(ca) wrote: I've heard a lot of people point at any given Superman film at any given point in time, claiming that "this is how you do a modern Superman film", but upon seeing many of them, I can never agree. While I do, however, agree that the Man of Steel is a timeless figure in English fiction, there seems to be this overwhelming desire among writers and directors these days to want to "reinvent" the man in blue, which in my opinion is about as productive as trying to reinvent the wheel; why try and perfect something that is already perfect? Superman Vs. The Elite is the one Superman film since Richard Donner's 1970s masterpiece that realizes that Superman needs no reinvention, that the most important aspect of a Superman story is not the man himself, but the situations he is surrounded by and how he deals with them. By introducing a truly "anti-hero" team into the fray, Superman must fight both his inner doubts and the doubts of the world at large as he struggles to prove his way in face of great opposition. The writing in SVTE is tight and functional (moreso that some films I see these days), the animation is great, and the climax of the film is truly a spectacle of both visual force and literary wit. While I agree that many may not agree, Superman vs. The Elite stands as probably one of the title character's most intriguing and fresh adventures to be put to motion. Bravo.
(kr) wrote: Like so many Mike Leigh productions, "Meantime" is essentially a film about nothing, but it does have several vivid performances and characterizations. The cast alone is irresistible to film buffs -- Tim Roth, Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina are all showcased near the start of their careers. (Warning: Oldman and Molina have very small parts, and the DVD cover which emphasizes Oldman is shamefully misleading).Roth and Phil Daniels (perhaps best known for starring in 1979's "Quadrophenia," though his appearance is radically different here) play bickering brothers in a struggling, working-class family. Everyone is disillusioned and bitter, and Roth is doubly burdened because he's, well, apparently a dimwitted autistic. An exasperating mouth-breather hiding behind a muddy anorak and thick glasses, Roth presents a sharp contrast to the commanding, belligerent roles he usually takes. Actually, Daniels seems to grabbed the Roth-like part as a surly malcontent who manages to rub everyone the wrong way. Other important contributors include Pam Ferris and Jeff Robert as the equally miserable parents, and Marion Bailey as a vulnerable aunt who strains to put on a cheery face (think Dianne Wiest). Meanwhile, Peter Wight almost steals the movie in a hilarious, deadpan scene as a casually philosophical landlord.One unusual flaw seriously hurts the appeal of "Meantime": Andrew Dickson's soundtrack. Outside of "Welcome to L.A." (1976), I can't think of another solid film so grossly sabotaged by an unlistenable score. Words alone cannot capture its wretchedness. Some instrument sounding like a tack piano or hammer dulcimer meanders up and down a small, ringing span of notes in a vaguely Middle Eastern mode, while a quacking saxophone occasionally intrudes to add extra color. The sheer torture of hearing the main instrument strain upward to the same quizzical notes plucked over and over again is something no one should have to experience twice. It's that awful. Really.
(fr) wrote: With a title like [i]Invisible Invaders[/i], a tagline that promised, ?An unearthly enemy defying modern science in a war to the death,? a release date at the tail end of the 1950s, and B-movie veteran Edward L. Cahn ([i]It! The Terror From Beyond Space[/i], [i]Curse of the Faceless Man[/i], [i]Invasion of the Saucer Men[/i], [i]Zombies of Mara Tau[/i], [i]The She-Creature[/i], [i]Creature with the Atom Brain[/i]) at the helm, fans nostalgic for the ?Creatures Features? television program that aired in the 1970s and early 1980s are in for a ?treat,? if by treat we mean B-movie camp from the opening credits, a generic star field supported by generic sci-fi music, through the last sermonizing scene a mere 67 minutes later. After the death of Dr. Karol Noymann (John Carradine), a nuclear scientist, in a scientific experiment that goes wrong, his friend, former colleague, and anti-nuclear activist, Dr. Adam Penner (Philip Tonge), returns home for Noymann?s funeral. Penner?s daughter, Phyllis (Jean Byron), is also along for company, as is another scientist and Phyllis? ex-lover, Dr. John Lamont (Robert Hutton). That night, Penner receives a surprise visit from an ambulatory, talking Noymann. This Noymann, however, isn?t Penner?s old friend, but an ?invisible invader,? an alien from another galaxy here to warn Penner of an imminent invasion from a base on the moon. Noymann?s cadaver wants Penner to warn government leaders in the hope that they?ll surrender before the actual invasion begins. They don?t, of course, and up rise the newly animated walking dead to cause all kinds of mayhem. Alien invasion in progress (mostly offscreen), Dr. Penner gets tapped to lead a not-so-secret effort to discover the aliens? biological or technological weaknesses. Lt. Gen. Stone (Paul Langton) sends Penner to a super-secret underground bunker with his daughter, Dr. Lamont, and Maj. Bruce Jay (John Agar). Without additional support financially or otherwise, Penner and his team are expected to find a way to stop the alien invasion. The aliens send their army of the walking dead to find the bunker and stop Penner. The bunker, however, isn?t conducive to Dr. Lamont?s mental or emotional health, but the opposite proves true for Phyllis and Jay, who begin the first tentative steps toward romance despite Phyllis? initial qualms about Jay?s trigger finger (Jay dispatches a desperate farmer who tries to carjack their jeep). As a weak-willed scientist, Lamont is out of contention, of course. It's surprising more critics or sci-fi fans haven't heard of Edward L. Cahn. He probably deserves a place alongside Ed Wood ([i]Plan 9 From Outer Space[/i]) as one of the least talented directors of the era. With more than 100 films to his name in just about every genre, and all but one or two forgettable, Cahn exemplifies the Hollywood hack. He had just enough ?talent,? experience, and connections to work steadily for more than 30 years, but made one mediocrity after another. To be fair, Cahn's the more competent director in comparison to Ed Wood, but that's not really saying much. Cahn worked with slightly bigger budgets and worked frequently enough to "hone" his craft as a low-budget, low-effort director. Wood never got to work as much as Cahn. Wood was the embodiment of the marginal dreamer, convinced of his own talent, frustrated by miniscule budgets and fickle producers, doomed to a lifetime of frustration and disappointment. But let's get back to [i]Invisible Invaders[/i] and the singular reason for giving it a chance: the walking dead. They're singularly unimpressive, but they're also the best dressed zombies on film. The invisible invaders prefer male to female corpses (at least from what we're shown) and prefer their corpses in suits and ties. There's not much logic in why the invisible invaders would slip into human corpses like an ill-fitting suit and using them as their army. Human bodies, dead or not, are still relatively fragile and frail. A few hand grenades and/or rocket propelled grenades would stop the shambling walking dead in their tracks or slow them down enough to make them harmless. The invisible invaders may be technologically advanced (they travel in spaceships, after all), but their weapons don't work in our atmosphere, making them some of the worst prepared alien invaders in science fiction. The invaders aren't the brightest aliens in the galaxy either, contacting Dr. Penner first with their warning, leaving no evidence behind as proof, and expecting him to convince his government and others to give in to the aliens' demands (i.e., surrender to their "dictatorship of the universe" or face their wrath). It's a dumb move with predictably dire consequences. Penner's initially treated as a laughingstock until the aliens attack, reanimating the dead and going on a slow-motion rampage to convince earthers of their intentions, none of them good. Proven right, Dr. Penner's then sent to an underground bunker, but with just one other scientist, his daughter and acting secretary (no gender stereotyping here, none at all), and exactly one military officer for protection. Talk about a shortage of resources, financial and otherwise. Even at a relatively brief 67 minutes, [i]Invisible Invaders[/i] feels padded (because it is). Cahn and his producers padded [i]Invisible Invaders'[/i] running time by inserting stock footage where appropriate (and where inappropriate too), mostly of natural and man-made disasters caught by film or television crews. If that's not enough, Cahn and his producers use voice-over narration, all of it redundant, to unhelpfully describe onscreen events. Under the assumption that moviegoers back in 1959 wouldn't notice, or, more likely, wouldn't care, Cahn also reuses the same stock shots repeatedly and, to add insult to cinematic injury, he repeatedly cuts back to the same shots of the walking dead making their way down a mountain. Between the walking dead animated by invisible extraterrestrials ushering in a minor, mostly offscreen apocalypse and scientists holed up in an underground butler desperately trying to find a way to stop the aliens, it's hard not to imagine one George A. Romero less than years later relying on [i]Invisible Invaders[/i] as his inspiration for [i]Night of the Living Dead[/i] in 1968 (e.g., the walking dead, a non-supernatural explanation for their existence) and almost twenty years later, [i]Day of the Dead[/i] (e.g., the underground bunker populated by a mix of scientists and army officers, capturing and experimenting on the walking dead). Romero, though, didn't share Cahn's faith or optimism in science (or human nature) to solve all of our problems.