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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

'Man of Steel:' About that scene with Superman near the end ...

Big-time spoilers ahead ...

I've read a lot about fans being upset over Superman killing General Zod near the end of "Man of Steel."

I knew about Superman's morals -- killing goes against everything he believes in and stands for. But I'm not a comic-book reader, so I wasn't aware of the historical context of using lethal force.

What I was aware of was the amount of destruction and collateral damage incurred by the time Superman and Zod reached that point in their fight. They hit, tackle and throw each other into and through buildings while Metropolis crumbles around them.

The fight goes on for so long that I began wondering how many innocent citizens died or were seriously injured because they were in the path. Add in all the buildings collapsing from the space ship trying to turn Earth into Krypton, and a conservative estimate would be tens of thousands.

When the battle reached the climax, instead of being emotionally torn over Superman's decision to kill, all the other explosions left me desensitized to his dilemma. Where was his conscience during the rest of the fight?

Zod's death led to a jarring transition in which Metropolis is apparently back to normal and Clark Kent is hired at the Daily Planet. Metropolis must have been rebuilt pretty quickly.

If and when there is a sequel, I hope someone brings up how Superman nearly destroyed Metropolis in order to defeat Zod. Maybe Lex Luthor will. His tanker trucks didn't fare well.

- Howard Primer

Friday, June 14, 2013

'Man of Steel' a letdown

Two scenes from "Superman" and "Superman II" still resonate with me more than 30 years later.

The first is from the 1978 original directed by Richard Donner when Superman (Christopher Reeve) flies into action for the first time, saving Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) from falling to her death in a helicopter. I still get goosebumps watching it.

The sequel two years later has an equally hair-raising scene in which Superman returns to Metropolis after giving up his powers to be with Lois. The city is under siege by General Zod (Terrence Stamp), who's taken over The Daily Planet's building. Superman flies up beside the Planet, where he asks, "General Zod, would you care to step outside?" Zod replies, "Come to me son of Jor-El, kneel before Zod!"

Those scenes are classic. Unfortunately, there's nothing like that in "Man of Steel," released Friday. The magic of the first two Superman motion pictures was Reeve, whose charm, nobility and humor brought the most popular superhero of all time to life. Henry Cavill, who plays Kal-El/Clark Kent, doesn't have Reeve's chops in "Man of Steel," but it's no fault of the actor. There's not much in the screenplay, written by David Goyer. I found myself not caring about the main character, and when that happens in any movie, there are problems.

Not all was lost. Russell Crowe (Kal-El) and Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) are superb, and I had high hopes for the film in the first hour, but it limps to the end. It's as if Christopher Nolan (the Dark Knight trilogy) directed the first hour (when the origin story on Krypton and Smallville is told), and Michael Bay the second (when the film takes on a Transformers-like tone. Explosions and destruction? You haven't seen anything yet).

In the second half of the film, Cavill, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon carry the film, but it doesn't work.

- Lois Lane (Adams) looks good on screen, but she literally appears out of nowhere looking for the mystery man Kal-El, who's spent most of his adult life up to this point not as Superman (by the way, the name is used just once in the film) but only as Clark Kent. Adams portrays Lane as a driven journalist, but the attraction she feels for Clark/Man of Steel? It's not there. If their chemistry level was graded on a 1 to 10 scale, I'd give it a negative 1. Lois and Clark kiss near the end of the film, but it feels forced, like someone telling Goyer in pre-production, "You know, we better have them kiss."

- Michael Shannon (Zod) looked good in trailers, but his performance is nothing more than shouting long and hard about saving Krypton. Stamp's performance as the stoic Zod in "Superman II" easily outshines Shannon.

- Cavill's physique is impressive, and he looks better than any actor before him in the red and blue suit, but there's not much else here either. As Clark/Man of Steel, he's humorless and has zero charm. This is the darkest Superman portrayal ever, and that's not a good thing. Save that for the Dark Knight.

The film's conclusion also left me shaking my head. Superman (no spoilers here) does something Batman vowed never to do, and it should have made me gasp. Instead, I didn't feel much of anything, mostly because I didn't care much for Cavill's character.

I wanted so much to love "Man of Steel." The creators should be applauded for taking chances on a Superman film unlike any other you've seen, but it misses the mark.

Hey, there's always hope for the sequel, which is undoubtedly on its way.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros' new video: 'Better Days'

I've become a big fan of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros since buying "Up From Below" late last year, so I was glad to see they've released a video for their new single, "Better Days," off their self-titled album due out July 23. Check out the fun video featuring plenty of 1980s hair and clothing, and a song that made me want to dance and smile:

Or stream the song on SoundCloud.

PS: The band's website is pretty awesome. I'd be lying if I said I didn't spend a few minutes moving my mouse back and forth over the homepage to play the xylophone.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Infographic: Which TV dad is most like yours?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

'Fast & Furious 6' wins weekend box office

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "Fast & Furious 6," $34.5 million ($75 million international). (Review by The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros: 'Fast & Furious 6 hits the gas for more guilty-pleasure thrills)
2. "Now You See Me," $28.05 million. ($600,000 international). (Review by The AP's Joceyln Noveck: 'Now You See Me' not magical despite great cast)
3. "After Earth," $27 million ($2.6 million international). (Review by The AP's John DeFore: 'After Earth' a disappointing sci-fi tale with Will Smith, son Jaden)
4. (tie) "Epic," $16.4 million ($28.5 million international).
4. (tie) "Star Trek: Into Darkness," $16.4 million ($37.6 million international). (Review by Meszoros: 'Star Trek: Into Darkness' another heavenly slice of new-meets-old sci-fi from director J.J. Abrams)
5. "The Hangover Part III," $15.9 million ($82.3 million international). (Review by Meszoros: 'The Hangover Part III' goes out in surprisingly sober, fairly funny fashion)
6. "Iron Man 3," $8 million ($9.9 million international). (Review by Meszoros: 'Iron Man 3' is strong but has a few more cracks in armor)
7. "The Great Gatsby," $6.3 million ($22.6 million international). (Review by Meszoros: With 'Great Gatsby,' Baz Luhrmann makes up for musical missteps with grand visuals)
8. "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani," $1.6 million ($900,000 international).
9. "Mud," $1.2 million ($350,000 international). (Review by The AP's Todd McCarthy: Enough of 'Mud' sticks to make it worthwhile)
10. "The Croods," $615,000 ($3.7 million international). (Review by The AP's Christy Lemire: Semi-prehistoric script cliches hurt, don't sink 'The Croods')

— The Associated Press

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