The big two, reunited.

Superman and Batman, in case you were wondering.  I read the first issue of Batman Superman today, a series I’m surprised has taken nearly two years to hit the New 52, and it is a great read.  Absolutely awesome.  I should point out to anyone that might be tempted by it that it’s a bit weird, not at all what I was expecting.  I think that might have had an impact on how much I enjoyed it, in the sense that I probably enjoyed it more due to the fact that it was a bit different and strange.  Since it’s only hit the shelves yesterday I will refrain from any real discussion of the story, all I’ll say is that it involves the first meeting of Supes and Bats while they were still young and quite new at this.  If you’re a fan of either character I’d recommend you give this a look, as I said it’s a really enjoyable read and, again while different to what I expected, the art is exceptionally good, suits the overall tone of the comic perfectly.

I had to phone O2 customer services the other day, my phone contract had ended some time ago and I had let it run as a rolling contract until deciding on a new phone/contract.  Once I’d set up my new EE contract I got in contact with O2 to give them my 31 days notice of cancellation and I couldn’t believe how long it took to get through to a representative.  Seriously, is everyone jumping ship at the moment?  Twenty minutes it took, twenty minutes for what ended up being a two minute conversation!  The only redeeming part of this was finding out I only had to give seven days notice, and just to top this fiasco off, I had phoned them on my O2 sim in my old phone for ease and, just as the girl transferred me to the department that would value my handset, it turned off.

By this point, needless to say, rage was pretty much falling out my ears.  I calmed myself with the great combination of a cup of tea, a cigarette and Devin Townsend’s album “Ghost” and got on with the rest of my day, but those twenty five minutes or so were a real tax on my patience.  On the plus side, even considering the fact that it barely functioned anymore, CEX gave me £77 for my old phone.  Surprised and rather pleased by this, I headed round to Nostalgia Comics to pick up this weeks comics and have a really good rifle through back issues, so it ended on a good note at least.

This weeks comics were well and truly dominated by the many faces of the Justice Leagues with all three having new issues out this week.  Having all three handed to me at once has got me really psyched up for the upcoming “Trinity War” crossover, I haven’t gotten round to reading any of them yet but I’m fairly certain we’ll start seeing the building blocks for it soon.  The only other comic out this week from my pull list was Think Tank #8, another one I have not found the time to read yet, but I suspect will be all kinds of awesome.  Think Tank, from Top Cow Productions (Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal, specifically), has been one of my favourites since I picked up the first trade paperback, cracking story with sublime black and white art make for a compelling read from cover to cover.  I’m thinking my next post will probably be very Think Tank focused, I will most likely have a fair bit to say on it when I finally get around to reading it.

Since it’s now 23:00 I’m thinking I should probably get my dinner sorted, while I’m having lots of fun sitting here rambling on, I’m now also quite hungry.  Much more so now I’m actively thinking and typing about dinner.  Yep, that’s me done, thanks very much for reading, goodnight one and all!

@NickLayland88

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Turtles all the way down.

No, before you start wondering, this is not me turning this blog into a scientific discussion.  I’ll be honest, I actually looked up the real meaning of this phrase a while ago and I understood very little of it.  In actual fact, I started thinking about turtles while my laptop was booting up, by the time I had WordPress loaded all I had in my head was that phrase and mental pictures of little turtles pottering around.  Since that was all I had to go on, I thought I’d start there and see where things went.

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I need to focus, I think my lack of focus is partly down to how tired I am from work today, but I need to try.  Let’s see, we have new comics day today which, as you can guess from that last sentence, I was unable to be out for today.  Bit of a shame but with tomorrow off it doesn’t matter too much, I can quite happily go out and pick them up then.  Looking forward to the next issue of Injustice from DC, I’m quite aware that it’s a digital first comic and I could quite easily get myself up to date on Comixology, I just prefer buying physical comics and don’t see the point in picking it up if I’ve read it already.  I still have loads of catching up to do in the reading department, can’t find the time so well with the amount of hours I’ve been working recently.  I’m getting there though, slowly but surely, all I have to do is slow down the rate at which I buy them.  Something easier said than done when every comic shop out there has bargain sections and there’s always something I want in there somewhere.

I noticed a bit of news today that Microsoft won’t be including their Xbox One headset in the box with the console.  This is good news for me, I hate the idea of my money going towards something I don’t want and the headset in the 360 box was beyond rubbish.  The wireless headset wasn’t much better than that and I’d given up on first party headsets before the bluetooth one came out.  I will pick up a Turtle Beach or Razer headset for the One, most likely whichever one of them brings one out first.  I like gaming headsets that I can have the game audio playing through too, being able to play Halo at 2am with surround sound (I play SWAT most of the time) but not waking anyone up is important for me, the first party headsets have only ever handled chat audio, so no good.  It means that none of the £429 is going towards something I have no use for.  It’s been nothing but good news on the Xbox One front recently, I like it.

While I’m thinking about gaming, I’m once again remembering the final piece of DLC for Borderlands 2 came out yesterday.  I should really get this downloaded, I bought the season pass not long after release (I know, believe me, I know) so since it’s already paid for I’m somewhat obliged to play through it.  And that, right there, is the problem here; it’s become an obligation to take the disc out of it’s case and play it because I paid in advance for something.  I’m not especially excited, if I had have been, I would be on here now banging on about how much I love it having downloaded it yesterday.  The thing is, I’m not totally sure what my problem is with it, but looking back on BL2 I have to say I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I did the first. 

Story wise I think Gearbox did a pretty good job, at least in terms of the original retail release.  The DLC hasn’t been as strong on the story front, it feels like it’s stalling a bit because of the ending.  We now know (SPOILERS) that there are loads of worlds out there with alien vaults on, and I don’t know about any of you, but I want to get off Pandora now and get onto something else.

My last gripe is that there’s not really all that much that’s new, not really.  I know that it’s difficult to diversify too much with a shoot and loot game, but there wasn’t any particularly evident effort to.  The DLC is a really good opportunity to test out something new and different, especially if it’s something that may not catch on with everyone.  I’ve not been overly impressed with the DLC for this title so far, again in complete contrast to the original where the DLC was golden (Mad Moxxi’s Underdome excluded, that was an awful, boring grind).  Maybe that will change with this download, we shall see but I’m not holding up too much hope to be honest.

Well having a quick scan, I think I’ve done pretty well considering my complete lack of inspiration going into this.  I had absolutely no idea what to talk about to begin with but I got there in the end.  That’s all that counts.  The train of thought is well on it’s way out now though so I think it’s time to quit while I’m ahead.  Thanks very much for stopping by!

@NickLayland88

The big two-zero

That’s right, blog update number twenty is here!  I’m actually really impressed with myself for keeping up with this, I have got myself into a nice habit of getting one out every two days for the most part, never going over three days.  Still, I think that’s enough patting myself on the back, that’s not really what I’m here for after all.

I finally cracked and well and truly jumped into the dark corner of DC’s New 52 reserved for the Bat family, so much so that over the space of a few days I’ve managed to get through the first volumes of Batman, Batgirl and Batwoman.  I can’t state how much I’m enjoying all three series, three characters that employ very similar combat skills, tactics and gadgets but are remarkably different people both with and without the masks.  Batman was probably my favourite of the three so far, The Court of Owls has an incredibly interesting premise, which I shall not divulge here, with the titular group proving to be constantly surprise.

Plot twists galore, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish.  Batman is the Bat we all know and love, at his absolute best here thanks to the sharp writing of Scott Snyder.  It’s a side of the DC universe that I’ve deliberately left alone for the time being, and this is why.  I had heard nothing but great things said about all three of the main Bat titles, so I had a feeling I would be hooked straight in upon reading which, funnily enough, is exactly what has happened.  I’ll be keeping an eye on back issues on eBay for all three of them, grabbing bargains wherever I can and all three will be making their way onto my pull list.  Realistically, I don’t think it will take me too long to get up to date, even while I’m catching up with the main Superman series too.

DC have well and truly got me at the moment, there are around fifteen, maybe twenty, regular monthly series that I’m either catching up with or already subscribed to.  I know there are many people out there still not really behind the New 52, to a certain extent I can see why but I think I’m at an advantage for having lapsed from the comic world for so long.  I came back around to it after the New 52 had kicked off (around a year or so after I think) so I just jumped right on there, picking out things I might like based on what I used to read way back, and things I might like based on what I had started reading from elsewhere.

Don’t get me wrong here, there are plenty of DC books I’ve gone back and read since that had come out before the New 52 started, pretty much all of which I’ve enjoyed immensely, but I think because of seeing all of those Hollywood superhero films and all of the comic related games that have come out, it made jumping on at the start of the New 52 a logical step, with characters brought more up to date.  With all of the modern technology, the worlds are more believable (to me) and the characters are more relatable with their modern worries and troubles.

I finished Fable III the other night, to be truthful by the time I got to the end I’d pretty much had enough, the combat is not varied enough, enemies are really not varied enough at all and the dialogue is so cheesy it makes me want to rip my own ears off.  It was also far, far too easy.  If you die in combat all that happens is you fall over, the screen goes black and white and you lose progress to your next level.  Then you get back up and continue beating on the enemies around you like nothing happened.  I also managed to finish it with no civilian casualties, all promises kept and millions left in both the treasury and my own personal account.

The funny thing is, if I had paid for this I can guarantee that I would not have finished the story and would have traded it in almost immediately to try and get as much of my money back as I could.  Since it was free, however, not only did I finish it but all of the irritating little glitches and bugs didn’t bother me all that much because, you know, it was free.  I’ve deleted it off my hard drive now and have no intention of ever playing it again, but I appreciate the gesture from Microsoft and I just can’t say no to a full free game.

Except for the next two.  MS have said that Halo 3 and Assassins Creed II are the next titles to go free which is of very little help to me,  my Halo 3 disc is still nestled in my collection and Ass Creed went a long time ago once I’d finished the story.  Still, it’ll be interesting to see what comes next after those two.

Righty then, I am absolutely starving after an incredibly busy day at work and only a light lunch, so I am going to shoot off.  Thanks very much for persevering for Sunday!

@NickLayland88

I like new stuff.

I think most people do to be fair, regardless of what your interest is, getting new things is always nice.  The time had rolled around some time ago for me to pick out a new phone and contract, I had let my current contract run as a month by month rolling contract until I could decide on which handset I wanted.  Up to this point I had been running a Windows Phone 7 handset for about a year and a half and at the start of me considering a new phone, this being almost six months, I was fairly certain I’d upgrade to Windows Phone 8, the problem was picking a phone.  Fast forward to about five weeks ago and I found out that I could get an EE contract at 40% off each month due to where I work, add to that I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 so had become quite a fan of Android, and the idea of switching OS became more tempting.

I ended up walking out with a Sony Xperia Z, in white, and while in there found out I got £85 cash back there and then, no messing around filling out forms and waiting for a cheque, just £85 in cash dropped in my hand.  Thank you very much!  The phone itself is sublime so far, for it’s size it’s incredibly light and sleek, never feeling awkward or cumbersome while in use.  Thanks largely to the light-weightedness (apparently not a word, should be though) it’s comfortable to actually use as a phone, making calls and holding it up to your ear, even over extended periods of time.

The multimedia side of things is where Sony have really brought their A game with this phone.  The screen measures in at five inches, which makes you think it’ll be quite large, but it has a very slight border around it.  The screens boasts a resolution of 1080p and is powered by Sony’s Bravia technology, the Mobile Bravia Engine.  It’s the kind of thing that, realistically, to properly appreciate the quality you need to see it.  Suffice to say I dropped a 32gb card into it with a 1080p film on and was thoroughly impressed.  Smooth motion on fast moving images, incredible detail and vibrant colurs.  Granted, I had to download the beta app from VLC to be able to play the file format, but once it was running it was spectacular.  The Walkman is very nice too, the menus are fluid and simple rather than graphic heavy and sometimes a little cluttered (looking at you here Samsung).  I also really like that when you view your “now playing” screen, the phone picks out a prominent colour from the album art and tints the background with that colour.  Nice little feature, doesn’t really impact anything but I appreciate things like that.

The only down point I will give it in the multimedia department is the speaker isn’t really that great.  It’s not bad by any means, but I think my opinion was tainted slightly by hearing music played from the HTC One straight through it’s speaker, with Beats Audio, and it sounded better than any phone I’d ever heard.  It’s made up for, however, by the high end headphones you will find waiting for you just underneath the phone which, even for me, are perfect.  They hit just the right levels of bass and treble, with the right equaliser settings on the phone, listening to music is a joy again.

There were quite a few new comics this week too, three from my pull list and then a full on raid of the back issues I was after.  It took me, on and off, about five hours to bag, board and catalogue them all.  It’s times like that when I wonder if it was really a good idea to go as far as I have, but now that I have an android phone and, therefore, offline access to my full collection and a wishlist through the Android collector app, shopping for them was dead easy.

Before I get really carried away talking about all that, I have work tomorrow morning and time is slipping away much faster than I had anticipated.  This means cutting things a little shorter today, it feels a little abrupt I know, but it’s just hit me how tired I am right now.  So, thanks for stopping by, hopefully I’ll have something a bit more substantial for you next time.

@NickLayland88

Never enough hours in the day

It’s a little phrase that seems to have been swimming around in my head lately, whether I’m at work and using it in terms of the working day, or at home and just thinking of the day in general.  It’s really quite incredible how quickly little tasks can suddenly mount up to a day where you barely have the chance to breathe.  Taking tomorrow for example, even though it is a day off work for me, it’s a day that will be starting at 8am and probably closing up around 6 or 7pm.  I’m still working out when I’ll be able to stop for a moment to fit a meal in amongst everything else, I don’t function very well at all when I start getting hungry you see.  So I have a slightly overwhelmed feeling going on this evening.

I certainly didn’t this afternoon, however.  I didn’t start work until 11am today so it meant me taking my lunch break at about 2:30pm, around about the time where the sun is out at it’s brightest and the temperature at it’s hottest.  I’d been outside not long before going on my lunch so I knew exactly what it was like out there, so, I grab my lunch and my car keys and drive 5 minutes to the local park, sit on a grassy bank underneath a tree and blissfully pass my hour by eating my lunch and reading the first issues of Wanted and Berserker.  Best lunch break I’ve had in a very long time and, it’s worth noting, two very good comics too.

I did a quick flip through twitter before I sat and ate my dinner tonight and I noticed one particular topic popping up all over the place, that being the topic of Microsoft changing it’s policies of used games/lending games/24 hour online check in on Xbox One, essentially completely reverting them to how things are for the Xbox 360.  Now, I’ve said it before and will say it once more now, I didn’t come away from all of those original announcements as rage filled as much of the internet had.  Confused?  Yes, admittedly, a little confused but angry?  No, I had not declared my hatred of Microsoft or decided to boycott the new Xbox on this, I would be basing my console purchasing decision on games, and games alone.  Dead Rising 3 sealed it for me, I’m sorry but they have perfectly captured my imagination with that game.  Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying I’ll never buy a PS4, what I’m saying here is that I’ll be buying the Xbox One first.

This finally convinced me to go and pre-order one (which I did just before starting on this entry tonight) and no, it is not because they have reversed their stance in such a way that I am now happy, it’s because they listened to their fans.  I don’t feel like I can emphasize that enough, there have been plenty of situations where companies have announced something massively unpopular and, even though people were vocal in their opposition, the ploughed through with them anyway.  Microsoft have seen the protests to their decisions and have altered their plans to suit the people they should be listening to.  The people that have supported the 360 and it’s incredibly long lifespan, people that have bought multiple consoles in that time.  I think it’s really big of them, and while the previous rules wouldn’t have affected me that much, I have more faith in a company that actually sits up and listens to what people have to say.

The latest issue of Witchblade came out today and I cannot wait to read it, need to go and pick it up first though!  Sadly, due to working on such a glorious day (weather wise) it also meant that this weeks releases must be picked up tomorrow.  This months Witchblade is kind of a bitter sweet thing, it’s the first part of Tim Seeley’s final story arc on Witchblade and, while already being a big Witchblade fan, I am a big fan of Tim Seeley, both on the writing front and the art front.  It’ll be a sad day when his final Witchblade arrives, I think he has had a really strong, interesting and thoroughly entertaining run filled with all sorts of mystical, supernatural and multi-dimensional nuttiness and I’ve had a blast reading it.  The silver lining to Seeley’s departure is the return of Ron Marz, something I am very interested in.  Being the general architect to the Top Cow Rebirth universe I’m really looking forward to seeing what Marz brings to Top Cow’s flagship title this time around.  What will also be interesting to see is who they bring in for art duties for Marz’ run, everyone has been very coy on that front so far which makes me think it’s going to be someone insanely awesome.  I’d absolutely love it to be Marc Silvestri, but with Silvestri taking the reigns on the writing duties for Cyber Force after issue 5 (if I remember rightly) I can’t see him realistically having the time.  Plus, I don’t think talent should be spread around too much, too many things on the go at once could prove either detrimental to the quality of the finished product or make it incredibly late, neither of which are really desirable outcomes.

Looking forward to having a good rummage through the bargain comics sections tomorrow too.  Thankfully, for my comic shopping tomorrow I will be better equipped to ensure no duplicate purchasing happens.  I’m off to go get a new phone tomorrow and I’m making the switch over from Windows Phone to Android with the Sony Xperia Z.  This means I will be able to download the comic collector app on my phone, sync my collection and newly built wishlist across and go hunting.  So, all in all, I think tomorrow is looking like it should be a good day, all I need now is more weather like today’s and it’ll be perfect.

Before I go, I have a couple of potential plans that will be coming along fairly soon.  I will most likely be starting up a YouTube channel soon, putting up a variety of gaming related videos.  Most, if not all to begin with, will be game footage and some wlll be with commentary but, again, to begin with most probably won’t.  It’s more of an experiment than anything at the moment but it hinges on me picking up a capture card so it could be a couple of months before I get into the swing of it.  What will most likely come before that will be a podcast, the exact details of which haven’t really been ironed out yet.  That’s something I’ll be collaborating on with a friend so it requires a little more co-ordination and will also require a lot more planning.  Once things have been discussed and figured out details will start to appear here, twitter and facebook.  It’s definitely something I’m interested in doing though, boring people with simple text is not enough for me you see, I need more outlets dammit!  A few people have suggested I have a go at video blogging but, frankly, I’m quite happy staying out of the focus of a camera, thanks.

I must say, before I go, tonight’s post was only going to be a token update as I was feeling a little tired when I started, but this has wound up being quite a long post.  Anyway, I really fancy a cup of tea before settling in to play something for a couple of hours so thank you for reading, your patience is most appreciated.  ‘Night!

@NickLayland88

Monday.

Generally speaking, this has always been my least favourite day of the week.  It’s a simple fact that for 7 years of working various jobs, I have always managed to keep Sunday as a regular day off.  Of course there would be the odd exception here and there, times when my help was needed on something, whatever it was I wouldn’t mind that odd one, knowing that every other would be a nice relaxing day.  Well now, things have changed, my new place of work has us working Sundays quite frequently and what that has resulted in is a complete lack of Monday blues.  Since it is no longer the start of the working week for me I’m not feeling so miserable on a Monday, but here’s the great thing, it doesn’t seem to have transferred on to a different day.  I’m not really sure if it’s all entirely down to that, since moving job I find myself much more motivated both in work and out (I would never have been bothered to commit to this regular blog if still working at my last place of work).  Not only that, I’m generally happier inside and outside of work, something that even I have noticed and I’m fairly certain those around me have noticed.  I feel great in myself right now, tired from a busy day sure, but I haven’t felt this good in a long time and I’m willing to give a lot of the credit for this to the store I am currently working in.

Still thinking about Man of Steel a lot since Friday, I’ve read a hell of a lot of commentary online both supporting and berating the film.  It’s incredible, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comic book adaptation on the big screen divide the comic community as much as MoS.  I can safely say, having read and absorbed many different opinions, I am still firmly on the side of those that have loved it.  A good sign of this is I can fully appreciate the criticism leveled at it, but when I look back on my viewing all that comes to mind is everything I loved about it, which was probably 90% of it.  Going to see it again tomorrow, I think I’m going to use this second viewing to look for any missed easter eggs, further contemplate my theories and also consider the various things it was slammed by many for.  There will most likely be at least a third viewing before it’s run ends provided I can find the time for it, I think I’ll be going into that viewing to just sit and enjoy.  No picking at things, no judgement or anything like that, literally just sit in front of a massive screen and enjoy the spectacle.

Onto comics, I always have to give credit to writers that manage to make a character compelling to me when I previously disliked or just didn’t care for.  Gail Simone is the writer in question here.  I had already read her Gen-13 books and am up to date with Gail’s The Movement, currently a part of DC’s New 52 (and freaking awesome by the way!) so I already knew she was a quality writer.  This, and lots of applause online from fans and critics alike, led me to pick up Batgirl volume 1, another New 52 title.  I’m a little more inclined to give characters a go with the New 52 books, everything I’ve read so far (except one) has been very good and I must have at least tried a good twenty or so series, and Batgirl was a character that I knew little of and didn’t really care about that much.  Don’t get me wrong here, I really liked Barbara Gordon as Oracle and therefore by default liked “Babs” on her own merits too, but for some reason when she donned the cowl and cloak, I just wasn’t that bothered.

Things have certainly changed now, oh yes.  Gail Simone’s writing style is absolutely perfect for not only Babs, but for Batgirl too.  The internal monologue, particularly during fights, is extremely amusing and, more importantly, insightful into her mindset and worries.  For a girl who has not long regained to ability to walk again Barbara certainly throws herself in at the deep end, not holding back with her acrobatics and handling herself pretty well.  She’s quite clearly not 100% there yet though, in terms of physical or mental conditioning.  Prone to freezing when facing down the barrel of a gun (she was put in there wheelchair by a bullet to the spine so, it’s quite reasonable), not necessarily making the best choices and getting her ass handed to her more than once, she is by no means infallible and it shows, but it’s not forced.  Her mind, however, is razor sharp and lightning quick and her detective skills are really impressive for one her age.  This is certainly helpful when you’re a part of the Bat family, there is a certain level of expectation around it.  It’s not all about running around kicking the crap out of thugs and blowing things up with gadgets, you have to be smart to be a Bat too.  That box is checked, well and truly, and to go along with Barbara’s smarts, the dialogue and story are smart and, where necessary, witty.  I was so impressed with it that when I head to Nostalgia on Thursday, I will be doing some back issue hunting.  Possibly even add it to my pull list, we’ll see.

I think I’m about done for the day now, it’s been a long and busy one and even writing this is becoming quite taxing, so before this takes a quality nose dive I will say goodnight, and thanks for reading.

@NickLayland88

Man of Steel

It opened yesterday, the day finally came where I went into my first viewing of a Superman film with confidence that this might actually be good.  That’s the first time in my life, Superman Returns back in 2006 wasn’t awful, it wasn’t great and I think trying to cling onto the story from ’78 and ’80 did not only the film, but Brandon Routh a disservice.  I went into that expecting very little, but this new iteration had my attention.  Big time.  Did it live up to my expectations?  It’s actually a slightly more complicated question than it appears to be, so what I’m going to do if give a brief, spoiler free summary to begin with, so if you’re still deciding whether to part with your hard earned money to go watch it, this might help.  Then I’ll really get into what I think about various aspects of the film, my thoughts and theories and where I think things might head in the future (and what I hope they do in the future).  That will be packed full of spoilers, so be warned!

So, as a stand alone film, ignoring the fact that this is based off a comic that has been running for 75 years, it’s bloody fantastic.  The cinematography is sublime, everything looked nice and crisp and sharp, fast motion was nice and smooth but felt incredibly fast.  The 3D element didn’t feel tacked on for the sake of it, I felt it was used to smart effect, emphasising certain aspects of shots and in some cases providing really nice, deep backgrounds.  The sound was absolutely spot on, the score from Hans Zimmer is phenomenal, it captures all of the action and emotion and layers it over every scene so well.  This particular point is driven home during one particular scene where all the music stops completely and there is almost complete silence.  It’s almost uncomfortable.

In terms of casting, again, I felt they got this pretty much dead on.  Henry Cavill was born for this role, his various displays of emotion (particularly during two scenes I will discuss shortly) were gut-wrenchingly believable.  Amy Adams as Lois Lane, honestly, was a casting choice I was a little unsure of.  I’m unaware of a film she has been in prior to this where her character had the kind of attitude Ms Lane tends to have.  She also doesn’t really look like Lois Lane.  That thought was knocked out pretty quickly with her strong presence, quick wit and well delivered lines and I’m glad she proved the skeptic in me wrong.  Russel Crowe is a bit of a show stealer if I’m being honest here, whenever scenes featuring Jor-El came to a close, I felt a little disappointment, Russel Crowe knew exactly what was needed of him for this part and he truly brought his A game.  Michael Shannon as General Zod was utterly convincing as a man who knew only how to protect the future of his race, a man who genuinely believed what he was doing was right in the eyes of Krypton and saw no other alternative than the path he took. 

On the whole I think it’s a film that many will find great entertainment in.  The length may put some off a bit, being only seven minutes shy of two and a half hours, but there’s no filler that has you sitting there waiting for the next interesting bit to pop up.  Anyone that has been and seen Iron Man 3 this year will most likely enjoy it, likewise fans of the Dark Knight trilogy will most likely enjoy it.

Also, scroll right past all of the spoilerific discussion below for a recommended reading list if you’re feeling in a Superman kind of mood.

SPOILERS!  SPOILERS!  SPOILERS!  SPOILERS!  SPOILERS!  SPOILERS!  SPOILERS!

 

So, this is where the spoilers kick in, in case you hadn’t notice. I’ve tried to avoid even minor spoilers so far but I’m going to completely spill my guts for this part so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Firstly, and one of the most important things for me, they didn’t mess about with his mythos all that much at all.  Jor-El makes it known very quickly that he is sending Kal-El to Earth because of the young, yellow star we orbit.  He knows the effect this will have on a Kryptonian, and he is sent there in the hope that he can guide humanity to a more properous age.  This is nothing new, I don’t think any of this can or should be changed.

I also really liked how rather than having a massive sequence at the beginning of the film showing the origins of Supes, it was interspersed throughout the film, every now and then cutting back to part of Clark’s youth in Smallville.  The relationship with Clark and Ma and Pa is really nice, and one of the defining factors in who he becomes is when he witnesses the death of Jonathan to a tornado having just told him he has no right to tell him what to do since he’s not really Clark’s dad.  It’s not something I had expected to come from the mouth of Clark Kent, but it showed that human side he has developed from living on Earth all his life.  It was also considerably more striking when it turned out that was the last thing he said to Pa before he died, a death he could have prevented but, with one final show of trust and respect to Pa Kent, held back using his powers in front of all those people and let him die.  Clark’s distraught reaction was one of the two scenes I mentioned above, it really got to me.

This adaptations presentation of both Krypton and the Phantom Zone were breathtaking to behold, particularly that orbital device that sent the prisoners to the Phantom Zone, I didn’t know where to look with all of those cables that snaked over the ship and sent it through.  I didn’t necessarily wholeheartedly approve of the way Zod and his minions were released from the Phantom Zone, I think the thirty three years would have been sufficient to find one of the backdoors out rather than Krypton’s destruction bringing them back out, but let’s be fair here, that’s a pretty minor gripe.

There were some very minor things that I really liked; Lana Lang is in it, Pete Ross is in it, you see a LexCorp Tanker, you get to see a Wayne Enterprises satellite, there is a visible LexCorp skyscraper at one point.  It all helps it feel like it’s part of a bigger universe without taking much attention away from the main Superman action that is going on.

The scout ship Kal comes across, the one that he accidentally activates the distress beacon on, this got me thinking quite a bit.  It’s that empty pod that keeps scratching at the back of my head, I’ve thought about it more than most other aspect of the film today and I am now absolutely convinced it belongs to Kara Zor-El, also known as Supergirl.  I’m so sure of this, I think we will see her pop up in the next Man of Steel in some capacity, whether it be a main role or a fringe one for the time being, she will be in the next one.

Now, I’d like to touch on a couple of parts of the film that have cause quite a stir amongst the comic book community, and I think while they have reasonable arguments, it needs to be viewed in a slightly different light.  See, the thing that has a lot of people rattled is the almost incomprehensible level of damage and destruction that happens around Superman while he’s fighting.  Cities cannot be evacuated at a moments notice, and Metropolis is a bloody big place, so all of those fight scenes we see in the the city, we are indirectly watching potentially thousands of people die with Superman doing little to prevent this.  Here’s my take on it:  the Superman we have the privilege of reading has grown and evolved over 75 years of publication, this not only gives writers a tonne of background and history to work with, it also gives Kal plenty of time to grow as a person, and a hero.  He is intensely aware of what he has to do, how he can minimise human loss of life and keep structural damage to a minimum.  In this portrayal, he doesn’t actively divert fights away from innocent lives, he gets stuck in.  The way I see it is he has spent almost his entire life trying to find his place, struggling through the mistrust and, in some cases, abuse of others until only just before Zod arrives, he discovers the scout ship holding his suit and understands it is time for him to step up.  I think we will see a resounding effect played through at least the second M.o.S. film, guilt over all the lives that were lost during his battle, and I think it will be that very event that makes him so acutely aware of the dangers of his battles around regular people, aware of his responsibilities to keep people safe and alive.

And finally, the scene that has easily kicked up the most stink within the comic community, the kill scene.  Superman does not kill.  This is a simple fact, his upbringing by the Kents imbues a deep moral code within the soon to be superhero, he holds great value in life and won’t kill even the most dangerous, vicious and murderous of criminals.  He believes in second chances, redemption and mercy.  And yet, right at the end of the film, he thunderously snaps the neck of General Zod as he is trying to use his heat vision on nearby innocents.  He shows the signs of his belief in the sanctity of life here, desperately trying to hold Zods head away from the family cowering in the corner until he eventually does the deed.  I saw it coming, I knew he was going to kill Zod, I absolutely knew it but I was still shocked to the core by it.  As it happened I had my hand up to my mouth, partly because I wanted to prevent myself from making some weird noise, partly because I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

He could have found another way.  More to the point, he should have found another way.  Once again, Henry Cavill went a long way to remedying what I had seen with the roar of heart breaking agony, not only had he himself just killed, but having just sent all of Zod’s forces back into the Phantom Zone (seemingly more permanently this time) he had also just killed the last free, living member of his race.  That he knows of anyway.  And the pain was both visible and audible.  It hurt.  As I said above it genuinely shocked me, I’m still sort of getting my head around it now, Superman killing is such an alien concept to me, and to be perfectly honest with you I hope I never have to witness it again.

Oh, and that last scene with Clark starting his new job at the Daily Planet, wearing the geeky glasses and looking generally uncomfortable had me leaving the cinema grinning from ear to ear.  I hope the sequel gets significantly more Clark Kent time, Clark Kent as we know him, making a fool of himself with his clumsiness and apparent ineptitude.

What I’d like to see come from this now is a solid recasting of Batman, and a World’s Finest movie, a good old Superman Batman team up, maybe even before they bring the whole Justice League along.  We know that Man of Steel 2 has been given the green light, and as far as I’m aware the talk at the moment is that production will begin early next year.  As said above, I think Supergirl will be showing up and it would be nice to see her get her own film.  When Justice League does roll round (it’s almost certain to at this point) I’d like to see Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman all appear in some capacity.  I think it would be really cool if the could also tie it into Arrow on TV, maybe even get Stephen Amell to make an appearance in the Justice League film.

And that’s where I’m at right now, I think I need at least a second viewing so I can potentially reassess certain aspects of the film, but as a pretty big fan of not just Superman, but the whole “Super family” I came out from this film very happy, a few minor gripes but on the whole it blew me away.  Easily my favourite superhero film of the last five years or so, easily.

 

End of Spoilers

Quick last bit for you before I go, a few Superman books you should absolutely go and check out, whether you want something to get you in the mood for the film, or you’ve seen the film and need to find some good Supes stories.  Check these out, you will not be disappointed:

Superman: The Last Son of Krypton
All Star Superman
Superman Birthright
Superman Earth One
Superman Brainiac
Superman Red Son

They should keep you busy for a bit!  Anyway, thanks for reading, I’m quite tired now so I’m going to skip the proof read, hopefully I’ve not missed a glaring error.  Until next time, good night all.

@NickLayland88