Friday, August 23, 2013

The Friday Five - Man of Steel

Ready for some movie bashing? Sure you are. Disclaimer: I have terrible taste in movies. I like The Postman (one of my all-time faves), Jonah Hex, The Lone Ranger, and Cutthroat Island. Movies that generally make people go, WTH? So maybe Man of Steel isn't as bad as I think it is. But I just looked at it and went, Really, Chris Nolan? That's the script you helped with? SMH.

Five reasons I disliked Man of Steel. Go!

1) The opening scenes
B-O-R-I-N-G. So here's what I know about Superman (prior to the movie). He came from a doomed planet, sent here by his parents, because that's kind of their job to protect their offspring. Planet go boom, for some reason Superman is allergic to Kryptonite (which I had no idea what was. Is it an element? Somebody get me a wiki. If you're crazy like me, you're humming the Three Doors Down song right now), and he wears a pair of hipster glasses and yet no one recognizes him. Okay, great. Well, in Man of Steel, we're give a very long, very dry lesson in why Krypton is doomed and when Jor-El has the opportunity to, I don't know, say, rip Zod's head off, he totally ignores it. Then it's a mad chase to find a codex among creepy babies in bubbles (um, so...I take it Kryptonians either don't know what to do with their, um, "equipment", or they're having lots of recreational sack time), a crazy flight scene on a half bug/half donkey creature, and an urgent message to Lara to start the #$%&ing spaceship so they can send wee Kal-El off-planet. I'm pretty sure she didn't start the #$%&ing spaceship, instead finding time for a manicure. Some weird sh!t goes down, while the #$%&ing spaceship is still warming up (it's worse than a fax machine) and then Zod arrives and disembowels without actually disemboweling Jor-El. He tries to talk Lara out of sending the #$%&ing spaceship, but she does it anyway and resolves to die.
Problem solved: Jor tried explaining to the council that there are lots and lots of inhabitable planets. They settled some of them (and somehow, terribly, because these people might be morons, all the settlements died out) before. 'K, time for a vote. The world is about to 'splode. You have the technology to leave the world. Who wants to go? Me, me, I do! So crazy Zod only wants to take select bloodlines. Well, here's the thing. Kill him. None of this mamby-pamby, let's imprison him in a capsule shaped like a male body part. Kill him, flee for other planets, culture saved. Yay! Also, I feel that this would have been better off if they'd just let Russell Crow narrate some bits of it, shorten it to like 5 minutes and call it good.

2) The flashbacks
So, for the rest of the movie we're subjected to flashbacks at random times. Because I was so befuddled by a scene at the end of the movie (about some characters who earned their Too Dumb to Live Merit Badges), I forget whether the first scene after Krypton 'splodes was of young Clark Kent pulling an entire busload of kiddies to safety, or whether an oil rig exploded and that led to the busload of kiddies. All I know is, holy sh!t, there were a lot of flashbacks cluing us in to Clark's childhood. They were distracting and annoying and the first sentences Clark speaks aren't even until later when he's working at a restaurant and a trucker manhandles a waitress. What a waste of Henry Cavill's voice.
Problem solved: I'm a linear writer. I very rarely ever write scenes out of order, because I know that if I do, I'll have to rewrite it to fit whatever plot carried me to that point. I did write the end of the first draft of The Sky Pirate's Wife when I was about halfway through it. It involved rewriting to make it fit. Instead of showing us all these little clips and bits and chunks of Clark's back story, let's make him guess where he's from in the next movie. Just give us a guy who has awesome superpowers, who toddles around saving the world and feed up little clues. Don't give it all away in these dumb flashbacks.

3) I, Robot
Two-dimensional characters. If this script was a novel and it was given to me to judge for a contest, I'd have reamed the hell out of the writers for bringing me flat characters. Lara and Jor weren't bad. Zod was fantastic! But it's like the human writers had never written a human character. I love Kevin Costner madly. I was excited about this movie because A) Henry Cavill is hot and B) Kevin Costner is like the actor. But in this film, Jonathan Kent is kind of a jerk. Behold (I'm paraphrasing here):
Clark: So I should just let those kids die?
Jonathan: Yeah, 'til they're good and dead, so long as you're okay and you'll be okay because you're super.
(Never mind that it would look weird if Clark was the only one who survived, right?)
Clark: But that doesn't seem very nice.
Jonathan: Well, I'm kind of a giant @!#$.
Okay, so you glean through these flashbacks that Jon and Martha adopted Clark and they did the best they could for him, and in one scene Jon actually asks Clark if he's okay after some bullies jump him. Instead of coming to his son's defense, or even saying he'd happily beat the head bully, he just says he kind of wanted Clark to punch the kid. But then we get to the flashback where there's an EF5 tornado zooming around Kansas and Martha stupidly leaves their dog in their car while Jon's telling people to turn for an overpass. Jon goes back to get the dog (puh-lease! The kid has super powers, clearly, you send him to get the dog). For half a second you think he's going to make it, but then he gets stuck (the dog lives, it's cool). Then he gets free and instead of running like hell, he just stands there. And Clark, who's listened to this do-nothing-while-people-are-carking-it-left-and-right spiel his entire life, stands there like a statue while Kevin Costner freakin' defies 100+ mph winds and smiles.
Now who's super?
Problem solved: Here's the deal. From what I've gathered from reading a few vague blogs and reviews and Cracked.com articles about Superman, he has a little problem with being fully capable of understanding humans. Or being sympathetic to them, or whatever. Here's a character that's been raised with no knowledge of his real parents, who, yes, is different from anyone he's ever known, who was thrust into nonchalant Jon Kent's life, and who saves people by wandering from place to place, but has no real character. There was too much back story to ever, ever present Clark Kent and family as real people. You don't get a feel for them when all this other sh!t is going on. I've learned that DC tends to (info) dump the best parts of their characters, which gives you every tiny, boring detail of these characters' lives and lets you deal with whatever explosion-y type problem arises next. Marvel, on the other hand, feeds you little nibbles of awesome along the way and leaves you hungry to know more about the characters. Dear DC writers, you might want to break into a Marvel writer's home, hold them hostage and force them to teach you their skills.

4) The dialogue
The award for Worst Dialogue in a Movie goes to: Twilight and Bella's line "What, like, wolves?"
Man of Steel is coming in a runner-up this week. This line takes it: "I know you're trying to find out where I hang my cape. You won't."
Or how about:
Lois: What this "S" stand for?
Superman: It's not an "S", on my world it means "Hope".
Lois: Well, here it's an "S".
Well, gee, Lois, on his world, it's hope!
Or how about:
Zod: If you love these people so much, you can mourn for them!
Clark: Don't do this! Stop! Don't!
Zod: Never!
Kent: NOOOO!
Problem solved: See #3, the part about kidnapping Marvel writers. Because there was almost no sarcasm in this movie. Maybe it's just me and the world I grew up in, but superheroes are super bad@$$ at sarcasm. What, they don't have that in Kansas? Let's turn poor Clark around from the goody-two shoes "I don't get humans" persona and give him a little pep. The only time he even gave us a little spark of that was when the trucker ticked him off. There were very few chuckles in this movie.

5) Those damned hipster glasses aka I'm not even trying
I'm paraphrasing again here.
*Slipping on his stunningly hipster glasses sans mustache.* "Hi, I'm Clark Kent."
Lois Lane eyeballs the "new" kid. "Hi, Clark. Welcome to the Planet."
*crickets* It's a pun, I get it. But at that point it's so awful and cheesy, it's like the whole movie was a pun. Okay, so when Zod and crew came to Earth, they broadcast a message that ordered the Earthlings to give up Kal-El. (In several languages, one of them being Klingon, I sh!t you not. The movie actually gets bonus points for that, which brings it up from an D-- to a D-). No one knows who Kal is, of course, because he's been wandering around using several names and "dying" sometimes after he saves lives, then taking on a new persona. Now, this is the 21st-ish century (actually, I'm not sure what year this movie was set in, so work with me here), but there are people with cell phones filming crap even when they should be running for their lives all the time! It's the digital age and we're people, we're dumb. It's all, hey, Jimmy, watch this! So I know that someone, somewhere in this movie got a picture of Kal/Clark and posted it on the Internet. When Clarkal (see what I did there, brilliant, no?) trots his happy butt into The Daily Planet office, no one should be buying the glasses. Obviously Lois knows who he is, but you're not going to tell me an office building full of reporters is fooled by plain glass lens and black plastic. You're not Harry Potter, okay?
Problem (not quite) solved: Oh, honey, no, no, no. Remember the line where you told Swanwich or whatever his name was, that he'd never figure out where you hang your cape? Dude, this is the digital age. I'm not buying that someone hasn't found your spaceship of solitude on Google Earth by now. I mean, frig, S.H.I.E.L.D. even found Dr. Banner, probably just using Google, okay? The truth is, you can't hide. Totally possible in 1955, or whenever Superman debuted. Today...sorry, superbuddy, unless you're hiding out behind Bruce Wayne's satellite (there was one in the movie, no kidding).

Y' know, what gets me is that I enjoyed the Batman trilogy. It didn't reach me the way Marvel characters often do, but it was pretty good. And here's another movie that was awful, but I liked it: The Green Lantern. Hal Jordon is a devil-may-care character and Ryan Reynolds filled that role to perfection. Whoever wrote that one gets an A+ for character. So why did Clark Kent come off as a Popsicle? At least Batman and GL were a little funny. Geez, even Captain America has his moments and I'm not his biggest fan ever. Mostly he gets points because Tony Stark throws zingers off him like lightning. (Also, I'm pretty sure Superman impregnated Lois when he Frenched her. Because the rest of the movie was so ridiculous, why not?) The only redeeming qualities of this movie were really that the bad guys were so bad, you wanted them to win. They were good bad guys. So it's worth doing a study on them if your interested in making your Big Bads badder.

You are released from my Fortress of B!tch-i-tude. It's Friday, go, be, do.

P.S. In case you wondered what I've been blathering about all week on Facebook, it's fan fiction. You can find it here. I think it's almost done and it's way more fun than I ever imagined it would be.

6 comments:

  1. You've really got too much time on your hands. ;-)

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    1. Back when I was a teenager, I never would have put this much thought into a movie. Writing has made me super critical about plots and characters. Haha, pun. Super.

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  2. Haven't seen it. Probably won't now. ;)

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    1. It was worth the watch if you like bad guys who don't quit. Kind of like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

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  3. Superman is boring. Always has been, always will be. As you have aptly demonstrated, he's cardboard. Tony Stark is infinitely better, as are all X-Men. Hell, even Bruce Banner is more complex and compelling (and I find the whole "don't let the green guy loose" thing rather boring). Great analysis here.

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    1. I'm not crazy about Banner either. What good is being a superhero if you're going to runaway and hide all the time. Which is what I love about Tony. Loud and proud. Ironman 3 was brilliant and one of my favorite movies so far this year.

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