Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “Man Of Steel”


New Man of Steel Poster

I know that, in this day and age, we as a society seem to get off on tearing down our myths and legends and “humanizing” them, but seriously — when did Superman develop a split personality?

Before you jump to any conclusions based on that admitted “gotcha” of an opening line, allow me to state for the record that I didn’t actively dislike Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel, it’s just that it spends its first half or so rather half-heartedly trying to portray its title character in more human terms than we’ve seen in previous iterations before finally throwing all that out the window and deciding that it actually wants to tell a story about a God who walks (and flies) among us, and the film definitely suffers as a result of this abrupt shift in tone.

But first the “plus” side of the ledger : Man Of Steel is pretty much the most awesome visual spectacle the movies have ever produced. I’m no fan of CGI as a general rule, but damn if every single effects shot in this flick isn’t enough to take your breath away, particularly the sequences on Superman’s home planet of Krypton, which Snyder and his WETA-employed staff depict in a markedly new and exciting “biotech on steroids” fashion. When the action goes earthbound, the optical awesomeness continues, never fear, so if spectacle is what you’re after, you’ll walk away from this well pleased indeed.

Pitch-perfect (with one notable exception which we’ll get to in a moment) casting doesn’t hurt matters any, either — Henry Cavill makes an immediate impression in both his Superman and Clark Kent personas; Russell Crowe is suitably above it all as his Kryptonian father, Jor-El; Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are almost too spot-on for words as his adopted human parents; Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White is old-school newspaper vet all the way (even with the pierced ear); and the always-underrated Michael Shannon oozes psychotic menace as lead villain General Zod. Watching all these people at work is a genuine joy.

Granted, the script — by Dark Knight veteran David S. Goyer (from a story co-plotted with the head honcho of this whole enterprise, Christopher Nolan) — doesn’t do any of them any favors dialogue-wise (apparently Kryptonians have evolved beyond good, old-fashioned conversation and speak entirely in grandiose pronouncements — but it’s not like the mere humans in this film are any less prone to dull, dry, wooden,  faux-poetic waxings themselves), but the players by and large manage to rise above the material they’ve been handed.

I say “by and large” (and here comes that exception I talked about a moment ago) because, sadly, one has been dealt such a losing hand that I’m not sure what she could really have done about it — I’m speaking, of course, about Amy Adams’ Lois Lane. Goyer does some brave and interesting things in terms of shaking up the established Clark-Lois backstory ( let’s just say she won’t be sneaking glimpses of him at sly angles when his glasses are off to see how much he might or might not look like Superman), but the cold, emotionally distant nature of this particular big-budget beast means that the whole love story angle falls pretty flat. By the time Goyer, Nolan, and Snyder decide they want to play the Nietzchean uberman card for all it’s worth, the independent, confident journalist we meet at the outset is reduced to becoming more awestruck than she is lovestruck, and rather than being “Superman’s girlfriend” she comes off more as his disciple. Who just so happens to kiss him. I mentioned the abrupt tonal shift in the film at the outset of this review, and poor Lois definitely suffers the brunt of it.

The messianic poses Cavill is forced into during all the flight and battle sequences get pretty old pretty fast as well, it’s gotta be said, and with no real transition period in the way the story is structured between its “simple farm boy from Kansas”  and its “demi-god here to save us all from the evil forces originating from his own homeworld” (that he inadvertently brought here himself, but hey, let’s not dwell on that) segments, well — let’s just say not much thought apparently went into how jarringly that would all play out. Hans Zimmer’s typically percussive, insistent musical score only augments the problem, and while there’s no way anybody was gonna have fans forgetting about John Williams, a “stripped-down,” “less over the top” orchestral accompaniment really doesn’t work when you’re trying to portray Superman as a fucking deity.

Superman purists, for their part,  may also find themselves semi-outraged by more than the snakeskin-fetish-wear take on his costume. There’s no Jimmy Olsen here, no Lex Luthor (although the “Lexcorp” logo appears here and there on props throughout — as do the logos for Sears, 7-11, and an unending and highly annoying litany of corporate sponsors), and “Metropolis” is never mentioned by name even though the entire final act takes place there. So be ready for at least some “nerd-rage” on the internet. Still, if those were the only things that bugged me about Man Of Steel, I’d be feeling a little bit better about it as a whole right about now. Not that I’m all that pissed or disappointed —-just, well, kinda perplexed.

I can’t say that Man Of Steel isn’t a fun movie to watch, because it is — hell, it’s an absolute visual marvel, and if you want to shut your brain off and just be taken along for a wild adventure ride, you’re not gonna do much better this (or any other) summer  Still —my mind kept drifting back to the famous first-encounter-between-Supes-and-Lois scene in Richard Donner’s Superman : The Movie (still the gold standard for all superhero flicks as far as I’m concerned) : when Lois asks him “who are you?,” and he replies, simply and with a smile, “a friend,” that told us all we needed to know right there. Sure, he was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but at the end of the day , Superman as envisioned by Richard Donner, Mario Puzo, and Christopher Reeve was one of us.

By contrast, Superman a la Snyder, Nolan, Goyer and Cavill is above us. He’s not here to help humanity, but to redeem it. He’s not our hero anymore, he’s our savior — whether we want one or not.

Trailer: Man of Steel – “Fate of Your Planet”


ManofSteel

Leading up to this film I was still hesitant to embrace it after the underwhelming Superman Returns. I think the more fun and energetic Marvel Studios fare has spoiled me to the the more dour (though still entertaining) take on the DC main heroes (though the Green Lantern one was neighter serious, fun or enjoyable).

The trailers and teasers already released for Man of Steel has focused a lot on the existential question about who or what Superman is and his role on Earth. Some of the teasers and trailers even try to ape the Terence Malick visual-style with the close-ups of waving wheatfields and background narration asking deep questions. But this latest trailer now switches gear and focuses on the villain of the film and more action.

I’m not hugging this film 100%, but this latest trailer has me closer to embracing it.

Will Man of Steel be too dour a la Christopher Nolan or two much a visual overload by way of Zack Snyder or will the two differing storytelling styles be able to meld into a perfect balance to finally give Superman his day in the sun once again.

Man of Steel is set for a June 14, 2013 release date.

Trailer: Man of Steel (3rd Official)


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We’re now just two months away from one of this year’s biggest and most-anticipated films. It’s also one of the biggest gamble for Warner Bros. Pictures in light of the success that Marvel/Disney had with their Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Man of Steel looks to reboot that Superman film franchise after the lackluster Superman Returns of a few years back. Gone are Bryan Singer and in comes Zack Snyder in the director’s chair with Christopher Nolan (himself reviving the Batman franchise from the depths) overlording over it all. It’s a recipe that smells success, yet there’s still some nagging doubt about whether it’s going to rule the summer and become the stepping stone to what Warner Brothers hopes will be their return shot at Marvel/Disney: a Justice League film.

The first trailer for Man of Steel had quite the Malickesque look to it. From the subtle music in the background to existential narration about the nature of Superman. Then that was followed up a couple months later by a more action-packed trailer that had the hallmarks of Snyder as a visual artist of onscreen mayhem. Now we have a third trailer (hopefully a final one) that seems to be an amalgam of the first two that tries to explore the nature of Superman in regards to his adopted planet and then some action that shows Man of Steel won’t be a two and half hours of Zack Snyder channeling his inner Terence Malick.

Man of Steel is set for a June 14, 2013 release date.

Trailer: Man of Steel (2nd Official)


ManofSteel

The very first Man of Steel trailer was underwhelming and played out more like a Terence Malick production. A lot seem to have happened between the release of that first official to the latest one which Warner Brothers premiered earlier today. Where the first trailer was all about serene images of Kal-El in his Clark Kent persona going through his Jack London phase this second trailer delves more into the persona of an emergent Superman who fears that the world he intends to protect from General Zod may not and will not be ready to accept his as their savior.

We get to see more glimpses of the action Man of Steel seem to have more of than the underwhelming reboot done by Bryan Singer just a couple years ago. There’s scenes of entire high-rises collapsing and what looks like Superman battling either Zod or, at the very least, Zod’s minions. We also get to see some of the other cast members from Costner’s Pa Kent to Diane Lane as Ma Kent. We already get to see Michael Shannon as General Zod and Richard Schiff as S.T.A.R. Labs director Dr. Emil Hamilton. The film doesn’t give it out but whether Emil Hamilton is an ally of Superman or a potential enemy the film will have to answer.

The story has a lot of the gritty, realistic DNA that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy had but the impressive visuals that Zack Snyder has become well-known for. It’s going to be interesting to see if the Nolan narrative aesthetic will be able to co-exist with the Snyder flair for imagery.

We’ll find out in June 14, 2013 if all the questions being asked about this second reboot of the Superman franchise will be positive ones or more of the case of opportunity and potential wasted.

Trailer: The Dark Knight Rises (Nokia Exclusive)


Marvel Studios’ The Avengers has been the runaway, blockbuster hit of 2012’s summer film season. The film has also become the film which detractors of Christopher Nolan’s third and final entry in his Dark Knight trilogy put up as the film to beat this summer. I like the fanboy enthusiasm that always comes out of the shadows whenever comic book films battle it out during the summer blockbuster season year in and year out, but I will say that instead of pitting the two mega-hits against each other fans of the comic book genre should embrace both because just around the corner will be the average to awful comic book films.

With just a month to go before the film’s release we get a new trailer (this one a Nokia Exclusive) for The Dark Knight Rises which looks to emphasis the action of the film where the previous trailers and teasers concentrated more on keeping the film’s story a secret. I’ve looked at these series’ of trailers and ads for the film like another of Nolan’s previous films with The Prestige. The first trailers and ads I see as the “The Pledge” from the film’s creators that hints at the grandiose event we’re going to be witness to. This latest trailer acts like “The Turn” as we see the magician performing the trick of this latest film giving the audience a bit more flash and pizzazz (maybe some misdirection as well to keep the story secret until the film’s release). For The Dark Knight Rises it will be on opening weekend when we finally see “The Prestige” that closes out (hopefully with critical-acclaim) Nolan’s turn as the caretaker of the Batman film franchise.

The Dark Knight Rises is set for a July 20, 2012 release date.

Trailer: The Dark Knight Rises (3rd Official)


With the North American release of Marvel Studios’ The Avengers just days away it looks like DC Films’ parent company, Warner Brothers Pictures, is playing a little bit of gamesmanship by releasing a brand new trailer for their own superhero blockbuster offering this summer in The Dark Knight Rises .

The third film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and one that has much to live up to with the financial and critical success of the previous film, The Dark Knight. With no Heath Ledger to help anchor this third film it looks like the final leg in this trilogy will have to rely on the addition of Bane as Batman’s main antagonist. The film will also see the return of one Selina Kyle aka Catwoman who may or may not be a character Batman has to treat as an enemy as well.

From the previous teasers and trailers released for this film fans of the franchise will have a story that’s much more epic in scope than the previous two, but also one that seem to have the hit-or-miss of the three. Film trilogies rarely finish off as well as it starts with a few exceptions and hopefully Nolan’s final entry in his gritty take on the Dark Knight will be one of those exceptions.

The Dark Knight Rises is set for a July 20, 2012 release.

Source: The Dark Knight Rises Official Website

Trailer: The Dark Knight Rises (Official Teaser)


The first official teaser trailer for the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Saga has finally arrived in it’s official form. The teaser had leaked in bootleg form last week. People who went to watch Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 were able to see the teaser in all it’s glory on the big-screen and from my own experience it was one of the major highlight’s even before the main attraction began.

The teaser trailer plays exactly as it sounds. It teases just enough to begin the buzz and hype which should run a full year before the film’s release. We see glimpses of Tom Hardy in the role of Bane. Most of the teaser has Police Commissioner Jim Gordon in a hospital bed looking like he may have just gone a round or two with Bane. It also brings back the lesson first given to Bruce Wayne by Ra’s al Ghul from the first film about how a man could become a legend. There’s even some Inception-like imagery of crumbling high-rises that could only mean Gotham City itself now under siege.

It’s going to be a long wait til The Dark Knight Rises premieres in the theaters on July 20, 2012.