Super Captain Jack Returns

Last weekend we met up with Karl & Louise, grabbed a coffee (actually a couple of big white chocolate decaf mochas), then headed into Imax to watch the ‘enhanced for imax’ print of Superman Returns.  The enhancement in question was a number of 3D sequences.  And it actually worked pretty well.

If you’ve ever been to a movie that used those red/blue glasses, you’ll know how completely useless and sucky they can be.  This didn’t use those.  It used very oversized polarised lenses, kindly designed to be comfortably worn over glasses if required. Things definitely popped more on screen during the sequences when the glasses had to be put on.  But that did require being pulled out of the movie universe by flashing red icons at the bottom of the screen, putting the glasses on for a while, then taking them back off after a while, which didn’t entirely allow me to really sink into the story.

The movie itself?  Well, I guess it felt like a slightly updated version of the Superman movies from the 70s & 80s.  And perhaps they could have updated a bit more to suit the more cynical modern audiences.  Such as what Batman Begins did, with the dirt and the violence and so on.  We’re dealing with bad nasty criminals here, would it kill you to have them swear from time to time?

What Superman did have, was special effects.  A great many.

Right from the opening sequence you could see that the poor CG techs had probably given themselves a few nasty cases of RSI in the production of the film.  It started with the supernova that ate Krypton, and then during the opening credits we travelled along with Kal-El as he made his way to Earth, passing many weird and varied planets and other astronomical thingamabobs.

They clearly did a lot to get rid of the corny, cringe inducing cheese that seems to float around Superman’s oily head, but there was still some there.  Changing Lois Lane for a more interesting actress probably would have made it better.  A bit of swearing from the bad guys, and maybe a bit more visceral violence.  Who says Superman can’t just punch someone’s head off then throw their body into the sun?  Or just pull off their skin?  Burn their eyes out?

What do you mean that’d make him the bad guy.  That’d make him the AWESOME guy. 

I guess my favourite scene was the one with the minigun, Superman flys in and stands in the stream of projectiles, shielding a couple of idiot security guards, and slowly walks towards the gunman.  Bullets ricocheting off his chest strike all over the roof of the building they’re on.  Finally the glowing barrels of the gun spin to a halt, then the gunman draws his pistol, points it directly at Superman’s head and shoots him in the eye.  In super slow motion we watch as the hammer strikes, the charge ignites and the bullet exits the barrel of the gun propelled by a growing cloud of hot gas, it travels the couple of inches to his face, then squashes flat on Supermans eyeball, before dropping to the ground.

What should happen next would be the gristley crunching of the dudes spine being removed, but what does happen next is Superman slightly tilting his head and the bad guy knowing his number is up.  That’s it.  No spine pulling at all.

Other fun was the very quick catch up on Clarke Kent’s development into Superman, discovering his powers and so on, all very entertaining, watching him running through corn fields and gradually adding new twists, jumping higher and higher, and so on.  Charming stuff.

In balance, I have to admit that the movie was rather a lot better than I expected.  If you have the choice, I think you should see the Imax release, the 3d sequences are better than anything you’ve seen in a popular release movie before.

This weekend we decided to see another movie, so on Saturday night we headed (with Louise and Sandra) to De Poste for an early(ish) dinner  – I had Belgian sausages and stoemp and a glass of the exceptionally ordinary Palm Speciale, it tasted like Lion Red to me, exceedingly average and certainly not special, let alone speciale, and Claire had steamed mussels and a glass of some sort of wine I have to confess to not paying much attention to (I was busy with the sausages, forgive me).  Then we headed to meet up with Karl at the Lido, where we watched ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’ – this is the second part of a trilogy based, most bizarrely, on a freak*ng theme park ride.

Let’s start with the easy stuff, Johnny Depp is really is a great actor.  It’s not exactly a controversial thing to say, I know, he’s got a huge body of work behind him featuring a broad range of characterisations.  For example, contrast his character from Once Upon a Time in Mexico with his portrayal of Willy Wonka now compare that with his portrayal of Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Go on.  See?  He’s good, and he’s not afraid to play challenging characters.  That’s moot.

This movie, however, I’m just not sure about.

Once again, it’s heavy on the special effects – and they are pretty bloody good.  Davy Jones’ crew featured some amazing CG work, it looked, for the most part, like real things.  (As with other CG, who knows what we’ll think of it in 5 or 10 years, it might looked like something from Nintendo by comparison, but for today, it’s good work.)

As for action, let’s just say that all buckles are swashed.  Including pirates going for a zorb ride in a spherical cage made of the bones of their crew mates while being chased by hordes of cannibal savages.  And an extended sword fight on top of a very large water wheel as it careened out of control through the undergrowth of a jungle covered island.

Let me just sum up by saying that while I enjoyed the movie, and yes it was entertaining – something was missing.  I was left with a slight hollow feeling.  Perhaps if you’ve seen the movie you can share your thoughts on why this might be.

Things that are easy to like:

Trinity of Silver’s Eggs Benedict with Bacon.

I’m not kidding, these were simply the best eggs benny I’ve ever had.  Add organic free range eggs & bacon and you have a lovingly crafted meal balanced with the peace of mind of ethically treated animals. The sauce was just right, the bread was light and crunchy.  Great job.  You should go and try them out.