Man of Steel Review

I wasn’t expecting much from Man of Steel. Not that I didn’t think it was going to be good, I’ve just never been a huge Superman fan (except for watching Lois and Clark when I was younger- that was a fun show). But I will say the first trailer looked like it had potential. Not only did it use music from The Lord of the Rings but it also had a bearded Clark Kent! So the other night I went with a friend to check it out.

I loved it. LOVED. IT. Henry Cavill is the best Superman I’ve ever seen even though I think it’s funny a Brit is playing such an iconic American character. This is definitely a modern Superman- the red underpants are gone and the entire outfit looks far more streamlined and able to withstand the challenges and dangers that Superman faces. (Lois Lane has also been updated- she’s a competent journalist who knows who Superman is, even when he’s wearing glasses.) I also found it interesting that Superman’s alien-ness is such a huge part of this story. I feel like previous Superman stories have focused more on his abilities rather than his origin.

There was a lot of religious imagery in this movie as well. Jor-El states right at the beginning that Kal-El will be like a god to us, Clark is 33, and the whole movie deals with sacrifice and, well, good-ness. The best movies, and the best superhero movies, deal with people overcoming the mess in their lives and their imperfections to become something better than they were. We see that a lot in this movie.

The movie wasn’t perfect of course. The fight scenes became almost cartoonish, as unfortunately happens too often with CGI-heavy action. And granted, Kryptons are far superior to us humans but that makes Superman’s defeat of General Zod feel a bit strange. After the epic fight they just went through, that was all it took to kill him? The romance between Lois and Clark seemed a bit sudden too. Their kiss seemed to be more from relief than affection but perhaps we will see their relationship develop in future films?

Overall I thought this movie was great. Uplifting and exciting, this is the type of movie that makes me love fantasy and science fiction.

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The Beauty of the Illustrated Word

It’s no secret that I love beautiful art and, especially, beautiful book illustrations. I’m a fan of Susan Cooper on Facebook (the author of the fantastic The Dark is Rising sequence) and she occasionally posts information about new editions of the books. A few months ago, new editions from the Folio Society caught my eye. Once I went to the website to explore their other offerings I was quickly sucked into the beauty of their editions.

In their own words, The Folio Society believes that “great books should be outstanding not only in literary content but also in their physical form: this has been the philosophy of The Folio Society since it was founded in 1947 by Charles Ede, with a dream of publishing beautiful books that would be affordable to everyone.” At $40 plus for most of the books, these editions are, unfortunately, out of my purchasing range. I encourage you to visit the website and drool over the books though. And if you’re in a generous mood, let me know! I will send my wishlist to you immediately.

Some highlights from the books (click on the picture for more info on the book and more pictures):

HisDarkMaterials

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman;
Illustrations by Peter Bailey

HitchhikersGuide

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams;
Illustrations by Jonathan Burton

ArabianNights

The Arabian Nights;
Illustrations by Edward J. Detmold

BackNorthWind

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald;
Illustrations by Maria L. Kirk

NarniaBynes

From The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis;
Illustrations by Pauline Baynes

DarkisRising

From The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper;
Illustrations by Laura Carlin

Pinocchio

Pinocchio translated by Mary Alice Murray;
Illustrations by Grahame Baker-Smith

OliveFairyBook

From The Olive Fairy Book by Andrew Lang;
Illustrations by Kate Baylay

MerlinOnceFutureKing

The Once and Future King by T. H. White;
Illustrations by John Lawrence

PerraultsFairyBook

From Perrault’s Fairy Tales;
Illustrations by Edmund Dulac

LOTREowynills

From The Lord of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien;
Illustrations by Ingahild Grathmer

HobbitSmaug

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien;
Illustrations by Eric Fraser

Yikes. Maybe I went overboard a little bit. But so many beautiful illustrations! Oh and in light of that last one have y’all seen the new Hobbit trailer yet?

Richard Matheson

My first introduction to Richard Matheson came through I Am Legend. Not the book so much but rather the movie starring Will Smith. I had heard a bit about the movie and initially assumed that it was about zombies. And, since I got tired of zombies about 2 days after they became popular a few years ago  (not trying to be a cool hipster here- zombies just aren’t my sub-genre), I wasn’t particularly interested in watching the movie when it first came out.

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But, as so often happens, it passed through my hands at work and I decided to check it out. And then felt a little stupid once I realized it was not about zombies at all but vampires. I enjoyed it but honestly (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER), once the dog died (SPOILER DONE) I was kind of finished with the movie. Although I did like it enough to think, “I should read this book!”

Fast forward a few years. I’m checking in new books at work and I see we’ve just gotten a brand new copy of Button, Button: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson. After a quick perusal of the back and discovering that none other than Ray Bradbury recommended him, I immediately check it out. And then go into our stacks to check out another short story compilation (Duel: Terror Stories) and, since it was just sitting there waiting for me, I Am Legend (the book).

I fell in love after the first story. Ray Bradbury is my favorite author and he is particularly good at writing creepy stories. So is Richard Matheson. These stories aren’t disgusting or gruesome, at least not in the sense that there’s a high body count or unnecessary hacking, sawing, splattering, etc. Almost all of these stories start with ordinary people in ordinary situations. But slowly and surely things start going wrong.

I read I Am Legend after the short stories. I enjoyed the book but had to laugh at how different it was from the movie. Yes, the movie had some of the basic things from the original story but, well, it was completely different. Not bad different, but it completely changed the meaning of the title.

I haven’t had a chance to read any more of Matheson’s work although I’m particularly curious to read Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come having already seen both movies.

Any other Matheson fans? What would you suggest I read next?

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Definitely not zombies.