Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Man of Dumb; or, How to Wreck a Franchise While Making Lots of Money

Yes, it made $668m on a $225m budget; and yes, there will be a sequel to Man of Steel (2013), which all sounds pretty good...

Until you realize that Avengers made $1.5 TRILLION on a $220m budget. Sure, Avengers had an extra year to make that money, but do you think Man of Steel is going to nearly triple its take in one more year? Or how's this for shaming: Amazing Spider-Man (2012) cost $230 and made $752m. Confining ourselves to 2013, Man of Steel made less than Gravity, it made less then Monsters University, it made less than Fast and Furious 6.

I'm sure the makers of Man of Steel are very happy to nearly triple their budget; and I don't think immediate box office is the be-all and end-all of judging a movie; but I just wanted to give some context to how well this movie did--and how well it could have done if it had been a good movie.

Because Man of Steel is a bad, dumb pointless film. There are so many bad choices made in the film that it would take too long to enumerate and describe them all. I'm sure, for each person who saw it, a different set of problems would stick out. So I won't talk about everything I thought was off, but here's a few things I noticed:

a) As many people have noted, the tone is dour, the color palette is dark, and the overall feeling is so grim. You can do grim Superman--he's the only child of a doomed planet, so sure, there's grimness there. But it's so unrelentingly grim that it basically comes off as trying too hard.

b) Did we really need to spend so much time rehashing everything from his backstory? Guardians of the Galaxy may have to stop the story to explain who these characters are, but Superman's origin can be told in four panels.

c) Just as an example of the bad scene construction, there's a scene where Clark finds an alien ship and he's about to stick his key into the ignition (basically), there's a robot protector behind him that he can't see. Oh no! Wait, what? See, it's shot as if we should be worried about what will happen to Clark, but (a) we don't know that the floating thing is a protector who will attack Clark; and (b) we don't know that putting in the key will turn off the robot. So basically we have a moment where Clark wants to do something, but what, why, and who opposes him?

cSub1) Which reminds me of another dumb move: when Zod's forces go to grab Kal's escape pod, one of them crashes into the barn to find it--and there it is. Did the Kents not try to hide it? As we learn when the evil Kryptonian leaves the barn, the escape pod was hidden in the basement. But by not showing us that first, the first impression is just that the Kents didn't hide the escape pod.

d) The big crisis for Clark seems to be whether he'll choose Krypton or Earth. Or maybe that's not the crisis, because, seriously, who expects Clark to choose to join with Zod--especially after Zod shows him the skull-strewn future? There's one moment where Zod tells Clark that he's destroying Krypton by destroying this one ship--and Clark does it, which seems like a big decision. And then the film goes on and on, with him having to fight Zod again to choose humans over Kryptonians. Blah. How many times are they going to make us watch dumb fights that all prove the same theme?

All that said, I want to highlight one moment at the end that I liked: when Clark comes to the Daily Planet as mild-mannered reporter, he meets Lois Lane, who knows his secret; and she gives a little smile and says, "Welcome to the planet." And that is just about the only humor in the whole movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment