Hapless hacker Gus Gorman has breached the firewall, and touched the face of God.
In a dimly-lit room, the machines are awakening, like a cavern of ancient dragons becoming aware of an intruder in their midst. He tames them, and brings them under his control. The ensorcelled computers mutter to each other, in their secret binary parseltongue. There are flashing lights, and whirring tape drives. A man has his finger on the ignition key of the world, and hacking is occurring.
Continue reading Superman III 4.27: The Funny Part →
One of the problems with Superman III is that there is not enough attention paid to Gus Gorman’s yo-yo. There, I’ve said it.
Continue reading Superman III 4.26: Walking the Dog →
White, black, gray, silver, transparent and stainless steel, in every combination and everywhere: this is the non-traditional design sense of villainous corporate recluse Ross Webster. He likes his ornamentation any way he can get it: in swoops, angles, circles, puddles or piled up in heaps. When Ross Webster decorates someplace, it stays decorated.
So I don’t know what to do with this lunatic set. There’s so much of it, and it makes so little sense.
Continue reading Superman III 4.17: The Great Indoors →
“Given a relatively free hand,” writes Andrew Yule in The Man Who “Framed” the Beatles: A Biography of Richard Lester, “Lester decided to move the emphasis of III towards social realism, setting the first scene in an unemployment office and hiring the most naturalistic actor he could find — Richard Pryor — for a key role, all in an attempt to anchor the subject to a base of reality and reduce the mythic element he felt had already been thoroughly explored.”
Which just goes to show how wrong a person can be in a single sentence. If Yule had bothered to watch more than the first scene of Superman III before he started typing about it, he would have seen that the “social realism” of Richard Pryor in an unemployment office is immediately followed by five minutes of the most tedious fluff ever committed to celluloid.
One thing that occurs to me, as I look at this opening credits sequence, is that between the director, the writers and the executive producer, the number of successful films that they made subsequent to Superman III is zero. That seems to help, somehow.
Continue reading Superman III 4.4: March of the Penguins →
WIDE: The shaft of sunlight now falls full on Swamp Thing, rimming him with incandescent gold — and the most extraordinary thing is happening.
CLOSE SHOT reveals his feet are altering — his toes elongate until they’re no longer toes but roots, piercing between the great stones of the dungeon into the black earth beneath.
INSERT. IN CROSS SECTION, we see the roots plunge down between the stones, through the earth and into water.
FULL SHOT — The monster’s body swells, powerful, unstoppable. And suddenly, something on his right side waves up — where his arm had been severed there now is a thin, vine-like extension of wirey green flesh and sinew — split at the ends into tendrils — expanding and growing!
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.43: Wes’ Lament →
“So what were your feelings about the film, once it was finished?” the friendly voice on the DVD asks director Wes Craven. “Did you have any, you know… expectations?”
“No,” Wes sighs. “And, you know, I didn’t work for two years after that. I felt like I’d had my chance and kind of blown it, and would probably never work again.”
Now, this is my third time approaching a movie like this, and what I’ve learned so far is that the DVD commentary helps me to define what the genre of this story is going to be. When I was talking about the making of Superman and Superman II, the story was a true crime podcast. For Swamp Thing, it’s a comedy of errors.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.3: It Wasn’t Wes’ Fault →
With Lex Luthor and the three Kryptonian villains either imprisoned, abandoned or vaporized, and Lois Lane memory-wiped by an oscular neuralyzer, there’s only one problem left to resolve in the final scenes of Superman II, which is the punishment due to Rocky, a Canadian truck driver who’s mildly insulting when he orders a second plate of food at his favorite diner.
“Hey, Ron?” he grouches, midway through a mouthful. “Gimme another plate of this garbage.”
“Garbage?” retorts the crabby waitress. “That’s my number-one special, Rocky!”
“All right!” he groans, abandoning the argument. “Get me some more coffee too, will ya?” He doesn’t even say “please”. Clearly this man is a major threat to world security who needs to be mercilessly crushed before he strikes again.
Continue reading Superman II 2.54: The Scene of the Crime →
Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are worried. Standing in Perry’s office at the Daily Planet on this unquiet night, they fret about the fate of the world.
“I can’t understand it,” Perry grouches, pacing across the room. “Where is he? I mean, he shows up every time a cat gets stuck in a tree, and now he’s decided to pull a disappearing act.”
Jimmy starts pacing too. “Yeah, well, maybe we just haven’t figured out his game plan,” he offers.
“Game plan!” Perry huffs. “It’s fourth down, the two-minute warning has sounded, and the ball’s deep in our territory. Just how brilliant do you have to be? I mean, uh —”
And then he stops, realizing that Jimmy is pacing exactly in step with him, and grimaces at the copy boy.
It’s a cute moment, which gives Jimmy and Perry one of their vanishingly few moments of cuteness in the sequel. But was it worth rebuilding the Daily Planet set?
Continue reading Superman II 2.40: The Reshoots →
Let us speak, then, of comedy.
When people talk about the difference between Richard Donner’s work on Superman: The Movie and Richard Lester’s work on Superman II, they often say that Lester was a comedy director, and that he turned Superman II into a comedy. There’s some truth to that — there is a different sensibility between the two directors — but it’s not the difference between serious and comic. It’s the difference between two different kinds of comedy.
Donner’s comedy was mostly verbal. Basically, as soon as the film sets foot in Metropolis, everyone starts wisecracking and never stops. Everyone at the Daily Planet is funny, all of the villains are funny, the big scene between Superman and Lois is a romantic comedy sequence. Everybody talks fast, and they talk a lot.
Lester’s comedy is more visual than verbal, and the best example that I have is the scene that just happens to be coming up right now, when Superman crosses the road and causes a traffic accident. In many ways, this scene embodies Lester’s approach to the film, and the fact that it sucks does not bode well for the future of the franchise.
Continue reading Superman II 2.7: To Get to the Other Side →
So here’s how to torpedo your own film in six words, courtesy of Army Archerd’s Hollywood gossip colum in Variety:
Producer Pierre Spengler allows that he and Superman director Dick Donner differed during filming, but he says all’s now well, and Spengler expects to return to complete Superman II. Donner, however, declares, “If he’s on it — I’m not.“
It’s late December 1978, and Superman: The Movie has just opened in theaters to, if you’ll pardon the expression, boffo box office. Everybody who worked on the film is feeling that Christmas spirit — except for Richard Donner, who fucking hates Pierre Spengler, and is not shy about letting people know his truth.
Continue reading Superman II 2.1: Things That Richard Donner Probably Shouldn’t Have Said →