Saturday, June 15, 2013

Up, Up, and Away?

Doug:  Today's a double-dose of the Last Son of Krypton.  For starters, those of you who have seen Man of Steel are invited to leave your spoiler-free impressions of the film, characters, and actors.  I for one have been curious about the casting of Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as the father-figures; but I suppose that's no stranger than the former casting of John Schneider in the role of Pa Kent.  We'll open the doors to full discussion/disclosure in a week or so.  Thanks in advance for your courtesy to those readers who've yet to see this film.  We've slotted a post for June 25th to fully spoil with your comments.

Doug:  Additionally, we'd like you to use this link to a CNN article about Superman at the age of 75 and his continued relevance in comics, as a role model, and as the torch-bearer for the comic book industry.  It's somewhat thought-provoking, and should give you a little fodder to come back here to leave a thought or two.  Thanks!

Doug:  Below you'll see the updated Bracketology grid.  New polls for the entire 2nd round will be posted later this evening.


Humanbelly said...

This may make you crazy, but I'm gonna go slightly OT right off the bat, responding to your mention of John Schneider in SMALLVILLE. I picked up the first season at Costco (!), and have been watching it for the first time ever (never saw the show before), and I have to say that I think he was an inspired bit of casting. I come (originally) from a small Michigan farm community, and he could BE one the farm-dads I remember. And I completely understand his point of view in relating to this son and worrying about how exactly to guide him along with his gifts. Heck, I even recognize the mistakes John K makes. Kevin Costner strikes me as being cast in that model, very likely. We'll see, o'course.

Wow, 75th Anniversary. Difficult indeed to keep an ever-evolving fantasy character relevant over such a long span of time. I must confess, the red trunks are finally-- FINALLY-- starting to look silly to me, too.

I've become a philistine.


Fred W. Hill said...

I saw Man of Steel last night (as it was the 51st anniversary of my arrival on planet Earth, my friend Shane treated me). Admittedly I've never been a big fan of Superman -- among the thousands of comics in my collection, I doubt I have more than a dozen starring Superman -- but I mostly enjoyed the movie. We got another tweaked version of the origin -- some changes much more significant than others, particularly in how Lois Lane comes into the story and in the death of Pa Kent. Then there are the fight scenes -- they reminded me of nothing so much as the horrific battle between Miracle Man and Kid Miracle Man in M.M. #15 -- Alan Moore & John Tottlebon didn't flinch in how they depicted this struggle between two incredible powerhouses in a major metropolis, in which the death toll of innocent bystanders was in the thousands (and that's not counting the tens of thousands Kid Miracleman murdered before M.M. arrived on the scene). Likewise, in Man of Steel there are scenes of massive destruction, which also brings up bad memories of NYC on 9/11/01. The massive deaths weren't depicted, but I can't be convinced that all those buildings destroyed were conveniently vacant, that people weren't killed by the thousands by those explosions and falling debris even as they were attempting to flee.
In this context, a scene near the end that has some Superman fans upset shouldn't have been surprising at all. Even with that, Superman mostly retains his saintly aura -- after all, he was the hero who without question saved the Earth. Yet in the aftermath of that fight, he would also have a frightening taint (perhaps like the U.S. after winning WWII by using atomic bombs).
A very interesting addition to the mythos.

david_b said...

Thanks much for the article link, Doug. It was fairly insightful.

I'm split on the revelancy question regarding Supes. One the one hand, I lament the likelihood that yes, the concept of Supes is behind us now, admidst all the 'dark knight' stuff, what have you. The Supes concept is one of purity in intention, an unwaivering, simplistic force for good, but one born out of how media painted agression in the world. I weep for a world now that considers that no longer relevant, and as I so dramatically mentioned a few days ago.., I don't recognize this world any longer.

Sure evil was always complicated but whether it was the media itself who painted things black and white back during WW II or whether we ourselves chose to look at world uprisings as such (chicken and egg idea), Supes was a universal concept we all believed in (the shy type, suddenly unveiling a power to right injustice..).

Not that the idea's ever going away, but in the guise of an all-powerful caped man in red-blue tights symbolizing that concept..? What I don't like is both this film and the last one, weaving in layers of self-reflection that perhaps works against the classic Supes idea.

'Course timeliness was a big argument against the Reeves movies of the late '70s/early '80s. In an age of 'anti-heroes', who would have thought something as cheesy as Supes would have worked well enough for a successful franchise.

Excellent scripting, a little help from an 'old movie genre' tribute like Star Wars, and Reeves himself carried it off superbly.

I'm afraid that's not in play here.

I've never been a Supes collector or fan for that matter (although I'm seriously thinking about putting down cash for a MIB Super Powers Supes..just because it does look pretty awesome), I'm more endeared to simple entertaining hero movies, the concept of 'You will believe a man can fly' and the concept behind this particular hero.

From what I've seen of this and the last film.., these are NOT that type of entertainment. Too much of what originally draws us to these characters is lost once the movie's completed.

DC..? C'mon now, you can come up with much better movie ideas..

Waiting on the next Avengers (and hopefully Antman) films.

- David 'Still wishing that both the last 'Green Hornet' or 'Green Lantern' films were half-way decent, since I've NO interest in the Batman franchise' in Wisconsin.

ChrisPV said...

I wanted to love Man of Steel. I really did. But once you get into the last 45 minutes, which is really just one LONG-ASS action scene, the brain of the movie just shuts down. Clark gives not one solitary damn about the people who are dying by the thousands around him; at the very least he can't be bothered to actually try and save any of them except for one (1) Air Force Pilot. And then that ending. Ye GODS, that ending.

I came out of this movie angry. Really angry. I wish I could go into more detail, but them's spoiler territory.

Tony said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I absolutely HATE, HATE, HATE the new suit.

Doug said...

Just walked in the door not 15 minutes ago from seeing it. Overall it was OK, but I have several issues (some for later). The film was way too long. Superman is too powerful. We've known for years that his co-existence with characters of the power level of the Batman is problematic -- after seeing this and putting it alongside the butt-whuppin' Batman got at the hands of Bane, I'm not optimistic about how a JLA movie will play.

I loved the flashback scenes of Clark's childhood. Kevin Costner really did sell Jonathan Kent, and the pivotal scene in Clark's development was very well-played. Pete Ross sure doesn't look like Curt Swan's Pete Ross!

And Perry White with an earring? C'monnnnnnn.....

All criticisms of the ending are valid. There are some things that just don't happen.

More several days from now.


Mike said...

I'm planning on taking an afternoon off of work this week and treating myself to it, so I'm just skimmin' the comments because I really want to go into the theater blind. Superman is one of my favorite characters when he's done right. The kind of Superman I like is the one who is inspiring, honorable - the kind of hero a kid can look up to and admire. The one I don't like is the one we have been getting a lot of in the last decade or two -- where writers try to drag him down to our level and make him "gritty" and almost seemingly unstable.

That being said, I am expecting to be disappointed by the movie ... I hope I'm wrong.

William Preston said...

Seeing it Monday . . . in IMAX!

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, and I'm not sure about their choice for an actor to play Superman...I guess there's not many guys could play that role. But choosing Michael Shannon as the villain was brilliant. That guy is one hell of an actor.

Graham said...

Saw it today. I enjoyed it overall, better than most of the others (Superman II is still the best to me). My Superman collection when I was growing up matched Fred W. Hill's pretty much....a pretty low percentage of my total. Special effects and fight scenes were pretty cool, too.

Forgive me, but I don't know anybody's name in the movie other than Costner, Lane, Fishburne, and Crowe, but the choice for Superman was an improvement from the last one (though Reeve would be hard to top)....I thought he did a good job. Lois Lane was okay....the character has always gotten on my nerves...there, I said it, and General Zod and his female sidekick were first rate. The parental choices were good, too.....not really feeling it for the Perry White role though.

I wasn't particularly fond of the ending either, but wasn't sure how it would pan out otherwise.

William said...

I saw "Man of Steel" on Friday, and I am now going to say the most controversial thing I've ever said on the internet - here goes - I much preferred "Superman Returns" to this movie. (There I said it. Let the chastising begin).

So, after seeing this, I'd have to say that Chris Nolan has done to Superman what he did to Batman - and that is definitely not a good thing in my book.

While the movie had a couple of nice moments, overall I have to say that I didn't care for it... at all really. This is best illustrated by the fact that I have no desire to see it again. In contrast, when I walked out of the theater last year after seeing "Avengers" my immediate thought was "I can't wait to see this again."

Without getting specific or spoiling anything, my biggest complaint is that it just didn't "feel" like a Superman movie. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something was just off about the whole thing. It just had no real heart, and the fight scenes and CGI were way too over the top. In fact, there was so much computer animation in this movie that it was practically a cartoon.

Furthermore, there were no really compelling characters in this film (not even Superman). The supporting cast wasn't fleshed out enough, and I just didn't seem to care that much about anyone in the movie. So, when they were threatened, it just didn't have the emotional impact that it should have. The creators tried to force you to care, but they just couldn't pull it off.

As for Superman himself, first of all I hate the new costume. It doesn't look any "cooler" than the comic book version, so it just goes to show that they only changed it for the sake of chaining something. And Clark/Superman was way too brooding and melancholy throughout the movie. I guess this was to punch the audience in the face with the notion that "This ain't your daddy's Superman!!"

The whole thing just left me cold. I walked out of the theater feeling more down in the dumps than upbeat and pumped, (the way a Superman movie should leave one feeling). Which is the major difference between this movie and "Superman Returns". While "Returns" wasn't a perfect Superman movie, at least it felt like it was really about Superman. Say what you will, but Bryan Singer is much beter writer and director than Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder, IMO. Singer seems to have a genuine love for the character, and I think he really set out to make a good "Superman" movie (and I always thought he pulled it off). Whereas Nolan and Snyder simply took the very basic elements of the concept and then created their own character in a sort of Superman costume. I didn't feel any genuine affection for the history of Superman. The result was an overblown CGI orgy, with lots of punching, that only served to disconnect the audience from the characters and the story (the weak and convoluted story).

That's all I have for now. There are several specific things I could bring up that I thought went wrong with this film, but that's a discussion for a future date.

Karen said...

For the most part, I liked the film. I give it a B. I enjoyed the flashbacks, seeing Clark develop, his relationship with his parents, and his search for identity. I like the actor, Henry Cavill -I think he did a great job. In fact, all the actors were fine. It's the last third of the movie that I felt got out of hand. So much destruction, and what disturbed me was Superman's seeming disregard for the innocent people around him. And yes, the act at the end is something that was difficult to swallow. I left the theater wondering why the film-makers felt the need to have that happen. But Doug has set up a spoil-away discussion on June 25 where we can wrangle with that!

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