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Franchise fizzle?

Successful Superman reboot proves elusive with limp ‘Man of Steel’

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Henry Cavill as Superman in 'Man of Steel.' (Photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

Henry Cavill as Superman in ‘Man of Steel.’ (Photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

In a 21st-century dominated by multi-dimensional heroes like Batman and Iron Man, the Superman franchise conjures up feelings of all-American nostalgia more than anything. Zack Snyder, director of “Man of Steel,” attempts to depart from this in his summer blockbuster, but does not replace it with anything more substantial leaving us essentially with another explosion extravaganza but little else.

Henry Cavill is a promising actor, but his performance as the extra-terrestrial from Krypton is not for one second believable. Cavill seems most comfortable during the beginning of the film, which due to production by Christopher Nolan (who also did the “Batman” franchise), is a lengthy and morose sequence of fragmented scenes that document Clark Kent’s self-discovery. Nolan’s influence makes Superman’s clearly demarcated sense of good and evil feel unnatural and all too simple.

Cavill brings too much rugged sex appeal to the role, making him more reminiscent of Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine in “X-Men” than of someone who would wear a red cape in all seriousness.

It’s a tough role to pull off — while Brandon Routh in 2006’s “Superman Returns” arguably captured the role better with his more innocent approach, it clearly wasn’t strong enough to have led to a successful franchise. Cavill is intriguing, dynamic and has undeniable charisma, yet it feels like he’s holding back as the script gives him little to work with in terms of characterization or complexity. While Cavill’s performance leaves some things to be desired, he isn’t ultimately to blame for the film’s shortcomings.

“Man of Steel” opens with a home-birth on Krypton as the planet is self-destructing. Russell Crowe goes through the motions as Jor-El, baby Kal-El’s father, who rockets his son to Kansas to preserve his race. General Zod (Michael Shannon) is introduced as the film’s forgettable villain as he attempts to steal Krypton’s Codex — a log of the planet’s genetic information — from Kal-El, which remains a theme for the entirety of the movie as Zod threatens to reconfigure earth into a new Krypton at humanity’s expense.

Unfortunately, the dialogue in “Man of Steel” is as melodramatic and bland on earth as it is on Krypton. (The film’s writer, David S. Goyer, clearly is not afraid of clichés.) For the first hour, scenes jump from school buses and cornfields in Kansas to Arctic tundra with little context given, and some sort of loud catastrophe quickly interrupts any conversation that seems like it will reveal something about the characters.

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner do a perfectly satisfactory job as Clark Kent’s adoptive parents. Amy Adams, however, never seems invested in her role as reporter and love interest, Lois Lane. Adams practically sleepwalks through life or death scenes, and her kiss with Clark Kent toward the end of the movie is awkward and forced. It’s not that Adams and Cavill lack the ability to portray a believable romance; they simply do not have the script to do so, even though “Man of Steel” is an origins story that should make the audience feel attached to its characters.

The majority of the film feels like a confusing dream of drawn-out action scenes. It becomes all too easy to forget who is fighting whom, and for what reason, as Cavill darts through the air. “Man of Steel’s” shining moments are the interspersed scenes of Superman’s childhood, with a young Clark Kent played by Dylan Sprayberry and Cooper Timberline. Both actors do a fine job capturing Kent’s teen angst, sense of alienation and repressed desire to use his powers for good in a world that would not accept him.

Even though “Man of Steel” is a long 143 minutes, it goes by quickly, perhaps due to Hans Zimmer’s overpowering score and the confusion caused by Snyder’s non-linear plot. In the film’s defense, it’s difficult to create a Superman story that appeals to contemporary America. Superman’s unwavering sense of right and wrong fit so well during the Cold War, but now his narrative seems naive with more widespread recognition of the country’s internal issues and fear that its global supremacy is waning.

“Man of Steel” ends with the promise of a sequel as Cavill puts on Clark Kent’s endearingly nerdy glasses. Perhaps without the need to jumble together a creation story, it’s more likely Snyder will pull off a sequel should this chapter’s box office take justify it.

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Arts & Entertainment

Rapper DaBaby pulled by Lollapalooza over homophobic comments

“Lollapalooza was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect, and love. With that in mind, DaBaby will no longer be performing.”

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Screenshot from Rolling Stone Magazine's YouTube Channel

CHICAGO – In an announcement Sunday morning, the organizers of Chicago’s Lollapalooza Music Festival said they had pulled artist DaBaby from tonight’s closing show after a series of public homophobic remarks by the rapper last weekend in Miami at the Rolling Loud music festival.

On Twitter Lollapalooza officials wrote; “Lollapalooza was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect, and love. With that in mind, DaBaby will no longer be performing at Grant Park tonight.  Young Thug will now perform at 9:00pm on the Bud Light Seltzer Stage, and G Herbo will perform at 4:00pm on the T-Mobile Stage.”

The Grammy-nominated rapper’s comments onstage at the Miami festival last weekend brought swift condemnation from other artists in the music industry including British Rockstar Elton John and Madonna among many others.

In the middle of his set last weekend in Miami the rapper told the crowd, “If you didn’t show up today with HIV/AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases, that’ll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cellphone lighter up! Ladies, if your pussy smell like water, put your cellphone lighter up! Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up!”

DaBaby later issued an apology via Twitter that read, “Anybody who done ever been effected by AIDS/HIV y’all got the right to be upset, what I said was insensitive even though I have no intentions on offending anybody. So my apologies” However, the addendum in the same tweet of; “But the LGBT community… I ain’t trippin on y’all, do you. y’all business is y’all business.” was immediately decried as further proof of the rapper’s intolerance of the LGBTQ community.

Michael J. Stern, a Los Angeles attorney and a former federal prosecutor who is now a noted featured columnist for USA Today blasted DaBaby’s ‘apology;’

In his response to Dababy’s remarks Elton John, who founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, a nonprofit organization which funds frontline partners to prevent infections, fight stigma and provide care for the most vulnerable groups affected by HIV, responded in a lengthy series of tweets:

Madonna took to her Instagram telling the rapper to “know your facts,” before spreading misinformation. 

“AIDs is not transmitted by standing next to someone in a crowd,” she wrote on Instagram. “I want to put my cellphone lighter up and pray for your ignorance, No one dies of AIDS in 2 or 3 weeks anymore. Thank God.”

This year’s Lollapalooza festival, which is one of the first major festivals to return in full force since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, concludes Sunday with headlining performances by musical acts Brockhampton, the Foo Fighters, and Modest Mouse.

Dua Lipa ‘Horrified’ at DaBaby’s Homophobic Remarks at Rolling Loud | RS News 7/28/21

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Sports

IOC: ‘Trans Women Are Women’ Laurel Hubbard set to make sports history

Laurel Hubbard is set to make sports history on Monday and the International Olympic Committee clearly has her back

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Screenshot via CBS Sports

TOKYO – The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee praised weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s “courage and tenacity” as she prepares for her upcoming competition as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. 

In speaking to reporters in Tokyo Thursday, Dr. Richard Budgett directly addressed those who have attacked and mocked the 43-year-old New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Hubbard herself has not made any public comments except for a statement following her qualifying for the Summer Games, saying she was “humbled” by the support which had helped her “through the darkness” following a near career-ending injury in Australia in 2018.

Reports around the world have claimed Hubbard is the first trans Olympic athlete, which is actually not the case. As the Los Angeles Blade has reported, Quinn, a trans nonbinary soccer midfielder for Team Canada, last Wednesday became the first out trans athlete ever to complete in the Olympic Games. They posted about it on Instagram, saying, “I feel proud seeing ‘Quinn’ up on the lineup and on my accreditation. I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of the world.”

The IOC is expected to review and likely revise its policies on transgender participation following Tokyo. Trans athlete and researcher Joanna Harper, who has advised the organization and other sports policy groups, told the Los Angeles Blade her recommendation will be for the IOC to continue to regulate trans athletes sport-by-sport. “There shouldn’t be a one-size fits all policy,” said Harper. 

She also noted how the mainstream cisgender media is consumed with coverage of Hubbard and missing out on the bigger picture, and what it will mean for the next generation watching on TV and online. 
“The lack of attention paid to Quinn and to Chelsea Wolfe has been interesting,” said Harper.

“A few news outlets have commented on their presence in Tokyo and in Quinn’s case the comments have been mostly favorable. On the other hand, the storm of mostly negative press heaped on Laurel Hubbard has been disappointing, although predictable. I hope that the negative press that Laurel has gotten won’t dissuade young trans athletes from following their dreams. I think that the next trans woman to compete in the games will get less negative press, and eventually (although probably not in my life) there will come a time when trans women in sport generate little or no controversy.”

Hubbard issued a statement Friday via the New Zealand Olympic Committee in which she said: “The Olympic Games are a global celebration of our hopes, our ideals and our values. I commend the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible.”

According to a French news outlet, NZOC spokesperson Ashley Abbott told reporters the committee had seen a “particularly high level of interest” in Hubbard’s Olympic debut, and much of it has been negative.

“Certainly we have seen a groundswell of comment about it and a lot of it is inappropriate,” Abbott said. “Our view is that we’ve got a culture of manaaki (inclusion) and it’s our role to support all eligible athletes on our team. In terms of social media, we won’t be engaging in any kind of negative debate.”

Abbott reminded the media that the NZOC’s job was to support its athletes, including Hubbard. “We all need to remember that there’s a person behind all these technical questions,” she said. “As an organization we would look to shield our athlete, or any athlete, from anything negative in the social media space. We don’t condone cyberbullying in any way.”

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Arts & Entertainment

LGBTQ+ ally Jamie Lee Curtis reveals her 25-year-old child is Trans

Curtis and her husband Christopher Guest, British screenwriter, composer, musician, director, and actor have two daughters.

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Screenshot via Page 6 YouTube channel

LOS ANGELES – In a new interview with the American Association of Retired Persons’ magazine, Golden Globe and BAFTA winning actress Jamie Lee Curtis disclosed that her youngest child is transgender. In the interview Curtis reflected that she has “watched in wonder and pride as our son became our daughter Ruby.”

Curtis and her husband Christopher Guest, British screenwriter, composer, musician, director, and actor have two daughters. Ruby, 25, works as a computer gaming editor while Curtis and Guest’s 34-year-old daughter, Annie, is married and works as a dance instructor. Curtis also noted that Ruby and her fiancé are getting married next year in a wedding that Curtis will officiate.

The longtime Hollywood couple have been married for more than 36 years but have no grandchildren, “but I do hope to,” she told the magazine.

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