The Sound and The Furie

Wow ... I am simply in awe. Unfortunately, it's not in a good way. You see, several months ago I happened upon a boxed set of all four Christopher Reeve Superman films at Costco for a mere $18, which was a spectacular price, seeing as how all four were the special/deluxe editions (Superman: The Movie in this case being the 4-disc bonus-features-packed deluxe package). Until then I'd had just the bare-bones original DVD releaes of the films, except for Superman III whose deluxe edition I found on special one day, and Superman IV which I'd never felt the slightest compulsion to buy, even before I'd heard confirmation of how bad it was in the excellent documentary Look, Up In The Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman.

But I finally gave into the temptation this evening and put Superman IV: The Quest For Peace into my DVD player, expecting full well to have 90 minutes of my life completely wasted. I'm pleased to say that, in that capacity alone, the movie surpassed my expectations. Now, mind you, I have a personal history of liking -- even loving -- movies that were largely panned by critics (The Black Hole, Johnny Dangerously, Krull, and yes, even Superman III). But I'm afraid that even I couldn't find anything to love about this sorry-ass piece of ... filmmaking. What were they thinking? Did they not realize, even by the time they'd gotten to post-production, what a turkey they had on their hands?

Christopher Reeve, bless his soul, did what he could with the material ... but Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, and Gene Hackman all seemed to be going through the motions, almost as if they themselves couldn't wait for the movie to be over. Marc McClure was kind-of just there, because the script essentially gave Jimmy Olsen nothing at all to do but follow Superman around like a puppy. And poor Jon Cryer, trapped in the netherworld between his bygone John Hughes teen-comedy glory days and his current, very enjoyable stint in Two And a Half Men ... what do you wanna bet he wishes this movie had never happened at all, or at least had happened to someone else? Nah, I can't imagine there's anyone out there he'd hate that much.

I'll grant you that the Superman movies have never adhered rigidly to scientific credibility to begin with, but even this script's writing was nothing short of pathetic. I won't go into the details, except to say that Lex Luthor's sketchy "scientific" plan would have looked silly even in a 1940's sci-fi serial, and that Superman's eyes should never, at least in a live-action film, be given any powers beyond heat vision and X-ray vision (okay, to spare you the pain of watching the movie: he uses his eyes to magically re-assemble destroyed sections of the Great Wall of China out of thin air ... I shit you not).

Come to think of it, there was one shot that was quite priceless in the movie: possibly the best ever bit of physical shtick by Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent, in which he stumbles on a marble floor and narrowly avoids falling on his ass. But that sure doesn't make up for perhaps the most annoying part of the movie: Gene Hackman pronouncing the word "nuclear" like George W. Bush ("nucular") -- all the more painful because the script called for him to say the word at least a dozen times. I had respect for Mr. Hackman until this movie ... maybe Superman can use that memory-erasing trick on me for that hour-and-a-half like he did on Lois for discovering his secret identity...?

Update: If you're still jonesin' to get all four Superman movies for a good price, you can't get much better than this -- although this set is quite skimpy on the extras by comparison.


Hidden In The Stars

It's been a little while since I've made a post, and I'm bound and determined, with the tenacity of an Obsidian Order operative, to not allow this blog to linger without activity. I've been working my way (much more quickly than expected, thanks to my newly rekindled addiction to it) through my Star Trek: The Next Generation DVDs ... have made it past the halfway point of season two in mere weeks. Anyway, the most recent episode I watched prompted me to crank out this little off-the-cuff post about some interesting and probably little-known casting tidbits about ST:TNG....

Did you know there was a semi-famous face hidden in the holodeck lineup of Klingon warriors in the rite of ascension anniversary program that Wesley and the crew assembled for Worf in the episode "The Icarus Factor"? It was none other than TV-personality-turned-new-age-musician (and, of course, Trek fan) John Tesh! His name never appeared in the credits, but the behind-the-scenes tale of his cameo appearance was mentioned in the wonderful Star Trek 25th Anniversary Special (absolutely not to be confused with the ridiculous 30th Anniversary not-so-Special hosted by Ted Danson). Say ... why did Kenny G get a spot in that 30th Anniversary thing? If they wanted cheesy instrumental music, why not somebody with an actual Trek connection like John Tesh?

But, I digress.... John Tesh certainly had the stature for a Klingon ... the guy is well over six feet tall, from what I understand. While we're on the subject of Klingons, another notable personality who appeared as a Klingon was basketball star James Worthy (in the episode "Gambit, part 2").

There are two other, more famous, faces who almost had guest roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Little person actor, David Rappaport (most remembered for his lead role in the Terry Gilliam fantasy comedy Time Bandits) was cast as trader/collector Kivas Fajo in the episode "The Most Toys", and had actually filmed a few scenes, before he tragically lost his battle with depression and committed suicide. If only he knew how many people enjoyed watching him in his various TV and film appearances, maybe that wouldn't have happened.

And did you know that the one and only Robin Williams was cast to portray time-travelling con-man Berlinghoff Rasmussen in "A Matter Of Time"? Unfortunately, the filming schedule for the episode conflicted with that of the Steven Spielberg movie Hook, forcing Williams to ultimately choose between the two. Hook, by the way, is a terribly underappreciated movie and one of my favorites, so if you've never seen it, you simply must.

I of course like these two episodes (in fact, "A Matter Of Time" is one of my favorites), and thought that the actors who ultimately played the roles, Saul Rubinek as Fajo and Matt Frewer as Rasmussen, were brilliant ... but I still have to wonder what those episodes would have been like with those never-cast actors in the roles.

Aha ... just found this neato resource, showing many more casting "near-misses" that I didn't know about!


David Carradine: 1936-2009

It is with sadness that I pass on the news of the unfortunate and untimely death of a Hollywood icon: Kwai-Chang Kaine himself, David Carradine.

I admit I was never a true "fan" of his, and I haven't even seen much of his stuff (any, really) beyond Kung Fu and its sequel series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues ... but he was a favorite actor of an old friend of mine, who got me into watching KF:TLC almost religiously. I even had a truly cool idea about a crossover story between KF:TLC and Quantum Leap, though I never got very far in writing it.

Nevertheless, his death made me gasp when I read the headline just a short time ago, and he will be missed by many.