Steen: This Man of Steel worth ogling

If you need shelter from the summer heat, go see White House Down.

Man of Steel

OK, so I thought to myself (odd expression, who else am I thinking to?) do we really need another Superman movie? Well, if you like science fiction, if you like more action and destruction than you’ve seen in a long time, if you like Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner and Amy Adams, and if you like two hours of watching hunky Henry Cavill, then Hell Yes, we need another Superman movie!

Sure, we all know the story, the planet Krypton is self-destructing, and Jor-El (Russell Crowe) wants to save the race by sending his son to a far distant planet in the hopes he survives.  So Kal-El (Henry Cavill, the first non-American to play Superman) shows up on a small town farm and is raised by the Kents (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner).

Amy Adams as Lois Lane, the curious reporter, seeks the story that changes everything despite the reluctance of her publisher (Lawrence Fishburn).  Adams has previous Superman connections as she played Jodi Melville in Smallville.

Well about then, the evil General Zod (Michael Shannon) turns up and the destruction begins—we aren’t in Smallville anymore.

This is the first Superman film that doesn’t feature Jimmy Olsen, and this one was filmed in Chicago and Plato, Illinois under the code name “August Frost”—a badly kept secret as the Chicago Tribune wrote a full article about the filming long before it was completed.

The release of this film in June 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of Superman, who first appeared in comics. Canadian Joe Shuster and American Jerry Siegel were the creative force who produced the character of Superman in 1933.

Man of Steel is produced and directed by Zack Snyder whose credits include The Dark Knight and Watchmen.This film is not nearly as dark and has a message of hope.

One great line by Lois Lane before she knows who she’s dealing with is: “Be careful with those, they’re heavy.”

Go see this. Yes, pay the price of 3D as this one’s worth it.  It’s the most excitement at a movie you’ll see in a while.

I give Man of Steel five super reels —it was four but the fifth is for Henry Cavill—even as Clark Kent he’s sexy.

White House Down

While on a tour of the White House, Capitol policeman and wanna be Secret Service Agent Cale (Channing Tatum of Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street fame) and his daughter are caught in the crossfire as armed paramilitary invaders try to take down the Presidential home.

Sound familiar? It should, as it’s close in theme and action to Olympus has Fallen. So close, in fact, that it’s like watching the same film.

This one features Jamie Foxx as President Sawyer, Maggie Gyllenhall as Finerty and James Woods as Walker. Gyllenhall was stiff and Woods was good as the aging Security Chief, but Foxx was so un-Presidential that it actually affected the film—unless he was scripted to be the comic relief, casting here was really off.

Written by James Vanderbilt, cousin of Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper (her son and noted CNN host), this Vanderbilt is a descendant of one of the oldest families in America; the most note-worthy being Cornelius Vanderbilt, the American industrialist whose empire was built on railways and shipping, who had 13 children—likely why so many cousins are still running around today.

Yes, it is action escapism, but so unbelievable—we have to wonder just how many times a person can get kicked in the ribs and still be able to fight off his attackers? Or how many times a military helicopter can be shot at before someone decides that the attack should be called off.

Not sure just how White House Down will fare in the box office.  With a production budget of $150 million (probably just for the guns and ammunition) and with serious competition from Man of Steel, World War Z and the family film Monsters University this could be an dud.

Did I like it?  It was OK, and if you haven’t seen Olympus Has Fallen, then it’s a summer action flick. But it’s no Independence Day, so it’s not the blockbuster that we might have expected.

If you don’t immediately need a shoot-’em-up, take-down show, then I’d wait for The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, Red 2 or the sci-fi, Alysium.

But on a hot day an air conditioned movie theatre is not a bad place. Just don’t expect Oscar-winning acting. And they do mention the War of 1812 and how the British kicked their butts and burned the White House—a fun moment in our history, and so nice of them to acknowledge it.

I give White House Down two reels.

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