My 2013 Movies: Man of Steel (2013, at the theatre)
My blogging pal Ray had an amusing observation about that screenshot above from MOS: who, exactly, is young Clark pretending to be there? Kids throughout history have done this, but it’s because they’re imitating Superman. In a world where Superman isn’t Superman yet, who does Superman aspire to be? How does he learn this iconography?
It’s a funny question, and even before Ray asked it, I posed it to my boys after we’d seen the movie on Father’s Day. And although they are adept at explaining away a great many plot holes with tactics both clever and contrived, this one stumped them. And I think it’s because the inherent question Why is this shot in the movie? is one that rather defies a clear answer, and suggests a greater truth about Man Of Steel:
It’s gorgeous. It’s loud. It’s even fun. But it truly doesn’t make a lick of sense.
I’m glad I saw it on the big screen and in fact, I’m glad it got made at all. Superman is a character who will keep coming back to the multiplex every reboot or so, and he should. That such great care and expense and talent have all been utilized for the character in this go-around is, well, fine. It’s acceptable and decent. We should accept that these properties will simply cycle around through time, and some of them will be great and others won’t. We live in cinematic times in which, if we’re simply patient, we’ll eventually get the movies that we want.
And this is good and bad news, of course. Why, in my lifetime alone I’ve witnessed three entirely excellent iterations of cinematic Batman - and all three couldn’t possibly be more different from each other! Some might call that overkill - and they wouldn’t be wrong - but there’s also something kind of amazing about it.
I enjoyed more or less all of the acting in MOS; the production values were terrific and the score was great. I appreciated the fact that Snyder didn’t fall back on his old speed-ramping, every-shot-in-slo-mo tricks that have defined him and many hacks hacking in his wake. His filmmaking is not always my favorite, but I find him much more watchable than, say, Michael Bay, and Synder certainly has a better way with actors and - infinitely - editing than Bay does.
But you see what’s happening here? I’m accepting this because it’s not as terrible as other crap. MOS wasn’t great, I didn’t love it - I’m just happy that it wasn’t a complete waste. That’s not really what I look for when I’m going to the movies. I’ve become too complacent about crap, and although I’m not crazy about it, I’d rather be content than miserable.
Because it is fun, but when it comes to the story, that’s where MOS really and truly falls apart. The plot kind of lurches from one scene to the next, never quite losing you but never giving you a reason to believe, either. As I said, there are just so many plot points and resolutions that invite dissection - and not the good kind, where you explore a story’s constructs and rules (The Matrix) or you’re engaged by the hero’s obstacles and triumphs (Die Hard). Rather, MOS invites you to question logic, physics, societal implications and heroic responsibilities - but the movie gives no adequate or even sensible answers to these things. Instead, it fights you - challenging you with its rousing battles and actorly moments, but wearing its narrative flimsiness like…
Well, like a tablecloth a child would use for a cape. Cute, but fake.
Everyone rips off Michael Bay.
It’s just so unfair.
(original image via popcultureinfatuation)
(original image via vpbiden)
ATTENTION HOLLYWOOD MORONS: THIS. is how you film a gun fight scene. Please study carefully before stepping foot on a movie set again.
Pretty sure this is one of Michael Bay’s student films.
If Michael Bay had directed The Departed.
(original image via ComingSoon.net)
IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE IT’S TERRIFYING.
But what I’ve always found more upsetting is that, because Bay’s movies do make money, it encourages the studios to hire even hackier directors so that they can replicate Bay’s brand for less money. Bay’s filmmaking DNA has led to Ratner, McG, Dominic Sena, Simon West, and a host of rotten movie directors who can’t stage action, develop characters or tell a coherent story. The audience’s willingness to tolerate crap simply leads to worse forms of crap.
Michael Bay, all up in your childhood, messing with things.
Fuck you and fuck off Michael Bay.