Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Film Year In Review--2013

Time for our eagerly awaited film wrap-up for 2013.  Overall, a pretty good year, and regular readers know I don't usually say that. In fact, I've sometimes had enough trouble finding ten films I liked at all, much less a decent top ten list.  This year it was no trouble (despite the fact I missed a number of well-received films*). Furthermore, a lot of films I felt didn't work were still, at least, interesting--bizarre, or thoughtful, or beautiful, or quirky or something worth noting.

Before we get to the fun, let's go over the ground rules.  I discuss only feature films first released in theatres or made widely available in theatres in 2013.  No TV, no shorts.  I'll give out some awards, note some trends, tell you which films were good, bad or ugly, and then list my top ten.  You can rush to the bottom right now, but really, most of the best stuff is along the way.

Please feel free to leave a comment, whether you agree with me or not--in fact, I doubt very much you'll agree with me.

(*I don't generally mention the films I don't see, or people will ask what's the point of my top ten list, but here are a few that, for one reason or another, I didn't get to in 2013: Short Term 12, Fruitvale Station, The Wind Rises, The Act Of Killing, Before Midnight, Stories We Tell, Wadjda, Blue Is The Warmest Color, The Great Beauty, At Berkeley, Fill The Void, To The Wonder, The Selfish Giant.  Some are only getting wide releases in 2014, so maybe they'll be in next year's wrap-up.)


2013 AWARDS:

Star Of The Year: Tie (and co-stars this year)--Sandra Bullock, no longer an ingénue, scores in two very different films, The Heat and Gravity; Melissa McCarthy, against all odds, has become the most bankable comic star in movies, turning two so-so comedies, Identity Thief and The Heat, into big hits.

Performance Of The Year:  Tie--Daniel Bruhl in Rush and Steve Coogan in Philomena

New Face Of 2013:  Jackson Nicoll as the grandson in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. The kid really commits. 

The Robert De Niro Award For A Once-Respected Actor Who Now Just Shows Up For The Paycheck:  Since this is the first time we've given this award, I think it only fair it goes to Robert De Niro, who starred in (at least) four awful films last year, The Big Wedding, The Family, Last Vegas and Grudge Match.

Song Of The Year: Frozen was reasonably tuneful, but the winner is from Inside Llewyn Davis.
 

 
Best Dialogue: 12 Years A Slave.  I don't know if people used to talk in such an ornate fashion, but with so much dialogue these days sounding like it was made up on the set (because it often was), it's nice to hear characters talk in a literate manner.

Worst Dialogue: The Counselor.  Cormac McCarthy's script, where characters stop the action every ten minutes to discuss the meaning of it all, may work in a novel, but not a movie.

Worst SequelDespicable Me 2. A gigantic hit, but I didn't see any point to it--Gru starts as a softhearted good guy, so where was there to go?  Didn't think much of the plot, either, and the solution to the crisis was too easy.

Most Disappointing Sequel:  Kick-Ass 2.  The original made my top ten list, but this just didn't work.

Worst Reboot:  Man Of Steel

Put It Out Of Its Misery Award:  The Hangover III

Least Honest Film Based On A True Story:  I think American Hustle has it right, starting the film with "Some of this actually happened." Virtually every film is ready to sacrifice reality for dramatic reasons.  For some films this is easy enough to ignore, such as The Conjuring, which is allegedly based on an actual case of demonic possession, but is about as realistic as Ghostbusters.  It's the stories that viewers may believe that are more troublesome.  For instance, some claim the captain in Captain Phillips was no hero but a screw-up (I have no idea), and P. L. Travers apparently despised the movie version of Mary Poppins. But I think the winner is Lee Daniel's The Butler, loosely based on the life of a real White House butler.  The film not only created two sons who existed only so they could live through every cliché of the civil rights movement, but also seems to have taken one of the highlights of the butler's life and turned it into a moment of bitter reflection, all so the filmmakers can lecture us.

Best Opening:  The first 13 minutes of Gravity.  How they got this shot without actually going into space I have no idea.



Worst EndingThe Spectacular Now.  I've heard the novel is more depressing, but really guys, after all you put us through, I don't need ambiguity to make the story seem deeper.

Nudest Nudity:  Rosario Dawson in Trance.

Nudest Suggested Nudity:  Cameron Diaz in The Counselor.

No One To Root For Award:  A tie--The East (eco-terrorists versus evil corporations) and The Kings Of Summer (overbearing parents versus snotty teenagers)

Most Effective Trailer:  Tie--Now You See Me and We're The Millers, trailers so well done that they helped take two titles no one thought would do much and turned them into solid hits.

Most Mindless Violence:  Tie--A Good Day To Die Hard and Man Of Steel.

Worst Villain:  Benedict Cumberbatch, you're no KHAANNNNNNN!

Least Sensible Motivations:  Maybe I couldn't follow its complex plot, but nothing anyone did in the last hour of Fast & Furious 6 made any sense to me. (Perhaps buying a ticket didn't make too much sense either.)

You Me And Dupree Award For The Film That While Nominally A Hollywood Comedy Is Actually A Surrealist Masterpiece Where Plot Points Are Introduced And Dropped For No Reason, Dialogue Is Unrelated To The Action, And Characters Do Things That Bear No Resemblance To How Humans Act: Grown Ups 2

Best Channeling: Sam Rockwell as Bill Murray in The Way Way Back, Miles Teller as Vince Vaughn in The Spectacular Now, Cate Blanchett as Blanche DuBois in Blue Jasmine



Most Enjoyable Screen Presence Who Appears In One Bad Film After Another:  Jason Statham, who starred last year in Parker and Homefront

Movie Most Like A Very Expensive Episode of Star Trek: Elysium (certainly not Star Trek Into Darkness, which didn't feel like Star Trek at all)
 
Most Predictable PlotThe East, where an agent infiltrates a group of people fighting against evil corporations.  Wonder if she'll turn?

Least Predictable Plot:  Tie--The Place Beyond The Pines and Movie 43.


Most Unnecessary Sort-Of British Accent: Will and Jaden Smith in After Earth; runner-up, Jodie Foster in Elysium

Worst Framing Device Now You See Me.  You know what's a good plot?  A ragtag bunch of magicians using their talents to lead the authorities on a merry chase. You know what's an idiotic plot?  These same magicians committing serial felonies at the behest of a secret figure all because they want to be part of a fictional magic society.

Enemy I'd Most Like To Face: Orcs from The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. They swarm a place but barely kill anyone, and their heads come off real easy.



Film They Made A Decade Too Late:  Not Anchorman 2, but The Internship

Least Deserving Performance Guaranteed To Win An Oscar:  Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club

Most Missed Shots: White House Down—every ten minutes the bad guys have a clear shot with machine guns at Channing Tatum and miss every time (much to the audience's chagrin)
 
Story That Relies Most On Coincidence And NonsenseBlue Jasmine.  A few examples:  Jasmine's sister Ginger visits Jasmine in New York, where she spies Jasmine's husband Hal with another woman.  It's a big city, but okay, that's the one coincidence you're allowed. Oddly, it never really goes anywhere as Jasmine finds out her husband is a serial cheater elsewhere.  Once in San Francisco, Jasmine plans to become an interior decorator. Even if this is the sort of job a real person would do outside a Woody Allen film, how does she decide to do it?  She takes a computer class where she can learn all about this mysterious thing called a computer so she can get some sort of decorating certificate online (rather than have a friend turn on her computer and go to the page where Jasmine can take this pointless test or course or whatever).  A friend in the computer class invites her to a tony party in Marin County where she meets Dwight, who's articulate, handsome, rich, connected and, oh yeah, his wife just died and he needs an interior decorator.  Jasmine lies about her past but when they're downtown to pick up an engagement ring for this whirlwind romance, by pure coincidence they run into Augie, who hates Jasmine and knows all about her background, which he spills on the spot.  Dwight, who could have easily checked these things if he actually cared about the woman he plans to marry, dumps her on the spot.  Then Augie mentions he just saw Jasmine's adult son Danny, who'd disappeared.  This is a double coincidence--Augie knows where her son is, and the son, last seen on the East Coast, just happens to live nearby (doing one of those Woody Allen jobs where he deals in second-hand musical instruments though he's a Harvard-trained lawyer).  And I'm not even getting into the simplistic characters and plot mechanics surrounding Chili, Dr. Flicker or Al. Still, it's one of Woody's better efforts in recent years.

Film That's Really As Horrible As Everyone SaysR.I.P.D.

House Of Sand And Fog Award For Reminding Us How Miserable Life Is:  Inside Llewyn Davis, a depressing week in the life of a depressed loser who's on a losing streak.

Went A Long Way To Go Nowhere AwardThe Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

 
TRENDS AND OBSERVATIONS

Numbers Racket: Movie 43, Room 237, 42, 20 Feet From Stardom, 2 Guns, 12 Years A Slave

Impacted Colon: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, August: Osage County, Thor: The Dark World, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, One Direction: This Is Us

Names Make Good Titles:  John Dies At The End, Parker, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Frances Ha, Blue Jasmine, We're The Millers, Don Jon, Percy Jackson, Captain Phillips, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lee Daniel's The Butler

Why So Serious?: Ender's Game, Man Of Steel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire--action films don't have to be jokey, but they shouldn't be grim.

Pretentiousness Alert (Pointless Black And White Division): Nebraska, Frances Ha and Much Ado About Nothing

British Women With Stories To Sell Must Be Brought To The United States: Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

Game Time:  Ender's Game, Hunger Games, Computer Chess

Harrison Ford, Ultimate Authority Figure: Ender’s Game, 42, Anchorman 2, Paranoia

Want To Be A Winner? Team Up With Losers: The Internship, Monsters University

Middle Class White Girls Who Steal To Be Cool: The Bling Ring, Spring Breakers

Shaggy, Burned Out Hipsters Who Run An Old-Style Water Amusement Area Like To Make Jokes Over Megaphones: The Way Way Back, To Do List

Guaranteed Comedy—Jump In The Pool And Lose Your Trunks: The Way Way Back, The To-Do List

Art Is Life Moment: In The Wolf Of Wall Street we watch a woman get her hair cut off for $10,000 to buy new boobs, while in real life we're watching a woman get her hair cut off to be in The Wolf Of Wall Street.

The End Of The World As We Know It: Apocalypse now with This Is The End, Elysium, Oblivion, Man Of Steel, The World's End, Thor 2 and maybe a few others I missed.
 
Side Entrance—Movies That Start The Plot At A Sideshow: The Lone Ranger, Oz The Great And Powerful

Sympathy For The Terrorist (because, after all, we're the real terrorists): The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The East, Closed Circuit, Captain Phillips

White Guys In A Moving Vehicle Embarrassingly Singing Along To Wimpy Rap: Don Jon, We're The Millers


 
City Out Of Time: San Francisco, seen in 100+ million dollar movies in the past (Lone Ranger) and the future (Pacific Rim, Star Trek Into Darkness) but never in the present as far as I can remember.

Home Insecurity: The White House is attacked twice in Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down

Whimsy Is Hard:  Girl Most Likely, Serial Buddies, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
 
The Internet Is For PornDon Jon, Thanks For Sharing

Magicians In Vegas: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Now You See Me

Ooh, Look At The Nice Houses In Los Angeles: The Bling Ring, Enough Said, Afternoon Delight, Much Ado About Nothing

A Ripped-Open Fuselage Really Sucks: Iron Man 3, World War Z

Michael Cera Is The Most Awful Person Who Ever Lived This Is The End, Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus

Marky Mark Kidnaps A Rich Guy, Ties Him To A Chair And Beats Him Up: 2 Guns, Pain And Gain

If You Stand Right Outside Someone's Car A Vehicle Will Hit You: World War Z, The Spectacular Now

Kids Who Grow Up Without A Father Will Go To Great Lengths To Find Out About Him Though They Will Often Be Disappointed: The Place Beyond The Pines, Girl Most Likely, The Spectacular Now

When You Go Out In Nature You Really Find Yourself: The Kings Of Summer, Prince Avalanche, Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus, Drinking Buddies

Female Valedictorians Believe A Great Job Is Protecting People Around A Pool: The To-Do List, The Lifeguard

Jane Lynch Is A Poor Therapist: A.C.O.D., Afternoon Delight

Leonardo DiCaprio Is Ostentatiously Wealthy But Has A Big Secret: The Great Gatsby, The Wolf Of Wall Street

If You Work Alongside Kristen Wiig She Is Your Soulmate: Anchorman 2, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Despicable Me 2

Scarlett Johansson Is A Demanding Girlfriend: Don Jon, Her

 
RANKINGS


Good:

Play Dead, Side Effects, Sound City, The Croods, The Way Way Back, Captain Phillips, Kill Your Darlings, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks (though the flashbacks slowed the story down)


Okay:

John Dies At The End, Oz The Great And Powerful, Olympus Has Fallen, Wrong, It's A Disaster, Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries And Mentors Of Ricky Jay, Now You See Me, 42, This Is The End, Epic, Blue Jasmine, We're The Millers, When Comedy Went To School, The World's End, Pacific Rim, Afternoon Delight, Bad Grandpa, All Is Lost, The Ackermonster Chronicles, The Hobbit: The Desolution Of Smaug (not bad considering the first film was just awful), Jack The Giant Killer, Thor 2, Dhoom 3, Wrong Cops


Not Okay:

Struck By Lightning, Movie 43 (though so disgusting it's almost worth seeing), The Last Stand, Parker, Bullet To The Head, Admission, Identity Thief, A Good Day To Die Hard, Gangster Squad, Snitch, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Adventures Of Serial Buddies, Spring Breakers (though James Franco was something), Somebody Up There Likes Me, Gimme The Loot, The Place Beyond The Pines, Trance, Oblivion, Iron Man 3,  Pain And Gain, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek Into Darkness, Frances Ha, The Hangover III, Fast & Furious 6, The Iceman, The Internship, The Kings Of Summer, Man Of Steel, The East, World War Z, Much Ado About Nothing, The Bling Ring, The Heat, The Long Ranger, Despicable Me 2, Grown Ups 2, Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus, Red 2, The To Do List, Girl Most Likely, 2 Guns, The Spectacular Now, Europa Report, In A World...., Elysium, Prince Avalanche, Kick Ass 2, Lee Daniel's The Butler, R.I.P.D., After Earth, White House Down, Drinking Buddies, The Grandmaster, The Conjuring, The Family, Prisoner, Don Jon, Thanks For Sharing, Nebraska, A.C.O.D., Escape Plan, Percy Jackson 2, Last Vegas, Ender's Game, Hunger Games 2, The Counselor, The Call, Delivery Man, Broken City, Homefront, Inside Llewyn Davis, About Time, Anchorman 2, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Her, August: Osage County


Bubbling Under The Top Ten (in alphabetical order):

12 Years A Slave

Conjures up the horror of slavery as well as any films I've seen.

20 Feet From Stardom

Everybody is a star, but they don't all get the same attention.

AKA Doc Pomus

Maybe not as well put together as one might hope, but with such a great subject it barely matters.

Enough Said

Nicole Holofcener makes small, sweet films, and you think that's easy, try it youself.

Happy People: A Year In The Taiga

Werner Herzog takes us yet again to another place and another people.  It did, in its way, look like a happy life, except I'm too used to the warm weather out her.

Monsters University

Wasn't expecting much, but I think this was better than the original.

Our Nixon

Some amazing footage and more amazing sound from an era that seems so long ago, but whose influence is still felt today. (And the Ray Coniff singer who protests the war in the White House right in front of Nixon just before singing "Ma He's Making Eyes At Me" is startling.)

The Sapphires

Australian soul, and a great performance from Chris O'Dowd.

Warm Bodies

Yet another fine zombie film--who though the genre could keep working so well.

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Okay, it's overlong, and it often felt like Goodfellas II, but the stuff that did work was a lot of fun.


TOP TEN (in alphabetical order):

American Hustle

I'd been worried about David O. Russell. His last two films may have brought him awards and money, but I thought they were missing something.  But this film had what, at his best, he can bring to a film--spirit and humor and a sense that anything can happen.

Computer Chess

Generally, mumblecore doesn't do it for me, but this film, shot like a 1980 video, kept getting weirder and weirder until it reached a place few film do.

Dallas Buyers Club

I have no idea how accurate it is, but as a film this story of early underground treatment for AIDS is compelling, and Matthew McConaughey gives a great performance.  (It's also a good lesson in how black and grey markets start when you make something the public wants illegal.)

Frozen

The most delightful animated feature since Tangled.  Not surprising, since many of the same people worked on both films.

Gravity

When you think about it, it's only got two paper-thin characters and the simplest of plots, but who cares?  It's dazzling.

In The House (Dans La Maison)

An intriguing mixture of storytelling and a contemplation on storytelling.

No

How slick ads were used to convince people to vote out Pinochet.  (Some say it was a sad day when marketing entered politics, but they're usually the people who wish they had complete control of what the public hears.)

Room 237

Obsession is a great subject, and the crazier the obsession--in this case, crackpot theories about the meaning of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining--the more fascinating it is.  And, using footage from Kubrick and elsewhere, very well put together.  Wonder if people will start obsessing about this documentary now.

Rush

I knew nothing about Formula One racing and didn't want to know, but that's what movies can do--take you to a time and place you have no interest in and make you care.

Upstream Color

Small bits of it seemed to make sense, but essentially--on first viewing, anyway--it's incomprehensible.  Yet it still manages, on a microbudget, to be beautiful and touching. (Show this to your friends on a double bill with Computer Chess and then look for new friends.)

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips was amazing. He should get performance of the year.

12:40 AM, January 15, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While you called some films I thought were just Ok/meh, "Not OK," I find myself in general agreement except for "Oz the Great and Powerful" which I believe needs to be a contender for the top ten worst movies of all time. Really- James Franco's head needs to put on a post for that one.

Did you mention Romeo & Juliet?- it was a very slight adaptation but it was probably the first time I have been able to sit through that play without nodding out. So that's something. (Of course I liked the Great Gatsby adaptation too)

6:55 AM, January 15, 2014  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I see I made comment last year recommending A Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia be included this year's round up- which I'll admit I have and will never see- I just wanted to make fun of marketing people. However, I'm glad you ignored my advice (and not just for consistency's sake)- As you pointed out, there are several movie titles with colons out there & are, in my considered opinion, not pleasing to the eye at all and, as such, are an abomination and should be avoided

7:42 AM, January 15, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why didn't you like Her?

10:12 AM, January 15, 2014  
Blogger marxps said...

Disagree with American Hustle...just didn't care...about anyone or anything.

10:13 AM, January 15, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Boy did you nail Man of Steel. Talk about a suckfest.

Remind me why no "Out of the Furnace"? Release date wrong? I'm with you on Nebraska, felt like a film school student doing a project, but both ColumbusGal and I thought OOTF was incredible.

11:28 AM, January 15, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I had a chance to see OOTF but couldn't make it. Didn't get much attention from critics or audience, for what it's worth.

Thought I'd get some pushback on Her. I thought the setting was imaginative, and liked Joaquin's job (loved him, hated HER), but, when it was all done, too many assumptions in the script, not enough action, so it didn't amount to that much.

11:45 AM, January 15, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears that you saw a different version of Star Trek Into Darkness than the rest of us. Also, please consider an award for best totally CGI character. I nominate Smaug this year. Thanks for your post.

11:48 AM, January 15, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People used to write and even talk like they did in 12 Years A Slave in the early 1800s, up until the telegraph took over and more words were costly.

11:55 AM, January 15, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not believe people talked that way but yes they did write that way. I found the Nineteenth century book diction a very interesting choice but ultimately I don't really think it worked- I felt it detracted from the stark realistic brutality with artificiality- even if it was the artificiality of the time

12:09 PM, January 15, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of San Francisco, "Blue Jasmine" was partially set there and was set in the present (I believe? I would agree with you that Jasmine learning the computer was odd and seems to have been part of a story Allen probably wrote in the late 80's/early 90s but he didn't update it).

1:27 PM, January 15, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I guess you got me. I was thinking of cutting that category anyway since it was a bit of a stretch. Should have. Maybe I saw the film as set in the past, like you did. (The stuff in New York is, anyway. The SF stuff is the present, even if the plot is Streetcar.)

3:25 PM, January 15, 2014  
Anonymous srp said...

I thought Gravity was wildly overrated. It's funny that you complain about implausible coincidences in Blue Jasmine but not impossible ones in Gravity--that's not how satellite debris catastrophes work, the constant coincidences of "we're right next to the next escape vehicle" were ridiculous, and every single piece of orbital mechanics and physics was wrong. You can overlook that stuff in a movie about character or mythic tropes or questions of good and evil, but in a man v. nature adventure/hard-SF picture or story you need to make those mechanics rock solid. Think Flight of the Phoenix or Leiningen vs. the Ants.

3:43 PM, January 15, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Blue Jasmine," like a lot of Allen's movies, doesn't seem to be set in a specific time period - I think it could pass as being set in the not-too-distant past which would explain the computer bit (either that, or Allen himself doesn't really know how to use a computer and wrote that into the film, which is pretty funny actually)

Interesting that you liked the latest Scorsese. I recall you saying good things about "Hugo," as well. And you're not a Scorsese fan. Are these probably your favorites of his then, or are there others of his you like more?

4:24 PM, January 15, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I think Scorsese is often overrated, but I liked Goodfellas a lot, and this certainly had the same feel. Wolf has real flaws but I wasn't bored, or felt it was ridiculous (as I did feel about his Oscar-winner The Departed, for instance).

Gravity probably is, upon reflection, ridiculous in many ways, but it still is quite an experience. Blue Jasmine, which exists in a world we all have some familiarity with, did have some slipshod construction, as Woody Allen films so often do these days. I do agree the computer to him is some mysterious contraption, so of course you'd take lessons if you wanted to use it for anything. Perhaps this was an old plot that he never updated (like Spielberg's AI, where the heroes travel across the country to go to a computer that can answer their questions).

6:05 PM, January 15, 2014  
Blogger Jesse said...

This drives home just how few movies for grown-ups I see in the theater these days. The only non-kids' movie here that I made it to is Nebraska. (Or does Oz count? I took my daughter to see that one so I think of it as a children's movie, but I suppose it isn't in the same category as Monsters University or Planes.) I haven't even managed to get to the Coens' latest yet, though Rona and I are planning to rectify that in a few days.

9:19 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Yeah, but in ten years you'll have seen all these films.

11:53 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Jesse said...

I like to give myself distant deadlines.

11:56 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Ah, those are the days, those are the days. My daughter is now 26.

Come to think of it, the age when the lazy little socialist can get off her mother's plan and get her own health insurance. (As the husband, of course I'm entitled to stay on it until they start feeding me applesauce, or anyway tell me to think of the bunnies. Although I'd better check the latest regulations-that well may no longer be true.)

2:10 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I've seen many fewer films than you this year, but I did just see Man of Steel on DVD, and could be the lone voice suggesting it wasn't that bad.

As it started, I had the immediate reaction of "this isn't how Christopher Reed and Marlon Brando did it." It is certainly a humorless, grim view of the Superman story.

But this approach seems to be the intent in film versions of DC comic characters (indeed, why so serious, Batman). I like when reboots take a significantly different track - I am glad this wasn't just the Christopher Reed version with better special effects (and the effects were really good).

In particular, I liked that the villains were not as cardboard as they often are in superhero films. Zod was not a maniac. he had been bred to protect Krypton. He didn't want in particular to kill Superman, or Jarel for that matter. He would kill anyone who stood in the way of what he saw as his duty. I thought it gave a much better explanation for how Superman comes to become the protector of the World.

I also really like that we don't have to assume Lois Lane is an imbecile for not seeing Superman behind Clark Kent's glasses. The film lacked a lot of the fun, but I think was a nice introduction to I hope a few more Superman films.

8:08 AM, January 17, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The film did pretty well, but I thought it was just dull and grim. I thought Lois Lane was annoying and had no chemistry with Superman. I thought it was stupid how Pa Kent died. I thought the ending was idiotic--all that fighting when Superman could so easily put an end to it? (And the idea of the hero killing someone who's causing him trouble stopped being exciting when it was being done over and over on TV about thirty years ago.)

12:42 PM, January 17, 2014  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Agree that Amy Adams is miscast as Lois Lane. Pa Kent's death I appreciated as trying to do something different than the typical heart attack. And it serves to show why Superman is so committed to anonimity, since Dad was willing to die rather than have Clark show his abilities. But he still might have taken shelter under the car.

How could Superman have so easily ended the battle? He was facing 4 superhuman foes.

8:17 AM, January 21, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

We're almost off the scroll here, so lucky I caught your comment.

Anyway (spoiler), after a ton of fighting, including tremendous destruction and the potential for countless humans to die, it turns out all Superman needs to do is snap Zod's neck, like this is some CIA thriller, and not a movie about (allegedly) invulnerable beings. That's all it takes? Why bother with all the fighting? It's about overcoming his opposition to killing (as I noted, a tired idea even in TV for the last thirty years), but once he doesn't care, he can kill them all with hardly any trouble.

1:43 PM, January 21, 2014  
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