Thursday, July 18, 2013

Suddenly you crave IHOP

There are riots in the streets. That's what the news is telling me, anyway. I understand, though. I understand and share the same feelings of anger, sadness, and overall helplessness being expressed by everyone in both peaceful and non-peaceful protests over this injustice. I mean, really -- fuckin' Adam Sandler's movie beat out Pacific Rim at the box office? THIS IS BULLSHIT. *cue rimshot, followed by gunshot into blogger's fat mouth*

But things aren't so bad, he says to himself, because there's an Amy Adams film currently in theaters, and the American public did the right thing this time and supported her with their dollars (it also might have something to do with the movie being about Superman, but whatever). Yeah, it took me about a month to finally get around to catching Man of Steel, but I was busy chasing dreams and money and gaining traction on maybe a little of both.

I guess Superman Returns didn't do it for anyone, otherwise why would they be rebooting the reboot? Maybe it was because Warner Bros. couldn't handle Real-Life-Dom-Cobb Christopher Nolan wrapping up the money-making behemoth that was the Batman trilogy, and like some clingy desperate girlfriend or boyfriend unable to accept the plain & simple fact that It Is Over, they begged and pleaded Nolan for something -- ANYTHING -- to continue doing what he was doing. Can you imagine being Nolan and having the power to turn any slick asshole movie exec into fuckin' panicked MacGruber with just a simple "No" or "I don't think so"?

Nolan then stroked his imaginary beard and thought up the idea of overseeing the Superman reboot, provided they find someone else to type out the words and someone else to direct. The Brothers Warner and their sister Dot then visited movie jail and paroled Zack Snyder, telling him that if he wanted to screw around and make another masturbatory fever dream about hot chicks fighting zombie Nazi orcs and giant robots, he better first earn himself some new box office capitol and get with what the Noles is cooking up. So Snyder shows up for work and just to earn extra brownie points, he even apes Nolan's filmmaking style of combining steady widescreen visuals with handheld close-ups and natural looking source-style lighting.  At least that's how I imagine it all happening.

Now we have Man of Steel, and here's a quick rundown: Father freaks out about Krypton ending and rockets his son the fuck out of there just in time to get shanked by some asshole named Zod. Rocket Boy lands on Earth, sun gives him superpowers, he's raised on a farm by the Kents, he grows up, lives life, Zod arrives on Earth to take over/settle grudge, superhero shit follows. Also, there's a cute reporter named Lois Lane who wants the scoop because that's what reporters do for a living. If I can continue being a completely reductive asshat about it, it's kinda like if you took the first hour of Donner's Superman film and followed it up with the second hour of Superman II, minus Lex Luthor and his bullshittery, and mostly told during the first half in a fractured flashback type of form. 

Speaking of the Donner & Lester films, I went into this flick wanting to enjoy it as its own thing, and I didn't bring any baggage from the previous Supermans, other than "please be better than parts III and IV". But the more I think about this flick after the fact, the more I can't help but compare it to those first two joints. But more on that later.

This is how old I'm getting, seeing movies where guys who used to be the main draw are now the supporting players. Like, before the film, they showed a trailer for something called Paranoia starring one of the Hemsworth boys, and Harrison Ford & Gary Oldman in the secondary roles. I remember when Ford was a leading box-office sensation for what seemed -- fuck that, it didn't seem, it WAS -- my whole life and now he's reached that point in his career where he'll always be an A+ Hollywood Legend For Life but unless his work in the future involves revisiting such roles as Indiana Jones or Han Solo or Joe Frantic, his blockbuster days are kinda over.

That's just how it is for your famous types as they approach the twilight of the good times; they live out the remainder of their limelight by showing up in someone else's flick to give it a touch of stardom, or they disgrace themselves by getting caught screaming sexist/racist epithets on the phone to their trophy wives. In other words, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain in Machete Kills.

In the case of the former, here are Exhibits B and C: You have the star of Gladiator and L.A. Confidential playing Superman's birth father, Jor-El, and you have the star of Field of Dreams and Dances with Wolves playing Superman's Earth daddy, Jonathan "Pa" Kent. As Papa Number One, Russell Crowe is decent in the role, doing that monotone-ish thing he does most of the time whenever he's not ordering his fellow Gladiators to form into single columns or trolling the fuck out of Parker Barnes. He has a lot more to do as Jor-El, compared to Marlon Brando in the O.G. Supes film. He runs, jumps, swims, rides a flying Avatar lizard -- and yet, Brando exuded a fuck ton more gravitas just by simply holding up some glowy-pointed crystal at a motherfucker. In this case, the fat fuckin' turtle beat the doughy hare.

It's the same case with Costner in the part of Daddy Nombre Deux; his Pa Kent has a lot more screen time compared to Glenn Ford in the '78 version, but goddamn Ford hit me much harder in his 2 or 3 scenes then K.C. does during his sporadic appearances in the first hour. I mean, even Costner's badass final moment where he gets swept up by a tornado didn't have as much of a punch as Ford suddenly grabbing his wrist and dropping dead. Maybe that's less a reflection on the film and more on my personal baggage; I have old parents and having one of them keel over due to a fondness for bacon is more likely than them getting the Twister treatment, is what I'm saying.

Speaking of Pa Kent's final moments, I thought it was interesting that in Man of Steel, it's shown that he died in 1997, which also happens to be the same year Costner's The Postman was released. So I don't know if that was a coincidence or some kind of fucked up joke to have Costner's character die the same year his directing career died (but then was resurrected -- or at least had one hell of a death spasm -- in 2003 with his really, really, really fuckin' good Open Range). And you know what, man? I liked The Postman. I'll sooner watch that then your beloved The Artist -- AND YES I JUST FUCKIN SAID THAT SHIT.

I gotta give it up to this flick for showing more of Clark Kent's formative years, confirming my suspicions that a guy with his abilities would have a pretty shitty time during the already pretty shitty period of life known as Grades K-12. Poor kid has these panic attacks because his x-ray vision and shit goes on and off unexpectedly like your average car alarm, causing him to run for the nearest alone place -- where of course he's followed by half the school wanting to peep out the freak in his freakiness.

That scene brought up a painful memory of the time I felt way-too-nauseated in the 4th grade and ran out of class to head for the bathroom, only to barely make it a few feet out the door and past the pavement, where I violently spewed out Pop Tarts and Lunchables onto the grass for what seemed like forever. I thought to myself "How can this get worse?" and then God answered back by cueing the school bell, and then everyone in the 4th grade came out of their classes and gathered around as I vomited in such a manner that even that pie-eater in Stand by Me would've been like WTF. I tempted that God once again by wondering yet again if it could get even worse again. And that's when I heard one of the kids yell "IT'S COMING OUT OF HIS NOSE!!!" followed by a collective EWWWWW from both children and adults. And they were right. It was indeed spewing out of my nose as well.

But at least Clark Kent makes up for his spazzy moments by saving a bunch of these assholes after their school bus falls into a river. So some of these kids and townspeople are saying it's a miracle of God or something like that. Meanwhile, God apparently wasn't in a miracle mood when he let those kids in The Sweet Hereafter know all too well what it feels like to spend your last moments on Earth becoming drowned human popsicles. Some would justify it by saying that the extinguishing of all that young innocent life was His punishment to us for letting gays get married. (Meanwhile, He seemed to be OK with slavery and that whole Hitler thing. But when them homos get to making vows....)

Speaking of Hitler, the villain known as General Zod is kinda like him in that he's a genocidal cunt as well. He wants to make Earth more habitable for his fellow Kryptonians, and while someone with his intelligence and leadership ability could probably figure out a way for both humans and Kryps to live together, he's rather just let all the humans die out. I can't blame him. I mean, what would Kryptonians get out of living with humans, aside from non-stop requests from kids for piggy back rides to the sky, people bugging them to use X-ray vision on them so they won't have to go to the doctor, or being asked at barbecues to start up the grill with their heat vision. Worst of all, a Kryptonian will always be the first person a human will call when they need help moving, and it's not like the human will put any effort in lifting his or her side of the furniture.

Then somewhere along the way, people would start to resent the Kryps for taking all the x-ray jobs and the house movers jobs and whatever other jobs that humans would be passed over in favor of Kryptonians. That would suck for the Kryptonians but would be awesome for mi gente, because now all the anti-immigrant laserbeams of hate would veer away from them and move towards the Kryps.  About fuckin' time, I say.

Zod is played by Michael Shannon (not to be confused with Michael J. Shannon from Superman II ), and he's pretty good here, as should be expected when you cast a well-respected Academy Award-nominated actor. I especially dug how half the time he sounds like Dolph Lundgren. There is more to his character than the Zod portrayed by Terence Stamp in the Donner/Lester flicks; ultimately, he does what he thinks/feels is for the greater good, his fellow Kryps. The O.G. Zod, on the other hand, just wanted to rule because it's good to be the king, or something. And yet, I found Stamp's version of Zod a lot more fun to watch.

I feel that way about the film in general. While they might have gotten more into Superman's past, and given more complicated motivations for the villain, they also sucked a lot of the fun out of it and replaced it with a darker, more "real" feel to it. I mean, I get it -- that's what Nolan did with Batman and it worked really well in that case. But I don't think that same tone fits the Superman world at all. I'm not familiar with the comic books at all, so maybe that kind of thing worked better there (I'm assuming they've tried the grittier/darker approach on some of their runs), but I guess maybe I'm just burnt out on that sort of thing after the Nolan Batman trilogy.

It just doesn't feel like a Superman movie, and maybe the filmmakers knew it, which is why they called it Man of Steel instead of, I don't know, Another Superman or some shit. Even the flying is different; he doesn't so much take off from the ground as he explodes from it, getting into some weird explod-o-flight rather than the graceful gliding & landing Reeve did back in the day. The flying in this movie looks like a pain in the ass and probably takes a lot out of you, wearing you out and leaving you in no mood to put up with some chick asking you to guess what color her underwear is. Fuck that shit, find me a couch for me to rest my weary frame, woman.

But whatever, man. On the other hand, you have Superman Returns which did keep the spirit and tone of the Donner/Lester flicks but came out a dull experience. So at least this one never bored me, even at close to two-and-a-half hours. The pacing never lags, and the second half of the film is an extended battle with plenty of explosions and demolished buildings and what has to be thousands of human casualties, not to mention a brief interlude in space. Remember when Warner Bros. came thisclose to making a live-action Akira movie before canceling? Well, the last half-hour or so of Man of Steel is probably as close as we'll ever get to having one. All it's missing is Supes yelling out "TETSUUUUOOOOO!!!!!" and some dude turning into some giant mess of organs and junk.

The last Superman flick kinda pussied out of the whole "truth, justice, and the American way" deal and while this movie doesn't use the line (or if they did, I didn't hear it because I was chomping my nachos like a madman who eats nachos), it at least had Superman say something to the effect of "I was raised in Kansas, that's how fuckin' American I am, you black son-of-a-bitch", which I appreciated. And I would've appreciated it even more if the actor saying that line wasn't as British as socialized medicine. But no, they couldn't find someone in this motherfucker who looked Murrican enough to play an alien from another galaxy. They had to go across the pond for that. The fuck? That's as insane as casting an Australian to play a Canadian. I will not hear of this madness no longer. Anyway, this Cavill guy, he's fine in the role. He's also fiiiiine as a hot piece of man-ass, but that's besides the point. He's no Reeve, this one, but Reeve is currently merged with the infinite, so he'll do.

As for the reason I even watched this fuckin' thing: It takes almost an hour before Ms. Adams shows up as Lois Lane, tough-talker and hard-drinker. She also writes for the Daily Planet and calls men out on their dick measuring (figuratively speaking). Just as I'm sure she became a lot of baseball fans' dream girl in Trouble with the Curve as an attractive lady who knows a hell of a lot about baseball stats, here she'll probably give camera geeks a minor case of the swoons during the scene where she puts together her Nikon D3 like it was La Femme Nikita's sniper rifle or something. Actually, I take that back. Camera geeks, being the insufferable twats that they are, will probably scoff at this girl for having such an outdated camera -- the D3 is soooo 2008, a-hyuk, a-hyuk. 

When she first meets up with Superman, she's just been injured, so he uses his heat vision to cauterize her wound. She screams and he's holding her and I guess that's the film's way of saying that they just fucked without actually fucking, or something. Most of the time she's just going around asking people for stories about the guy, following the lead until Laurence Fishburne tells her to quit that shit before he gives her the Ike/boot treatment. OK, not really, he's just her boss and all he does is suspend her without pay.

She's good in the movie, but I think I'm gonna have to hold out until the sequel to really have an opinion of her as Lois Lane. I say that because she doesn't get as much to do, on account of the movie being more about Superman's past and dealings with that General Zod motherfucker. The nerve of the filmmakers to waste time on that bullshit when they should really be telling the story about this ace reporter. But with what little they give her, she doesn't get the chance to really Margot Kidder up the proceedings. She also doesn't get the chance to embarrass herself with some "Can You Read My Mind" bullshit, either, so I guess I should be grateful for that. But c'mon guys, up the Amy quotient when you make part II.

She does get to wield a space blaster, though, so that was kinda cool. But because she's The Adorable Amy Adams, she wields the weapon awkwardly.

And hey, it's better than Superman III and IV, which is all you can really ask for at this point.

In conclusion, if you want to feel funny about feeling funny about Diane Lane in old age makeup and grandma clothes, or if 9/11 wasn't enough mass destruction and death in a city for you, go see Man of Steel.