The Iceman Melteth

The Iceman is currently available on instant Netflix

The Iceman

The Iceman (2013) – Rated R

This thriller based on a true story follows Richard Kuklinski, who killed more than 100 people for the mob — and his own pleasure — between 1964 and 1986. Despite his prolific violence, Kuklinski was a devoted husband and father of two daughters.

One Line Review: True life biography skims details and distorts facts – meh.

I wanted to like The Iceman and there is much to like about it. The filmmakers obviously enjoyed using period outfits, hairstyles, and, to a lesser extent, set design. The cast and acting are pretty good.

David Schwimmer does a good job as perpetual screw-up Josh Rosenthal. Michael Shannon is fine as the titular Iceman, Richard Kuklinski, though the role is hardly an acting stretch. Winona Ryder captures the mousy nature of his wife. Chris Evans is unrecognizable as Mr. Freezy, another killer. Ray Liotta, Robert Davi, and James Franco all pop up to varying degrees but each has already played their role many times before.

The problem with The Iceman is that it tries to fit in too many scenarios so they are all thinly sketched out. It’s hard to have any kind of sympathy for any of the characters. Admittedly the movie is trying to cover over a score of years during which Kuklinski supposedly killed over a hundred men. In addition to the many underwritten scenes, director Ariel Vromen throws in many single shots of victims a la a montage, although not strung together.

The ‘hitting the highlights’ approach would work better if Vromen and the screenwriters hadn’t taken so many liberties with the actual story. I understand changing the wife’s name (avoiding being sued by the wife or heirs) and changing Mr. Softee’s name to Mr. Freezy (avoiding lawsuit from ice cream brand) but so many particulars are changed. Obviously with this being the story of Kuklinski, he is given credit for just about all of the murders that take place. The most egregious liberty is that a socipath like Kuklinski loved and treasured his family when in reality, he beat his wife whenever he lost his temper.

The writers even wrap up the movie with an insinuation that a particular person was murdered in prison – certainly a possibility but why after being incarcerated for over 18 years?

Hilarious Mistake: Pause the scene where Kuklinski and Mr. Freezy look at a headline of The Iceman killer. The person killed in the newspaper article is a character that hasn’t died yet (though admittedly is not long for this world).

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.”