How to fix Man of Steel’s ending

(Warning: This post focuses on the ending to the recently released Man of Steel. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t be an idiot and continue reading because obviously there will be spoilers.) 

Man of Steel, the first Superman film in seven years, finally came out last Friday after nearly a year of teasers and hype-building. The end result of a collaboration between Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, and David Goyer, the film gets a lot right: we see an interesting take on the Fortress of Solitude and the presence of Jor-El in Superman’s life, a cast of strong female characters that don’t simply scream at every explosion (Pepper Potts, I’m looking at you – how many times in the Iron Man series has she screamed “TONY!”?), and a fleshed-out backstory of Superman growing up feeling like an outsider. Clark’s powers manifesting as autism-like symptoms was brilliant in this regard.

But the movie also got a lot wrong. As much as I love the guy, Michael Shannon was terrible as General Zod. The eye-bulging, rage-mode screaming can only carry a villain so far before it wears thin. The flashbacks to Clark’s childhood could have been executed better – it was blatantly obvious that Clark pushed that bus out of the water, and how did Pete get out of the bus for Clark to have to save him anyway? I won’t even get into how odd it seemed that Zod and company had all of Clark’s powers after less than 24 hours on Earth. These complaints are relatively minor compared to the problems facing the final thirty minutes.

As mentioned in basically every review on the web, the final battle between Superman and Zod took way too long and deviated way too much from the character in order to give the audience a massive, city-destroying battle. It’s absurd to show Superman killing to save a handful of people when the destruction wrought in the fist-fight moments before likely killed dozens of innocent bystanders.

Here’s how you fix the ending to Man of Steel in a way that reduces the total length of the film without taking away the badass fight scene: replace the giant Kyptonian ice-snakes at the World Engine with Zod. It makes logical sense: have Faora and the other Zod minions protect the main ship, have Zod protect the very machine that will turn Earth into Krypton, Zod’s stated one-and-only goal

This allows Superman and Zod to fight as hard as they want and not put any civilians in danger, which fits better with Clark’s M.O. for most of the movie. It would let Zod disappear without Superman having to kill him: just give us some BS about the two machines being sucked into the Phantom Zone at the same time because they’re synced up. I’d buy it. 

It also allows for a throwback to the original 1978 Superman. As the hole to the Phantom Zone opens, Clark hears Lois Lane on the other side of the Earth getting pulled in from her end. He flies faster than ever to go save her. Here, we insert some voice-over from Jor-El, along the lines of “The only way to see just how powerful you’ve become is to keep pushing yourself” and “You can save her.” This would make fans of the Reeves Superman a little bit more content with the reboot and make him saving her more impressive – no one thought he might fail when he was starting from a few hundred meters away.

If you’ve got any comments or other ideas about how things should have gone down, I’d love to hear them. Hit me up, I’m @kylebrussell on Twitter.

Dan Harmon likens Community‘s fourth season to rape

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Pajiba:

He also relayed a story about how he called Bill Murray afterwards (Murray, famously, doesn’t have an agent; he has a 1-800 number where people leave their pitches). Harmon basically just called to say, “I just watched season four. Call me back.” Harmon had wanted Murray to play Jeff Winger’s Dad. (He named Jeff Winger after Murray’s character in Stripes), and he was disappointed that the opportunity had been taken away from him.

It’s like “being held down and watching your family be raped at a beach. It’s liberating! It makes you focus on what’s important.”

Harmon has since expressed regret for the comment.

This is no new tale to tell in the Hollywood pantheon, of course. Daniel Tosh is a recent, inflammatory example; Chris Brown and Sean Penn briefly came under scrutiny for far worse. What continues to boggle my mind, however, is the lack of recrimination for their misdeeds. All three of these men have continued and will continue to enjoy careers of considerable richness, as Dan Harmon surely will now that Sony’s plans for a fifth season of Community are firmly rooted. The entertainment industry is singular in that you can be as foul a person as you want and, short of murder or actual rape, you’ll usually be able to keep your job as long as your work remains profitable and/or quality.

For most audiences, moving past matters like this is a question of separating the art from the artist, a fraught but generally easy process. Likewise, this quote will probably be viewed by the majority as a typical case of verbal runoff from a notorious showbiz grouch. Harmon bleeds inextricably into his work, however, and Community has soured further with each report of behind-the-scenes drama. Can anyone enjoy Chevy Chase in the show’s recent seasons, aware of the tension between him and Harmon during shooting? When a creative project is so informed by the demeanor and nature of its creator, incidents like this only become harder to ignore.

Community‘s fourth season was awful, by and large, but it doesn’t merit a lighthearted treatment of rape to describe something as silly as a bad season of television. Likewise, Harmon has the right to say whatever he pleases in the confines of a personal podcast (as does Tosh, to the chagrin of any parties with good taste). In doing so, he should also recognize that as a public figure, his words and actions reflect upon both himself and, if only for a time, the work he produces. There is a way for him to draw his point against the soulless Sony machine without dragging a traumatic issue into a comedic forum. A melodramatic, off-base proclamation is not the way, and it is unfortunate that such comments will continue to be roundly ignored by Harmon’s fanbase. Unstable artists will be unstable artists, no matter who they hurt.

Drew Byrd-Smith – drewbyrd.blogspot.com

Netflix’s next market: children

Netflix signs exclusive deal for over 300 hours of original DreamWorks Animation content:

Netflix is to create new shows based on characters from DreamWorks’ feature films, while the studio will open its Class Media library which it acquired in 2012. Having found success with House of Cards and a new series of Arrested Development, Netflix is now looking to children’s shows in order to expand its content selection and cater for one of its most important demographics — although there is no word on whether we will see a new Shrek show or Kung Fu Panda mini-series.

Last year, the company announced it had signed an exclusive deal to bring content from Disney, Marvel, and Pixar movies to the service. Today’s announcement means it now has the two biggest animation studios on board. Netflix will begin airing its original series in 2014, adding animated movies The Croods, Turbo, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman at the same time.

There’s already a ton of kid-friendly content available on Netflix, but having exclusive rights to hundreds of hours of animation from Disney and DreamWorks that has none of the commercials on Disney/Nickelodeon/Cartoon Network basically makes it the most attractive option for parents looking to keep their kids entertained.

Surprise: LinkedIn doing well as a publishing platform

Sharing Business Insights, LinkedIn Builds Its Publishing Presence:

But Daniel Roth, the executive editor of LinkedIn, said that Influencers is catnip to executive-suite aspirants and is transforming viewer engagement on the site. Visitors viewed 63 percent more pages in the first quarter of 2013, ending in May, than they did in the quarter a year earlier, according to the earnings report. Mr. Roth said traffic to all its news products had increased eightfold since Influencers was introduced, although he would not say from what base it was measured. Top posts routinely record more than 100,000 views, according to the site’s own accounting.

People want to read what Richard Branson and Bill Gates have to say, even if their posts are little more than fluff pieces. Go figure.

Becoming a scientist isn’t an option for most kids

The Path to Being a Scientist Doesn’t Have to Be So Narrow:

Many American students are all but knocked out of the race toward a graduate science degree before their 13th birthday. To get on the advanced math track in high school, you need to complete algebra in the eighth grade. This is standard practice in affluent communities but rare to nonexistent in many low-income schools. Then students must advance through calculus—another subject more available to the privileged—by their senior year of high school. Then they must navigate the complex college admissions process and come up with an increasingly large amount of money to pay tuition. Then they have to slog through huge, impersonal freshman lecture courses that are designed to weed students out. Only then can the few students who remain advance toward science careers.

While I look forward to online classes making higher education more accessible in the coming years, I also worry about the cultural shifts that need to happen if America is going to stay competitive in the future. Parents need to understand the importance of motivating their children to aspire to bigger and better things. That can’t be taught in the classroom alone. 

If a university-level education can be offered for little-to-no-cost to anyone anywhere in the world, we need to make sure that our kids take advantage of that opportunity because at some point, people won’t need to come to America to be successful.

The pros and cons of having an opinion as a journalist

Politics: some / Politics: none. Two ways to excel in political journalism. Neither dominates.:

“None” journalists have certain advantages over their “some” colleagues, but the reverse is also true. If you want to appear equally sympathetic to all potential sources, politics: none is the way to go. If you want to avoid pissing off the maximum number of users, politics: none gets it done. (This has commercial implications. They are obvious.) But: if you’re persuaded that transparency is the better route to trust, politics: some is the better choice. And if you want to attract sources who themselves have a political commitment or have come to a conclusion about matters contested within the political community, being open about your politics can be an advantage. That is the lesson that Glenn Greenwald has been teaching the profession of journalism for the last week. Edward Snowden went to him because of his commitments. This has implications for reporters committed to the “no commitments” style.

The key is to not go too far in either direction.

Being detached and objective is fine, but you don’t want to be so removed from the reality of what you’re reporting on that you go into what Paul Krugman calls “shape of planet blogging” – being so committed to reporting both sides of a story that you’re willing to spread points of view that are wrong or outright lies.

On the other end of the spectrum, don’t be Fox News or MSNBC.

Electric vehicle owners pay $1.14 for the equivalent of a gallon of gas

$1.14 a gallon gas? That’s the equivalent cost for electric vehicles:

A new statistic — the eGallon — will now be calculated monthly by the Department of Energy to gauge the price paid by electric vehicle drivers to go the same distance that a driver of a conventional car will travel, on average, using a gallon of gas.

People who own electric vehicles may already know what they’re paying to fill up, but the agency introduced the new “eGallon” metric to help consumers who are thinking about buying electric vehicles.

Based on the 2012 model year, the department’s analysis concluded that consumers are paying $1.14 a gallon nationally to drive 28.2 miles, the average distance traveled by comparable 2012 non-electric small and medium-size cars.

That $1.14 per eGallon compares with $3.65, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

With leases on electric cars approaching those of gasoline-powered vehicles, electric vehicles are coming ever closer to being the practical option for most drivers. The case is even stronger when you look at the the energy density of next-generation batteries – when electric cars can drive 1000 miles in one go, no one will complain about charging times,

The difficulty of being a landlord in San Francisco

King of My Castle? Yeah, Right :

Then we rented to a man who began as a good neighbor, but who soon became a nuisance — and who eventually became destructive and dangerous. It started one night when the tenant forgot his keys and rang our doorbell at 2 a.m. until we let him in. Then it happened again and again and again.

One afternoon when he locked himself out, we weren’t home. But rather than contact a locksmith, he borrowed a ladder and a sledgehammer from a construction site next door, hopped the backyard fence and tried to smash his way into our building.

After he was discovered, midswing, he said that under San Francisco’s tenants’ rights laws, he was allowed to destroy our property, as long as he fixed it later.

That might sound crazy, but it is a widely held belief among renters here that laws are so tilted in favor of tenants (and against landlords) that renters can get away with any outrageous behavior. Indeed, in a city where 64 percent of residents are renters — and politicians court these voters — the rhetoric from some in City Hall and from tenants’ rights advocates is often vitriolic toward landlords.

This is why there are 10,600 rental units without tenants in San Francsico.

Why There Will Be More Edward Snowdens

Cyrus Nemadi’s “open letter” to the NSA:

Now, what happens when you raise a generation on a steady diet of data, and then try to keep naughty secrets? They’re going to ask questions. They grew up in a world where information was free, and they took advantage of that fact. They learned more about the world around them than could ever be learned in school, and they went online for the answers to the questions their parents and teachers wouldn’t answer. They grew up not just appreciating that information was free, but expecting information to be free.

It gets worse. Not only are you hiring millennials, for whom secrecy is anathema—you’re hiring millennial hackers. And hacking, as you well know, means finding ways of turning technology to serve a purpose other than its intended one. When information isn’t free, these people have the ability and the will to free it.

So the very people whom the NSA (and other top-secret agencies) have to rely upon to conduct their work are the very people who — at least in this generation — are also more likely to divulge the information they gain access to.

Let’s face it: This isn’t going to be the last time your secrets are aired to the public. It’s probably not even going to be the last time this year that your secrets are aired to the public by another Edward Snowden, because you’ve got countless Edward Snowdens on your payroll whose first—not last—instinct is to blow open your information infrastructure.

Maybe that’s why websites like this exist.

Why Republicans don’t brag about their alternative to Obamacare

Unlike Obamacare, what Republicans want really would change health care as we know it:

Republicans have wisely decided to attack Obamacare without committing themselves to an alternative because the alternative would be easy to attack. Ponnuru, for instance, suggests changing the tax code and stripping regulations to create “a market in which almost everyone would be able to purchase relatively cheap, renewable insurance policies that protected them from the risk of catastrophic health expenses.” Telling tens of millions of Americans they’ll lose their insurance that covers basic medical expenses and get bare-bones policies with thousands of dollars in deductibles is not a winning play.