What If MAN OF STEEL Had Been In Color?

man-of-steel

Man of Steel had a lot of problems, and unfortunately Batman v. Superman looks to replicate some of them and add a few more. Which is a shame because Henry Cavill is an awesome Superman and Ben Affleck looks great as Batman.

These folks color-corrected Man of Steel to see how it would look if it were spared Zack Snyder’s monochromatic dreariness. It actually looks like a Superman movie, which would have been nice, though it still would have been a Superman movie in which Clark Kent just stands there and watches his dad be killed by a tornado.

Advertisements

Super Animation From Bruce Timm

How did I miss this? To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Superman, Bruce Timm and Zack Snyder collaborated on a short full of classic Superman action. It’s wonderful (if only some of that wonder had appeared in Snyder’s Man of Steel):

Additionally, Timm has directed a Batman short — the first appearance of his version of the character (from Batman: The Animated Series and related shows) in a decade. Titled Batman Strange Days, it will appear on Cartoon Network on April 9th. I’ll post the link when it becomes available.

Batman Strange Days

Now, if only the brain trust at Cartoon Network would bring back Beware the Batman

Tim Vs. Superman ( MAN OF STEEL Review, No Spoilage)

Superior Super

Better than the movie.

Saw Man of Steel yesterday.

Didn’t love it. Sorta liked it.

If I let myself, though, I think I could hate it.

There are some movies that are deeply flawed but I come out of them loving them anyway because what I remember about them is the good stuff.  The Dark Knight Rises was like that. It fails in some major ways, but it is audacious in what it attempts and gets so much right and is just so thrilling that I loved it (though not with the same passion as I love its immediate predecessor) .

Man of Steel flips that dynamic on its head. It gets quite a few things right, but what lingers in memory are its failures.

The casting is excellent (though Amy Adams, who I generally adore, isn’t as good a Lois Lane as I’d imagined she would be). Henry Cavil is a fantastic Superman. The villains are pretty great (especially Antje Traue as Faora-Ul, who seriously upstages central baddy Zod).

Faora

The action is all very good to excellent, if at times too frenetic and unclear.  The story is smart and restructures the story we all know all too well by now in interesting ways. Largely, the creator’s approach to making a Superman for our time is admirable and successful.

Except…

There is no heart here. There’s a virtual geometry of a heart, pumping away in predictable throbs, but there’s no blood in that geometry, no heat. No humanity. The only truly human moment in the film is when Jenny Olsen (Jimmy’s much hotter contemporary iteration) panics while trapped in a terrible situation…and Jenny is barely even a character in this movie. And it’s the actress who brings the humanity, not the script or the direction. Suddenly, in that moment, I cared for one of the characters on a visceral, rather than an intellectual, level.

The film has absolutely no sense of humor. None. Zilch. I don’t want comedy, I don’t want camp, and I hated those elements in the old Christopher Reeve movies. But I do want wit, I do want humor, I do want irony, I do want to fucking smile every once in a while.

And please. Please please please. Please spare us the Space Jesus crap. Sure, it’s easy to find all sorts of subtext in a Superman story  if you want to (he’s basically more Space Moses than Jesus anyway, and was created by a couple of Jewish kids to boot), but when you start making the subtext hamfisted text it’s just embarrassing. Bryan Singer was guilty of this in Superman Returns too. Don’t bash us over the fucking head with the allegory: having Superman spread his arms as if he’s on a cross isn’t clever, it’s just stupid and obvious, especially when paired with a line of dialogue like “You can save them all…”

Also, spare us the jingoistic military recruitment video before the film that uses heroic imagery of Superman to inspire more kids to enlist to die pointlessly in far off lands. How frigging manipulative and cynical can you get?

There have been a lot of complaints that the movie makers went too dark and gritty with the film, and for the most part I disagree. There could certainly be a bit more color on their palette visually, but it’s fine, and I don’t think the story or characters are too thematically dark. I like the uncertainty and humanity they bring to Superman, and I prefer a noble person struggling to do the right thing to a two-dimensional symbol of heroism who is unfailingly perfect. I don’t mind Superman killing occasionally if he sees the need, though the need has to be overwhelming and clear and earned by the storytellers (there’s at least one big failure on this point in the film).

Overall, I’d give Man of Steel a very shaky B-. I’m glad they’ve done well with it, because I mostly like the elements in the mix and am glad they’re getting to continue with those elements. I just hope that next time they address some of their failures and make a movie I’ll actually want to watch a second time.

Superman’s Rash Solution

The Bottled City of Kandor

Today, in honor of Superman’s 75th anniversary, I’d like to share a story…

Not many people are aware of the fact that the Bottled City of Kandor actually uses kryponite-run nuclear reactors for power, and there is a (relatively) huge mass of the element beneath the city. Naturally, mining the ore can be very dangerous for those of Kryptonian descent, and early on even the best protective measures proved insufficient, as miners continued to develop terrible rashes even when wearing highly shielded suits. Superman ultimately solved the problem, of course, by developing a special cream which completely eradicated the rash and even had a mild pleasant scent. This salve is now sold in pharmacies in Kandor under the name “Kal-El Mine Lotion.”

Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be here all week…

I’m Reading DC’s “New 52″ Comics (Part 2)

Thousands of readers haven’t battered me with messages asking what happened to my reviews of DC Comics’s “New 52” which I launched here. For those thousands, and the millions who also didn’t mention it, I figured an update was the least I could do.

Frankly, I burned out quickly. Writing even capsule reviews of all these comics proved a more tedious task than anticipated, especially as I started trying to read some of the bad ones. The first I read that I didn’t even remotely enjoy was Men of War, which was half a pound of machismo in a hundred pound box of don’t-know-what-manhood-is. It also tried to embrace the heroism of the military at the same time as it told us the best soldiers aren’t soldiers at all but bold individuals who ignore orders and thus always save the day. Crap.

But it wasn’t until I tried to read Legion Lost that I couldn’t even finish one of the comics. It wasn’t really bad, it was just there. Nothing about the thing, neither story nor art, was remotely compelling. It was basic, serviceable superhero fare, and I described it to a friend as “what people who have no respect for comics expect comics to be at their best.”

I lack the fortitude to force my way through all these books and bother saying anything about them. If you’re interested in reviews, though, the net is full of ’em. I’ve been enjoying Erik Mona’s thoughtful reviews which put my paltry earlier offerings to shame (even though he enjoyed the war comic). You can find them at his blog.

Now don’t get me wrong, the New 52 isn’t a failure, either creatively or financially (as a publicity stunt, it boosted DC’s sales a great deal). There are a lot of problems with it, from really shaky chronological consistency to some really egregious institutionalized misogyny. Also, Rob Liefeld.

But there are some good ideas too, and I particularly enjoyed the treatment of the big three, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Each of their titles starts off strong, and I’ll be staying with those and a few others in the months ahead.