The Wrap Around
Man of Steel

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It’s been almost a year since I’ve written any posts and wouldn’t you know it, it wouldn’t be the Avengers that tempted me back or Iron Man 3 but Superman. That’s for one very good reason, my generation has never seen a modern rebooted big screen adaption of Superman (Superman Returns was too similar to the Reeves movies of yesteryear.. it did nothing to further the franchise except convince exec’s to start over)

Finally, we got the MJ, the Gretzky of Superhero’s on the silver screen in a rebooted, action packed adventure entitled “Man of Steel”. 

The film had everything Superman needed including an added depth of realism, isolation, emotion and imperfection.

Let’s start with my only issue with the movie. The mass amounts of destruction. I couldn’t help but have flashes of 9/11 in my mind watching the buildings crumble around Manhattan in the fashion they did.. it was a haunting image yet again.. a bold decision made by the screenwriters. It was an interesting visual to give to audiences.. I wonder if the subliminal message was to tell Marvel “Look our enemies can actually destroy the city while attacking it and our #1 hero can stop them on his own”?

The movie brings us a new adaption of the planet Krypton, which utilizes its various alien terrains and life forms to expand the D.C Universe in undoubtedly the first movie strung together in the D.C Cinematic Universe (more on this later).

The movie also gave us a Maximus like take on Jor-El (Superman’s father, including a memorable line akin to Star Wars). To me, Russell Crowe, hadn’t been this good in a movie since Gladiator. He was Jor-El from top to bottom and he struck the same sentimental, morale grounded vibes that he did in the 2001 best actor/picture film. Watching him guide Lois Lane through enemy fire with such assurance, gave us viewers a sense of hope and optimism just as the gravity of the story was creeping doubt into our minds.  His words of encouragement and wisdom to his son Kal-El, came across perfectly. I felt the hairs on my skin stand up as Superman gazed out to the World below know knowing what he has to do “The only way to know how strong (you can become), is to keep testing your limits / You can save them all.” Says Jor-El silencing Superman’s inner doubts brought on by an existence of difference and isolation.

Amy Adams, take on Lois Lane was a welcomed and much needed breathe of fresh air. No longer, simply a damsel in distress Lois gets involved from the beginning. Adams, who often casts alongside legendary actors such as Meryl Streep, has fine acting chops and has come along way from her successful (real) theatrical debut in Catch Me If You Can. I also appreciated Nolan and company not dumbing the audience down (SPOILER ALERT) by having Lois not recognize Superman as Clark. In fact, she never has to ponder such an absurdity. What’s also interesting, is that beside Lois, a few soldiers and a kid from his school days no one ever gets a clear, long view of Superman which to me makes complete sense, the guy movies at super sonic speed and is often too far away or too high up catch a glimpse of.

The Kents played by the immaculate and still got it Diane Lane and Mr. Costner played excellent anchors to bring the story to a needed slower and personal pace. They did a great job of showing just how difficult Clarks childhood was. I appreciated the lack of sugar-coating or off-the-cuff type humour during his younger years you so often see. I appreciated that because it brought more gravity and seriousness to being different, which is a struggle that not only Superman had/has to deal with on a daily basis. The fact is he was/is so different to everyone and it was very challenging for the Clarks to keep that hidden. Its clear a life of secrecy has taken its toll on the simple Kents and Clark himself. More than half way through the movie and through his life up until the scene unfolding before you Clark still doesn’t know if he can trust the Human race. It’s a stark change to the happy go lucky Superman we’ve all been accustomed to. Superman doesn’t just want to save the day?? Its a question that has never really been asked before.

General Zod, was also well portrayed by Michael Shannon, an actor I’m honestly not too familiar with. Again, the creators gave us a complex villain who had a convincing cause for doing what he was albeit to a slight extreme.

Finally, Superman played by Henry Cavill was exactly the kind of personification that will lead Superman into a multi-billion dollar franchise. Henry was runner up to Brandon Routh for the 2006 role and even finished 2nd to Daniel Craig for Bond, but it looks like in his case everything does happen for a reason. Perfect timing, has allowed him to grant the world a complex and exciting take on a legendary hero. Cavill, a self-professed nerd of comics and WOW, has a very real connection to Clark Kent and its in his sincere portrayal of the character that greatness can be achieved. 

Near the end of the film, Superman goes crashing through a satellite hovering high above the planet. Although, this may not warrant special mention the company logo on the satellite will have a significant bearing on the direction of all D.C heroes. The logo… “Wayne Enterprises”. 

I can’t wait to see Cavill’s Superman and Bale’s Batman on screen together in what will truly be a defining moment in cinematic history. 

Man of Steel has performed more than well enough at the box-office (already surpassing the domestic box office tally of “Superman Returns”) to green-light a sequel that will eventually build its way into a Justice League franchise.

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The Dark Knight..Continues to Rise

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3505&p=.htm

The Dark Knight Rises has already passed The Dark Knights foreign box office total. TDKR has brought in over 488 million and has still to be released in China and Italy whereas TDK brought in 470 million over its entire run.

TDKR still trails TDK in domestic figures. TDKR has brought in a respectable 409 million, good enough to beat out The Hunger Games to place 2nd out of all movies released in the last 365 (behind Avengers) and 12th all-time non adjusted for inflation.. so far. TDK brought in a game changing 533 million, 3rd all-time at the time not adjusted for inflation (its now 4th, thanks to Avengers). TDKR was largely impacted by the tragedy that unfolded in Colorado on its opening night as well as not having the likes of Heath Ledger to take the film to the next level, there is really no telling how much bigger this movie could have been.

Adding the totals together TDKR has accumulated just under 900 million year to date in a valiant attempt to surrmount TDK’s total of slightly over 1 billion. Due to the boost in foreign markets TDKR will pass TDKs total box office haul.. leaving very little doubt that this franchise will continue.

LOCKOUT 2012/2013 

Avengers

Spezza = Hawkeye

Crosby = Captain America

Subban = Hulk

Ovechkin = Tony Stark

Fehr = Nick Fury

Too bad the NHLs version of the Avengers doesn’t end up as a summer blockbuster.

I’m dumbfounded that we’re at this point only seven years removed from the previous lockout. The owners had all the cards during the last stoppage. Their lack of foresight to envision the leagues revenues growing by 50% over 7 years or 7% annually over the current CBA (approx 2.2 Bill in 04-05 (pre-lockout) to approx 3.3 Bill in 11-12) is what created this boom in player salaries all over again. For the casual fan, this is because the salary cap was/is calculated by taking total NHL revenue dividing it by 30 (teams) and setting it at 8 million above that number. In other terms, the NHL players salaries were fixed at a maximum of 57% of league revenue (57% of 3.3 billion is 1.88 bill/30 gives you your cap) Over its six year existence the cap rose from 39 million in 05-06 to 64.3 million last year. This.. under a plan that was devised by the owners and agreed to by the players after the owners locked out an entire season. I watched in disbelief every year as I saw that number climb because I knew salaries were growing too high (it was basically coming to what the Rangers had on their roster in 2002 without a cap) it made no sense to me.. now my fears have come to fruition as a lockout looms over the hockey world once more. For the record, any commissioner who intentionally goes to a lockout to get what he wants (this will be 3 out of 3 times for bettman).. should be thrown in jail.

(I need to research into what revenue growth was like prior to the previous lockout, I’m willing to bet it wasn’t far from the 7% per annual growth witnessed post-lockout which would make me curious to why the owners agreed to a deal they knew wouldn’t allow the bottom teams to breathe if they were to be so concerned about it now. This leads me to believe the owners agreed to the previous deal knowing we’d be in this situation again and use this negotiation to finally K.O the players.. I’ll investigate and get back to you)

The article below, states that team revenues are at their all-time high, yet due to the salary increase margins have been cut and lesser revenue generating teams are not making ends meet (Even though a team like Nashville, which lost money last year matched Phillys 14 year 110 million dollar contract offer for Shea Weber and Minnesota, which also lost money, signed Parise and Suter to a combined 196 million dollars)

This whole situation is kind of laughable. The players who average 2.5 million dollars a year don’t want to give up salary cuts and the owners whose teams have never been valued higher want to cry poor at the bottom and also don’t want to part-take in any sort of greater profit sharing among teams (Toronto, NYR and Montreal had a combined operating profit to cover the rest of the leagues operating losses) Simply put there is no need for this lockout.. if teams shares revenues more than the maximum, paltry 7% in existance, NO team would lose money. The owners just don’t want to do that and their sending their jackal Bettman to make sure it doesn’t happen.

What does all this mean to the regular fan? Simple. No hockey until the players give in to the owners. Bettman is wielding a work stoppage for a third time like Mario Lemieux carrying the puck at full speed through the neutral zone… he won’t be stopped.

At the end of the day the owners can out wait the players (they have more money, and aren’t depleting their skills as time goes by) Also, working in their favour is the fact that recently the NFL and NBAs players both gave in taking salary cuts in favour of returning to play. 

With the owners current demands the salary cap ceiling would drop from approx. 70.2 million next season to 55.3 million and the floor from 54.2 million to 39.3 million. Contracts would be limited to a 5 year maximum and no player would become an UFA until at least 10 years in the league, currently the time span is seven years and/or until a player turns 25 I believe. I agree with lowering the salary cap (ceiling and floor to keep the league competitive) and even reducing player revenues from the existing 57% but not to 43% under the owners plan.. 50/50 is much more realistic. I don’t agree with the owners not willing to share a greater amount of revenues between the top teams to the lower teams… Bettman loves to claim revenues are up to 3.3 billion from 2.2 billion before the last lockout but now he’s claiming that its not working?! In other words, we don’t want to use any of our additional profit to cover the losses of our teams, we want the players to foot the bill.. you know the players that can actually PLAY HOCKEY… the players who risk their careers every shift.. and give us the best playoffs sports has to offer.. the players whom without the NHL would simply be another KHL.

The Winter Classic at the Big House in Detroit between the Leafs and Wings is in serious jeopardy.

On the bright side maybe the Leafs can win the lottery for MacKinnon?

Seriously though, my prediction is that the players will cave in more than the owners before losing the entire season. That is unelss the NHLPA decides to look into legally reprimanding the league/owners due to their unwillingness to negotiate in good faith, they are using a work stoppage to get their way. If negotiations take a turn in that direction we’ll be looking for another season lost for all the same reasons.

The proper solution is for the players to accept a reduced portion of revenues towards their salaries, which will drop the cap ceiling (keeping the big teams from running away) and drop the cap floor (allowing the lower revenue teams to still be profitable) At the sametime the owners need to create a much more expansive revenue sharing program, the current one (which I just read up on) is a farce that does NOTHING to spread revenues.

How can the league be making the most money it has in its history and a majority of its owners are still losing money? Simply put the owners need a CBA that protects them from themselves.

Educational lockout readings:

Overview of issues - http://proicehockey.about.com/od/nhlnewsscoresstats/a/Nhl-Lockout-In-2012-A-Look-At-The-Issues.htm

Lockout looming - http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2011/11/30/the-business-of-hockey/

Team values - http://www.forbes.com/nhl-valuations/#p_1_s_a0_

Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. Best picture front-runner. Coming to a theatre near you in November. 
Directed by Steven Spielberg. 

Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. Best picture front-runner. Coming to a theatre near you in November. 

Directed by Steven Spielberg. 

The Dark Knight Rises

BATMAN

If there is one thing I learned from DKR, its the life long lesson that everyone must let go of the past and move on or be consumed by it. For me, personally, this theme resonates strongly as I’m sure it does with many of you.

It’s time to get back in the game.

The Dark Knight Rises concludes perhaps the most well rounded non-adapted screenplay trilogy of all-time. Christopher Nolan tackles the huge expectations set forth by The Dark Knight head on. He boldly changes directions from the get go and constantly reminds us that we’re not in it to replicate Heath Ledger’s performance or the direction of the Dark Knight. Nolan does have a different story to tell and at 2 hours and 45 minutes long.. does he tell it.

Aside from Heath Ledger, DKR has the best acting of the entire series. New additons Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy and Joseph-Gordon Levitt fit into Nolans Gotham flawlessly and do most of the heavy lifting to further this epic story to its conclusion. Nolan finally takes advantage of having an actor like Christian Bale as his hero, maybe taking a queue from Bales immaculate performance in The Fighter. Bale, portrays a completely different side of Bruce Wayne, much different than we’ve ever seen in a movie and he does so superbly.  Michael Caine is at his best Alfred, again acting as the moral correcting compasses for Bruce Wayne, even resorting to a heart breaking method to finally pull Bruce back from his inevitable destruction. Gary Oldman’s performance is much different to his previous two turns as Commissioner/Lieutenant Gordon, he’s no longer the strictly optimistic good doing cop. The events at the end of the DK have eaten away at him for 8 years. 

In this film we find Bruce, who for all his years of training and purging Gotham of evil, has not progressed from his young tragedy. He’s fragile and almost broken by the loss of his parents, Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent despite saving Gotham. The themes of the prior movies “Why do we fall?” “There may never come a time when Bruce doesn’t need Batman” are poetically answered in this film.

Tom Hardy’s Bane is the perfect villian to follow Heath’s Joker. He’s the complete opposite. Physically dominate, metciulous in his planning and goal oriented.

I do have to touch base on the up-roar over Banes voice. Many fans complained of Banes muffled speech, I however need to complain about the new clear voice. Its noticably too loud and ironically too clear to be coming from Bane. I, like Nolan, enjoyed the difficulty in decoding Banes dialect. Like any thick accent it only takes a matter of time to get use to, instead we’ve convinced Nolan to dumb the voice down, which to me is a shame and almost takes away from the character of Bane if not for Hardys excellent and brute acting. The story he tells with his eyes alone is worth the price of admission. 

During the film, I duely noted how Nolan chose not to seperate Gotham from New York. Wall St is quiet obvious as is the Manhattan skyline full with the Empire State building. The street signs including “7th Ave” are also easily recognizable. So, why did Nolan choose not to disguise NYC as Gotham? There are two reasons I believe he did this. The first, is to relate Gothams predicament of the wealthy enjoying life while the rest of society hangs on by a hinge, as so eloquently alluded to by Miss Selina Kyle, to our own current economic situation. Further proof can be found in a scene where Bane steamrolls into what is clearly the NYSE, hi-jacks it and accuses the elites of stealing money. He also puts together a sham court to convict the prominent individuals of society without a fair trial (the opposite of what we feel is happening today). Wayne Enterprise is tettering on bankruptcy with Bruces own finances being brought into question. All drawing very strong parallels to our world today.

To read more on the class war within The Dark Knight Rises I suggest this BLOG. I don’t 100% agree with it, I think its a little extreme in its assessment but it raises valid points. 

The second reason he may have chosen to directly relate Gotham to NYC and the one the fan in me wants to believe is in order to kick start the Justice League initiative. Nolan also has chosen for Gotham to have more interaction with the “real world” with the presence of the army and a reference to the President in this film. By relating Gotham directly to our world, Nolan may have laid the foundation to expand his DC Universe to include… The Man of Steel (which from the trailer looks like a grounded story of a guy who is alone at land, sea and air) and If you’ve seen the Dark Knight Rises its not far fetched to picture that new guy playing the caped crusader.

My final thought rests on how this movie accomplished its ending. This was less of a Batman movie than any before it. In fact, Bruce Wayne is the main character NOT Batman. This was all done by design and is quiet fitting. Bruce needed to step away from Batman, it was the only way he could achieve any sense of permanent fulfillment. Also, Batman didn’t save the day on his own. In fact, it was the courage of many throughout Gotham that eventually turned the tied and allowed Batman the extra time to pull the ultimate sacrifice. 

Nolan’s final 5 minutes play out in similar fashion to Inception with Hans Zimmer’s captivating score resonating throughout the audience. There is limited but poignant dialogue and is carried largely by the actions of the characters we’ve grown to love until the final scene draws to a close.. poetry in motion.

RIP 

Out of respect for the individuals who lost their lives in that senseless act in Colorado. I will follow Warners Brothers lead and won’t discuss the box office performance of The Dark Knight Rises. 

Lastly, I want to say Christian Bale did a very humane act in visiting with the survivors of the shooting and going to memorial sites. He did it on his own accord without assistance from Nolan, WB or his publicist and if he’s to be condemned for cursing on a movie set he too should be applauded for his selfless act. 

"A hero can be anyone" 

The Games are here

The Hunger Games will announce the early arrival of the Hollywood tentpole season on Friday, March 23rd, 2012.

Normally resevered for May, the summer hollywood season will kick off early due to a swell of interest building in the new “Twilight/Harry Potter” craze. The Hunger Games has been masterfully marketed and is on the verge of notching one of the best domestic opening weekends of all-time. Its expected to debut in the region that Breaking Dawn: Part 1 did with 138.1 Million. For comparison (or lack there of), the first Twilight movie debuted with 69. Million.

The largest previous opening in March was set by Tim Burtons Alice in Wonderland (2010) which opened with 116 million.

The Hunger Games cost approx. 80 million dollars to make and is set to be part of a four film franchise.

View the trailer HERE.

HISTORY MADE

The Hunger Games has grossed an outstanding 155 million. Its the largest opening weekend box office for a non-sequel ever with the previous holder, Spider-Man,  earning 114.8 million. I didn’t count Alice in World (2010) as a non-sequel, it grossed a previous March opening record of 116 million.

THG, was also the third largest opening of all-time behind Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (record holder with 169.1 million) and The Dark Knight (158.4 million).

It achieved this success by creating an unusual vast appeal. Unlike the Twilight series men came out in drove to see THG. Also, its more mature theme, having 24 kids battle each other to the death, brought in a huge amount of adults. Lastly, THG still managed to play out as a family movie by showing very little of each death and placing the emphasis on survival (Disney did this with Wildcats, you felt good when the cheetahs and lions killed so they could stay alive).

The release date ensured there would be little to no competition currently out or opening with THG. Its also the first blockbuster to be released this year and people may have been aching to see a big time movie.

THG grossed 59.2 million on the foreign circuit, due to limited release bringing its worldwide total to 214.3 million. For comparison, HP and TDH holds the record for worldwide openings with 483.2 million. 

THG also becomes Lions Gates biggest movie/franchise ever, even with their purchase of Summit Entertainment which holds the rights to the Twilight saga. 

Sidney Crosby - cleared for contact

Its breaking news across the hockey world. Sidney Crosbys comebacks-comeback has taken a huge leap forward. He has been regularly skating with the Penguins for the past few weeks but not until now had he been cleared for contact. This is the last major hurdle, yet again, to his epic return. Unlike the first time, the Penguins will be sure not to mistake a neck injury for a concussion. I, along with many hockey fans are still a little confused behind the last few chapters in this story. Questions remain, did he have another concussion? Were the reoccurances of symptoms actually due to the neck injury the Penguins missed? And when did that neck injury first occur?

Regardless, we now know Sidney Crosby will be participating in FULL PRACTICES. The Penguins are comfortably in 4th place in the East, having won the last six games. There is no need for the Penguins to rush Sidney back. Instead, the Penguins should allow Crosby the next 3-4 weeks to simulate game situations in practice. Come playoff time the tempo of the game is THAT much higher, especially in the first round. Its impossible to replicate the intensity of the playoffs in practice which is why season ending divisional match ups vs the Rangers and Flyers should serve as an adequate test for Sidney in his bid to reclaim hockeys greatest prize.

Give it up for one of the great comeback stories in NHL history. Welcome home, Sidney.

It’s moments like this where all hockey fans just thank the hockey gods for the beautiful game.

C’mon guys.. why does my “Moves like Jagr” video have more hits than this video? No Canada fans out there?? Starting hitting.. and start following @abhus67.

Moves like Jagr. 

Follow me at @abhus67