Thursday, June 29, 2006

Superman Returns: Super, man!

Caught the 6:30 show of Superman Returns last night. It was really well done. Two big thumbs up.

Even though the flick had been getting good reviews (76% on Rottentomatoes) I was pleasantly surprised at just how bang-on this movie was. Big props to newcomer Brandon Routh for paying homage to Christopher Reeve by imitating his Clark Kent almost to a tee (as opposed to "making it his own"). It could have backfired so easily, but the kid did good.

Kate Bosworth was passable as Lois Lane - I was kind of indifferent, which probably isn't a good thing, but at least she doesn't bring the movie down and she didn't "read" too young (but close).

Thumbs up to James Marsden, too. I had avoided trailers like mad so I didn't even know he was in this until the credits rolled at the beginning. His character was not useless and he did a fine job in a thankless role (kinda like Adrian Brody in King Kong).

Kevin Spacey made a good Lex Luthor, though he isn't as critical to the movie as one might suppose. His is almost a completely different storyline. The confrontation between Superman and Lex didn't have the sizzle it should have, considering the acknowledged history between the two.

I'm not gonna spoil the movie for you, but I will tell you this: you would be well served to watch the first two Superman movies before seeing this. There are enough significant allusions to events in those movies that I wonder how anyone could understand the basic premise of this one without having seen the prequels (forget 3 and 4, though - ugh!). This is not Batman Begins: this movie clearly acknowledges the existence of the previous incarnation. The first 15 minutes or so are especially cool if you've seen those other flicks.

Now, without giving anything away, this movie does take one MAJOR liberty with the Superman mythos that many fans will detest. I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about it, but I know that it didn't bother me nearly as much during the movie as I would have thought, so it couldn't have been that bad. And it certainly gives this Superman its own identity.

So, all in all, a very entertaining movie (even at 2.5 hours!) and, I have to say, quite possibly the best superhero movie made yet.

Even though you've been raised as a human being you're not one of them. They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only son.
- Marlon Brandon as Jor-El

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Looney for Rooney

So it's World Cup season - in case you've been living under a rock - and I've been enjoying it quite a bit. I've watched a fair share of matches, even those involving "second-rate" teams.

This week is gonna be awesome, with the big boys going head to head.

So, anyway, I check out the score of the Germany-Ecuador game online today and the homepage for soccer on has a headline about "England just mad over Rooney ad". I'm wondering what this could be about. I click on the link and start reading. And I keep reading. I get about halfway through the article before I can figure out what the hubbub is about.

See the pic? Do YOU know what the fuss is about?

If you read the article and you don't blink, you just might catch the fact that the media seem to think this ad is "spoofing" the crucifixion. You know, the one with that Christ guy.

Are you sh*tting me?

See, it's quite clear to anyone who knows anything about soccer that this emulates the manner in which Rooney celebrates a goal - arms outstretched, fists clenched. Oh, and the colour scheme? Well, if you have half a brain you know that's the English flag.

Seems some folks think the red represents blood and anything in a t-shape is a reference to the crucifixion (Who said it was blood? And never mind the white paint). STFU already. It's an ad. It's great. It has nothing to do with Christ.

But it seems this fuss is a creation of the media (go figure) - seems no one has contacted Nike to complain, only to ask for copies of the ad.

...Why oh why do I work in media when I hate it so?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Racial Diversity in Television

Anyone who knows me or has been reading this blog knows that I believe strongly in racial equality as opposed to discriminatory (and thus hypocritical) "affirmative action".

In today's Toronto Star, there is an interesting article that explores the difference between these two ideas.

The headline "Colour Commentary: Diversity's on the agenda, but do World TV Fest delegates care?" almost scared me off. I figured this was going to be another über-politically-correct article about the need for diversity and how execs still just don't get it.

Oh, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Seems there was a panel at the Banff meetings (where a full quarter of my company's workforce is spending the week - does the fact that we are still moving along smoothly say more about Banff, my company, or the state of the TV industry in Canada?), and this panel was meant to discuss racial diversity on network television.

I don't think the organizers got the response they were looking for.

Not only were there only 18 people in the room (bad enough), but some of the panelists, including Paul Scheuring (executive producer/creator of Prison Break) and Ali LeRoi (co-creator of Everybody Hates Chris) seemed determined to blow the whole thing up.

Here is a section from the article by Vinay Menon:

Williams attempts to draw both LeRoi and Scheuring into the mushy terrain, but they refuse to accept the argument. Skin colour, LeRoi says, has nothing to do with it. The only thing that matters is quality, talent and hard work. You could be orange so long as your show attracted viewers.

"You don't have a right to be in show business," says LeRoi, halfway through the session. "You have to prove yourself."

In the crowd, a few curious glances are exchanged.


In another wing of the hotel, I meet LeRoi to talk about Everybody Hates Chris. Of course, given the cast, the diversity issue is impossible to ignore.

LeRoi, bedecked in hip-hop suede and a white bandana that gives way to a mane of dreads, believes "commercial" is the operative word in commercial TV.

"At the end of the day, marketers are trying to find a way to sell socks or coffee or hamburgers or a Ford," he says.

Everybody Hates Chris is broadcast in dozens of countries. And LeRoi has talked to fans in Germany, Finland, Sweden and elsewhere who say they relate to the show. The reason is simple: LeRoi and Chris Rock set out to create a show about class, not race; about family, not ethnicity.

"You have to sell the program like it's a bigger program," he explains. "If Lenny Kravitz was sold like Usher he'd sell two albums a year."

So Everybody Hates Chris was sold as a comedy with universal appeal. Period. (At the diversity session, LeRoi makes the point another way, wondering aloud if anybody could possibly know that Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey's Anatomy, is black by simply watching an episode.)

"Was everybody who watched Archie Bunker a bigot? No. Was everybody who watched Will & Grace gay? No. Is it a good show? Yes. That's all. It's not about being the people on the program; it's about being able to understand the people on the program," LeRoi observed.

I'm reminded of something Paul Haggis told me earlier: "Multiculturalism is a wonderful thing, to celebrate how we're different. But at the same time, I think it's very important to celebrate how we're the same. And that sometimes gets lost."

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
~Yiddish Proverb

Monday, June 12, 2006

Caledonia: Fan, meet Sh*t

Ok, maybe NOW something will be done.

For months now (yes, months) members of the First Nations have been blocking a road in Caledonia, Ontario in order to prevent construction on land they claim belongs to them. In some ways it's reminiscent of Oka - and therein lies the problem.

The government doesn't want to touch this with a ten foot pole. They saw how much crap came down on Mike Harris for the Ipperwash scandal and they are very reluctant to deal with this politically sensitive issue.

Dear Dalton McGuinty,


Look, this is a very simple issue: either the government is right that the land was given to them back in 1849 or whatever and they have the documentation to prove it or they're dead wrong and should give the land "back".

For some reason, the government hasn't offered any proof the land was handed over to them. Makes'em look kinda guilty, don't it?

So while the government is doing nothing, the local residents are justifiably up in arms and the police are clearly being directed not to get involved. They haven't gotten in the middle of the myriad number of dust-ups that have broken out and recently stood by while a CTV crew was assaulted mere metres away.

Oh, but wait: here's where it gets interesting.

Seems a couple of OPP offices and an American border guard were assaulted the other day.


Now the OPP are out for blood, issuing warrants for seven individuals, ranging from "intimidation" to - get this - attempted murder. Seems one of the protesters tried to run down one of the cops.

So what do you think is going to happen when the OPP walk into First Nations territory and try to arrest seven of their buddies?

The government may now have had their hand forced; they may have to do something in order to prevent this from getting way out of hand.

Imagine that: a government actually doing something.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

X-Men : The Last Stand verdict

So I finally saw X-Men after some delay.

I basically posted my review in the comments section of my last X-Men post, here. Beware: there are spoilers within.

Overall: thumbs up, though as per usual it could have been better.

"Not everybody heals as fast as you, Logan."
- James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops in X-Men : The Last Stand