Man of Steel = Bizarro Superman

Some July 4th thoughts on Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Pardon my beating the dead horse – I hope this will be my last post on this topic. Previously I covered why I felt that Man of Steel wasn’t a good movie. Now I’d like to cover why this isn’t even a Superman story. Almost all of the characters come from a bizarro Superman world where they say and do things antithetical to their nature.

Bizarro Superman
* Watch Jor-El ride an insect dinosaur!

* Gasp at Lara’s hesitation over whether to save their infant son!

* Listen to Jonathan Kent argue the merits of letting children die!

* See Martha Kent risk her husband’s life because they left the family dog in the car!

* Witness Superboy irradiate his teacher and classmates giving them cancer!

* Feel Superman’s rage outweigh his common sense!

* Wonder as you find out that the ‘S’ does not stand for Superman!

* Marvel as Jor-El and Superman argue FOR genocide!

* Yawn as Perry White speaks against journalistic integrity!

* Cha-ching! at all the in-your-face product placement, from Nikon to Nokia, IHOP to Sears!

* Gape as Superman deliberately endangers the lives of everyone in Smallville – repeatedly!

I would also like to make the argument that Zod is actually the tragic hero of the story, desperately trying to save his people. First he fights against the corrupt and decadent government, just as Jor-El does, then Zod tries to uphold the law and prevent Jor-El from stealing Krypton’s heritage. He tries to help Kryptonian outposts after the destruction of Krypton. Unlike Jor-El, he respects his foe and has regrets. Everything he does is to try and save his people.

There are plenty more reasons for my above arguments but I don’t post spoilers. Man of Steel is not egregiously bad and the fight scenes are fun. I just had to vent some more.

Man of Asbestos

Man of Steel

Man of Steel (2013): I had very high hopes for this. I love director Zak Snyder’s update of Dawn of the Dead (2004) and his comic book movies, 300 (2006) and Watchmen (2009). These fooled me into thinking he was a great director. He then made the vanity project, Sucker Punch (2011), which was truly awful, despite having some nice visuals.

Christopher Nolan co-produced and co-wrote the story. David S. Goyer co-wrote the story and penned the screenplay. He worked on all three of Nolan’s Batman pictures. This was a really good sign as all of those were tightly, smartly written. The only concern would be that Batman’s darkness would carry over to Superman. Unfortunately it did in a number of areas and the titular Man of Steel does not feel like Superman.

The good: Some of the fight scenes are intense and quite well done. There are a handful of cute moments (when Lois first decides what to call him, a scene involving a copier, Lois finding out what anonymous means).

The bad: Everything else. Seriously. Henry Cavill is not bad as Superman but he is certainly no Christopher Reeve and he has absolutely zero chemistry with Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Russell Crowe underplays well in what should be a cameo as Jor-El but is in way too much of the film and many of his later scenes undercut any tension. The writing of Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent is pretty much the exact opposite of the way Jonathan has always been played and his final scene is absolutely ludicrous. The most egregious offender is easily Michael Shannon as Zod. Every scene has him playing his character on ’11’ – moderation and nuance are not in this actor’s repertoire.

Snyder uses flashbacks willy-nilly and to terrible effect. Ditto with his soft-focus on the camera. Ditto ditto with his jump cuts. The special effects are serviceable but many of them look cheap. Hilariously, the flying in Superman from thirty-five years ago looks better than the flying in Man of Steel (except the sonic booms).

The dialogue is pretty bad. The re-imagining of Krypton started off interesting but quickly became ridiculous and went on for far too long. Man of Steel could have used about thirty minutes cut from the running time. Man of Steel also appears to have used last year’s blockbuster, The Avengers, as a template, particularly the last half hour.

Finally, as with Iron Man 3, the ultimate resolution could have been used much earlier, saving countless lives. At least Man of Steel has less unnecessarily slow dipping mechanisms to employ than Iron Man 3. Also less fun.

Wife POV: “Superman: now with less chemistry, less logic, and more flying insect dragons than ever before. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’re welcome.”

Blade 2 – Marvel Superhero week

This is Marvel Superhero week. Blade 2 is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Blade 2(2002) – Rated R for Strong pervasive violence, language, some drug use and sexual content.

Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a half-vampire sworn to eradicating the bloodsuckers who lurk in the shadows. But when a breed of “reapers” is unleashed, the Vampire Nation asks for his help in preventing a nightmare plague that would wipe out both humans and vampires. Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hell Boy, Pans Labyrinth), this Blade sequel mixes high-tech action with crimson terror. Kris Kristofferson and Ron Perlman co-star.

“Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer.”

Well way back when I was a wee lad, my favorite comic book series was The Tomb of Dracula. I loved the portrayal of Dracula as an evil mastermind and all of the people hunting him were fascinating as well. One of those was Blade, the Vampire Slayer.

Wesley Snipes returns as Blade and Kris Kristofferson returns as his accomplice/handyman Whistler (despite having died in the first film). As he was in the first film, Snipes is a complete bada$$, dusting vampires by the score. Norman Reedus (Boondock Saints) plays the new addition to the “good guys”. You have to love a character that has Krispy Kreme doughnuts shipped to a stakeout.

This is definitely the way to make a sequel. Since Blade took out a vampire “god” in the last film, the vampires have formed a Special Forces team called the Blood Pack to take him down. Now in a by-the-numbers sequel that would be our movie. Instead we have a much larger threat that forces them to team up with Blade.

The Blood Pack is well cast and all the members have colorful personalities. Tough guy and Guillermo del Toro favorite Ron Perlman has a lot of fun as Reinhardt. Leonor Varela plays Nyssa, a possible love interest. Other members of the Blood Pack include Danny John-Jules (Cat in the Red Dwarf TV show) as Asad and Asian superstar Donnie Yen as Snowman. Donnie Yen also handled the impressive fight choreography.

Blade II is written very intelligently by David S. Goyer and yet oddly Goyer would go on to write the terrible third film Blade Trinity. The difference here is that the mighty Guillermo del Toro directs Blade II and naturally it is quite stylish.

The acting is good, the action is fast and fresh, the visuals are well-done, and the script is engaging and has a few good twists to it – basically there is not much not to like in this film. That and these vampires do not sparkle in sunlight.