Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Not Really Impressed With This Summer's Movies

I finally saw Man of Steel last night.  My reluctance was mostly due to the movie's running time, which my lower-back determined would be better experienced lying prone on my couch than folded uncomfortably into one of the seats at the multi-plex.

But I was a trooper.  Only got up once to stretch.

And while it was clear that Man of Steel was a very well-made movie, something was lacking.  Indeed, it was lacking in The Lone Ranger, too, another big summer movie, and if this review is to be believed, it will be lacking in the upcoming Elysium too.

So it says:
At last week’s screening, while I sat eating GMO popcorn and sipping high-fructose lemonade, watching a $100 million, clich√©-riddled exercise that glorified guns and explosive violence, I thought to myself: We are doomed.
 I'm not so sure we are "doomed" per se, nor am I concerned about glorified guns and explosive violence.  (I'm firmly in the "It's just catharsis" camp on that stuff.)

What bothers me is the "cliche-riddled" stuff.  What bothers me is the complete lack of story-telling craft in these movies.  We're talking about one-dimensional characters moving through poorly conceived plots.  We're talking about films that nailed the execution but totally failed in conception.

Why would you make a movie called The Lone Ranger, then make the actual Lone Ranger be a pacifist wimp until the very last act?  Are you trying to make his transformation from zero to hero implausible? 

And me, if I cast a star as big as Johnny Depp in the second fiddle role, then I would try and cast as big a star in the lead role.  That way you don't have to tack on superfluous sub-plots to justify hiring the star.

And how about just one climax?  One that has an actual emotional pay-off, instead of the one that just neatly ties up all the goofy plot's loose ends.

Not to ruin Man of Steel for you, since this shouldn't really be a surprise, but after Superman saves the world, that should have been it.  Bam, credits.  Movie's over.  Go home.

But oh no, after Superman saves the world, there's MORE.  He has to go fight General Zod, mano a mano, giving you two climaxes for the price of one.  (Maybe that's how the thinking goes...)

Me, I watched that and thought, "What if there were a clever screenwriter out there who could conceive a climax where Superman saves the world and defeats General Zod all at the same time?"  It could have been done.

I think what's happening here, though, is business, pure business.  They write the script to get the budget, and once they get the budget, they get so distracted by what you can do with modern filmmaking that you lose sight of some of the intangibles. 

Sure, you can engineer an amazing train crash or destroy Metropolis in the most beautiful way possible, but you can't make me care.

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