Billy the Kid and Genghis Khan tearing ass through a shopping mall is funny on an epic level. The plot to assist their history report may not seem as grand a plot as Back To The Future's, where Marty is trying to save his own existence. But through the course of the movie, it is Rufus who is trying to save his future society from non-existence. If Bill & Ted break up, the band never gets off their feet, and the future society, based completely off the music of Bill & Ted's Wyld Stallyns band, disappears. Yes, these two idiots become hugely successful.
Both films are hugely popular, and retain a high level of re-watchability. The fight is a classic confrontation of two great competitors that split the audience down the middle. Both have spawned sequels and animated television series. But as the fight goes on, it becomes apparent that Back To The Future is outclassing Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. B&T is resilient though, never staying down for long, and hitting with some impressive combo's. In the end, Back To The Future wins with a T.K.O. in round 8.
Winner: Back To The Future
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
TALE OF THE TAPE
Title: Independence Day Title: Mars Attacks
Tomato Meter: 60% Tomato Meter: 51%
IMDB Rating: 6.6 IMDB Rating: 6.3
Starring: Will Smith, Bill Pullman Starring: Jack Nicholson, Pierce Bronson
Director: Roland Emmerich Director: Tim Burton
Box Office: $306 million Box Office: $37.7 million
Academy: 1 win, 1 nomination Academy: n/a
Year: 1996 Year: 1996
In 1996, the Earth is invaded by beings from outer space, twice. But which alien race was the more memorable? We find out in this edition of Showdown.
Camp is the word of the day when it comes to Mars Attacks. Tim Burton directs this sci-fi spoof based on an old trading card collection is absolutely hilarious. Special effects are big budget CGI visuals painstakingly recreated to look like cheap, absurd props. Mars Attacks hosts as many stars as the Milky Way Galaxy itself, including a dual role by Jack Nicholson. Other stars include Glenn Close, Pierce Bronson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Christina Applegate, Natalie Portman, Danny DeVito, Pam Grier, Martin Short, Jack Black and Tom Jones. The martians are as adorable as they are hideous, and seem to have a quirky sense of humor. Their dialogue is essentially "ack, ack, ack-a-ack." This Earth vs The Flying saucers moitff is pure spoof. Critics have come down hard on this film, but they seem to judge it for something it's not. Those familiar with the trading cards will tell you they literally leap from the cards onto the silver screen. And Tim spoofs everything from government, patriotism, sci-fi, and capitalism, to greed, religion and television. In the end, the seemingly indestructable aliens are brought down by the music of Slim Pickens,.
Independence Day offers a more serious look at an alien invasion. It too boasts a large roster of stars, such as Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Randy Quaid, Vivica A. Fox, Adam Baldwin, and Brent Spiner. Where Mars Attacks goes for laughs, ID4 goes for thrills. Big Budget effects allowed us to see city after city devastated. Audiences took a private sense of joy seeing the White House get blown to splinters. The film does a good job of pulling these various characters from different locations together in one place. There's just enough comedy to break the tension, and plenty of balls to the wall action to keep you riveted. Will Smith makes a transition from straight comedy to action. In the end, the aliens are brought down by a computer virus that compromises their shields. A more modern day version of what brought the aliens down in the classic War of the Worlds.
Both films are excellent from start to finish. Both have some quotable lines, and have a high rate of re-watchability. Going into the ring both films come out swinging, looking for the early K.O. ID4 , taking itself too seriously, gets frustrated at Mars Attacks unorthodox style, resulting in ID4 kissing the canvas in the mid rounds. However, the fans are clearly behind ID4 despite Mars' colorful performance, spurring ID4 on, and ID4 scores the KO in round 9.
Winner: Independence Day
Saturday, September 17, 2011
TALE OF THE TAPE
Title: The Chronicles Of Narnia Title: The Wizard Of Oz
Tomato Meter: 76% Tomato Meter: 100%
IMDB Rating: 6.9 IMDB Rating: 8.2
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan
Director: Andrew Adamson Director: Victor Fleming
Box Office: $745 million Box Office: $17.6 million
Academy: 1 win Academy: 2 wins
Year: 2005 Year: 1939
Two timeless children's classics leap from the pages onto the silver screen. Both stories center on children being whisked away into a fantasy realm where they are confronted with witches, magic, and the importance of home and family.
Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is the most popular, but one, in a series of Narnia books. Two others, the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Prince Caspian, also were converted to film. Written by C.S. Lewis, this film is for children of all ages, but should be viewed with parents for the younger crowd. Issues of love, family, betrayal, war, hope, life and death are covered in this tale which sees 4 siblings, two brothers and two sisters, who enter a wardrobe and exit into a fantasy realm called Narnia. A White Witch has casted a spell keeping much of Narnia in perpetual winter. Those in Narnia await for the fulfillment of a prophecy, that two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve will save their realm from the Witch, who calls herself the Queen of Narnia. The siblings are that prophecy, being the only humans in Narnia. Edmond, the younger of the two brothers, betrays his brother and sisters to the Witch as she preys upon his envy and resentment of his older brother, Peter. Lucy, the youngest sibling and the first to discover Narnia, learns of Mr. Tumnas's arrest by the Queen. Mr. Tumnas is a fawn, and the first friend Lucy met in Narnia. Edmund escapes the Queen and reunites with his siblings in the presence of Aslan, a guardian of the realm in the form of a lion. The Queen shows up to claim her right over Edmond, but Aslan enters into a negotiation that leads to Edmond's freedom, at the sacrifice of Aslan himself. With Aslan gone, Narnia turns to the four siblings to lead a battle against the Witch-Queens army and save Narnia.
The Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic about a young girl named Dorothy who runs away from her farm home in Kansas. Her beloved dog and friend Toto, as incurred the ire of a mean neighbor woman who orders the dog to be destroyed. So she runs off with Toto and meets a travelling fortune teller, and convinces her to return home. She arrive home just as a terrible storm shows up, and a tornado whisks her away to the land of Oz. There she must travel the Yellow Brick Road, meeting strange new friends, including a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a cowardly Lion. She is pursued by the Wicked Witch of the West who want's her ruby slippers given to her from Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Along her adventures she learns about the values of friendship and home.
Unlike Narnia, Wizard of Oz is told as a musical, with songs memorable to this day. It is a near flawless film that has endured over 70 years. With a young audience in mind, it still resonates with the kid in all of us. You cannot watch this film without coming away feeling better. Its magic is enduring.
Chronicles of Narnia is also a timeless children's story, but didn't hit the screen till just recently. C.S. Lewis tells a tale that is unflinching in its deeper, and richer, subject matter than Oz ever had. Still accessible to young audience, Narnia will elicit more emotions than other children's stories. With elements of sacrifice, family, and kingship, Lewis's Christian values and sensibilities are obvious, without being preachy or condescending to other faiths.
Wizard of Oz is more universal in its themes, and the talent of the cast is impeccable. It is ranked #131 in the AFI 250 movies of all time. Both films are set in the past, but clearly does not detract as both films contain subject matter that can be relatable to today's audiences.
Both competitors enter the ring looking strong. Wizards hits first landing several combos that tell of its enduring experience and longevity. Still, Chronicles stands strong and doesn't go down. By round 6, Chronicles starts flexing its muscle and begins unloading with some impressive combos of its own on the weary Wizard of Oz. Wizards gets knocked down twice, in rounds 8 and 10, but refuses to lay down and gets on its feet. Chronicles proves it has the heart and courage of its opponent, but Wizards still has the advantage of brains, out-thinking Chronicles in the final rounds scoring one knock down at round 13. Still, both films seem they will go the distance until before round 15 when the ref decides Narnia cannot continue and needs emergency medical attention. The fight is stopped. It seems as time goes on, the fans stopped caring for Narnia, and thus Narnia lost its momentum. Without an enduring fan base, the injuries became too much.
According to the judges, we see that Chronicles of Narnia, with its themes and deep narrative, is the better film. But The Wizard of Oz, with its long endurance, and continued impact on modern culture, with movie metaphors used in our cultural lexicon, proves that Wizards will go on. Narnia will become a fond, but forgotten film in decades to come. It's sequels haven't measured up, nor does it endure in the hearts and minds of society. A tragedy, really, since Narnia, a real contender, is forced into retirement. Could Narnia have beaten Wizards? We'll never know.
Winner: The Wizard of Oz
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
TALE OF THE TAPE
Title: Ghostbusters Title: Men In Black
Tomato Meter: 93% Tomato Meter: 91%
IMDB Rating: 7.8 IMDB Rating: 7.0
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones
Director: Ivan Reitman Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Box Office: $229 million Box Office: $250 million
Academy: 2 nominations Academy: 1 win
Year: 1984 Year: 1997
Out of this world Sci-Fi Comedies seek to annihilate each other with slapstick special effects in this Showdown match-up.
Ghostbusters is a comedic juggernaut. Take a couple SNL alumnus, a fantastic screenplay, and comedy director Ivan Reitman, and you have a winning formula. Three 30-something Science Majors get kicked out of the university, and go into business for themselves. Their business? Catching ghosts. Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis aren't just excellent in this film, but arguably put in the performances of their careers. The screenplay is so well written, not one line seems forced or artificial. The dialogue is organic, and probably improvised in places. Ivan Reitman balances this film between pseudo science and gadgetry that actually makes the plot believable, and farcical whimsy that generates one laugh after another. Special effects are top notch. What the Lightsaber did for Star Wars, the Proton Pack does for Ghostbusters. The interpersonal relationships are fully fleshed out, including the love triangle between Peter, Louis, and Dana. Egon is totally oblivious to the fact that their secretary Janine has a crush on him. Walter Peck, from the EPA, is looking to shut the Ghostbusters down. And Winston is just a blue collar joe that's hired on, looking for a decent paycheck. Things escalate as an inter-dimensional portal is opened, and a demi-god named Gozar enters our world looking to destroy mankind. Gozar chooses a form for itself to destroy us with that is...well...you just have to see it.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones play Agents J and K respectively. While chasing a thief through the streets of New York, Officer James (Will Smith) corners the thief who displays strange behavior and warns him that the planet is in danger, then leaps off the building. Agent K sees this and is impressed with James, offering him a job with the M.I.B. James soon learns that space aliens indeed walk the Earth and live among us, and the M.I.B. are here to police any and all alien activity. James takes the assignment and becomes agent J. Tommy Lee and Will Smith crank up the buddy cop, veteran/rookie relationship to a new level as J is introduced to dozens of alien races and unique devices like the noisy cricket and the "flashy thing." Like Ghostbusters, high tech gadgets and out of this world bad guys make up the bulk of this situational comedy. From day one, J's on the job training is a trial by fire, as he must do everything from an alien shakedown, to delivering a baby alien in the back of a taxi cab, to stopping a giant mad insect from starting an intergalactic war. Will Smiths obnoxious loud mouth persona first introduced in The Fresh Prince Of Bell Air complements Tommy Lee Jones' deadpan delivery and straight-man style comedy.
Both films come out of the gate strong, scoring several knock down blows. MIB pulls ahead during round 6 with its endless amount of aliens and cool gadgets that dazzle the audience. However, with deeper characterization, and a more satisfying ending, Ghostbusters refuse to go down and delivers a powerhouse uppercut scoring the Knock Out by round 13.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
TALE OF THE TAPE
Title: The Karate Kid Title: The Karate Kid
Tomato Meter: 67% Tomato Meter: 90%
IMDB Rating: 76.2 IMDB Rating: 7.0
Starring: Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith Starring: Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio
Director: Zack Snyder Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Box Office: $176 million Box Office: $90.8 million
Academy: n/a Academy: 1 nomination
Year: 2010 Year: 1984
An inspirational martial arts showdown to determine the best around.
The 1984 version is a true classic, inspiring and heartwarming. It tells the story of friendship, courage, and integrity. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel Larusso, a 15 year old kid from Jersey who moves all the way to California with his Mother, who wants to make a fresh start for the two of them. Daniel, who comes from a family of little means, runs afoul of a group of high school seniors, all privileged kids and black belts. Daniel's only friends are Ali (Elisabeth Shue) and an old Asian maintenance man named Miyagi (Pat Morita). Ali comes from a wealthy family who aren't fond of her seeing Daniel, and it doesn't help that her ex-boyfriend is the head of the pack of bullies. Wanting to defend himself, Daniel goes to the Cobra Kai dojo, only to find out that the bullies train there. This only encourages the bullies to continue assaulting poor Daniel, who tries to hide his miserable existence from his Mother. On one occasion, as they are beating the tar out of him, Mr. Miyagi shows up to save him. The small unassuming Miyagi makes short work of these boys, despite their size and youthful energy. He then makes a deal with the Cobra Kai instructor to have his boys leave Daniel alone, and arranges for just one fight to be held at a tournament in three months. Miyagi then takes Daniel on as a karate student.
From this point we're treated to a wonderful story where they form a fond friendship. Miyagi's teachings are unconventional, having Daniel perform chores such as waxing cars, painting the house, varnishing the fence and sanding floors, each with specific methods he must adhere to. When Daniel threatens to quit Miyagi has him go through the chores and demonstrates the methods have indeed taught him a variety of karate techniques. He also expands his teachings from karate to life lessons, teaching him the importance of focus and balance. In the end, Daniel overcomes his bullies, and earns their respect. But more so, has earned a sense of self-worth and confidence.
The 2010 version is a bit misleading. The film borrows heavily from the idea of the Karate Kid, including the title. Yet it also distances itself from the original so much, its hard to tell if the filmmakers intended this to be a re-imagining or what. Jaden Smith plays young Dre Parker, a young 12 year old black kid plucked from Detroit and moves with his Mother to China. Like the original, this is about a stranger in a strange place, but amped up as China presents a complete culture shock. The original didn't go that far. Like the original, the boy befriends the maintenance man, named Mr. Han. We see the relationships are the same, but the characters are different. Falling for a classmate, this raises the ire of some bullies. Like the original, the maintenance man prepares him for a tournament to confront his bullies. Only this time, it isn't Karate, but Kung Fu. Which again is confusing since the film is called the Karate Kid. We see further parallels such as Meiying's Father disapproving of his daughters friendship with the Kara....errr Kung Fu Kid. We see Mr. Han put Dre through a single exercise involving hanging his jacket. Not as detailed as wax on, wax off, but noticeable. Characters names are also all altered. There is even a scene involving a fly and chopsticks, only this time using a flyswatter, as suggested in the original 1984 film. Much of the magic is lost in this translation. Jackie Chan beating up a few 14 year olds is not as impressive as a diminutive Pat Morita taking on bigger, athletic young men in the prime of their lives. Dre comes off less sympathetic than Daniel. Not to mention the martial arts demonstrated in the tournament are less believable than the original.
Still, the new Karate Kid isn't without merit. Jackie Chan really shows off his acting chops in this film, being more dramatic than comedic this time around. Jaden Smith puts in a fine performance, clearly demonstrating his bright future in this industry. Some of the scenes involving China's landscape is truly breathtaking.
With both films in the ring, it is obvious that originality will win out. If the 2010 version had more courage to forgo the title and nod to "The Karate Kid", it would have performed much better. Sadly, it's knocked out by round 3.
Winner: The Karate Kid (1984)
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
TALE OF THE TAPE
Title: 300 Title: Sin City
Tomato Meter: 60% Tomato Meter: 78%
IMDB Rating: 7.8 IMDB Rating: 8.3
Starring: Gerard Butler, Dominic West Starring: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke
Director: Zack Snyder Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Box Office: $210 million Box Office: $74.1 million
Academy: n/a Academy: n/a
Year: 2006 Year: 2005
Frank Miller's popular graphic novels turned films take each other on in a gritty, no-holds-barred competition in this installment of the Showdown.
Sin City as a stylized film based off of Frank Millers graphic novel. It is an anthology, covering three distinct stories loosely tied together. It's told in a narrative form, with a distinct crime noir style. Mickey Rourke's career returns from the dead as he gives a tour de force performance as Marve, the lead character of the second chapter. Bruce Willis plays Hartigan, an aging detective trying to protect a little girl from a child molester/murderer. Clive Owen plays a boyfriend out to punish his girlfriends abusive x-boyfriend in the third story in this anthology. Each story has its own director, Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino, and each craft their stories to perfection. Sin City also boasts a huge cast of stars including Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Britney Murphy, Powers Booth, Binicio Del Toro, Rosario Dawson, Michael Clark Duncan, Rutger Hauer, and Elijah Woods. With crystal clear photography and shot in black & white, the film truly leaps from the pages of the novel that inspired it. In fact, to read the graphic novel, it would seem that you're witnessing the movies storyboard, and that isn't far off. The film was shot with the graphic novel as an inspiration. So much so that each shot filmed in the movie follows the book panel by panel, page by page, establishing each shot as presented in the book.
300 is another film inspired by the works of Frank Miller. Erroneously criticized as not being "entirely historically accurate", the film never intended to tell the historical story, but rather tell the graphic novel which told a romanticized account of the historical event. Far less star power than Sin City, 300's strength lies in the films narrative. A noble King, Leonidas (Gerard Butler) is restricted by a corrupt bureaucracy, and takes 300 Spartan warriors to confront a Persian army numbered over a million. By the end of the film, women leave the theater short of breath from the ample amount of beef on screen. Men leave the theater filled with high levels of testosterone. I personally left this film naked, wearing only a coat made of bacon. Despite its Macho Madness, it isn't without direction. These are men possessed of duty, courage, and a sense of morality. They will not submit to the Persian army. Better to die on their feet than live on their knees. This pitches a cause for an integrity sorely missed in today's politically correct culture where we try and embrace our enemies. If this film was released September 12th, 2011, I personally believe the entire middle east would be a nuclear wasteland today. It is really that inspiring. Like Sin City, this film adapts the graphic novel in such a way that principle photography is shot as though the novel were the storyboard. The armies of the Persians, man and beast, are given an exaggerated look, reflecting how these stories were told in oral tradition, rather than accuracy. Elephants were mammoth, and the Persians at times more beastly.
Both films clearly illustrate the diversity of the "Comic Book" genre. Not all are about superheroes, or are they kid friendly. Both films feature breathtaking scenery, which is in stark contrast to the high levels of violence. The fact that they were overlooked by the Academy is the true tragedy, but they did ground the genre, allowing future films to be taken more seriously. Sin City's wealth of stars and top notch directors clearly outclass 300 as a unique and stylized noir. 300's unrelenting theme is inspirational throughout the whole fight. It doesn't go down till the last man falls, where Sin City has the option to "tag out", deferring to the next chapter in its anthology. By round 14, 300 is on wobbly legs as the ref counts to 10 on Sin City. The long sustained narrative beats the three well told, but short stories.
Friday, September 2, 2011
TALE OF THE TAPE
Title: Spider-Man 2 Title: Superman 2
Tomato Meter: 89% Tomato Meter: 88%
IMDB Rating: 7.6 IMDB Rating: 6.7
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst Starring: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder
Director: Sam Raimi Director: Richard Lester
Box Office: $783.7 million Box Office: $108.1 million
Academy: 2 nominations, 1 win Academy: n/a
Year: 2007 Year: 1980
* * * The Rematch * * *
The two superhero powerhouses step into the ring once again in Film VS Film Showdown's first rematch. Better than the Thrilla in Manila, Call it the "Top This in Metropolis."
Both films show no signs of wear and tear going into their second installment. Indeed it seems the cast and crew have lost no momentum or enthusiasm reprising their roles. Both films also delve deeper into principle characters and more complex themes.
Spider-Man 2 sees our hero swinging through the streets of New York. Spidey has been at it now for two years and is a far more seasoned crime fighter, yet even with his powers, he cannot get a pizza delivered in 29 minutes. To be fair, New York traffic is a formidable foe. Except for J.Jonah Jameson's relentless smear campaign, the general feeling is the citizens of New York love Spider-Man. Yet Peter Parker does not. His personal life spirals out of control. He's fired from his job, his grades are terrible, and the woman he loves is marrying another. Not to mention his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) makes it perfectly clear he hasn't given up pursuing Spider-Man, blaming him for the death of his Father. While Harry is unaware at this time that Peter and Spidey are one in the same, there is a rift in their friendship as Harry assumes Peter knows Spider-Man from all the exclusive photo's that he gets. Yet. this is how Peter makes his living. If that isn't enough, his beloved Aunt May faces foreclosure on her home. All this escalates to a point where Peter Parker loses his super powers, along with his will to be Spider-Man, and is content to just be himself. It is unclear how he exactly comes to lose his powers, but it is inferred it's due to psychological reasons. Director Sam Raimi makes two critical choices here, deciding on long time arch nemesis Dr. Octopus as the villain, and casting Alfred Molina to play him. Raimi allows for Molina's dramatic sensibilities to fully flesh out the character. He comes off as both relatable and sympathetic. Unlike the arch-typical mad scientist, Otto Octavius is a grounded, likable fellow, and even a bit of a romantic. His wife, also his assistant creates an on screen connection with the audience in the very short time she has on screen. His motivation is altruistic, and shares his outlook with Peter Parker, being a science major, who's a great admirer of his. Unfortunately, an accident in the lab causes the death of his wife, as well as the inhibitor chip that protects him from the artificial intelligence of his mechanical arms. Doc Oc is a tragic villain, but a villain none the less. With this new threat to the city, Peter desperately tries to regain his powers, but it isn't until a threat to Mary Jane's life that he breaks free of the psychological barrier. What follows is perhaps the best superhero action sequences to date. Raimi took what worked in the first film and amped it up to 10. The camera shots were amazing, allowing for more exploring of the three-dimensional world Spider-Man lives in. Yet for all the new techniques in CGI involved, it doesn't get so out of proportion that the audience can't follow the action. The fight sequence on the train is pure movie gold. It displays the latest in CGI, yet offset by classic dramatic moments from two well seasoned actors. In the end, Spider-Man's identity is known to both Mary Jane and Harry Osborn. This sets up for a third film.
Superman 2 sees the original cast return, and Superman faces the greatest challenges both internally and externally. In the opening sequence, Superman flies to Paris after getting word from his editor-in-chief Mr. White, that terrorists have a hydrogen bomb in the Eiffel Tower. Lois Lane, naturally, is up to her neck in trouble as she's underneath the tower's elevator. Superman shows up to save the day by rescuing her, and flinging the elevator, bomb and all, into outer space. In the meantime, Lex Luthor escapes prison and heads north to discover the Fortress of Solitude. Clark Kent and Lois Lane are assigned to go undercover at Niagara Falls, posing as newlyweds. While taking in the sites, a young boy slips off the railing and into the rapids. Again, Superman show up in the nick of time to save the day. This arouses Lois' suspicions that Clark and Superman may be one in the same. Superman does his best to hide this fact, but ends up revealing his identity to her. The two fly off to the Fortress of Solitude, Luthor now long gone, where he fully discloses everything to her, his identity, heritage, and the Fortress itself. After a night of physically expressing their love for each other, Superman uses the crystals to have a conversation with his Mother. She is happy that he has found love, but warns him that to be with a mortal, he must become one, and be stripped of all superpowers, forever. She warns that there is no going back, and once done, it cannot be changed.. Lois catches this moment but says nothing. Superman enters the chamber, effectively abdicating his throne as Earth's protector for love and happiness. The Fortress of Solitude seems to self destruct moments afterwards. As Lois and Clark return home, unbeknownst to them, a terrible menace is conquering the Earth. Seems the hydrogen bomb that exploded in space, freed three Kryptonian criminals from their Phantom Zone prison. General Zod (Terrance Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas), and the mute brute Non (Jack O'Halloran), only seen briefly in the first films opening sequence, are now the main villains in the sequel. Since they are Kryptonian, they too have the abilities that Superman had. If that isn't bad enough, they form a loose alliance with Lex Luthor, who having spent time at the Fortress of Solitude, learns that Superman's Kryptonian identity is Jor-El's son. Jor-El, played by Marlon Brando in the first film, was the one who passed the sentence onto General Zod and crew, where Zod vowed revenge. Learning this from Luthor, Zod is obsessed at making good on his threat. When Lois and Superman return home, they're horrified at the turn of events. Zod has indeed conquered the world, and is calling out Superman from hiding. Luthor leads Zod to Lois, knowing that Superman won't allow her to be in danger. Superman returns to the now ruins of the Fortress of Solitude and repents, calling out to his Father for help. The single green crystal, responsible for the Fortresses creation, begins to glow again. As the three attempt to kidnap Lois from the Daily Planet, Superman returns, in full glory, and an epic battle ensues. This is the first time audiences get to see a super powered hero fight super powered villains. Terrance Stamp puts in an iconic performance as Zod. Cold, ruthless, and bent on world conquest, he embedded the line, "Come to me son of Jor-El, kneel before Zod" into the vernacular of comic book and sci-fi geeks for the next 30 years. Sarah gives Ursa a sexually menacing quality. Hackman, Reeve and Kidder put in equally fine performances on par with their first effort.
Both film push their own envelopes. They improve on themes and explore the principle characters more. However, Superman 2 does show some minor flaws. It is unclear exactly how he got his powers back. Why was Ursa impervious to mortar fire, yet felt pain from a snake-bite? Once Superman is dead, how was Lex going to deal with the other three? These tiny cracks in an otherwise superbly crafted film keep it from being flawless. While Spider-Man 2 has far fewer cracks, those that it has are noticeably larger. Drowning a sun is not scientifically sound. A constant renewable source of fusion can't simply be extinguished. Even for its size, Its heat and gravitational pull should have vaporized half the river. The nature of his power loss is not fully fleshed out. Take for example, when he's trying to get his powers back, he leaps off of a building. The fall would have killed any normal person, but he limps away from it, suggesting that his abilities are still there. Yet his eyesight reverts back to needing glasses, suggesting his abilities are completely gone
Both Superman and Spider-Man put in another epic battle as Superman hits hard in the early goings. Spider-Man endures and hits back. Both go to the canvas several times, but neither can score the 10 count. As these two go at it in the later rounds, Superman's flaws begin to show, allowing Spider-Man a TKO in round 13.
. Winner: Spider-Man