Total Pageviews

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Man of Steel: 2013

 Release dateJune 14, 2013 (USA)
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenplay: David S. Goyer
Music composed by: Hans Zimmer
Producers: Deborah Snyder, Emma Thomas, Charles Roven,Christopher Nolan

   "The Man of Steel" is the brand spanking new super hero title to cash in on our famed red and blue marvel from beyond, Superman. At the get go, I figured the film would have been taken over by Christopher Nolan, director of the highly grossing Dark Knight trilogy. However, this time Zack Snyder would be bringing the superhero blockbuster back...or would he? 

   Our film follows the last son on Krypton, Kal-El, and his struggle to find his place on the planet Earth. There are some movie trilogies out there, where I kept thinking to myself, "They could have just made these into one really long movie." "The Man of Steel" is the opposite of that. There are many parts in the film where they could have just stopped and enhanced everything through description and plot. Instead it felt more like Snyder was going through the motions of making a dark superhero film.  When you have almost every line of dialog specifically made to be in a trailer, I'm not really listening to whats being said. I could tell you that the dialog sounded nice, because trailer exposition sounds really nice, but I'm not really listening to what's being said because we've all heard this same thing a bazillion times! "You were meant for great things, Kal-El." "You can help the humans, Kal-El. But they're not ready for you yet." "You will give the human's an idea to strive toward. They will look to you as a god." I didn't even have to think about those to write them, because they're already there! Snyder knows it! We all know it!

   I mentioned earlier that I believed that "The Man of Steel" was filmed to be dark and edgy mostly due to Christopher Nolan's insight. Therein lies the problem for me. Or at least the main problem. If you really thing about it, there were two ways that Superman spoke to people. As a comic book every-man  and as an idea for the American way. These are the two main ways that Superman could be geared both to children and to adults. He's a guy who can do anything, and wears red and blue spandex while doing it! He saves the girl, and gets the girl. These are very primitive ideas, and when you try to build more on a primitive foundation, and take the most super of all superhero's and try to make him normal, he falls apart (as well as the movie). There's nothing there anymore. The one thing that made Superman work and seem plausible, was the simplicity of his story. You could wrap your head around the idea that there's a guy who can fly and shoot lasers and everything was okay. If you take a movie like Batman Begins, you have a guy who dresses up like a bat and solves crime...and that's it. They translated it to an adult audience well, and that's why it works. 

   I suppose I had better talk about what I liked about "The Man of Steel". I thought that Henry Cavel as Superman and Michael Shannon as General Zod, were wonderful choices for casting their characters. They both played their parts the way they were supposed to. Michael Shannon was extraordinarily campy during some scenes, and I found myself enjoying those moments more than the entire movie. Maybe I'm just the wrong person for this movie, but with that said is there really anyone I can market this film to? I don't think anyone would like this movie. Well, maybe if you've never seen or heard about Superman, but what are the chances of that? The action was sort of WAYYYYY too much. Where is the film going to go from this? They blew the entire budget on the final scene containing 50,000 7-11 and IHOP product placements (so I guess I'm contradicting myself). I actually would have liked it if they made up a superhero, and used him for the film instead of Superman. It still would have been BAD, but at least kids could keep the man of steel as a children's superhero. Batman and Superman no longer exist in the eyes of a child...and that kind of makes me sad. 

   Can directors and audiences never have that connection again? Where you would go to see a superhero movie or an action/adventure movie, where everything's whimsical and campy? Special effects nowadays are only used to enhance the intensity of everything (unless it's for a kids film, where everything is a special effect). And if we've all left that behind us, then alright. Fine. I'll take it. But you have to stay away from making movies like this! People have to realize that you can't take a character from one side of popular culture, and adapt it to the complete opposite side of the spectrum. You don't make a modern romantic comedy starring Wilma and Fred Flinstone. You can't get away with making a drug/crime film starring Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura. It just won't work. But hey, in twenty years, who knows?



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Moonrise Kingdom: 2012

Director: Wes Anderson
Screenplay: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Released: June 29, 2012

I'm happy to announce my return to film critiquing due to a recent opportunity at school. I haven't reviewed any movies for quite some time, so please bear with me while I work out some kinks.

The classic coming of age story has been done over and over. Film gurus, from Rob Reiner to Peter Weir, have taken on the challenge to illustrate the perfect coming of age story. Many people will argue that they have succeeded in their attempts.

"Moonrise Kingdom" tells the story of 12 year old Sam Shakusky, an unhappy Khaki Scout who escapes the wrath of his troop with his newfound love Suzy Bishop. Together, Sam and Suzy evade the factions of the town that have begun to search for them. At first, the film is a very plain and realistic depiction of life but as the film progresses, it gains a certain whimsical feeling.

Upon watching this movie for the first time, it is easy to not become emotionally attached to the characters as you would for another movie. Many people would stop right there and say "Well I'm not going to waste my time watching a movie whose characters I can't relate to." Is that what a good movie really requires though? "Moonrise Kingdom" is its own character that you become attached to. The film itself almost has its own personality. This is what sets "Moonrise Kingdom" apart from most films. This is mainly due to the genius of Wes Anderson's visual technique. Anderson's use of completely symmetric, wide-angle shots and one point perspective has given the film an outstanding aesthetic value.  It seems that each and every scene was meticulously sorted out. Many viewers can relate to the obsessive compulsive tendencies of Anderson.

Many of Anderson's visual styles have been derived from such film giants as Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is undoubtedly the king of one point perspective, just watch any of his films. From "A Clockwork Orange" to "Full Metal Jacket", they all contain wide angle shots of highly symmetrical places. Anderson has been highly successful in his adoption of these techniques, which make "Moonrise Kingdom" that much better.

With a renowned cast of actors (Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, etc.) "Moonrise Kingdom" has exceeded my expectations. I look forward to future (and previous) Wes Anderson films.


Watch the trailer!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness: 2013

   I haven’t written a review in several months because my blogger account is acting up once more, more violently this time around. And I am very frustrated because it’s summer time here in the beautifully muggy and buggy Los Angeles, and I haven’t been able to write for a very long I haven’t had anything to do in a very long time amidst the last minute grade boosters the teachers have thrown at us in preparation for our long awaited but meager restitution. So, in the meantime I plan to write as much as I can throughout the remainder of my vacation, and in doing so I hope to meet my previous quota of thirty reviews by August 13thAnd with SUMMER VACATION in mind, I plan on going to the movies much more frequently and reviewing all the movies I go to see (with my family). 

Three films I have in mind to review are, “Monsters University,” “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” and “Man of Steel.” When I started writing for CCT I regularly avoided “current” films because…the blog is called Cult Classic Theater. But since then my film preferences have deviated so drastically from what kind of film the title of my blog suggests I review, that I have decided to keep the title…but throw its meaning “out the window and soaring clumsily into the night. So let’s see how that goes and hope that, whilst reviewing more current films, I won’t be hated so much in the comment’s (like last time.)

“Star Trek: Into Reboot” is the highly anticipated sequel to “Star Trek: The Exposition.” This new film in the Star Trek franchise attempts to explore Captain Kirk’s struggles as a captain, once again, and Spock’s struggle to control his emotions, once again, and Ahoora’s struggle to maintain a relationship with Spock, once again. The story is generally the same as the first film, just written differently. Some people could argue that the last sentence just described how most sequels work, and they would be right, if the way to write a sequel was to do it with minimal effort. This isn't really a good sign, especially if you want people to come to the third installment of the franchise. And “Star Trek: Into Darkness” couldn't hide the amount of recycling it had done with the first film no matter how hard Benedict Cumberbatch frowned. However, there was no other film that “Star Trek: The Lost World” had stolen from than “Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn.” I don’t know what J.J Abrams was thinking when he chose to place so many parallels to these two films. And if you’re one of those fans who likes to chronologically organize every single Star Trek film, than please explain how this film AND Wrath of Kahn can both exist at the same time! One speculation of mine as to why Abrams had this happen was for the massive fan service! Why else would the second film have Kahn as the villain? But hold on a second. Let’s talk about Kahn.

 Now, it may not seem like it, but I don’t watch Star Trek all too often. However, I have seen the first episode that Kahn first appears in, and when Abrams tries to create it, he leaves one (among other things) astray. In the show Kahn and the rest of his people are classified as “augmented humans,” which means that they are much stronger and faster and smarter; essentially better in every way. However, the superior race that Kahn shows off in the show and movie, are insulted by the more current film’s interpretation of the character. In “Star Trek: Into Darkness” the only advantage to human beings that Kahn exploits is being PHYSICALLY better than Kirk and the rest of his crew. The only threatening aspect about Cumberbatch’s character was the fact that he could crush Spock’s skull if he wanted to. If you want to pay homage to a popular character in a franchise, don’t dumb down his character so that it’s better recognized by others otherwise unfamiliar to it. You give that character new challenges to face, and if it’s a villain we’re talking about (which we are) you need to have the hero’s learn new complex strategies to “dupe” the antagonist in the end.
   “Star Trek: Into Reference” was a poor attempt at creating a sequel to follow an otherwise well made first film. I will say that J.J Abrams can make things look pretty, and I will also say that he knows how to make a movie. And with that said, it has become very clear at this point that he did not care as much as he did. There are numerous plot holes, and the Enterprise’s concept of “cold fusion” leaves something to be desired…seriously, did anyone catch that? Cold fusion doesn't reduce temperature; it actually increases it…but whatever. I liked the acting, and I think that every actor had a somewhat solid performance, with the exception of Kirk, who was all over the place with this one. Cumberbatch’s performance was actually really good, and I think because of that he should be in more upcoming movies besides this one. The movie looked really good, like the first one, and I would have liked to see much more planetary exploration from a Star Trek movie instead of for just one scene, although, it is my sad prediction that we will not be seeing anything Star Trek related for a very long time.


Next Review: Moonrise Kingdom 2012