Category Archives: aaron sorkin

Superman Vs. The Elite

Superman Vs. The Elite ~ In the spirit of full disclosure, I need to say I did not like the Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke story this is based on, “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way” from Action Comics #775, but then I didn’t think much of that run, nor of the characters Manchester Black and The Elite either. Sorry, when it comes to Superman, I’m pretty much a traditionalist, although the story did raise a few salient points. I remain unconvinced.

I definitely dug the punk rock pop culture Warhol-ization of the Filmation cartoons from the 1960s mashed up with Curt Swan art of the 1970s for the opening credits sequence. A nice touch. I loved the cartoon at the beginning, the interaction between Lois and Clark, and loved the battle between Superman and the Atomic Skull too, someone really wants me to like this movie. The animation style is a bit odd in places however, Lois most notably stands out as small and sometimes cross-eyed in a bad anime way. That and Superman’s ridiculously huge chin, I mean, he’s not the Tick, ya know?

The gist of the story is Superman is old-fashioned and passé in our world. Why simply capture and imprison a murderous destructive criminal like the Atomic Skull when Superman could so easily rid the world of him. We need a proactive hero, not a reactive hero. Manchester Black and The Elite exploit this when they stop escalating war in Bialya while Superman watches and acts futilely.

Later, after a team-up between our ‘heroes,’ the Elite declare war on the baddies, promising punishment and zero tolerance. Superman is starting to look bad, and in his investigation of his competitors, they are not looking great either, he just can’t prove it. At this point, Lois begins to get annoying. She is less the Margo Lane equal partner and more the Doiby Dickles comic relief. Not cool for this Lois fan.

Speaking of comic relief, I liked the Rush Limbaugh clone doing a Aaron Sorkin style soapbox rant as Superman races to stop the Elite from killing more soldiers in the Bialyan conflict. Superman gets his butt handed to him, when saved by the Elite, and given medical attention at their headquarters, there is even more Sorkin preachiness. On the other hand, I like the preaching provided by Pa Kent. Like Lois should be, his parents are Superman’s rock.

A second battle with the Atomic Skull, this time against both Superman and The Elite, completely turns the tide toward Black against the man of steel. As The Bride would be wont to say, “Is it time for the good guys to win yet?” I liked the movie less and less the more I watched. This was just too much morality play in my comic books for me.

The Newsroom

I love HBO. I think that they, along with the folks at Showtime, AMC, and Starz among others, just make the best television out there. Looking at ratings and award nominations, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that belief. I guess that’s why “The Newsroom” is such a hard pill for me to swallow.

I tried to watch the first season of “The Newsroom” when it aired. I just couldn’t get into it, and once the episodes started to pile up in the DVR, I gave up and resolved to catch up later. It’s hard to start watching a new show. Some things like “Dexter,” “Treme,” and “The Walking Dead” grabbed me immediately from the first moments. Others like “Rome,” “The Wire,” and “Homeland,” all of which I loved/love, took some time to warm up to. “The Newsroom” falls solidly in the latter category, but maybe without so much of the love part.

There’s a lot to like about “The Newsroom.” Jeff Daniels, in the lead as a on-his-way-out newscaster trying something new to stay relevant, is spectacularly selfish. He’s been given something few actors get – a platform on which to act over the top. His supporting cast is amongst one of the best ensembles in television. Dev Patel is someone to watch, and Alison Pill is the real star of the show, definitely watch her. Most of the performances are high caliber, a hallmark of HBO.

The show is a little bit Network, a little bit Broadcast News, with just a touch of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” as well. The problem I have lies behind the scenes, in its creator, Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin belongs to an era and style of television I particularly dislike. Much like David E. Kelley, Sorkin doesn’t just want to entertain audiences, he wants to teach, to preach, to ultimately force feed his opinions into the viewers, whether they like it or not.

Here, in “The Newsroom,” it gets so bad sometimes as though it literally feels as though characters are merely taking turns on an imaginary soapbox than actually having a conversation or debate. It always takes me out of the show, and sometimes it’s painful in its execution. Shame.

Except for that, “The Newsroom” is definitely worth watching, especially for Jeff Daniels, Alison Pill. Dev Patel, and also genre favorite, Oliva Munn. The Bin Laden episode made me cry, and that’s saying a lot. The show is very very good, despite its preachiness, but it is, after all, HBO. Check it out.