The Glass House


Viewed – 25 June 2014  Netflix

I thought I’d get back into some Netflix viewing, and so we come to this more interesting choice.  Leelee Sobieski (er… Eyes Wide Shut?) plays a teenage girl who along with her younger brother, are orphaned when their parents die in a car crash.  They are then taken in by their parent’s wealthy friends, the Glass’s, played by Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgård, who may or may not be what they appear to be.

glass house

Typical psychological thriller territory is livened up by a strong lead performance from Sobieski who proves a likable and believable traumatised teen trying to figure out just what the sinister behaviour of her guardians is all about.  The story isn’t all that much, and holds few genuine surprises, but with good support from Bruce Dern as the kids attorney, a good pace and decent direction … I couldn’t say I was bored.  The young actor playing the little brother was no more than a walking cliché and didn’t seem to go to school (he just played videogames and said ‘cool’ or ‘sweet’ a lot), but Skarsgård, one of those actors that has always been great at being shady, doesn’t disappoint.

For those looking for a fun, if tame evening’s entertainment with some good performances and a few nail biting moments… this is worth a look.  It does nothing particularly special but doesn’t do much wrong either.

Verdict:  3 /5

Man of Steel


Viewed – 18 June 2013  Cinema

Following the huge disappointment of Brian Singer’s Superman Returns, fans and critics alike have been right to think the series was dead in the water, again.  Thankfully, I have been quite optimistic on just how this latest interpretation of one of the most famed superhero characters ever might turn out – mainly because Zack Snyder was directing.  Overseen by producer Christopher Nolan and writer David S Goyer (the team behind the Dark Knight movies) – and with the man who brought Watchmen to the big screen – really, could this fail?

Man-of-Steel

Inspired by the story of Superman: The Movie (1979) and the comics before it we start on the gradually dying planet of Krypton where Jor-El (Russell Crowe) launches his only child into space after General Zod (Michael Shannon) attempts to rage war.  Yet once baby boy Kal-El (superman) is gone, Zod is trialed for treason and sentenced to the phantom zone along with his cronies.  Cut to about 30 years later on earth, and Kal-El is now Clark Kent, raised by Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, but yearns to find out his true origins whilst struggling to hide from the world who he really is.

From the off this is an energetic and confident movie full of spectacle and solid performances, especially from scene-stealing Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire).  Casting here is what impresses most with a surprising but perfect Crowe nailing the part of Jor-El and also an enjoyably feisty (and gorgeous) Amy Adams as Superman’s love-interest Lois Lane.  Snyder’s direction whilst at times lacking in subtlety like a mad professor drunk on his own power (or wealth of effects tools) still delivers probably the best Superman movie we could hope for in this age of anything-is-possible CGI.  The action is loud, brash, mad-as-hell but most importantly FUN, and with an interesting structure (Clark’s childhood / teenage years is shown only in brief flashbacks) and lots of welcome ideas (Clark overwhelmed by his powers, more back story of Krypton) … this fan-boy couldn’t have had a bigger grin on his face.  Of course the big question remains just how good was Henry Cavill as Kal-El / Clark Kent?  Well, if memories of the late (great) Christopher Reeve didn’t even come to mind, then instantly he’s doing something right – he had the charisma, the vulnerability and the looks, so yeah job done – and ladies, prepare to swoon big time!

There you have it … Superman returns – for real this time!

Verdict:  5 /5