Tag Archives: peril

Swamp Thing 3.23: A Time of Running

“In this sequence,” director Wes Craven said, “Adrienne Barbeau falls down twice, and my daughter, who at that time was about 14 when she was watching it, turned and looked at me very sternly and said, ‘Dad, girls don’t fall down when they run.’

“And I never forgot that, you know? Especially twice. [I said], you know, yeah, you’re right, and I think after this I did a lot of films with female protagonists that were very competent.”

I like that story, partly because it’s an appealing moment of self-reflection, and partly because it’s a good example of the redemptive power of 14-year-old daughters in American life.

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Superman II 2.39: Lost in Place

Enter Lex Luthor, unnecessarily.

I mean, we’re already looking at a worst-case scenario for the Earth, now entirely in the possession of three bug-eyed monsters from Planet K, who don’t really have a plan for what’s going to happen next. The trio is already bored with literally everything in the world, and since they haven’t even thought of redecorating their office, it seems like they’re not very good at cheering themselves up. Honestly, the only thing that they know is destruction, which they indulge in when they’re happy and also when they’re not happy.

So sending in Lex Luthor, the greatest criminal mind on Earth and this movie’s C-plot, is not technically necessary to move the story forward. But the movie is hedging its bets on the villainy, throwing in a more engaging character as backup just in case the three Kryptonians get boring, which they have.

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Superman 1.95: Speak Truth to Power

Snap, crackle, pop. Apparently, there’s an electrical power station somewhere in the Western hemisphere that’s experiencing some kind of electricity related fiasco.

“Watch that cable!” someone cries, like it’s my job to watch cables. “Someone try to pull the lead!” Somebody else shouts, “It’s impossible, it’s red hot!” There doesn’t seem to be a protocol for this kind of situation.

But Superman flies in, and he flips a big switch, which turns everything off and saves everyone. Then he points at somebody and says, “Gentlemen, is that man all right?” And I’m like, what man?

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Superman 1.83: Superman’s Pal

And we take you now to scenic Hoover Dam, where perpetual cub reporter Jimmy Olsen is taking photographs of Hoover Dam, which you’d figure has already been pretty comprehensively photographed. It’s not much of a scoop, for a young man trying to make his way in the photojournalism racket, but he got a free airplane ride, and it’s just nice to get out in the fresh air.

Storywise, there isn’t a lot of justification for depositing Jimmy on top of this particular explodable landmark, but this is the part of the movie where they want to get as many peril monkeys on the board as they can. We’ve also got Lois having a scenic conversation with a scenic Native American gentleman, en route to the explodable gas station.

The real question is why we even have a Jimmy Olsen in this movie in the first place, if he’s not going to be involved in the plot in any way. This question also applies to Superman II, Superman III, Supergirl and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. In fact, Jimmy Olsen is the only character to appear in all five of the Salkind Superman films, and he doesn’t have a single discernible plot point in any of them.

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Superman 1.52: Clap Your Hands

“Her light is growing faint,” Peter says, “and if it goes out, that means she is dead! She says…” Dramatic pause. “She thinks she could get well again if children believed in fairies!”

The children in the audience stir, surprised, as Peter Pan turns to implore them from across the footlights. Their attention isn’t enough, all of a sudden. “Do you believe in fairies?” he asks them. “Say quick that you believe! If you believe, clap your hands!”

They clap, of course. What else could they do? J.M. Barrie has constructed a dramatic trap that snaps shut on every kid in the theater: if Tinker Bell dies, then you personally are an asshole.

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