TheMadDoctor wrote:or just want to hate on the big titles.
Now you sound like my friends, if I happen to dislike a movie they like, say... Iron Man 3, Superman, between other big releases, they say I hate films in general.
Fine, I'll give you a full review. For those who were unlucky enough to read my previous review last year, don't worry, I won't swear on this one or say remarks like "how hard can it be?", and make it as enjoyable as possible.
But if we want a full review, we must start with the production values:1. A new Superman Title is announced:
So I was a bit disappointed when I heard that they decided to reboot the Superman franchise, especially because I enjoyed Superman Returns. I seriously don't understand why everyone dislikes that movie, it's a personal movie about Superman returning to Earth after 5 long years. It is a very personal journey in Superman's life, and while it lacks of a decent fight scene, I found it very enjoyable and satisfying, especially where Lex Luthor is left at the end. You don't need to kill a villain in order for the hero to succeed, you know?
I mean, I like big fight scenes, and most of the villains in Superman could give us a pretty epic fight scene, but there's a lot more in the character. It's no wonder why directors such as Michael Bay succeed, people like special effects, robots, explosions, hot chicks, etc., you go to the movies to shut your brain down for a while and just relax.
The cinema formula repeats itself over and over and over. Protagonist is in a bad moment in his/her life. A problem (antagonist) rises and it just happens to affect our protagonist. We spend a good chunk of the movie looking for solutions. Everything is lost for a second, but the protagonist finally finds the strength to overcome the problem, the end. Then again, this does not apply to every movie, but it's what I call "playing safe", and it works. Chances that you exit the theater satisfied are high.
Then, there are movies like "Eden Lake", where the antagonist wins. It was a great movie because I constantly cheered for the protagonist to survive this ordeal. So the movie starts with a couple spending their vacations on Eden Lake. They find some teenagers who are causing them trouble, things get ugly and they eventually want to kill the couple. They kill the man, and the rest of the movie is watching the woman trying to survive. I was enjoying the movie because I thought that she was going to survive and perhaps they could reveal at the end that her boyfriend is alive and on the hospital. What I didn't knew is how terrible the ending was, with the woman being killed by the teenager's parents. In the end I hated the movie. Everyone on the bus expressed how unsatisfying the movie was thanks to that horrible ending.
Now that we got the basics covered, let's move on to Superman, shall we?
So I went on an exchange program back on 2010 to Austria, and while checking IGN I saw an article revealing the new director for the Superman reboot. It was Zack Snyder, director of movies such as 300 and Watchmen. At first I was excited because he had a very high score on Rottentomatoes. Every one of his movies had a positive percentage on the site, except for that bird movie he directed in 2010, one with owls. I guess he wanted a new boat, and I can't blame him, new boats ain't gonna buy themselves.
Sucker Punch was going to be released soon, and I wanted to watch that movie. I never bothered watching a trailer, reading the synopsis, but I trusted he would give us a decent movie. I was horrorized that a director that I had on such high regard could direct a movie that bad. I seriously can't explain what I saw, it was bad, really bad, like, CGI all over the place, why? Well... why not, I guess? I was still optimistic about the new Superman film, though, every director releases a bad movie from time to time, so it was no biggie.
Then from 2011 to 2012 I watched from time to time Watchmen and 300, and made a discovery: Zack Snyder lacks of a directing style, a trademark. What do I mean by that? Well, let's say that Tim Burton just released a new film, what can I expect from it? I know it's going to be visually appealing, with dark themes, and the protagonist will probably have some issues with his father. If Michael Bay releases a new movie, I know exactly what to expect: hot girls, explosions, patriotism all over the place, more explosions, probably some racist stereotypes while we're at it, and product placement. I sure feel like having some delicious Mountain Dew after leaving the theater!
When I was watching 300, there was action all over the place, very little dialogue and story. And when I watched Watchmen, there was a lot of story and exposition, but the action was very limited. Sucker Punch was... a movie, I guess, with CGI, explosions and action all over the place, but the action was not enjoyable in this one. I had a lot of fun while watching 300, but on Sucker Punch, I just wanted to leave the theater. Now, when you compare these three movies (haven't watched Dawn of the Dead or Legend of the Guardians), they have nothing in common, no signature, to say it this way, from the director. That was a major problem because I didn't knew what to expect from the Superman film, and that's when I got worried for the first time.
The only guarantee we all had was the fact that Nolan was involved. Well, David S. Goyer too, but then again, he directed The Unborn, and wrote the Ghost Rider movies... so yeah... Nolan was aboard the project, and The Dark Knight Rises was not released yet, so we all thought that this Superman movie would be a masterpiece. I'm actually wondering, after watching this movie, what got Nolan so impressed with the story treatment.2. One year before its release and our expectations:
So I used to post at IMDb, and there was some dude who worked as an extra on movies. He got to work as an extra on this specific movie. One of the citizens who is running while Superman and Zod fight on Metropolis, so you can't really get a lot of information from an extra. He didn't say much if I have to be honest, only that he hated Lawrence Fishbourne because he acted like an idiot towards everyone, and that Snyder was some kind of goofy guy, unlike Nolan (he also worked as an extra on The Dark Knight), who was more serious.
I was expecting Brandon Routh to reprise his role as Superman/Clark Kent because I felt he did a good job on Superman Returns. Fun fact, actually, some reviewers predict that one of the problems with Superman Returns is the fact that the actors portraying Clark Kent and Lois Lane were too young. I don't know how that affects the movie or it's box office performance, but now that I think about it, yeah... it was a bit weird.
Moving along, Henry Cavill is announced as Superman. I didn't know how to react towards it, I haven't seen any of his movies, but I watched Amy Addams on other projects, so it was a pleasant surprise when they announced that she would be Lois Lane. Russell Crowe was an excellent choice for Jor-El, and it shows. His performance was pretty good on this film, but I'll explain more about it in a moment. The rest of the cast was a bit "mehhh" for me, I only cared about Superman and Lois Lane, and the villain, I guess, but I was very unfamiliar with the actor too.
Then, at Comic-Con 2012 they finally released a teaser for the film. My reaction? Highly unimpressed. It was just Superman floating on the sky, and on the road asking for a ride, nothing more. I guess they wanted to point out that this was going to be more about Clark Kent becoming Superman, with lots and lots of development, and while I had some hope on the project, I did not like the teaser.
Then, they released the trailer. It was well received by the audience, but that's when I got very, very worried. Sure, it was awesome to see Superman as an outsider, segments with his Earth parents, fight scenes, Superman flying, etc, but then it hit me: way too many elements! The trailer told us that we would see the fall of Krypton, Superman as a kid, Superman as an outsider trying to find his place on this world, Superman finally accepting his destiny and getting the outfit, then getting arrested by the army, and an epic fight scene. That's what I got from the trailer, but while everybody was happy saying that this was going to be the "bestest" movie ever, I was worried some of these elements would feel rushed. I know this is a 2 hour and 30 minutes film, but I still feel it was not enough time to explore it all. Perhaps if they had a more simple approach like in the past movies, this movie could work. Again, I was nervous, but still optimistic about this project.The following section contains spoilers about the film 3. Zack Snyder's Man of Steel
Call me crazy, but after watching that lengthy introduction, I had a bad feeling about this film. You know what introduction I'm talking about, when they show the DC Comics Logo, Legendary Pictures, Synocopy, etc. I'm just nitpicking, but I like it better when the presentation of those companies is simple, instead of... well... the actual presentation. The more "creative" it gets, the more I feel I'm going to regret watching this movie.
So we finally see Krypton, and the first thing that comes to my mind is "Zack Snyder obviously watched Avatar before filming this movie". Seriously, just watch it, what happened to it's old design? I have nothing against this new version of Krypton, but most of the elements don't really matter. I guess it's cool to see Russell Crowe riding that flying beast while trying to get the Codex, but again, is that really necessary? I can't stress this enough, but why not a more simple approach? Instead we have this extremely complex chase where Jor-El is trying to avoid Zod in order to get the Codex while riding this flying beast. Guess Snyder loved that scene on Avatar where Jake jumps to his flying creature that he said "my Superman must have that". While I enjoy the action, I feel this contributes little to the story. If you ask me, the movie should start on Zod's trial to save us some time. That way we can focus on the real protagonist, Kal-El/Superman/Clark Kent.
Also, I'm not familiar with the comic, so I'm not sure if the natural breeding thing and the social classes thingy is from the comic book, but again, I feel we could focus more on the characters instead of these elements that won't add anything to the story. Oh, and replacing the crystal technology for this black dust thing? Yeah, nice move Snyder, nice move [/sarcasm]
Well, at least now we're going to focus on Clark's childhood, right?
Wrong! As we see Kal-El's spacepod flying through space, we get one of the most horrible transitions in the story of cinema, with Clark Kent already on Earth, on some ship, doing something. There's not even a real reason for this transition. For example, in Batman Begins, it starts with young Bruce Wayne on his house, then he falls on that well, and we see an adult Bruce Wayne waking up on some prison. It made sense because he was having a dream about that experience. But in this film, for no reason at all, we go from the destruction of Krypton to an adult Clark Kent. I wouldn't have a problem with this if it wasn't for the fact that we see a young Clark Kent on the trailers. We know that we'll have flashbacks eventually. Why not just tell this story in a linear way. The transitions aren't even that good when you think about it, it randomly jumps from adult Clark to young Clark. Or at least that's how I perceived it.
So we have this adult Clark Kent on this ship, I don't know why. It is implied that he works in places from time to time, but it's not really shown why. Is it to help anyone he can whenever he can? Is it to have a job? I mean, he worked on a cafeteria, but I don't know why. I gues he's trying to find his place on this world, but it is poorly written. Here's what it says on Wikipedia:
"After Jonathan's death, an adult Clark spends the next several years living a nomadic lifestyle, working different jobs under false names to cover his tracks and hide his identity."
Why is he trying to hide his identity? Because some kids saw him lift a school bus? But then we get another flashback after that incident where Clark is still at school. I just don't understand why he is living a nomadic lifestyle.
Eventually he learns that there's a "thing" on a place (sorry, I forgot where it was), and for some reason he feels like checking it out. No motivation at all, he simply hears someone talking about some research somewhere, and says "well, I have nothing better to do, so why not?". It's a bit baffling when you hear that Nolan was impressed with the treatment of the story when most of the writing in this movie is lazy. I'm sorry, but it is, we don't understand our protagonist or his actions, he's just there, and period.
Lois Lane is also on that place, and after that terribly wooden acting from her part (shocking, I know), and terrible dialogues ("I was expecting you tomorrow" "That's why I'm here today"), she's taking some picture on the night with her Nikon camera. I sure feel like buying a Nikon camera after this movie is over. She spots a man far away, and instead of reporting it, she does what all of us would do, go check it out by herself! It is revealed that there's a spaceship hidden on the snow, and we get to see some weird robot thing. I guess it was used to attack intruders and stuff.
Now, I want to ask everyone a question. If you had a camera with yourselves and saw an alien robot floating towards you, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?
b) Taking a picture
If you chose b (taking a picture), congratulations, you just impressed Nolan! And you probably got yourself killed, again, congratulations. Okay, I will stop with the Nolan stuff now. But seriously, she finds a floating robot that heads towards her, and her first reaction is to take a picture of it. It nearly gets her killed, luckily, Superman is right there to destroy the robot and save her life. I would care a little more about her if it wasn't for the fact that she placed herself in that situation. She's responsible of her fate. If she got on that situation unwillingly, I would care for her, but that's not the case. At this point I'm starting to fear for the movie itself. When Superman starts fighting Zod it all made sense, but I'll get into that in a moment.
So, what was the thing buried on the ice? A KRYPTONIAN SPACE SHIP! I'm not asking for much, and I can accept a few new things in Snyder's film, but that's their excuse for the Fortress of Solitude? A 20,000 year old Kryptonian ship? And while the audience is amazed by David S. Goyer's incredible script, I'm wondering how is it even possible that the ship is still functional. And even if it's functional, how is it possible that the current kryptonian technology is compatible with a ship that old. No wonder all of Krypton's population was doomed in the first place, they never got to evolve their technology. And don't tell me that their technology was so advanced, it was impossible to upgrade it, it's just bad writing. I mean, how many script revisions were made?
So Kal-El finally meets his biological dad, and we get a good chunk of exposition dialogue. Something about Jor-El and his wife wanting to have a natural son so that he would have free choice and stuff (which, I insist, adds little to the story, might as well just skip it), and finally presents Jor-El with the Superman outfit. Is it me, or they are turning every element into a plot device? Ahhh, whatever, so we see Superman fly, which is odd because I thought at this point he already mastered that ability, I mean, how did he got to that mountain so fast if he didn't knew how to fly? Lois Lane arrives on a helicopter, so I assume it wasn't that simple to arrive. Perhaps he knew how to fly, but the scene strongly implies that this is the first time that he is flying, and when you think about it, he is not able to control his flying at one point, and falls to a mountain (destroying it), and flies some more.
The aliens finally arrive and I already lost all hope on this film. Yes, General Zod and his followers finally arrive to Earth because the ship Kal-El found sent a distress call. Lois Lane is brought to the army because she knows about Superman, and Superman decides to surrender himself in order to save the human race.
For some reason Zod wants Lois too (it is never explained), and they finally get on his ship. Superman can't adapt himself to the atmosphere of the ship, because it is the same from Krypton, and falls unsconscious. Zod's plans are revealed in a dream sequence. Why? Seriously, why does Superman learns his intentions on a dream sequence? For some reason Superman knows that Lois Lane is familiar with Kryptonian technology and gives her that "S" thing, which brings Jor-El's consciousness to the ship, giving them an advantage. After this sequence, it all makes sense to me, I finally understand Snyder's horrible intentions...
4. The whole movie is nothing but filler in order to watch Superman fight
Think about it? All of the elements so far have only been brought to the table in order to get the action scenes the kids ask for. We are forced to endure more than half an hour of mindless fighting. And while I enjoy from time to time some mindless action and explosions, I believe Superman is above that. The characters have no personality, except for Jor-El, I guess, but the rest of the cast feels really flat. Not even Amy Adams, who I find a charming and talented actress can help the horrible script. Henry Cavill is a very serious Superman who I just don't care for. The movie gives me little reasons for me to care for his character. Snyder tries to hide his horrible intentions, and he succeeds, much to my dismay. This movie is really all about two superhumans fighting against each other. The movie could start with Superman fighting Zod, and I feel I wouldn't be missing a thing.
Also, it really bugged me the amount of product placement on the movie. 7/11 all over the place, Sears, between many other things. Also, I'm sure that Superman got many persons killed in the middle of the fight, as they were destroying buildings like if they were cheap legos. Sure, he had no choice, but still, how about trying to lure Zod into a place with no civilians, and if that doesn't works, fight him on the big city. At least I would know he tried. But no, none of that happens. Not much happens at all. Just mindless fighting, the general from Matrix Revolutions trying to give Superman a hand, I guess, something about a bomb that would create a black hole and kill Zod's followers. I didn't pay attention to that because you just can't focus on mindless action and scientific stuff. Maybe if I watched the movie again, I guess, but it's unfair. Like watching Watchmen without any knowledge of the graphic novel. You have no idea what's going on on the opening credits, and that's unfair.
Not much happens, except for some more fighting. Oh, yes, Lawrence Fishbourne is trying to save a girl, because we must also focus on those who have no chance of changing the outcome of the battle. More fighting, then... the unthinkable. In order to save a family, Superman snaps Zod's neck. What was Zod's plan after that? Just keep shooting lasers? Why lure Superman into killing him? And why does the scene ends so fast? Superman just broke his one rule, he killed someone, just cries a little, and that's it.
Overall, Man of Steel is one of the most disappointing experiences I've had in my life. I'm sure there will be a sequel with the same production team, including the writer and director. I really disliked this film, but I hope they learn from their mistakes and make a superior sequel.
Doc, it wasn't my intention to offend you, and I apologize, I hope this review makes up for my previous review.
Now, if you don't mind, I'll watch the rest of The Dark Knight. Been typing for hours!
My top 10 favorite movies are:
1. The Shining
2. It's a Wonderful life
3. How to train your dragon
4. Almost famous
5. Die hard
6. The godfather
7. The godfather part II
8. Star Wars Episode V: The empire strikes back
9. Back to the future
10. Indiana Jones and the last crusade