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This Is Northern New South Wales


With the school holidays – and wet weather – upon us, this one’s going out to all the parents: at the end of their tethers, balding through stress and busting thermometers with a scorching case of cabin fever. Your remedy is at hand, double-strength.


First under the axe comes Man Of Steel, or Superman 1&2: The Accumulative Remake, for all those die-hard Christopher Reeve kids of the ’80s.

This new interpretation takes things back to Ground Zero, opening spectacularly on the planet of Krypton, Jor-El (that’s Superman’s real dad) pleading with governmentaries to authorise  evacuation of the dying planet. They ignore him, the planet blows up and Kal-El (Clark Kent’s real name – wow, how much of a comic nerd am I?!) is sent hurtling through space toward Earth, destiny and a swathe of merchandising cash-cows.


He dons the lycra, meets the girl, saves the world – it’s pretty much as you’d expect in terms of the storyline. But there are two added layers to this rendition of the classic that make it stand apart and out from the crowd of other holiday releases.

First, and most obvious, is the gargantuan special effects budget. This film, if you squint just a little and excuse the entire, computer-animated planet of Krypton, looks real. You really can almost believe that a man is flying, a tank is being hurled through the sky or an entire building is being spared a rubbly, dusty demise by one exquisitely toned set of shoulders.

This is, at least in part, thanks to Zack Snyder, the director responsible for Sucker Punch, 300 and Watchmen. Visually opulent, it doesn’t so much pop off the screen as launch itself mercilessly at the audience, who sit like rabbits in headlights, hypnotised by the impending sensory assault.

The second massive commendation I give Man Of Steel is in its psychological investigation of young Clark Kent’s predicament. It is something that has always been touched on, but in Man Of Steel, Clark teeters on the brink of insanity, admitting to himself if no one else that he is, in fact, an alien and, more than any other pubescent teenager pepped up on hormones, zit cream and cherry cola, he just doesn’t fit in. His surrogate dad tells him, as he has since year dot, to hide his powers, fearing the world will  panic in their lack of understanding and destroy the young Superman. Maybe lost on the kids of the audience, this aspect actually threw a couple of lumps in my throat at times at the teenage superhero’s confusion and distress.

But, however good the story was, however deep the psychologies incorporated, nothing can overcome one simple fact:

Batman is dark, brooding and ice-cool, Spiderman is quirky, witty and mostly just a kid having fun. But Superman, well, Superman will always only ever be a schmuntz with a dodgy quiff and even dodgier tights.

It’s one for the older kids, being M-rated, but the problem is that the older the audience, the more they will realise the gaping chasms in plot and structure. It’s another one of those Avatar-Syndrome, effects-heavy movies with no budget left for scripts and storyline, but pretty enjoyable, if only that pesky, logical, analytical brain would shut the hell up for two hours!


This is the prequel to 2001’s Monsters Inc. and is an absolute scream! (oh man, that was terrible – sorry). Seriously though, Monsters University kicks goals on so many levels.

The storyline is kept very straightforward: the two main characters from the first movie are in their teenage years, at university and trying to gain an education as scarers. They hate each other at the outset, their sly arch nemesis of latter years starting out as nerdy best buddy and roommate. They get kicked out of class, get lumbered with the campus losers, make a deal with the university dean and miraculously win a competition, against all odds, to regain their places and become the campus’ favourite underdogs.

No surprises there, but there really doesn’t need to be. After all, their target audience isn’t exactly the judging panel at the Palm d’Or. It looks luscious, every strand of hair waving in the computer-generated breeze, the digital slime looking gag-inducingly realistic and each movement of every weirdly proportioned character subject to gravity, musculature and interaction. For all its ‘cartooniness’, it looks real.

I took my ten-year-old and my lovely friend’s seven-year-old and, apart from a cringingly loud outburst of “it’s not very 3D is it” mid-performance, both were transfixed and gabbling their own critiques as we left, just two of the flood of sub-five-foot enthusiasts exiting with big smiles and excitement.


For we who can only claim to be kids at heart, it still had plenty to offer. For many, it would definitely evoke memories of halcyon days at uni and those embarrassingly awkward moments of our teenage years. But it also had that Simpsons-esque scripting that slid in the occasional quip that had me rolling in the aisles and my bemused son oblivious to the subliminal references.

It’s one of those films that you know is for kids, you’d never dream of taking your date or mates or partner to watch it but, being a parent or babysitter, you’ll relish the legitimate excuse to go see it. One little hint: make sure you get to the theatre on time – there’s the most beautiful little animation at the start all about a pair of umbrellas who fall in love – definitely worth forfeiting the candy bar for.




Review by: Tommy Leitch – | courtesy of Palace Cinemas. Byron Bay