‘Smallville’ opened door for comic book-inspired TV shows

Rick's Reviews

Kristin Kreuk (left), Tom Welling (center) and Michael Rosenbaum star in “Smallville.” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Fans of films and TV shows based on comic book characters have several new entertainment options on DVD and Blu-ray.

“Smallville: The Complete Series 20th Anniversary” Grade 4 stars: Those who are fans of all the comic book-inspired television programs that are on the networks, cable channels and streaming services owe a great debt of gratitude to this series. The Emmy-winning program created the blueprint for all of the programs in the genre that has followed from “The Flash” to “The Boys.”

The team behind “Smallville” opted not to make another series based on a comic book character where the fight for truth and justice dominated the stories. Their approach to “Smallville” was that Clark Kent (Tom Welling) was a teenager with special needs.

They promised from the start there would be no flights and no tights. That was the case until the series finale.

Instead, “Smallville” focused on the power of family, the confusion of young love, the struggle to deal with feeling different and the importance of brain over brawn. That’s the blueprint that has influenced so many programs in the genre.

Even the way it was cast created a pattern for future shows. Welling was not well known when he stepped into the role of the visitor from Krypton but that served the character well. Welling would be at his strongest when working with the people who played his Earth parents – John Schneider and Annette O’Toole.

Schneider brought to life the Pa Kent of the comics while O’Toole was a great link between the TV series and the “Superman” feature films. Other great casting includes Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang and Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor.

Another bonus of owning the set of 218 episodes plus bonus material is the chance to see all of the strong guest stars that includes Terence Stamp, James Marsters, Michael McKean, Jane Seymour, Brian Austin Green, Pam Grier, Helen Slater, Julian Sands, Rutger Hauer and Christopher Reeve. 

All of this makes “Smallville” as entertaining as it is groundbreaking.

“Old” Grade ½ star: The latest offering from writer/director/producer/actor M. Night Shyamalan starts with an interesting idea. But, there are no real scares and the ending would have to improve just to be considered merely blah. Let’s face it. The last time Shyamalan put a clever twist in his film was 22 years ago with “The Sixth Sense.”

The idea of everyone on a beach rapid aging is solid as it plays into anyone who fears getting older. It also sets up some interesting possibilities with the children as they grow into hormone-driven teens in a blink.

Such a story idea would have worked in an anthology show format where the idea and conclusion come within a 30-minute package. Shyamalan’s efforts to stretch this into 108 minutes leaves far too many dull lapses.

“Joe Bell” Grade” 3 stars: Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) is an Oregon father who sets out to walk across the United States to reach New York as a way of paying tribute to his son. It is Bell’s intention to draw attention to bullying as he stops in small towns speaking to any groups who will listen to his story.

Although the trip was real, the film uses Bell’s long walk as a metaphor to show the journey the grieving father must take to find his own peace. He says this is a trek for his son but in reality is the only way he can face the demons of hatred that have taken over his life.

The film is based on the true story of the unimaginable horrible consequences that are the manifestation of relentless bullying. The production would have been strong if it had focused on such hot-button issues such as the lack of training in schools to handle such issues. But, director Reinaldo Marcus Green opted to focus more on the personal story than the political elements.

Also new on DVD and Blu-ray as of Oct. 19

“Injustice”: An unthinkable tragedy propels Superman into a dangerous new mindset, ultimately pitting Justice League members against each other.

“Superman & Lois: Complete First Season”: The CW series looks at what happens when a married Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) move to Smallville with their two sons.

“The Night House”: Widow discovers disturbing facts about her dead husband.

“Fear PHarm 2”: Melanie (Tiana Tuttle) discovers she is being held hostage by the Walker family after fighting for her life within a corn field maze and trying to outrun a number of murderous psychos.

“Needle in a Timestack”: Couple (Leslie Odom, Jr., Cynthia Erivo) live in marital bliss until Janine’s ex-husband (Orlando Bloom) warps time to try to tear them apart.

 “Whitetail”: A broken family goes on a weekend hunting trip out in West Texas.

“Land Girls: The Complete Collection”: A look at the lives, loves, highs, and lows of members of the Women’s Land Army working at the Hoxley Estate during World War II. 

“Badland Doves”: Young woman (Jessica Y. Martin) who is the only survivor of a grizzly attack seeks revenge. 

Available through digital platforms

“The Lockdown Hauntings”: An unwelcome visitor shows up in a house that is on total lockdown. Tony Todd stars.

“Mothers of the Revolution”: Documentary looks at how on Sept. 5, 1981 a group of women came together to change the world.

“Mandibles”: Two friends embark on the biggest adventure to happen during their friendship.

“Runt”: Group of neglected high-school seniors are pulled into a downward cycle of violence when the adults in their lives fail them.

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