Was it Really That Bad?: Man of Steel

So I just wrote this review for one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I said a lot of really glowing things, waxed poetic about the virtues of film and, dare I say, spoke really eloquently on the merits of Mad Max: Fury Road.

However, I’m not known for any of those things, am I? I’m known for masochistically sitting through movies that many generally regard as shit for your amusement and although I do have moments of eloquence, it’s mostly me just bashing my head against the keyboard in a desperate attempt to forget what piece of crap I just sat through.

Today, I sit through a movie that many of talked about before, but I thought I’d give my own take on it as a huge Superman fan. That movie is, of course, Man of Steel.

So, a little brief history on how Man of Steel happened. Warner Brothers had been trying to reboot the Superman franchise ever since Bryan Singer’s (really pretty good) Superman Returns was deemed a flop. Christopher Nolan’s success with Batman made him the perfect candidate to bring DCs other iconic hero into a financial and critical success. Only, Nolan wanted to go on to direct his own films, so he agreed to executive produce and handpicked Zack Snyder as his director and…. ugh… David S. Goyer to write the screen play.

Disaster was inevitable, really. But was Man of Steel really that bad? Continue reading

Daredevil and Fantastic Four Will Have Their Classic Costumes (Eventually)

The latest news from the somewhat grimdark Daredevil and Fantastic Four reboots? They may not, in fact, spend their respective series or movie clad in nothing but black. We’ve discussed this in the past in our Geekly Roundup podcast with takes on Daredevil (looks awesome!) and Fantastic Four (warily waiting).

io9 brings us the latest on each; in the case of Fantastic Four, the director points out that to avoid the FF’s iconic blue outfits would be “very odd”, going on to say, “There is some servicing there. You’ve got to give that to the fans. That’s what it’s all about.”

Regarding Daredevil, we could see a somewhat Arrow-esque transition from a cobbled-together outfit to the DD we know and love. As showrunner Stephen DeKnight brings us, “The idea was to back the story up to the point before Matt is Daredevil. Then we could take him to a place where some version of the red suit works in a grounded world.”

Murdock will begin with a tied back black mask, much as the character did in the original show. Will we see the old black and yellow DD? Probably not, but we will see the costume develop over time as Matt learns and adds pieces to make it better — eventually evolving into the classic red suit as he continues taking on the thugs of Hell’s Kitchen.

Fantastic Four is set to hit theaters August 7th in the US, while Daredevil comes to Netflix starting April 10th.

Ben Fried-Lee is a blogger, podcaster, retail employee, and board game enthusiast living in the San Francisco Bay Area. His favorite sport is baseball, and so he has high hopes for the Daredevil series using Bullseye.

Ellie’s Brutal Guide to Being an Extra

Comic book movies are more prevalent today than ever. And where there’s a comic book movie, there’s a casting company needing to fill scenes with extras. And where there’s a casting company needing extras, there’s a horde of geeks ready to strike.

It’s like “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie,” but far more annoying for working professionals in film.

With Captain America choosing to shoot in my town of Atlanta, the geek community has been blowing up my Facebook and email. With that comes all manner of annoyance at the attitude being an extra is being treated with. So time to air some grievances, and give some tips for those of you insisting on applying.

Being an extra is a JOB. It is a professional JOB. Yes every geek in a hundred mile radius is going to want to apply for a role in a comic book film. And you will all think you are capable of being an extra. And you want to do it because it is ‘fun’.

First off, extra work has it’s fun moments, but it is work It is a lot of sitting around and waiting. A lot of standing on your feet til they hurt. A lot of repeating things over and over and over again, perfectly every time. You have to be able to hit a mark to not screw up a shot. It is not easy. It often can take a very heavy toll on you. I’ve gone home many times after 15 hours on my feet in pain so bad I could cry. It is a job you need to be dedicated to because you are willing to put in hard work. It is not something to take lightly simply because you’re a fan.

Not to mention the biggest thing, a set- especially a Marvel one- is a secure and secret thing. Your phone needs to stay in your car or where you will never touch it. Your mouth stays closed until after the film’s release. These are very real and very severe situations that productions are taking less and less lightly. If you talk, you will be breaching a contract with serious legal consequences. You can be fined, sometimes more than you will make in a lifetime. The biggest recent example would be the extra who leaked Batman pictures. They were looking down the barrel of a $5mil fine.

Acting is one of those jobs that for some reason anyone thinks they can show up and do. Even moreso with being an extra. No one walks into a CEO’s office and goes “it’s cool I got this, no worries.” No one walks into a surgeon’s OR and takes over for them. As with any job, you have to learn how to do the job and do it within the company’s rules. Being an extra is no different.

But since I’m certain comic book fans will apply for every single casting opportunity they can, regardless of my warnings, let me clarify some things so that you can be more educated and be less of a headache on the casting department and production. Film is a tight knit community, and you can (and will) be booted off a set with a black mark that will never let you return. Alternatively, if you follow these rules and don’t screw around, you may find yourself with the chance to do more of this in the future.

So here is my brutally honest guide to being a good extra…

1) ONLY APPLY FOR THINGS YOU ARE 100% QUALIFIED FOR. Do not apply to portray a guitarist if you own a guitar, but you’ve never played. Don’t apply for blondes if you have black hair. Don’t lie to yourself or them about your measurements. Casting directors often are asked to fill roles in a specific way, and lying will hurt the production as they are then stuck with something they didn’t ask for. Imagine if you ordered a steak and were instead given a a loaf of bread. You’d be really annoyed, and you’d send it back. Now imagine every second of waiting for that steak to come back costs you thousands of dollars. Film is a fast-paced environment. Nobody has time to replace you because you lied.

2) BE QUIET AND LISTEN!!! This is the biggest annoyance on every single set I’ve ever been on that extras don’t understand. Especially in scenes with stunts, being able to hear each other on a set is crucial, not only for the production but for safety. If a stuntman can’t hear his partner tell him when he’s going to land the hit because you were too busy chatting; you may have just caused a severe injury. If they can’t get the shot they need before you’re talking, you’re wasting time, and I don’t need to tell you how much we hate that. Unless you have been injured, there is no reason to speak on a set. No socializing. No asking questions. Just do what they ask of you and stay quiet while doing it.

3) DON’T FIND THE CAMERA. STAY WHERE YOU ARE PUT. I have watched people step in the way of stunts and key scenes just to try and get some screen time. You are not there for your screen time. You are there to enhance the screen time of the lead actors by filling the world around them. If you are told to walk from A to B, you ONLY walk from A to B, no detours. Yes, it would be nice if they got your pretty face in a scene. However, chances are you will be blurry, cut out, blocked by a lead actor, or any other manner of your face not being seen. You are there for the production, not yourself. So do your job for the scene and leave ego out of it.

4) NO PHONES. Jesus H. Christ NO PHONES! NO PHONES! NO PERSONAL PHOTOS OF ANY KIND! NONE! ZERO! ZIP! ZILCH! NADA! You are not going to be the first person who thinks they can get away with a clever selfie with someone in the background. You are not going to be the first person to think ‘I’ll just keep these pictures just for me”. Phones are forbidden. This is not a hard rule to follow. Leave it safely locked in your car. The end.

5) DO! NOT! TALK! TO! THE! ACTORS! You are not there for a chance to say “Hi” to a lead actor. You are not there to ask to take a picture with them. Some actors will be really sweet about this and oblige, but it is insanely unprofessional and in some cases will get you kicked off set without pay. It’s not worth it. The actors are there to do their job. Job. (Yes i’m going to keep repeating that word until people respect it as a profession) They are working and they need to focus on work. Do not distract them. If there’s an actor working themselves up mentally for an emotional scene and you pop in to ask for a picture, you have knocked them out of their job and have wasted their time and the production’s time. And at the end of the day they are tired. For all the work you did, they have done more. There is never an appropriate time to ask for a picture on set. Again, you are there for the production, not yourself.

(Editor’s Note: There are times – very, very rare times – that an actor will come over and spend time with the extras of their own violition. These people are awesome, and yes, THEN you can talk to them. But ONLY then.)

6) FOLLOW THE RULES! Every set has different rules. Whatever they are, you learn them, and you respect them. That’s it. No flexibility. I don’t need to elaborate on this because it’s a pretty simple thing.

7) DON’T INVOKE ANYONE’S NAME! The whole reason I began writing this all is quite a few of my friends have asked for me to recommend them for casting, or asked if they could put my stage name on their application because I’ve worked in film. The answer is and always will be: No. I’m sure the same goes for anyone else you may know that works in the film industry. We work in a job everyone wants to pop into for fun. If we allowed everyone right by, our careers would be at stake and we’d be miserable. If you’re someone a film worker wants to recommend for something, trust that they have already done it, or will. I don’t appreciate people trying to use me to get onto a project, and I know I’m not the only one. Unless a person has specifically told you “When you apply, put my name in your email” then do not ask them. It’s disrespectful and shows a lack of concern over your friend’s job. For many this is our career. If we recommend you, we’re responsible for you, so helping a friend who may screw up on set can ruin everything we’ve spent our lives working for. Not to mention, as much as we may love our friends, not all of you can be an extra. Don’t put your friends in the position to say that to you. Don’t ruin a friendship for your ego.

If you insist on applying for Captain America, or any other comic book film, do it because you are willing to work hard, follow the rules, be quiet, and respect the production and the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) that is apart of your paperwork when you start. Don’t work on it because it’s ‘cool’. Work on it because you want to help a production fill the roles they need to make scenes look how they want. Do it because, as a fan, you want to help make this movie the best it can be. Don’t do it because you want a piece of it.

If you can’t NOT be a fan about it, do the production a favor and don’t apply. Just watch it when it comes out and support its box office numbers.

Ellie Collins is a working actress and an author who’s had roles on The Originals, and is soon to be starring the webseries Donors. You can find out more about her writing at http://www.empirevalleyseries.com/

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I Really Wanted To Like Kingsmen…

I truly wanted to like Kingsmen. Adapted from a comic by writer Mark Millar (Kickass, Civil War) and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kickass, X-Men: First Class) it looked like the comic book action flick I’ve been dying for this winter. True, the movie had gadgets, eccentric villains, an unlikely hero and a secret society… but when it all came together not only did it fall flat, it made me feel gross for watching it.

Why do all the “best” assassins have a thigh gap these days…

In its best moments, Kingsmen reminds you what it means to be a real gentleman, shows class injustice through a series of worst case scenarios and then serves to prove secret agents are the good guys because they care about the little people. Despite this, I just cannot shake what I found problematic and sickening about the film, because at its worst the movie lacks restraint, relishes in violent ignorance, promotes sexism and has a convoluted plot.

Several of my favorite movies ever made are absurdly violent. Kill Bill, Battle Royale, Clockwork Orange, Fight Club, 300. But humor in the midst of such violence is an art, and not one Kingsmen does well. There are movies that have achieved this, think Bad Boys, Hot Fuzz, Big Trouble in Little China. However in the case of Kingsmen, the overt and constant level of blood and gore mixed with colored smoke and sparklers leaves me hollow. By all rights, Eggsy is a solid main character. He’s a diamond in the rough, plucked out of obscurity by a gentleman patron who fought with his father. These are solid action movie beginnings, but I never got excited by Eggsy’s performance in the spy program. The filmmakers failed to make me feel for him… and this gave way to disillusionment with the Kingsmen agency as a whole – and how they operate.

There is a plot by a wealthy and eccentric meglomaniac to activate an electronic signal that will switch off every human’s ability to inhibit violent thought thus turning them into pseudo rage-zombies. Through several failures and oversights on the part of the Kingsmen this plot proceeds leading to several minutes of extreme violence. Seconds before the doomsday device is set off the camera focuses on Eggsey’s best friends, and his mother and little sister – reminding us they will all die if the villian played  by Samuel L. Jackson presses the doomsday button. We care for them, and then we are forced to watch as these characters plus nameless millions attempt to tear each other limb from limb with whatever they can find. Overhead shot after overhead shot shows the hordes of angry men, women and children attack and claw and kill from afar. It was unnecessary and did nothing to endeer me to the Kingsmen agency, who at this moment in the movie are joking and attempting a comedic take at James Bond antics.


The difference between James Bond and the Kingsmen is in a James Bond movie, you never see blood and the villains never win. Bond movies can be slow and tedious and I appreciate Kingsmen’s attempt at creating an explosion filled romp through the genre. However, the violent and horrific deaths in addition to the large body count due to both good guy and bad guy actions, made me feel sick and hate the Kingsmen. I won’t root for a “good guy” who just wasted time talking to a pretty girl when he should be saving the world. I won’t cheer for the team that just exploded a bunch of world leaders’ heads… even if they were the bad guys. Am I supposed to cheer while Obama’s head explodes into fireworks? Watch the violent murder of enough people get glorified and you start to wonder… why did they do that?


Maybe the filmmakers are geniuses and wanted audiences to feel the Kingsmen organization was to be questioned.  Perhaps the point was for viewers to leave feeling the way I did – uneasy at the celebration a clear abuse of power. Perhaps the film’s purpose was to remind us that if we let people have too much money, too many gadgets, give away too much of our freedom bad things happen.  Or maybe the film was a poor adaptation of yet another Mark Millar comic. I enjoy a dumb action movie as much as anyone, but I don’t know what type of story they wanted to tell with Kingsmen. If it was a Spy thriller, it was too violent. If it was a hero’s journey I didn’t care about the hero. If it was a dumb action movie, it was half-assed. The resulting film is a crass mix of exploding heads, gadgets, booze and civilian deaths.

“Oh, Hey baby wanna ruin a movie in a single scene?”

Feminist Bonus:

There is one final enraging detail of Kingsman. Towards the second act there is a Nordic princess who is imprisoned by the villain for not going along with his evil plan. He says she is too useful to kill… forgets about her for the remainder of the film. This woman sits alone, yelling in a cell beside a dozen other debutantes and diplomats for weeks. And then one day our shining hero, Eggsy comes mid battle and hears her cries. Opening the viewing door to her cell he is taken by her beauty and asks for a kiss if he can free her. She gamely promises to give him more than a kiss if he gets her out. Eggsy has to go stop the villain, so she promises him “sex in the asshole” to do his job and save the world.

This woman is imprisoned in a jail cell, likely malnourished and dehydrated (not to mention shower-less). This non-character is abused just to make sure Eggsy gets some ass-action at the end of the film. I got the distinct impression we were supposed to cheer for him getting to stick it in there. Now that’s just gross. There is nothing wrong with butt sex, the part I’m against is where a character only serves to give it to a questionable hero she doesn’t even know. Yeah, I’m judging this script. I could be reading too much into it, but I got a little sick to my stomach seeing that level of sexual entitlement pushed as an ending on screen. I’m not a fan of this kind of “dude, bro” cinema. It is unnecessary, and should stop. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write an action script where the girl saves the guy and the final scene is her sticking a dildo up his arse… come on, Hollywood you’re down, right?

Rose Marie Fox lives with her pet rabbit monster in sunny Los Angeles. She enjoys improv comedy, making things, cosplay and talking peoples’ ears off. Don’t feed her after midnight.

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“The Breakfast Club” 30th anniversary

One of John Hughes’ most iconic 80’s films turns the big three-oh this month! Originally released in February of 1985, The Breakfast Club is coming back to theaters for limited engagements on March 26th and March 31st. Screening with it will be a featurette with interviews from cast members Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and and John Kapelos as well as film makers Diablo Cody (Juno), Amy Heckerling (Clueless), and Michael Lehmann (Heathers). The Breakfast Club 30th Anniversary Edition will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 10th.
30 years ago, I was out of high school and still trying to piece my life back together after a traumatic event. I needed a distraction, so I went to a movie. A friend of mine was into John Hughes’ films – “Pretty in Pink” was her favorite. She recommended I go see “The Breakfast Club” because she thought I would enjoy it. She was right. I enjoyed it… so much so that I bought tickets to the next three showings and just stayed in the theater, watching it over and over.
When I left the theater, I had Simple Minds stuck in my head singing “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” on a loop, and I decided to take a long walk instead of going directly home. I walked from the theater down the main drag along the beach, and stopped at the beach park across the street from the zoo. (The bonus about growing up in Hawaii is that everything is across the street from the beach.) I sat on the wall, and I felt like life had become so surreal. I had just watched a movie that could have been about my own high school life. And now I was gonna sit on a wall at the beach and reflect for a bit. I knew at least one of these characters personally. They all live inside my head, and I know at least one real person for every personality type represented in this movie.
So there we were in detention, with Principal Verne. A jaded, angry man. He once enjoyed his job as an educator but not anymore. He gives everyone a lecture with the rules – “no talking, no laughing, no sleeping.” He gives them an essay assignment. He wants them to write an essay telling him who they think they are.
Brian Johnson was the “brain” of the group – the “neo-maxi-zoom-dweeb.” He was probably the one most likely to have a comic book collection that included Action #1 in pristine, mint condition. He was also under a lot of academic pressure from his parents. This resulted in Brian’s brief suicidal depression over a failed shop project, and he did something that landed him in Saturday detention.
Andy Clarke was the “sport” of the group. Back in the 80’s (at my school, anyway), a “sport” was someone who was on the track, wrestling, or swim team. A “jock” was someone who was on the baseball, basketball or football team. In today’s vernacular, they would all be “jocks” or just plain athletes. Andy was on the wrestling team, and his father put a lot of pressure on him to win. This resulted in an unfortunate peer pressure situation that Andy didn’t handle well, and he ended up in Saturday detention as well.
Claire Standish was one of the popular girls. Her parents were going through a messy divorce, and she was milking it for all she could get. A spoiled rich kid, she was in detention for skipping class to go shopping.
Allison Reynolds was the “weirdo.” She made a pixie-stick and Cap’n Crunch sandwich (she may have added some Fritos in there too, I couldn’t ever really tell, even after watching it four times in a row on the big screen and countless times on DVD) after tossing her lunch meat up in the air. Like the others, she also had issues – at one point she claimed to be a nymphomaniac. Nobody knew why she was actually in detention until later.
John Bender was the delinquent. He was in detention working off a string of offenses, none of which were ever made clear. What was made clear (“Crys-taaalll!”) was that he would be having 7 more weeks of it. He had a reputation as being the campus bully. It turned out that Bender’s behavior was masking some pretty serious issues at home. At first the group didn’t believe him when he said he was being abused. Then he showed them the scars.
The movie as a whole takes us through a day in detention for these kids. Andy and Claire already knew each other, they ran in the same social circles. Everyone knew who Bender was, he was the campus “waste-oid,” the one all the burners would hang out with. Allison was the loner, and Brian hung out with the math club.
During the course of the movie, the kids get to know a little more about each other, albeit the hard way. They start by insulting and picking on each other. But, they have a common enemy in Principal Verne and they start covering for each other whenever Verne comes in to check on them. At one point, Verne asks if anyone has to go to the lavatory.

The group takes this opportunity to go to Bender’s locker to get his stash. As they are trying to get back to the library undiscovered, they have to duck and hide several times as Verne is roaming the halls too. Bender stuffs his weed in Brian’s pants, and takes off toward the gym to draw Verne away while the group gets back to the library. This works, and Bender is busted in the gym.
Verne locks him in a storage closet. He gets up into the ceiling, and crawls back to the library. When he crashes down through the ceiling tiles, Verne comes in to see what the ruckus was. Bender ducks under the table where Claire is sitting. They all pretend to not know what the ruckus was. When Verne leaves, Bender retrieves his stash from Brian.
The group bonds over Bender’s weed, and they have a melancholy group heart-to-heart, during which Brian, Andy, and Allison reveal the reasons that they are in detention. Brian failed a shop project. Due to pressure from his parents, he felt a deep guilt over it. He brought a flare gun to school, but it was discovered when it went off in his locker.
Andy was under pressure from his dad (a bully of a former athlete, trying to live vicariously through his son) to be a winner – be the popular guy, be the champion wrestler, be everything. He gave in to locker-room peer pressure and taped a hairy kid’s ass cheeks together. He knew it was wrong to do it, and he is now contrite and has many regrets and feels much shame and remorse over it. Allison… simply had nothing better to do.
Brian asks if they will still be friends on Monday. Claire says she doesn’t think so. She tries to justify her answer by attempting to explain how the campus social pecking order works, but the group isn’t buying it. They all promise each other that they won’t treat each other like how the rest of the school treats them – like freaks.
That scene was probably the most emotionally painful scene of the whole movie for me, because the opportunity for them to lay it all on the table was there. The thing that hurt the most for me was that this kind of soul-baring moment did happen more than once for my group of friends (without the weed), and yet not a single one of us realized the significance of it. In fact it all just ended up being empty words. So my pain was for the loss of what I felt could have been truly defining moments, however fleeting, for my group of friends.
Bender crawls back to his storage closet, and Claire gives Allison a makeover. Then she goes to make out with Bender in the storage closet. By the end of the day, Allison and Andy have paired off as well. They have all talked Brian into writing a single essay for Verne from all of them, and it goes something like this:

Raven Knighte is an avid movie, TV, and cosplay fan.
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