Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Image = Superheroes Gone Ballistic & Blah

Superman - 1978
Am I getting old or have superhero movies become super dark & violent?  I remember seeing Superman when I was a kid and loving it.  The special effects of the time were exciting - we suspended our disbelief  and believed Christopher Reeve could fly, the dialogue was funny and I felt a sense of “everything’s gonna be okay (or even better)” at the end.  Superman was invincible and saved everyone in his path in an effort to protect truth, justice and the American way.  And, he would do no harm (except to Lex Luthor) in the process.  In the new Man of Steel, Superman hides his powers for most of his life and then fights General Zod to the death, causing a wake of unreal catastrophe and saving only Lois Lane.  Cue disappointing music. Wah, wah. wah.......   

The fight scenes in Man of Steel go on forever and the destruction that these two beings from Krypton do to everyone & everything in their path is preposterous and incredibly unnecessary.  First of all, they can both fly so why not fight in the sky?  Second, what was the point of all the fighting anyway since they are both indestructible?  I don’t even understand how Zod is finally defeated after he survived Superman dragging his head through countless office buildings and parking lots.  The amount of damage is unthinkable, including leveling Manhattan and blowing up numerous gas lines.  Didn't A LOT of people get hurt or killed while Kal-El and Zod were senselessly demolishing buildings and cars, etc?  What's the point of saving the human race if there's nowhere left for people to live or work?

Henry Cavill in Man of Steel
Man of Steel is dark, boring and outrageously violent.  It is more like a video game than a movie.  I realize that there have been major leaps and bounds in digital technology since the 1970’s but must we use every bit of it in every Hollywood film?  It’s called “live action” for a reason.  Let’s keep filmmaking an art, not a science.  The biggest problem of Man of Steel is what I heard two reviewers say – this film is “joyless.”  It’s much ado about nothing and then there’s no payoff.  

Most of this iteration is about Superman trying to come to terms with his specialness, which is mostly sad and at times heartbreaking.  This is a common theme among superheroes and although it's important to address it, I don't think anyone wants to see a 2 hour multi-million dollar movie about just that.  It's simply a bummer.  I think that in these uncertain times, we need a little magic.  I want to be inspired by superheroes, not worried about them.  

I've seen all the Chris Reeve Superman movies, the Michael Keaton Batmans and the Tobey Maguire Spider-Mans and enjoyed them all.  I saw Batman Begins with Christian Bale and enjoyed it but the much lauded The Dark Knight was way too dark for me.  Unfortunately, I think that Christopher Nolan (also a producer of Man of Steel) has started a "dark" phenomenon that is getting darker.  Despite popular opinion, I am a superhero movie fan and I feel sad that maybe I can't go to see them anymore.  I was pulling for Man of Steel to be good.  I went to see it with an open mind on opening day and truly wanted it to be good and even, since it's almost 2.5 hours - get better.  But it didn't.  I never cheered for our hero or wanted Kal-El and Lois Lane to live happily ever after because Henry Cavill didn't do anything make me and he and Amy Adams have zero chemistry.  The film has a great cast btw, with the exception of Amy Adams.  Lois Lane - I think not.  Honorable mention goes to Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon.  The script is far from great but these two actors are.      

The saddest moment for me was when walking out of the packed theater, I heard two eight year old kids yelling “best movie ever.” I am truly concerned about the next generation.