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A Challenge to Change. From Superman to Man of Steel. June 19, 2013

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, real power, video.
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‘You are not ALONE‘ Zod
‘And WE shall see you again.’ Me

I am pretty SURE there will be a sequel. If there’s none, I would be very surprised if there isn’t.

I was making a mickey out from the lines in the movie set by the monster Zod. I have no means to see him again! As I was watching the film with the other hundreds in the theatre, I quietly look on the multi languages on the screen. And I look at Perry White, who is played by Laurence Fishburne. The first African American to have the role, while Henry Cavill is the first Briton to take on this role as the Man of Steel.

Anyway, the change of taste is obvious. This is probably my favourite trailer unless someone out there could give a better one. It practically summarises everything up in half a minute.

Michael Shannon’s villain look of General ‘maniac’ Zod was so hulk-like in appearance compared with the one in Superman 2 some 30 years back. Very monster-like.

Lois Lane has a new style. Played by Amy Adams, she has become the new iconic woman of this new century. The whole notion of gender powers were all over the film, but she was solid. I like her confidence. And finally I don’t have to hear any more screaming in distress, which can be so embarrassing to watch. New age women should not scream: they should be refined, smart and very resolute.

I love the flash backs. Usually many flash backs confuse the audience. This one movie, however, was sharp and clear. Praise Zack Snyder for the renewed portrayal of the popular comic figure that is an American icon. The story now has a refreshing screenplay. Your Oscars are going to line up big for the movie. But I think there is one vital point that should be taken to heart. The amount of violence in the film is a concern.

Amongst the DC comic characters, Superman is usually the top seller. Not hard to see why.
It was the most impressionistic character globally. The character is closer to people and has etched a unique place in audiences from 8 to 80. It has a significant role to play as far as education to the young and the older fans like us too. It’s not just a comic film anymore. It’s even political in many respects.

I was too curious of the film to wait, so I took a nose dive to the theatres soon after its launch in Singapore after reading the reviews online. Many were critical. I watched on several you tube clips and decided to see it myself. A change of costume, props, technology. Didn’t quite like the props for Krypton as it looked way too ancient. But then if you were to see it from DC comics point of view, it was actually perfect-you are supposed to rekindle faithfully from the source material. The film snippets still look good enough for a visit. After all, its took like some 30 years since the last blockbuster in a different era of the last century that we see a remake of a well renown superhero, who came about from a time of distress and the desire for a god send being to save the world. We actually need a real one today. Guess an on screen one would have to do it for now.

I think there is one criticism that should be taken seriously, and that this the film is indeed fraught with violence. Far more than its predecessors who did the son of Krypton. Superman 1 and II were filled with wonders, especially on the second version when audiences get to see colours, love, compassion and far less violence with virtually no one being killed. It had a different notion when the film was made. And i genuinely respect it. Perhaps times now have changed in light for faster and fiercer computer games which offer more action and astounding realistic graphics. People now want more of a cool, solid, macho type of hero. I suspect this renewed factor has a lot to do with a preference for a action packed movies for the last few years.

Superman is an icon of the Americans and it is probably the most recognised figure in DC Comics. It’s probably the most popular comic icon that is seen almost like a real person with millions of fans globally. On the first day of launch, I wasn’t surprised by the huge crowds lining up for tickets. It is still all packed at cinemas despite the added show timings.

People watched on for a reason. When the film speaks volumes of what they want and how they feel. The desire for human freedom and justice in many strong ways. This is why Superman prevails in the minds of many. Of all the super heroes, Superman has always been the most admired hero on the largest global scale. The figure seems to be the industry standard and benchmark for all other superheroes to follow. Its seems to a fiction character that has almost become a real one. Even the cape and costumes too, which fashion starts from the hero that actually has little rational physics behind on how a human structure is able to fly.

Man of steel befits what fans want in a comic icon- the full action, a 100 percent 3D direct portrayal of illustrated comic strips to the on line screen. As I was watching on, I was captivated by the screenplay, how the story lines have been cleverly modified according to the original story. Inevitably, I was comparing Man Of Steel with Superman 1 which first debut in 1978. But I only got to watch that like in the 80s on television in those dqys as a little kiddo. But the impact of that film never left me. In fact the way the late Christopher Reeves had his way with the double character of Superman and Clark Kent was by far the best.

Henry Cavill has developed his own style with the characters. I think the people who decided to take him was a right choice though I never quite get it why would a Briton be playing a typically American character? But I suppose it’s the same with many lead roles for movies anywhere. Miss Porter and Bridget Jones, typical British characters, were played by American actress Renee Zellweger. They turned out fabulous.

Personally I am not a DC comic fan, but I have always preferred superheroes characters on screen to those in illustrated books. And I prefer a more human and humor touch of the film where it touched lives so human with a bit of fun. I supposed times have changed. The style has to change to meet changing fashion. And I like it. But I always feel we must also praise the late actor Christopher Reeves for having successfully etched the defined figure that has been the main benchmark for any actor to run on this red cape hero. From the costume changes to a change in tone to a way more ferocious demeanour of villains and even the man of steel himself. The new film does take audiences into a new redefined dimension. The visuals were always captivating to watch on with no down time. Non of the several flash backs in the film was confusing at all despite showing the complex fight for self identity of the man of steel. It was very clear cut. Kevin Costner’s portrayal of Jonathan Kent was touching. In fact it left a defining impression of true parental love.

The older version fits an older style. The newer, the present style. People have changed and so characters in the movies should follow to meet the changed demands of the audience. If its on a personal level, I would prefer the 80s Superman for the personal touch with the audience. Notice how Christopher Reeves made his own style of having a direct greeting contact with audiences on screen especially towards the end of the movies? I don’t think any actor has done that. It made as though that everyone who is watching it mattered. It creates a close family link to the film, which seems to be why people keep comparing this particular old film with the current one.

The new one oozes strong physical appeal. More gutsy in appearance. Ready to blast. it’s the age of action. And it fits.

The film has plenty of violence which I didn’t exactly prefer. But the visuals were genuinely stunning and intriguing. Henry Cavil is a convincing actor and has clearly developed his style for the character. Another point to make is that the film does seem to lack focus on what style they were suppose to be identified with. It looked like Harry Potter, Star Trek, Batman and Superman all in one. I definitely did not like the music but was refreshed by how the storyline was made. The film lacks human warmth, fun and humour when compared to how Superman was portrayed by Christopher Reeves. The last bit of the new film has a strong hint of favour from Christopher Reeves version of Clarke Kent. It does show how much influence the old film has on future films.

All in all, I suppose it really depends on how one sees it. But the style follows DC Comics. And it fits well for superheroes in that respect as well as DC fans. The storyline was a nice twist to the originals that we know of, making it a good change instead of the expected. Flashbacks were done smoothly. Screenplay was impressive. Design of the costumes and set remains quite subjective. I personally think it was some sort of medieval instead of modern. A strong resemblance to Batman was the immediate reaction. The final ending gave a nice hint that there will be a sequel. Unfortunately before we want to watch on what happens next, the passive but humorous part of Clark Kent disappears into the ending.

I get the feeling Henry Cavill, like the Christopher Reeves, might get to see the Queen someday soon. And I have been wondering why he wasn’t being cast into the daily planet first as Clark Kent. The exact demeanour for Clark Kent more than Superman. I suppose this was the other way to make a difference — doing something out of the usual norm. The whole film is. And to leave that very weeny bit for all to linger on for the next big thing. (and I hope there will be less violence to come with)

Certainly expecting a sequel from Man of Steel.
If I were a DC comic fan, 5 out of 5.
I am more on the educational front, so I will rate it 4 out of 5.
1 down for the violence.

I enclosed a YouTube video talk by the Late Christopher Reeves on his role played in Superman. It’s mainly about violence. I think it’s worth a watch. It’s something for everyone to note about violence in movies and the sheer impact on children and also adults. My take: When the world is already a violent place, wouldn’t superman or the man of steel be promoting peace and with reasonable humor? We are infested with violence in our daily living. The school massacres and the likes are only some good reasons why violence should be seriously looked into especially when movies are made. – Karen Fu PS: I am also enclosing another two clips of the old Superman video for your pleasure. 

‘Old’ Superman video 1:

‘Old’ Superman video 2:

Titanic (1912-2012) in 3D preview March 30, 2012

Posted by @Karen_Fu in faith, human quality, life challenges.
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Life is a game of luck. 

It is also a gift that we should not be wasting it. Making each day counts depends on ourselves how we manage the circumstances around us. Sometimes, we can change them, and sometimes we can’t. We need a lot of faith to carry us on. Peoples’ characters don’t change much over the millenniums. But what we could change is the way we adapt to life challenges.
Thats what I learnt when I reviewed the movie preview two days ago. 

I was excited about seeing the 3D movie of the film ‘Titanic’, which made its first debut way back some 15 years ago. I was in England when I first viewed the movie. It left a memorable impression that is still fresh in my memory. James Cameron’s portrayal of life and people using visual effects was stunning, made even  more so today with 3D technology. I was marveling the effects of how the three dimension technology works. If the screen was wider covering the entire viewing width, it could have been totally realistic. If not, fabulous.

Nonetheless, the movie portrays the unfairness of class disparities that formed stereotypical thinking apart from causing tragedies in people’s lives. All were all so lucidly shown on board the so-called unsinkable ship. The movie  comes in hand with the ArtScience museum exhibition of the doomed maiden voyage of the ship, which I have visited late last year. As I watched on, I kept comparing with what I saw at the  museum. The Titanic’s treasures revealed items found 100 years ago. It was a mark of splendor and yet of great tragedy. Though the number of exhibits were not much, we could somewhat see how the tragedy that made the headlines then. Arrogance and over confidence simply don’t pay. Yet I cannot help but to see repeated forms of over confidence in real life. 

Titanic engines were over pushed beyond limits for the sake of making the headlines by getting to the destination earlier. Indeed the headlines were made soon enough. It was the largest tragedy of that time, killing more than half onboard after hitting the ice bergs as it failed to divert in time. The breakage of the ship and subsequently the gushing of water and people drifting towards me was an eye opener, especially in 3D. It kept the audience quiet and revitted to the screen. The tragedy became alive. Needless to say, the visual impact was greater than what I saw 15 years back.

The deep sea search for ‘The heart of the ocean’ gave a sense of personal presence. I could feel myself underwater, flipping through the wreckage. The sense of involvement was alive and I really could feel for the movie more.

The ship is the microanatomy of the world at large,  representing life set sailing into the unknown. We all do actually. When waves struck, the ship is supposed to act as a form of protection.  The ‘Ship of Dreams’ where the poor could set sail to America to find renewed life of happiness and prosperity, which fell short because of various human errors. It could have been avoided. Both in the physical design of the ship as well as the strategy used to mobilize help to save passengers failed. What was known logic was downplayed by the ego to look powerful and brilliant.

Freedom, liberty and hopes for dreams that can be realised on a new found land vanished coldly into the waters flooded with dead frozen bodies. The distinct classification amongst people via the things they used, and the mannerisms different people adopted were acting on the same ship albeit in specified different areas. But who is to say that we have safely abolished such discrimination entirely in this era?   The hard truth is that the deliberate  tons of mannerisms to classify and segregate themselves as being superior is still alive. Power and wealth are the requisites to fortune and fame. But what this movie shows that it can never buy love, faith and loyalty with money and showily mannerisms.

The movie distinctively portrays  class differences in the two main characters, Rose Bukater and Jack Dawson. The former born into the high class society of refined upbringing; whereas the latter, an orphan who was left to fend for himself in the streets of Europe. Both had their penchant for art, life and things that bring them life. Jack, who had no formal education, learnt from his dealings with the underclass and the underprivileged. His drawings were his expression of how he saw people. To Rose, the use of sophisticated words came into play instead.

Rose Bukater was that person. Initially felt trapped in her life of  misery as she was betrothed to the millionaire Celadon Hockley; only to be  saved by a steerage passenger called Jack Dawson. 

Fighting against the flooding of Ice cold water and piercing cold of the winds in the Atlantic ocean amongst corpses was the true test of determination. It was Jack’s iron will that sunk in the power for Rose to learn how to fight and suffer in life with positiveness. 

However the sadness comes when the sinking of the ship came into action. As the decks were flooded, the sophistication in technology failed to even protect its passengers. Flying bodies flung out of the sinking ship as desperation and despair filled the hearts of many. The shift made people on decks sliding down as the gigantic ship make an almost right angle dive into the waters. 

Different people face calamity with different attitudes. Religious or agnostic, they face the same fate with their own means. Some full of repentance to die for their faults. Some hideously cheat to live, only to die later in shame. The fight from the working class to live was moving. It fell short because of set rules that tied them back. I often ask what would happen if a similar episode were to happen again? Too many people onboard a ship in the open seas, where help is like miles away. When disaster strikes, under the complacency of self worth and intelligence, the result is to face the inevitable death for being over confident.

The ugliness of fighting for their lives and the warmth from some people who had the conscience of giving up their lives to save others. The cruelty of class returned again into effect when it came to saving the wealthy first before the poor. The physical struggling to live and the sinister gun shots left a lasting visual impression.

Unfortunately, despite the resourcefulness and wisdom, Jack perished for the sake of saving his short lived love. It looked utterly unfair. Rose kept her promise to Jack to live a life full of meaning and to marry and have children. Her heart was kept true to her dying days. Every promise that Jack had set, she fulfilled it dutifully. The Heart of the Ocean  was never been sold throughout her 85 years of life after the sinking of Titanic. She threw it back to the ocean before returning to die peacefully in her own bed. Exactly what she promised Jack before his dying moments.

Though the physical Titanic of the ship will not last under the sea as it gets eaten up by tiny bacteria; the strength of the human spirit filled with love and faith never flounders. Such is the titanic force of true love. — Karen Fu