See This Man of Steel
Get the paper bags ready, fanboys, because the plot of the new Superman will make you hyperventilate with its Krypton-heavy backstory and angsty vibe. Before I get to that, though, the straight ladies and gay dudes need a moment to lust after the Man of Steel himself, Henry Cavill.
People, I share with you that within his first three minutes onscreen, Cavill is shirtless and on fire. I don't mean he's merely hot – or even smoldering in the figurative sense – I mean the dude literally has flames leaping off that impressively-chiseled chest as he rushes in to get his superheroics on. He's so beautiful it's distracting. That may be a good thing.
Because the rest of Steel is a well-intentioned but overstuffed sci-fi extravaganza that tries to accomplish way too much – as if director Zack Snyder and co-writer/producer Christopher Nolan wanted the movie to be all things to all ticket buyers.
Packed into the film's two hour and 23-minute running time is a recrafting of the Superman origin story, with a lengthy sequence on Krypton explaining the clash between Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and General Zod (Michael Shannon), the main narrative arc of Clark as a drifter hiding from his true self, Clark stepping into the super suit for an intense mega-battle with Zod, and flashbacks of Clark's adolescence with the Kents (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner).
Did you notice that I left out Lois Lane (Amy Adams)? It would hardly be fair to say that the movie nearly does too – she has plenty of action-heavy screen time – but the relationship between her and Clark gets awfully short shrift.
The pair have two initial meetings, during which they exchange barely more than a few words. Still, Clark reassures his mom that though the press is onto him, she needn't worry because he and Lois are "friends." (Wait, what? When did that happen?) The basis of their connection seems to be that Lois is pretty and smart and Clark is pretty and magical. That's it.
That said, if you're neither a fanboy nor impressed by the dazzling visage of Mr. Cavill, there's plenty of action to get you through. Spaceships will fly, a planet will suffer a catastrophic event, and one unlucky city is in for a beating.
And now that the filmmakers have scratched their itch to rewrite Superman, taking Kal-El back to Krypton, let's hope that the next one focuses more on who Clark and Superman are right here on Earth.
Or Try This Instead... The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola steps in for the dearly departed Law & Order, ripping this juicy case about teens who stole from celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan from real headlines.
Katie Chang stars as Rebecca, a girl obsessed with Hollywood culture in general, Lohan in particular. She easily convinces friends Marc (Israel Broussard) and Nicki (Emma Watson, divinely vapid) and a crew of others to raid celebrities' homes snatching jewelry and dresses, purses and trinkets from anyone they want.
The fun of The Bling Ring is that Coppola lets us sit in comfortable judgment of these nitwits and of the celebrities they're robbing blind. (Who designs a room in their house to look like a strip club? Who doesn't lock their screen doors? Really?) We get to peek into some of the best-stocked closets in Hollywood, all while aching for the kids to get caught. It's a guilty pleasure, minus the guilt.
But Definitely Look Up This One 20 Feet From Stardom
History lessons don't come any dishier – or with a better soundtrack.
Stardom looks behind music's biggest acts, from The Rolling Stones to Ray Charles to Sting, to spotlight their backup singers.
You'll hear Darlene Love talk about how Phil Spector used to bring a gun to their recording sessions. Why Merry Clayton decided to sing on the racially charged "Sweet Home Alabama." And how a brilliant artist like Lisa Fischer ended up becoming the Stones' permanent touring partner, but doesn't seek a solo career.
Their stories tell the history of American popular music for the past 50 years, from their heyday to tougher times, like now. But most of these singers insist they aren't done, with voices that still sound like they're ready for the studio. Here's hoping Stardom keeps them there.