Archive for Movies
I must be honest folks…that RoboCop trailer has been bugging me. The primary problem?
Murphy and his wife appear to know who he is from the start. But part of what makes the original RoboCop so great (Aside from the scathing satire of corporate culture) is that Alex Murphy is unaware he had a past. He is a machine. He is haunted by memories that he cannot comprehend. And as he learns who he is, he reclaims the identity that was ripped from him.
In one of the second film’s best moments, RoboCop’s wife wants to meet with him, shocked that he is alive. But the corporate heads convince Murphy that he cannot truly return to being a husband. It would be impossible to fulfill the role, due to his condition. It would be better for her to move on in a life without him.
When his wife tearfully tries to reconnect, Alex plays the role of machine…he claims he is merely a monument to the man who died. Weller does a great job with this moment, because the conflict within Murphy is evident.
The new film removes all of that. Murphy has no self discovery…he is not a machine that rediscovers his humanity.
Some segments of the film and comic community are being extraordinarily tough on Man of Steel. And some are, bizarrely, appealing to the Superman given to us by Richard Donner, Richard Lester and Bryan Singer.
I am not addressing the folks who are equally critical of those films. But the people appealing to The Donner/Lester/Singer version either have poor memories or are willfully ignoring celluloid history. I am about to really blow it if you have not seen the movie.
So, there is a lot of argument about the boycott of Ender’s Game. The gay community has both supporters and detractors of the boycott. What I find interesting about some of the detractors is that they are the same folks that had no problem boycotting a previous film.
When the Golden Compass movie was announced, reputable Christian organizations and publishers started beating the drums of boycott. When the film was announced, they challenged the executives. When the cast was announced, they questioned the decency of the actors. And they denounced the film before seeing it, based on it’s Christmas time release.
The goal was to prevent the movie from being made, or at least destroy the chances for any sequels to complete the book trilogy in film form. There was no hemming and hawing, and little dissent from Christians. And I suspect the defense is, Ender’s Game is not anti-gay itself, while the His Dark Materials books were Anti-Christian. But that is not the real difference.
See, Pullman was not using his financial success to bankroll attempts to restrict or take away the rights and freedoms of Christians. He was not funding huge political campaigns to marginalized Christians. Seeing the Golden Compass was not going to fund attempts at anti-Christian legislation. Seeing Ender’s Game is putting money in the pocket of a guy who has already done so to gays.
So, yeah, I won’t be going to Ender’s Game.
Open on a beach on the island Themyscira. It is raining, lighting striking…we see a young woman, Hippolyta, sculpting something. As we close in, we see it is a baby. The woman steps back, looking to the sky…lightning strikes the clay form…she steps forward and starts to wipe away clay, revealing a little baby girl beneath the clay. The skies clear, the rain stops and the seas calm. The woman is smiling and crying, speaking a name (Diana) as the camera pulls in close to the baby’s face. We pull back to a girl of about five, face covered in clay as she makes a lopsided statue. Her mother (the woman from before) is relating the story of how the Amazons left behind the world of man, a world incapable of peace. We jump ahead to fifteen year old Diana sword fighting. Hippolyta is continuing the tale of the Amazons. The fight comes to an end, Hippolyta and Diana walk into a temple. There we can see a floating orb. As Hippolyta speaks, images of war and destruction. Diana stares. Hippolyta leaves and and young Diana reaches out and touches the orb. The images of war dispell in ripples. She sees peace protests, people sacrificing themselves for others, feeding children, etc.
We then would jump to the present. Steve Trevor is part of a meeting with Lex Luthor. Luthor is trying to convince them he has assembled the most advanced plane ever. Trevor is being enlisted to test fly it for the military. In this meeting is also General Swanwick from Man of Steel. Trevor is visibly unimpressed with Luthor. As he and Swanwick are walking away, he expresses distrust of Luthor and that working with him is a bad idea.
Of course, the test flight goes wrong, Trevor and the plane are lost. He crashes, of course, on Themyscira. He is discovered by Amazon warriors who bring him before Hippolyta. He is taken by Diana, who is standing in the back. She looks to be about 25. He responds respectfully to Hippolyta. She is unsure he can be trusted. Is he part of an invasion? After he is taken to a cell (unlike any prison he has seen, this is almost a hotel suite). Diana is more curious. She looks at the possessions taken from the plane…trying to figure out things like an iPad, cell phone, iPod… Trevor is only honest. He is not a neanderthal, instead treating his captors as hosts. Addressing them with titles. It is intriguing for both Hippolyta and Diana. Diana is sure Steve is proof that the Amazons do not need to be hidden from the world. Hippolyta is not as sure. But she decides she trusts Steve enough to send an ambassador, so to speak. Someone to look into the world. To see if the world of man has truly learned it’s lessons and is moving towards peaceful resolutions. After some debate, Hippolyta reluctantly allows Diana to be this ambassador, to return Steve to his world. Hippolyta gives Diana a gift. There is a formal Warrior attire (which would look something like this), bracelets a sword and a golden lasso.
At a few points, we would meet professor and archeologist, Barbara Minerva, who has passionately been trying to prove Amazons were real. She ends up in a seeming dead end. She finds the remains of a village in Greece. Oddly, the tribe seemed to be full of idols of Cheetahs. She takes the most ornate idol, and several scrolls. As she works to translate them, she discovers a ritual. She works out the incantation and the ritual…only to merge herself with a “cheetah demigod/spirit”.
Steve helps Diana find a way to fit in, helping conceal where she truly is from. In the meantime, she is forced to reveal herself as a person of a super-powered nature. She enjoys the adventure and saving people…she starts to show up in costume, saving people, stopping crimes. She is Christened the Wonder Woman. At the same time, there is something romantic growing between them.
After Wonder woman reveals herself, Professor Minerva desires the Bracelets and Golden Lasso. She starts to devise a plan. She attacks Wonder Woman to learn more about what she is up against. There is a penultimate fight between Wonder Woman and the Cheetah.
The film would end with Wonder Woman meeting with Hippolyta. While they agree mankind may not be ready for the Amazons, there is a value to Wonder Woman being present in the world of Man.
In the background is Aries. He is not prominent… maybe we learn who he really is in a post credit moment.
I threw this together over the course of half an hour. Of course, maybe folks will think this super rough treatment sucks. But the point is…it just is not that hard DC & WB.
Dave Poland, among others, have harped on the fact that the Man of Steel never really addresses “What do you think will happen when people find out there are people like Clark Kent out there.” It really doesn’t. There is just to much action to get around to it. But it seems likely it is a setup for another film. People seem to be forgetting in their criticism that this is the start for a franchise. Man of Steel is not meant to be a “done in one tale”. It is a setup for more films. And that matters. You cannot ignore that.
A franchise film should tell a story, but it also will leave some questions unaddressed. Batman Begins did not tell us anything about the Joker other than his calling card. X-Men introduced all sorts of questions about Wolverine answering pretty much none of them.
The film shows a Lexcorp truck, which suggests we will see a businessman Lex Luthor in the sequel. In the comics, Lex has, in more than one incarnation, been driven by a fear of aliens. And Man of Steel certainly sets that up. I can easily see a subplot where Lex is ranting against Superman and trying to get people to his side, while the Daily Planet is championing Superman.
The funny thing is we DO see how people react. There are civilians thankful Superman saved them. The soldiers accept him. Lois and the scientist accept him. We get our answer. Jonathan Kent was wrong.
You just cannot force a Franchise starting film to follow the rules of a one off film. You cannot hold them to that standard. There are a lot of problems with Man of Steel, but not answering every question is not one of them.
You know…I did like the Man of Steel, but I found plenty to be critical of. One of the problems is we never got much of Clark building relationships with people. Now, instead of a sequel, we are getting a team up movie. Warner Brothers is desperately trying to catch up with Marvel’s cinematic success. The Nolan Bat trilogy was not made to open that door to a shared cinematic universe. Green Lantern could have been made to acknowledge the growing Super-hero universe. Man of Steel was the first film made with a larger universe in mind. But Marvel really committed to the shared Universe concept. And they planned for it to lead up to the Avengers. They started laying their groundwork in the First Iron Man through Captain America three years later, they built up characters that appeared throughout various films, and lead into the Avengers. And they managed to bring all their actors back with one exception (replacing the terrific Ed Norton with the talented Mark Ruffalo). DC has one movie and the next film they announce is a sequel to Man of Steel starring…Batman? Then a Flash movie? Because, apparently Wonder Woman is a really hard concept for DC. Then A Justice League movie. But while DC wants the successes of Marvel’s films, they want to do it without the commitment or effort of setting it all up. They are rushing it and it shows. I cannot imagine this will improve the problems of Man of Steel, it might even make them worse.
I am going to discuss specifics about the Man of Steel in this post.
Spoilers after the jump…
And lo, there was much controversy and arguing. So I it was I saw finally got around to seeing the tale Man of Steel. Zak Snyder, David Goyer and Christopher’s grimmer take on the Superman mythos.
In a lot of ways, this is a response to the toughly reviewed Superman Returns. One of the cries was “more action” and boy do we get it.
First, the good. I think Henry Cavill did a solid job as Superman. The film spends it’s time focusing on a Superman who is not working for the Daily Planet, but rather Clark Kent roaming the planetsaving people. It is borrowering an idea from Mark Waid’s terrific Birthright…and while not quite as nicely executed, it mkes sense to use it as a reference.
The film opens on Krypton, one like we have not seen in previous film or television adaptions. I am pleased to see they opted to break free of the influence of Donner for this film. It is a Krypton that has evolved to genetic engineering, something scientist Jor-El seeks to set his son free of. This happens in the midst of a military coup by General Zod (Michael Shannon). He and his followers are sent to the Phantom Zone, shortly before the destruction of Krypton.
Amy Adams is a tough and fearless Lois Lane who is on the trail of the mysterious hero. I liked her quite a bit in the role. She was aggressive and dedicated to finding her story. I also felt Zod and Faora were solid characters. As Superman’s parents, Russell Crowe, Ayelet Zurer, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are all quite strong. Lara’s role is short, but she is strong and full of courage. Crowe is mainly there for exposition, but he makes it work.
The visual effects were great, seeing Superman use his powers was exhilirating. I truly had fun watching him use his powers.
The tougher stuff…while I liked Costner, I had the same problem with Man of Steel as I did with Smallville. Pa Kent is obsessed with “keeping the secret” extends to “let people die”. This is troubling on a lot of levels. The action in the film is relentless, giving little time to catch our breath. The characters are also given little space to grow, so we get familar, b it new sketches, rather than full blown character moments. And the destruction becomes numbing…it is just to much.
In the end, I still enjoyed this more than Superman Returns. It is imperfect, but I still found more to like than dislike.