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Take Two

By Matt Kamen     July 18, 2006

Brandon Routh as Superman in SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006).
© Warner Bros. Pictures
OK America, it's time we had a talk. We understand you got a bit pissy a couple of hundred years ago about some tea or something but that's all water under the bridge now (or tea in the harbour, if you prefer). Was it really worth you holding a grudge for two centuries until now, when a sizable chunk of the world's pop culture supply is mined in the USA? Do you really need to withhold new movies for weeks, sometimes months at a time? To be fair, we didn't really care before the internet came along. You could hold onto them for as long as you liked and we'd probably only hear about them when the trailers were shown before another movie. Nowadays though, we have to practically wear blinkers when we go online if we want to avoid spoilers, all because you won't give up the grudge over some tea.

'S' Marks The Spot

Take Superman Returns, for example. 28th June in the US. 14th July in the UK. Two and a half weeks of having to avoid the merest mention, else risk having our opinions of it preconceived by reviews or ill-thought out fanboy posts on forums. Even the BBC was out to ruin things for us ahead of time.

Unfortunately, Superman Returns is one of the few movies that we probably should have paid attention to the advance word on. The critical response has been pretty polarised and I have to say, having avoided all spoilers and advance word on the film, I was pretty disappointed. The best way I can think to describe it is that Bryan Singer seemed to have the right level of 'geekness' for X-Men but too much for Superman and he ended up fawning over the material.

The end result for Superman Returns was a movie that was too similar to the Donner/Reeve original by far, in many places lifting dialogue and scene compositions straight from them as if Singer were clamouring after his idols going "Oh! I loved the part where you..." Worse still is the fact that by the end of the film, I disliked most of the main cast deadbeat dad Superman, cheating harridan Lois Lane and felt unsatisfied by the near-total lack of confrontation with the villain. C'mon, it's a Superman film! You don't just leave Lex Luthor running around at the end!

Regardless of my own personal views on the film, it looks to be doing serious business at the UK box office, though not enough that it's likely to knock the almighty Pirates of the Caribbean from the number one position. While figures for this weekend's takings aren't officially known yet, Pirates took £11.5m in its opening weekend, a figure Superman Returns will be hard pressed to beat.

Who got good ratings?

OK, that was an awful header, I admit.

Anyway, last week's finale of Doctor Who season two pulled in an average of 7.72 million viewers with a peak of 8.58 million. This is up from 7.3m average and 7.9m peak who watched last year's season ender. Even more impressive is that 'Doomsday' was the fourth highest rated show that week and the second highest if you discount the two World Cup matches that outperformed it. Unfortunately an episode of trashy soap opera Eastenders scored higher ratings for some unknown reason there truly is no accounting for taste. Most impressive of all is that BBC3's 'Doctor Who Confidential' pulled in 970,100 viewers, and briefly broke the 1m barrier to secure its highest viewing figures ever. Not bad for a show that's only available on digital TV services.

Now the season is over and the ratings are out, I should stop talking about Doctor Who. Well, until the season box is out. Or Torchwood starts. Or the Christmas special. Or... actually, there'll probably be a fair bit of Doctor Who news in the coming months after all.

New DVD picks for 17/07/2006

James Bond - Limited Edition Attache Case

OK, so it's £300 (before online discounts, of course) but this is undoubtedly the ultimate James Bond collection. A silver briefcase containing all twenty Bond films to date, this isn't a light investment but it is one of the most stylish collector's editions I've seen in a long while. For those of you with less extravagant budgets, all of the two-disc special editions in this set are also being released individually for you to pick up at your leisure.

Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU! Volume Four

I know I'm in the minority here but I found this second Full Metal Panic anime to be far more enjoyable than its predecessor. Whereas Full Metal Panic! (note the subtle yet key distinction of the exclamation mark) was an action show with comedic elements, FUMOFFU! is more of a comedy with action elements. As such it's easier to get into and enjoy without needing to know masses about the world or characters and far more enjoyable for it. Volume four is the final disc of the series.

Count Duckula - The Complete First Series

You know, it's a complete travesty that the Americans not content with keeping their own movies for months before showing them to the rest of the world have had a complete first series set of this classic British cartoon for over a year, while we've had to make do with the occasional 'Best of' collection. Thankfully, that injustice is now put to rights with our own release of the vegetarian vampire duck. The extras are interesting a couple of interviews with creators and other behind the scenes footage but for anyone growing up in the 1980s, the real draw will be the nostalgia factor and the deadpan sense of humour.

That's it for this week. Thoughts? Comments? Hatemail? Contact me at mattkamen@gmail.com


Showing items 1 - 3 of 3
xephon 7/18/2006 4:22:42 PM
Oh, come on! One UK show being withheld for a year compared to the UK having to wait for... well, EVERYTHING from the US! Lost, Battlestar Galactica, even the crappy shows like Charmed had a delay before the UK got them. Not a fair argument.
xephon 7/18/2006 6:14:48 PM
And we like Lost. Share our pain. Do you want a hug? :D
smegforbrain 7/19/2006 7:57:37 AM
"yet BBC keeps all of the new episodes of Dr. Who for over a YEAR before allowing them to be seen in the old colonies." The hold out was due to the fact that nobody wanted to air the show in the US until Sci-Fi finally decided to - the release of the DVD box set here in the States was actually delayed several months because Sci-Fi picked up Season 1 at the last minute. Now, what we can really debate is whether the BBC set the price to high and that's why nobody picked it earlier or not. Or, whether the BBC made a mistake in trying to force US stations to purchase the old show along with the new to begin with, before apparently giving up on that tactic and offering the new show only.


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