For Superman Fans – see Superman II the Ricard Donner Cut

The last movie the Netflix gods delivered unto me was, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.  I moved it to the top of our queue after catching Superman – The Movie on HD Movies, twice.  I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t really review these movies super-critically.  When the movie came out originally in 1978/79, we still lived in Bolivia and I must have been four years old when I saw it.  I remember going to the movie theatre distinctly, its my earliest memory – I distinctly remember my dad buying the tickets, running into a friend of his in line, and then I remember him reading the subtitles for me when Pa’ Kent is lecturing a young Clark after showing off his super speed.

Please belive me when I tell you that Richard Donner’s cut of Superman II blows the orginal away.  Its not just an "extended edition" type release with 10 more minutes of Superman flying around here and there.  Donner had been filming Superman I and II, simultaneosly since it was written as a two movie story arc, and had shot a staggering amount of footage that ended up being archived away.  This is a wholly different, more serious, and more coherent movie than the original.   Gone are the campy jokes and one liners, the magic kiss of forgetfullness at the end, replaced with never before seen footage and a more serious treatment of the material, particularly the romance between Superman and Lois.  It’s definitely a movie I recommend, both if you enjoy comic book movies or have fond memories of the original.

Why is this version so different and have to be made?

Following the release of Superman in December 1978, it was widely assumed that Donner would be re-called to complete the remainder of the sequel. However, a number of events led to Donner’s eventual replacement as director of the movie. Most importantly, the producers (Alexander and Ilya Salkind) announced that Marlon Brando’s completed scenes for Superman II would be excised from the movie in order to prevent them having to pay the actor the reported 11.75%[1] of gross U.S. box-office takings he was now demanding for his performance in the sequel. Donner publicly lambasted this decision, announcing that he would make the film his way or not at all. The April 1978 issue of the sci-fi magazine Starburst quotes Donner as saying, "That means no games…They have to want me to do it. It has to be on my terms and I don’t mean financially. I mean control."

Playing divx avi files on an Apple Mac

For a while now, digital cameras have been able to record movies along with just taking photographs.  Camera vendors use different video codecs to compress and save the video you take.  Common codecs include one of Apple’s quicktime codecs (usually saved as a .mov file) and a variety of codecs with the .avi extension.  AVI files are commonly associated with Windows Media Player.  To make the situation more confusing, movies encoded with the popular DivX codec might be saved by your camera as a. .avi file.  Unfortunately, if you’re a Mac owner, if your .avi movies won’t playback, its likely that you need to install DivX.

The X Lab has a whole page on why some .avi files may not play on Max OS X, and suggestiong for how to play them.

To further confuse the issue, many DivX-encoded files carry the .avi extension. QuickTime does not include native DivX® support, even though QuickTime 6 and later support the ISO Standard MPEG-4 media compression format and DivX is based on the MPEG-4 standard.

DivX also makes their codec available as a free download, and it can be used from any application with QuickTime exporting capabilities.

Play DivX videos in QuickTime, Front Row and many other 3rd party media players

If installing the codec solves this problem for you, please leave a comment to let me know!

TIVO, ReplayTV: Pay-per-view content will be restricted

From: MercuryNews.com | 09/09/2004 | TiVo, ReplayTV agree to limits. How many people order pay-per-view, especially for movies? The last time I ordered PPV, I can barely remember. I think it was a friendly between the USA and Chile back in 1999…

The new technology also will allow Hollywood movie studios and broadcasters to regulate how often movies purchased through pay-for-view services can be watched. Digital video recorders that recognize these new copy restrictions will begin appearing in the spring of 2005. But it could be years before entertainment companies begin to take advantage of the technology, according to ReplayTV President Bernie Sepaniak.

Blatant TiVo crowing

Rumors that Tivo and Netflix might partner together to deliver DVD’s over broadband have me intrigued. The idea of getting movies delivered via broadband appeals to the lazy slob in me but the technophile who invested in an HD capable projector and progressive-scan DVD player wouldn’t want to watch any movie coming out of the current, standard definition TiVO boxes. There’s probably a lot more to this story, not the least of which, I suspect, is that this would be a feature of 3rd generation Tivo’s.

On to the crowing, with Java Home Media Server I’ve found that my TiVo becomes more than just a fancy DVR. It has come in handy recently when we’ve wanted to show off some digital pictures in the comfort of our living room. Another very neat feature I discovered is the ability for it to serve as a proxy for shoutcast mp3 streams. That alone has opened up some channels for finding new music to listen to at home.

SWAT Review

I’ve been meaning to write a review of the movie SWAT since I saw it last weekend. Overall it was a good summer action movie without any noticeable slow parts. The cast was good, although not full of too many known actors. Colin Ferrel did an excellent job as the SWAT officer who lives and breates what he works. Samuel Jackson was his usual cool and funny, ass-kicking self.

My favorite part of the movie had to be the scene where my Latino brothers from East L.A and the brothers from Compton come together – with enough firepower to equip the standing army of the Netherlands, I might add – to assualt the SWAT trucks carrying the movie’s villain to a federal prison. The moral of that segment must be that there can be racial harmony when it comes to liberating a French drug kingpin from the clutches of the US Government.