Smallville Review – Pilot Movie

The “pilot movie” edit of the first two episodes was
released as a DVD yesterday. (Note: it’s only
available in Canada or from Canadian retailers.) The
weekly reviews of new episodes will start with season
two this fall.

Cast and Crew

Clark Kent

Lana Lang

as Lex Luthor


as Whitney Fordman

Jones III
Pete Ross

Chloe Sullivan

as Martha Kent

as Jonathan Kent

Part 1 was directed by David
. Part 2 was directed by two others whose
names I missed
that aren’t listed on the IMDB.

Written by series creators and executive producers Alfred
and Miles

Original Airdate

The pilot episode was originally broadcast on October
16, 2001.
Metamorphosis was originally broadcast on
October 23, 2001.
The two were edited together into a single
movie-length presentation a
few months later for broadcasts on other networks.
It is the combined
edit that can be found on this DVD.


Clark Kent is beginning to realize how truly
different he is from the
rest of the population. He is strong, fast, and nigh
He’s also beginning to put those abilities to use
while trying to lead
the most normal possible life.

High Point

The cinematography and production design. There’s a
lot to love about
this show, but those two elements really made this
feel like a comic
book world come to life. The entire town is loaded
with vibrant,
primary colours that look fantastic and set the mood

Low Point

Speaking to dead people is one thing. Having trite
conversations with
them is something else entirely.

The Review

When grading the originality, I’ll try to
forget the idea for
a series about a young Bruce Wayne that was pitched
to the WB and
rejected a few months before this went into
production. On its own,
it’s not terrible, but it’s using somebody else’s
property that’s had
a lot of mileage. I’ve been a Marvel man for my
comic-reading life,
so I don’t know how many of the comic book storylines
have come to the
screen. What I do know is that the villains in this
movie are
remarkably similar to Elektro and Spider-Man. The
rest of the teenage
interactions were also very similar to that other
show the WB had
about a high school kid with superpowers.
Fortunately, this doesn’t
always feel like Spider-Man or Buffy in and other
ways. The pilot
movie got the series off to a great start. I give it
3 out of 6.

The effects are usually very good. The duel
with Jeremy
looked like special effects on a low budget, and the
camera shots
setting up the car on its way to Clark didn’t look
convincing to me.
That could be because they were made on the same
budget as the meteor
storm that kicks the pilot off to a great start.
That had some of the
best effects the small screen has ever seen. I give
the effects 5 out
of 6 for doing a fantastic job on a TV pilot.

The story reminded me again of Spider-Man.
In that
comic’s early
, the villains would come and go each
month, but Peter’s
personal life would keep moving from issue to issue.
That’s the way
this two-part movie felt. Half way through, the
camera pans to the
stars, spins around, and then drops back down and
just keeps going.
When this was broadcast in two different episodes,
that did a nice job
of reminding the viewers in the second week where the
first week left
off. In this format, it’s a useless camera move that
forms a division
in the show that marks the departure of one villain
and the
introduction of a second one. The show feels that
division the whole
way. The villains are just there for Clark to fight.
The first made
no mark on Clark’s personal life, while the second
had only a slight
impact. The personal life was very well done, but
the supervillain
bits were weak, especially in Jeremy’s case. I give
the story 4 out
of 6.

The acting is surprisingly good from a set
of young,
inexperienced actors. Michael Rosenbaum, John
Schneider, and Annette
O’Toole are all excellent. Sam Jones III, Allison
Mack, and Eric
Johnson were good, but had very little to do. Tom
Welling and Kristen
Kreuk are capable but inexperienced in the two most
important roles.
(Both improve by the end of the season. Allison Mack
is excellent by
the end of the season, as well.) I give the acting 4
out of 6.

The emotional response inspired by this
viewing was minimal.
The first time I saw this, I was thrilled to see
Superman treated like
a person instead of some larger than life figure than
once. Now, it’s
nice to see the little hooks that were left in place
and used later in
the season, but there wasn’t the thrill of the first
viewing. I give
it 3 out of 6.

The production is incredible for the first
two episodes of a
TV series. I’ve raved about Mark Snow’s work as
composer on The
, and I’m going to continue to rave about
it here. It’s
simply fantastic. The direction in the first part
was excellent, as
was the cinematography and blocking. (For example,
the shot with
Clark standing in front of the statue of the angel so
that only the
wings showed was excellent.) The direction in the
second half was
uneven. The deleted scene at the kitchen table was
fantastic, while
other shots (like the very short shot of Clark
calling “Lana!” and
running out of Greg’s house) had some jarring
problems. I suspect I’d
only like one of the two collaborators when they work
in their own.
Still, for a second episode of an unproven series
that was forced to
reshoot a lot of material when the first actress cast
as Martha Kent
left, this is really very good. I give it 5 out of

Overall, this is a great kick off to a show
that I’ll gladly
watch for as long as it keeps up this quality. This
is a live-action
TV Superman that’s got the chance to really last and
go out on top. I
give it 5 out of 6.

In total, the Smallville pilot movie
received 29 out of 42.

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