Man of Steel: Not So Super

by Ethan Alter June 14, 2013 6:51 am
<i>Man of Steel</i>: Not So Super

How do you solve a problem like making a live-action movie starring Superman? Although the Last Son of Krypton has been a comic book icon since the late '30s, contemporary attempts to translate him to the big screen have routinely bumped up against certain limitations, which range from the technical challenges of believably rendering his super-sized feats of strength or storytelling obstacles like finding some kind of relatable chink in his flesh-colored steel armor.

American Hustle: Do the Hustle

by Ethan Alter December 13, 2013 9:31 am
<i>American Hustle</i>: Do the Hustle

Ever since his sophomore feature Flirting with Disaster, I've been rooting for David O. Russell to score a big, fat commercial hit. (I also enjoyed his debut, Spanking the Monkey, but a dark comedy about incest is never going to be Top 10 box office material.) But when the writer/director finally achieved that goal with last year's Silver Linings Playbook, I found myself in the odd position of feeling happy for him while also being disappointed that it wasn't for a better movie. (Granted, The Fighter earned a fistful of dollars as well, but it didn't join the same financial weight class as its successor.)

Why You Should Spend Thanksgiving With <I>Hugo</i> Instead of <i>The Muppets</i>

Like every other kid that grew up watching The Muppets in their '70s and '80s prime, I've been eagerly awaiting the release of Kermit and the gang's big-screen reboot, The Muppets. It's no secret that Jim Henson's gaggle of colorful puppets lost their way somewhat in the wake of their creator's death, as classic features like The Muppet Movie giving way to embarrassments like Muppets From Space. Certainly, the creative team behind The Muppets -- which includes screenwriter and star Jason Segel, his co-writer Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin (making his feature film debut after co-creating HBO's terrific Flight of the Conchords series) -- have been saying all the right things about their intentions with this movie, namely bringing back the same playful spirit and toe-tapping score that defined the first three Muppet features, The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper and, my personal favorite, The Muppets Take Manhattan. As an added bonus, it was exciting to think that my own kid's first big-screen encounter with the Muppets (he's already been introduced to the earlier films on DVD) would be a good movie in its own right and not a disappointing reminder of the characters' past glories.

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