Superhero movie flashback: ‘Superman’ (1978)

"Superman" (1978) is a product of its time, something that's more evident today when contrasted with the muscular and modern "Man of Steel" (2013). Still, if a viewer puts themselves in the mindset of a 1978 movie-goer, it's clear why this movie is beloved. Indeed, it even rates a 7.3 on IMDB on compared to 7.1 for "MoS."

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Coyote Moon’ (1998)

Written by John Vornholt with only Season 1 to draw from, "Coyote Moon" (January 1998) – the second young-adult novel – is a time capsule of that period before Joss Whedon and his writing team realized they had the actors to pull off an adult show rather than a teen show. But it's a readable and nostalgic time capsule that plays like a low-grade Season 1 episode (although it is set in the following summer).

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In 2013, the controversial ‘Man of Steel’ laid the foundation for the DC Extended Universe

Now a franchise of five films with the addition of "Justice League" this week, the DC Extended Universe launched in 2013 with "Man of Steel." Written by the Dark Knight Trilogy's David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan and directed by "Watchmen's" Zack Snyder, "Man of Steel" attempts to balance everything we love about Superman with a fresh examination of his character and place in the world. Every subsequent DCEU film – despite having a variety of writers and directors -- has followed that formula, to varying degrees of success. Here are three things that have become trademarks of the saga, for better or worse:

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Six dumb things and six cool things about ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (2106) is the epitome of a movie where the end result is less than the sum of its parts. The three-hour Ultimate Edition, when watched at home in about six sittings, is better than the theatrical edition, but it still has problems at its core. It also has some cool stuff – when separated from the movie's overall context. In advance of this weekend's "Justice League," here are six cool things and six dumb things about last year's DC Extended Universe blockbuster:

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Sins of the Father’ (1999)

Did you know that during Season 3, Giles was once tormented by the return of his father as a vampire – something that's even more traumatizing to him than the death of Jenny? One of the odd things about delving into the "Buffy" Expanded Universe is that my brain holds two continuities simultaneously – one is limited to the events of the TV show, and the other incorporates the novels and comics. I tend to default to the first continuity, but Christopher Golden's "Sins of the Father" (November 1999) is a prime example of how the further adventures can be fascinating.

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‘Suicide Squad’ will someday be thought of as an OK movie

For the sake of getting up to date on the DC Extended Universe, I watched "Suicide Squad" (2016), which is now available on HBO. It's the most maligned of the four DCEU movies, rating a 6.2 on IMDB, compared to 6.6 for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," 7.1 for "Man of Steel" and 7.6 for "Wonder Woman." It has some major problems, but I actually connected with the characters faster than I did with Supes or Bats in their DCEU debuts, and I wouldn't mind following this bunch into sequels so I can get to know them better.

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Gal Gadot, explorations of war make ‘Wonder Woman’ a winner

"Wonder Woman" -- now available via Redbox and streaming -- poses the question: What would happen if a superhero was dropped into the middle of a human war? The easy answer is we'd get lots of cool action scenes. In the film's centerpiece spectacle amid the Great War, the Allies and the Germans are entrenched, with 200 yards of no-man's-land between them. The Germans have taken civilians as slave labor. Diana (Gal Gadot) wants to rescue them, but it's tactically impossible – except for the wild-card factor of her superpowers.

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‘Apes’ pre-make trilogy wraps with masterful ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’

Watching "War for the Planet of the Apes" – now available via Redbox and streaming – is like seeing a movie from the future. Every scene has an ape in it; there's never a sense that the filmmakers are being frugal with the special effects, but at the same time, they aren't showing off. While I know the trick is achieved with motion-capture and computer animation, there are moments when I wondered if actual chimpanzees were used (They were not, the web tells me).

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘The Dust Waltz’ (1998) and ‘Ring of Fire’ (2000)

Dark Horse didn't have much doubt about how well its "Buffy" comics would sell. Rather than tiptoeing into the waters, the company released its first graphic novel when the regular title was only up to its second issue. Throughout the "BTVS Classic" period, it released two single-story graphic novels (which I'll review here), plus tons of other miniseries, one-shots and short stories (but those are for another post), in addition to the ongoing "Buffy" and "Angel" series.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘BTVS Classic’ Issues 21-27 (2000)

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer Classic" finds its groove with Issues 21-27 (May-November 2000), ironically a time period when it doesn't have a regular writer (Andi Watson bowed out in Issue 19, and Fassbender/Pascoe start their run in Issue 28). As I noted in my review of the previous batch, novel writer Christopher Golden didn't hit a home run in his first couple efforts, but he shows he's a fast learner on the five-part "Blood of Carthage" (21-25), which has all the best traits of his "Buffy" books along with art by Cliff Richards and Joe Pimental that is growing on me.

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