Category Archives: Entertainment

Open Letter to Bumbershoot: You are Too Expensive! And I Won’t Go Anymore.

Has Bumbershoot Become Seattle's Burning Man? Photo: Trey Ratcliff / Flickr

Has Bumbershoot Become Seattle’s Burning Man? Photo: Trey Ratcliff / Flickr

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s a great piece in The Seattle Times by Danny Westneat that sheds light on the upsurge in Bumbershoot ticket prices. I wasn’t aware of this development but Bumbershoot, according to Westneat, is now run by Anschutz Entertainment Group. That doesn’t change what I have to say below. But it adds more information to work with. Read it here.

For those of you in Seattle, Bumbershoot is this Labor Day weekend, September 5, 6, and 7, 2015. I suggest that you NOT go. That is, unless you really want to burn through what have recently shot up to $100/day tickets. I was reading an insightful look at how Burning Man went from a groovy and authentic happening to a corporate playland just the other day. And it got me to thinking about Bumbershoot. If nothing else, maybe this could open up some discussion.

“Today is the last day to buy the $29 any day tickets, with which you can buy now and choose later.” — The Bumbershoot website, May 31, 2011

For those in Seattle, this letter to Bumbershoot may seem harsh or even unpatriotic somehow. But hear me out. For those outside of Seattle, here’s a taste of what happens when something good turns sour. Just how do you go from a $5/day, to a $30/day, to a staggering $100/day event–and pretend nothing’s wrong? And now you’ve got additional VIP-enhanced ticket prices too for an event that originally was simply a place to hear a lot of great music. At some point, Bumbershoot had no business expanding in size. It’s still held within the 74-acre Seattle Center. Total attendance last year was estimated to be 125,000 visitors. The venue has NOT gotten any bigger. Bumbershoot is a study in an overwhelmingly clogged gridlock of humanity. At some point, bigger is by no means better. That should be a lesson to the City of Seattle in general. And it should be something that compels Bumbershoot to stop and rethink.

What is, or was, Bumbershoot? This article from The Seattle Times from Sunday, August 27, 2000, proves useful. Read it here.

Dear Bumbershoot,

I wish we could somehow turn back the clock and return to a more carefree time. I’m wondering if that’s possible. I believe that it is. How do other similar events manage to entertain the city for a weekend and even do it for free? Now, I fully understand that there is only one Bumbershoot but I think you could learn a lot from the free and fun Northwest Folklife Festival. Sure, they incur plenty of expenses themselves and they make an organized effort to collect donations. Couldn’t Bumberhoot make a serious effort to drop ticket prices and seek out donations?

You don’t have to be an old fogie to recall when it was relatively cheap to buy tickets to go to Bumbershoot, Seattle’s landmark music and arts festival. Just observe the notice above. $30/day tickets were still a reality only four short years ago! Maybe you have to be a bit older to recall when it was totally affordable to the point that you bought a pass for the whole shebang without blinking an eye. And for you new locals, check this out, the event used to be free!

The Wikipedia post on Bumbershoot is rather thin. But it begins with one intriguing fact: the event was first run by the City of Seattle. It began in 1971 as a way to lift everyone’s spirits amid a major economic slump. Talk about doing the right thing! Bumbershoot ultimately fell under the control of the nonprofit, One Reel, which is known for a very expensive cabaret show, Teatro Zinzanni. I’m sorry but I’ve tried it, byway of a gift, and found their glitzy dinner theater extravaganza to be an overpriced spectacle. And I see that is what has become of Bumbershoot. As a nonprofit, you would think that One Reel would have it worked out where its ongoing Teatro Zinzanni, geared to upscale customers, would help finance the so-called people’s festival, Bumbershoot.

Anyway, all I wish to do here is say that I’ve got some good memories from Bumbershoot. However, I’ve also seen Bumbershoot become less accessible and more limited in its overall offerings. Keep in mind, I do appreciate that these packaged experiences don’t come cheap. I used to go to Lollapalooza when it was affordable too. Well, no one is going to boycott one of these events if they’ve convinced themselves it’s the most amazing thing ever. Bumbershoot used to be pretty amazing but I’ve seen the life sucked out of it. And part of the problem, the ongoing problem that will only get worse, is too many people! So, to some extent, if I were to persuade anyone to stay home, I’m doing Bumbershoot a huge favor.

I’m sorry, Bumbershoot. I’m just not feeling the love, despite your branding yourself as a people’s festival. But I still hold out some hope. Maybe you’ve just let yourself fly too close to the sun. It’s time to come down back to your roots. What do you say, Bumbershoot? Do you really want to be seen as Seattle’s Burning Man, a rich person’s version of cutting loose and having fun? I hope this may strike a chord with some old Bumbershoot fans from over the years. Again, I’m sorry but I had to say something. Did you think that no one would notice the skyrocketing prices? Or, if they did take note, did you think people would simply shrug it off? Well, maybe you did. But I speak for those who can’t just shrug it off. If you are truly a people’s festival, you will find a way to scale back and bring this event back to the people. Bumbershoot, you are no longer being true to yourself.

Think about it. Help me understand. But, at the end of the day, there’s got to be a way to lower those ticket prices. Don’t worry, we won’t miss any of the razzle dazzle that you may feel you need to cut from the schedule. One Reel, you can save that for Teatro Zinzanni. Hey, the show wasn’t all that bad. Just consider this: You won’t lose your core audience if you scale back and scaling back can be a good thing. Also look at it this way, it is a very practical idea. I miss you guys already.

Sincerely, your friend,
Henry

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Filed under Bumbershoot, Entertainment, Music, One Reel, pop culture, Seattle

Whitney Matheson Completes a 15-Year Run with USA Today

Whitney-Matheson-Pop-Candy-Meetup-2011

A routine that was so essential to so many of us out there has come to an end. Whitney Matheson completes a 15-year run of Pop Candy, the pop culture blog at USA Today.

We will all miss Whitney Matheson at Pop Candy at USA Today but, of course, when one door closes, another door opens. September 3 was her last day as she was laid off from her post that she had held for 15 years. Of course, fans have been caught by surprise and are showing their support at Whitney’s Twitter.

Here is one from the archives: A CNN iReport put together by Jennifer Daydreamer and yours truly, this is an impromptu interview with James Sime, owner of Isotope, The Comic Book Lounge, that segued into an impromptu interview with Whitney Matheson. The discussion here involves the state of comics, which is always evolving, and how they coexist with Hollywood. This is from 2010, the year that “Scott Pilgrim” and “The Walking Dead” were big winners at the Eisner Awards at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Whitney hosted some awesome Pop Candy meetups through the years. Well, perhaps there will be something similar in the future.

Good luck to you, Whitney! We look forward to future observations and excellent writing! You are one of the best!

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Filed under Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2010, Comics, Entertainment, Hollywood, Isotope Comics, James Sime, Jennifer Daydreamer, Journalism, Media, movies, Newspapers, Pop Candy, pop culture, Television, Whitney Matheson

Robin Williams, RIP

Fisher-King-Robin-Williams

They always say of the greats that they make it look easy. Robin Williams was a master at what he did. It is a facility that could be taken for granted. And now his best work lives on and speaks for itself.

I was just revisiting “The Fisher King” and it is a humbling experience to see Robin Williams with the news of his death still ringing throughout. The iconic mannerisms are there, the ones we could take for granted. Oh, that’s just Robin Williams being Robin Williams. But there is only one Robin Williams and now he’s gone. Now comes the time to revisit his work and appreciate his talent.

It always happens this way in these situations. We enjoy such a talent. We begin to take it for granted. And then one day, we turn a page, and realize it is the end of an era.

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Filed under Comedy, Entertainment, movies, Robin Williams

Interview: FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME on Pivot TV performing at Joe’s Pub

Freestyle Love Supreme at Joe's Pub. (photo credit: Kevin Yatarola)

Freestyle Love Supreme at Joe’s Pub. (photo credit: Kevin Yatarola)

Pivot, Participant Media’s cable network presents an original special, an evening with the hip-hop improv group, FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME on Saturday, March 8 at 10PM ET/PT. The all-new half-hour special brings a national audience into New York City’s celebrated venue, Joe’s Pub, to experience the eponymous improv troupe’s uber-buzzy, high-energy live show from award-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail, the creators of the Tony and Grammy award-winning musical, “In The Heights.” This first-time ever TV special will be taped in front of a live audience just two days prior to premiere. More details here.

Lin-Manuel-Miranda

Lin-Manuel-Miranda

Thomas Kail

Thomas Kail

Anthony Veneziale

Anthony Veneziale

It is an honor to get to interview the talented creators of Freestyle Love Supreme: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, and Anthony Veneziale. As Lin-Manuel says, Freestyle Love Supreme was taking shape at the same time that all three of them were working together on “In The Heights.” Freestyle was Anthony’s brainchild and he and Lin-Manuel were having fun with it. Then Thomas Kail came along and helped give shape to what has become an ongoing performance that has won over audiences. It’s all about participation as the audience provides the topics for the show.

Dubbed by The New York Times as “Masters in the art of Freestyle rhyme,” Freestyle Love Supreme uses rap to spin audience suggestions into fully-realized musical numbers. In addition to Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Freestyle Love Supreme” also stars Utkarsh Ambudkar, Anthony Veneziale, Chris Sullivan, Bill Sherman, Chris Jackson and Arthur Lewis. The show is created by Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale.

Pivot TV is all about its audience as it has fully demonstrated with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s popular “Hit Record.” You can now add to that, this original special from Freestyle Love Supreme.

Freestyle-Love-Supreme

Just click the link below to listen to the podcast interview:

Visit Freestyle Love Supreme here and Pivot TV here. And watch the Freestyle Love Supreme special on Saturday, March 8 at 10PM ET/PT.

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Filed under Entertainment, Hip-hop, Rap, Television

TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE, SEASON 2 LIVE!

Tales-From-Beyond-The-Pale-2013

Happy Friday the 13! You are likely in a good sinister mood and so consider checking out this devilish and delightful series of horror radio shows for the digital age!

TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE, SEASON 2 LIVE!
Launches with FREE streaming of THE CRUSH by Glenn McQuaid and CAPER by Larry Fessenden

Featuring the voice talents of Sean Young, Mark Margolis, James Le Gros and the regular TALES stable of audio artisans.

All 8 episodes available for download at TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE right here and on Audible, iTunes and Amazon

(NEW YORK, NY—September 13th, 2013) Yearning for something suitably sinister to do this weekend? Well look no further. Prolific production outfit Glass Eye Pix (I SELL THE DEAD, STAKE LAND, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE LAST WINTER) is pleased to present season two of the cult favorite TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE, audio tales for the digital age. And to mark the occasion, they’re streaming a double bill of terror — right now, for free!

This weekend check out Glenn McQuaid’s crime suspense shocker THE CRUSH and follow it up with Larry Fessenden’s phantasmagoric heist tale CAPER in a new online listening room at TalesFromBeyondThePale.com. All eight explosive tales are also available for download in the online store and are coming this weekend to Audible, iTunes and Amazon.

Inspired by the classic radio shows of Alfred Hitchcock, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Orson Welles, each TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE is chillingly brought to life by the extraordinary vocal talents of Sean Young, Vincent D’Onofrio, Mark Margolis, James Le Gros, Michael Cerveris, Kate Lyn Sheil, and Jonny Orsini, to name just a few.
Hosted by Glass Eye Pix CEO Larry Fessenden, each thirty-minute episode is written and directed by one of today’s horror auteurs including Joe Maggio (BITTER FEAST), Clay McLeod Chapman (HENLEY), Jeff Buhler (THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN), Ashley Thorpe (THE HAIRY HANDS), Kim Newman (ANNO DRACULA), Glenn McQuaid (I SELL THE DEAD), Simon Barrett (YOU’RE NEXT), and Larry Fessenden (BENEATH).
Conceived during a fog-drenched car ride by Fessenden and frequent collaborator Glenn McQuaid (I SELL THE DEAD, V/H/S), TALES continues the mission at Glass Eye Pix to celebrate and elevate individual voices in the arts and to bring the vast palette of moods that comprises the horror story to fans everywhere.
For more information and the latest news, please visit http://www.talesfrombeyondthepale.com Follow on twitter: @talesbeyond

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Filed under Entertainment, Horror, Radio

‘Ender’s Game’ Facing Boycotts Following Author’s Anti-Gay Views

Photo by 91st™ Shawn via Flickr

Photo by 91st™ Shawn via Flickr

“Ender’s Game” is a controversial movie for all the wrong reasons. As Jergen Hemlock reports, it is at risk of losing at the box office because the work it originates from is by Orson Scott Card, known as much for his science fiction as for his anti-gay comments.

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Filed under Commentary, Entertainment, LGBT, movies, news, Orson Scott Card, Sci-Fi, science fiction

Webcomic Review: QUESTIONABLE CONTENT

Questionable-Content-2013

Guest Review by Brittany DeSalvo

At 2,505 comics and counting, Questionable Content (QC) http://www.questionablecontent.net is a popular “slice of life” webcomic written by Jeph Jacques that has been going strong since August 1, 2003. (QC’s 10 year anniversary was actually August 1st of this year.) It’s a semi-complicated storyline, so if you’re planning on reading the comic, which you should, make sure you start at the beginning. It may take a while, but it’s well worth the read because it is hilarious. I laugh, I cry, I laugh some more, and I then wish he could update every day of the week.

The comic follows the life of Marten, a music-obsessed 20-something trying to muddle his way through jobs, relationships, and life in general. He lives with a crude anthropomorphic sidekick named Pintsize, who happens to be a tiny robot, and a slew of other roommates throughout the comic. The other main characters are Faye, the aerodynamically curvaceous and snarky love interest; Dora, the dark and skinny coffee shop owner; and Hannelore, the OCD and slightly stalkerish neighbor. Other characters come and go, but they’re each well-developed and interesting. As there have been many story arcs throughout the life of the comic so far, it’s hard to accurately describe the plot. It’s a very fluid comic, but after going off on a random tangent arc for a while, it always comes back to the main, ongoing story line.

There is a definite undertone of indie rock music references that may throw you off if you don’t follow indie rock, but other than that, the comic is easily understood by all. The art style changes minutely in the first fifty comics, and then remains the same until around comic number 200, when the characters become full-sized and a little more detailed. It slowly morphs into the current style, which isn’t visible until the early 1,000s, then remains pretty much the same. The early style is a little rough, as is the case with most webcomics, but the current style is well-developed and shows how far the artist has come since starting the comic.

As of this past March, the archive of comics is accessible by left and right arrows. As Jeph says: “Welcome to the future.” If you just read all of the available comics and want to know when you can read more, QC updates Monday through Friday around midnight. If you’re already a die-hard fan, you’ll know QC merch is available on TopatoCo. As of recently, Coffee of Doom, Dora’s coffee shop, has an official logo now that is available on mugs and t-shirts! If you can’t wait until the next comic comes out, entertain yourself by checking out some of the other awesome comics suggested by Jeph on his website; follow the QC character Twitter feed (like here); or check out the QC forums. You can also occasionally see Jeph at conventions, mostly in the New England region.

About the Author: Brittany DeSalvo is a freelance writer and editor for the start-up nerd site TheNerdyBomb. Her author page is accessible at http://thenerdybomb.com/author/brittany-desalvo/.

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Filed under Comics, Entertainment, Jeph Jacques, Questionable Content, Webcomics

HOMELAND SEASON 2 Available on Blu-ray and DVD 23 September 2013

Homeland-Season-2

HOMELAND Season 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD on 23 September 2013 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Press release follows:

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DVD Review: THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE

The-Incredible-Burt-Wonderstone-wallpaper-2013

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” reminded me a bit of another comedy about another delusional magician, 2008’s “The Great Buck Howard,” starring John Malkovich. That is a case of a drama with a touch of comedy. “Wonderstone” falls into a special brand of comedy, high on irony, with touches of drama. It stars Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey, all masters of that form, in this hilarious, and heartfelt, movie.

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This is a buddy movie. It’s the story of two partners in magic, Burt Wonderstone (played by Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (played by Steve Buscemi). We follow them into the spotlight and a long run at a major Las Vegas casino. It turns out to be a much too long run, as far as the casino tycoon Doug Munny (played by the late James Gandolfini) is concerned and he’s ready to end his contract with the guys. The act has become a caricature of itself, beyond stale, with the same lame old stunts played out to Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra.”

It wasn’t always so sad. The first scenes with the kid versions of the leads, Mason Cook as teen Burt and Luke Vanek as teen Anton, are pretty moving. Back when “Abracadabra” was a hit, everything was so fresh and full of promise. It was magical! When Burt, after suffering yet another thrashing from bullies, is given a magic kit as a birthday gift, his future suddenly seems brighter. He pops in the VHS tape and there’s Rance Holloway (played by Alan Arkin) ready to sweep him away from his worries and open up a whole new world of magic. He shares his new insights with his best pal, Anton, and they’re off and running.

Over the years, we’ve had some very successful comedies, from Mel Brooks to Judd Apatow, that have had us pull back from traditional sentiments and yet still invest something in the characters. When all the stars are in alignment and the story is properly synchronized, it can make for some surprisingly good results. Who would have thought that “The 40 Year Old Virgin” would have gotten to you on more than the most superficial level? Well, comedy is a very funny thing. Director Don Scardino (2 Broke Girls, 30 Rock) should know. And screenwriters Johnathan Goldstein (The Adventures of Old Christine) and John Daley (Bones) also know. If one buys into a premise, no matter how full of silly jokes, it is possible to create something meaningful.

For a comedy that you’d think should not be taken seriously, it packs some good lofty thinking. There’s quite a bit of angst and searching for meaning going on here. Burt and Anton are at a major crossroads. Their whole existence is being called into question. They are in the throes of an identity crisis. And to add to it, an ominous figure emerges, Steve Gray (played by Jim Carrey), who taunts Burt and Anton by having them doubt their very purpose in life. Steve Gray represents the new breed of illusionist who mocks the traditional craft of magic tricks and has become famous for his stunts, like going a week without urinating. He is supposed to be the future. And Burt and Anton are supposed to be the past.

Things only get worse before there’s any hope of them getting better. Just as Burt appears to have suffered through all possible humiliation, he crosses paths with his old mentor, Rance Holloway. Alan Arkin, a legend in comedy, is quite up to the task of providing the heart and soul that could makes things right. Add to that, there is Burt’s mistreated assistant, a sexy young woman, Jane (played by Olivia Wilde) who, by all rights, shouldn’t even be anywhere near Burt. But, as if my luck and magic, Jane remains nearby doing her part to provide incentive for Burt to fully redeem himself.

Comedy and magic share a lot in common. They can both be very direct pure entertainment. They can both have the quality of being very unreal while affecting us in a very real way. This story about magic is handled with love, and the right amount of irreverence, to keep it relevant and magical. It’s impressive how artful this movie really is. When you stop and think about it, Steve Gray, the flashy illusionist, is there, despite himself, to push Burt. He’s delusional to a toxic level but he’s also, inadvertently, confronting the whole purpose and intent of entertainment in general. Does the public only want spectacle? Wow. The talent behind “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” has got some answers for that and they will also make you laugh.

By the way, if you have caught the magic bug, you’ll want to check out Market Magic Shop here. And, if you’re in Seattle, you can visit them at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Since I’m in Seattle, I get to visit whenever I want. My last visit inspired me to write this movie review. Here’s a look at me dabbling with a little magic:

And be sure to visit “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” official website here.

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Filed under Entertainment, Magic, Movie Reviews, movies

Movie Review: MAN OF STEEL — You Can Take A Leap Of Faith!

Man-of-Steel-Superman-2013

At a pivotal moment, our hero (played by Henry Cavill), asks a pastor for guidance. His advice on whether or not to trust the humans is, “You must take a leap of faith. Trust will follow.” “Man of Steel” proves that a leap of faith will be rewarded. Both Warner Bros., and its audience, have taken the big leap. Warner Bros. chose to create a movie with some bite to it. And audiences have chosen to give it a chance. Since “The Dark Knight,” it seemed all superhero movies were destined to go dark. However, the script by the same talent behind “The Dark Knight,” David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, remains true to Superman’s innate power to uplift.

“Man of Steel” mines fertile ground in what is far more than just an origin story. This is simply one of the best Superman stories, period. The trailer and the publicity photos don’t do it justice if you can imagine that. You really just need to see it. I wasn’t sure what to expect but this is an exceedingly good movie. It’s as if everything you know, or thought you knew, about Superman has been cleared aside and you go into this completely fresh.

Come to think of it, you do briefly see a young man out in the Alaska wilderness in one of the trailers. That’s the spirit to this film: cut to the chase, rough and tumble, direct and honest. You’ve got Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen”) directing so you can expect a gritty vibe. Snyder lets all his men be manly men with a strong sense of purpose. You get impressive male performances, notably from Russell Crowe, as Jor-El; Kevin Costner, as Jonathan Kent; and Michael Shannon, as General Zod.

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Looking back to 1978 and Richard Donner’s “Superman,” what “Man of Steel” accomplishes is to naturally present a thoroughly contemporary Superman. There is room for pauses, and even hesitation, but it’s at a quicker and steadier pace. There is a sense of urgency running throughout “Man of Steel” that is a lot of fun to watch. Does Henry Cavill measure up to Christopher Reeve? Does Amy Adams measure up to Margot Kidder? Yes, in very different ways. It’s a more no nonsense approach. You won’t find Henry Cavill endlessly fumbling with his fedora or Amy Adams looking just a bit hung over from partying with a rock star. There just isn’t time for it. Even the name, “Superman,” is barely uttered by Lois Lane before the plot pushes us elsewhere. There is so much invested in this very purposeful story that we don’t even need to worry about Clark Kent, ace reporter, at all. Save that for another story.

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Krypton is anything but window dressing in the story. The opening scenes on Krypton are so vivid and well put together that you feel you could linger there much longer. Russell Crowe commands the screen as Jor-El. The dispute over how to save Krypton escalates out of control. Michael Shannon, as General Zod, makes for a satisfying villain with just the right sense of menace. In this case, it’s not mere jealously or some maniacal thirst for power that drives the bad guy. General Zod sincerely believes in what he’s doing and will stop at nothing to get there. The fact he’s trying to save his people gives our plot that added weight and clarity.

Superman-Man-of-Steel

Thankfully, this Superman movie got it right. It just feels right. It’s the Superman movie for these times without trying too hard to be so. Henry Cavill gets to be a young man trying to find himself without once coming across as a brooding self-loathing Eddie Vedder wannabe. Maybe if he’d worn a hoodie that would have been too much. But no hoodies to be found here. Amy Adams is so natural as Lois Lane that we don’t even care that she’s not a traditional brunette Lois. And yes, she’s every bit a woman matched up to the salty Margot Kidder. And leading the Daily Planet is editor-in-chief, Perry White, played with gusto by Laurence Fishburne. An Afro-American as Perry White in 1978 would have raised some eyebrows but not today.

1978’s “Superman” seems to have had the luxury of playing things a bit slow and off tempo and hardly veering off the well-worn path Superman movies and comics had known since they’d started. But, in 2013, you snooze and you lose. Superman might have appeared a daunting task to get right but “Man of Steel” found a way to make it look easy.

“Man of Steel” keeps that leap of faith flying steadily in the air. It will not only make you believe a man can fly. It will give you faith in more Superman movies to come.

Visit the Man of Steel Facebook page here.

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Filed under Comics, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Entertainment, Man of Steel, Movie Reviews, movies, Superheroes, Superman, Warner Bros., Zack Snyder