Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hottest day of the year?

Yesterday (19th July) was allegedly the hottest day ever in the UK (well, since 1911), with the temperatures in some places reaching 36 or 37°C. I saw the weather report on the morning news yesterday and dressed accordingly - shorts & t-shirt. But I live in Edinburgh. Here it was warm, sunny, slightly cloudy and not as hot as the past few days. I was actually cold at some points and wished I was wearing jeans and a jumper! The thermometer on my office window ledge, which was showing temeperatures round about 25 or 26°C on tuesday, didn't rise above 21°C all day.

So the moral of the story is don't believe the national weather report. If you live in Edinburgh, take a jumper with you just in case...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Superman Returns

Just saw Superman Returns at the cinema. Very good, but...

There are likely to be major spoilers in what I say here, so look away now if you don't want me to spoil the film for you...

Still with me? Good.

I'm trying to decide if this is the 2nd best Superman film or the 3rd best. It certainly doesn't knock 'Superman the Movie' (1978) off the top. I'm not even sure if it knocks 'Superman II' out of second place. Don't get me wrong, it is a very good film, but the first two movies both fall in to my top ten favourite films.

So what's right about it:
  1. Superman - very good casting, looks the part, does the heroics well, you'll believe a man can fly, again.
  2. Clark Kent - again, good casting, plays that part well too.
  3. Lex Luthor - does the megalomaniac evil genius bit well.
  4. Special effects - very nice.
And what's not:
  1. Lois Lane - actually she's not as bad as I was preparing myself for, but she's just not the same Lois from the other films, or from the comics (yes, I read them too), or from either of the recent TV incarnations (Lois & Clark or Smallville). She's not feisty enough and does a bit too much lip-quavering, teary eyed stuff.
  2. Lois's son - there are so many issues here that aren't addressed in the film. But basically the kid is 5 years old, Superman has been gone for 5 years, and she wasn't with Richard 5 years ago. Did nobody notice that? And the kid will be a problem if there are more films (and I hope there are) because what will you do with him now?
  3. Romantic sub plot - this is unresolved. Not even any hints at resolution. So its emotionally unsatisfying. Of course this opens up the door to another movie, but...
  4. The kryptonite island - Superman lands on the island and his powers are drained away within minutes. So how come a short while later he can lift the whole island for longer than a few minutes?
  5. The plane rescue - The plane generally appears to follow the laws of physics, but Superman can stop it falling to earth by pushing its nosecone? With barely a dent? I don't think so. And when he's finally stopped it he manages to lower it gently to the ground by ther nose again? And it doesn't rip off? That's just silly.
  6. And Superman basically dies. Twice. But we know he's going to be OK, because he's Superman. When Cyclops died in X-Men: The Last Stand it was shocking because he didn't come back, he remained dead. Given that we know Superman is going to be alive at the end of the film, I would much rather see him put in an 'impossible' situation, where you wonder how he's going to get out, etc., than seeing him flatlining in hospital... when you know the machine will start to blip again in a few minutes.
Will I watch this movie a second time? Sure! And probably a third. Let's face it, I'll be buying the DVD. But its not the fantastic film I was hoping for. Its a great action movie in parts, but its heart isn't as big as it thinks it is, or should be.


Not as good as Superman I, Batman Begins or X2. Somewhere about the same level as Superman II and Spider-man I. Better than Spider-man II and X-men: The Last Stand.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Wow! According to this site's IQ test, I am in the top 2.5% of society as far as intelligence goes. Or maybe I'm just good at that kind of IQ tests...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Tee hee hee

Geek? Moi?

Wow! Who'd have thought I was a demigod of anything? All this just beacuse I was able to sucessfully identify 14 out of 20 antique computers...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand

I saw the third X-Men movie last night.

There may be some spoilers in what I say about it, so if you don't want to know what happens, surf away now...

The biggest problem about this movie is that it has an awful lot to live up to. The first X-Men movie was good, but the second one was (in my opinion) one of the best three superhero movies ever made (along with the original Superman movie from 1978 and last year's Batman Begins).

X-Men the last stand would have been an adequate sucessor to the first X-Men movie, but unfortunately X2 raised the bar so high that X3 couldn't even come close. And, of course, the trailer for Superman Returns (directed by the man who made X-Men and X2) showed immediately before the film, which reminded the audience that this probably wasn't going to be the best superhero movie they would see this year.

So what was right with it? Cool action scenes, lots of new (to the movies) mutants, some with really cool mutations, some emotional depth, a few genuinely emotional moments, a few unexpected plot twists, a few nods to the fans and Hank McCoy, The Beast.

But what was wrong with it? Wanton destruction of major characters (Cyclops should have had a better send off than that), too convoluted a plot (we should have cared a lot more about the 'Leech' but we didn't), too many silly bits, stretching the limits of the laws of the Marvel Universe (OK, so suspension of disbelief is required for a superhero movie, but things like gravity should still work - the Golden Gate Bridge should have collapsed once Magneto let go of it; and the Angel can't fly from upstate New York to San Francisco in about the same time as the X-jet...), Halle Berry (still doesn't seem right in the role of Storm, please nobody cast her in another superhero movie ever again), and the 'Dark Phoenix' storyline was totally wasted - all she did was mope around for most of the film, she could have been such a fantastic uber-supervillain.

Marvel have quite cleverly left their options open here, by killing off or incapacitiating most of the main characters (Cyclops, Phoenix, Prof. X, Magneto, Mystique, Rogue, etc.) they will have to focus future films on a different team of X-Men, which will undoubtedly make the salaries budget smaller and will open up the films to new (to the movies) mutants. Wolverine is still there, so he can go off and have a solo movie and Storm is still there to be the school teacher - hopefully this means her role in future films will be small.

So will I watch it again (which is always my main test for how good a movie is)? Yes, probably, I may even get the DVD when it comes out. So I guess this film comes in at about 7/10 on my movie ranking scale.

Ricky's Movie Rankings Scale:
  1. Really awful
  2. Awful
  3. Bad
  4. OK for passing the time on a wet Sunday afternoon
  5. Reasonably entertaining
  6. Good, but not worth repeat viewings
  7. Good enough to watch more than once
  8. Very good, will probably get the DVD
  9. Excellent, worth a 2nd trip to the cinema and pre-order the DVD
  10. Outstanding, could watch this film many times and still enjoy it
For me, only Star Wars: A New Hope, the Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark make it to a 10/10 rating, this may be because they all came out when I was young. I don't expect that anything that comes out when I am in my 30s can compete with those films.

Superman the movie, Batman Begins and X2 all come in at 9/10


Update: November 2006, having bought the DVD

I think it is a better film on DVD! Watched it tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it. And of course, I now know that Superman Returns wasn't the fantastic thing it should have been, so X-Men 3 is still in the running for 'best superhero movie of 2006' - still haven't decided that one though.