Monday Morning Critic – 11.8.2010 – Robin Hood and Superman


Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

One of the more amusing things I’ve read this week was the re-imagining of Superman from bad-ass savior of mankind into a super-powered pansy. And for all the thrashing and wannabe diatribes about how this reflects on manliness in this country but I think it reflect on something else: They don’t understand the nature of Superman, pure and simple.

Listen to me now and believe me later.

Every major character of significance in comic books reflects on a greater mythos of humankind. Batman is about angst, about being an honorable man in a dishonorable world. Most superheroes fall somewhere along these lines mostly because it’s easy to understand. Nearly every comic book hero seems to have that overlying aspect to it; someone gains powers, is born with them or makes something that gives them powers and they want to do good things with them. They fight against people who want to use them for personal gain. Spiderman may have been told “With great power comes great responsibility” and it’s a maxim that follows nearly every superhero. And every supervillain seems to follows it’s opposite, “with great power comes great stuff to take” as well, but Superman is different. It’s because at his core he’s a special character and a special hero.

Superman is about what we could be and should be. He’s the person we want ourselves to be and uniquely American. He’s the shining light in the world, the realized perfection of what we want ourselves to be but can never achieve.

It’s not a matter of machismo or any other concept out of a Miller Lite commercial. Superman is above that concept and I think people miss the point when they say that they’re making Superman into the sort of pantywaist that headlines a Twilight film like it’s the worst thing in the world. It is but not because Clark Kent is becoming a hipster wannabe you want to punch in the face. It’s because the fundamental understanding of Superman is being ignored.

It’s what killed Superman Returns and will kill every attempt at doing anything involving the caped hero unless you understand this fundamental character aspect. It’s why Zack Snyder is perhaps the best choice for the reboot of the franchise because he understands and uses myth better than any director currently working. This film is Superman’s last great chance at being the superhero that Superman set the stage for.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Robin Hood (2010)

This was easily one of the more disappointing films of this year, all things considered. I enjoyed it but not as much as I thought I should. Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott separately are usually things that will make me pay money to see them. Together they’re usually a candidate to be on my Top 10 of the year list. The two don’t get together unless they think they can make a brilliant film. American Gangster and Gladiator are two films I’ve seen more times than I can count, Body of Lies is shockingly re-watchable and A Good Year was my pick as the most underrated film of the Aughts. So Robin Hood had a high ceiling going in, especially when you look at who Ridley got on his cast list: Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Danny Huston, Max Von Sydow, Matthew Macfadyen and Kevin Durand in principal roles.

I mean you couldn’t screw this up, right? Robin Hood the fantasy character has been done so much but not really brilliantly, so there’s plenty of room to work with. Plus you’ve given a director who has proven he can make an awesome, epic period piece $200 million and a first rate class to play with. No chance this is going to be anything but a brilliant epic, right?

Wrong! Robin Hood ended up being the most disappointing film of the year for me because it lacked clarity of vision. Travis nailed it on the head in his review in terms of its quality and problems. I really wanted the film to be something he and I were going to argue on incessantly but he’s right in its quality and rating. At least the theatrical version, which we both agreed on, was lacking. But it was still a must-purchase for me because Russell Crowe is my favorite working actor right now. I will always admit to being biased in his favor because his body of work has never bored me. It may have not completely entertained me but if he chooses a project it’s usually going to be worth the ticket price.

The DVD advertises an “extended cut” with a good chunk of more footage added back in. Ridley Scott tends to add in large amounts of material into his director’s cuts, going so far as to release a new edition of Kingdom of Heaven that was twice as long (and twice as good), and the extended cut has a bit of the promise the film had going in. There’s a sense that this is closer in spirit to Heaven than with Gladiator, as there’s enough added back to give us a glimpse of what was being attempted but not enough to completely revamp the film.

Mild recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Morning Glory – Rachel McAdams has to deal with a wacky television morning show cast of characters, including Harrison Ford as a crusty old man and Diane Keaton generally mailing it in.

Skip It – This reeks of “everyone is doing it for the money” … the trailer is awful and I just can’t see it being interesting.

Skyline – Aliens invade. Stuff blows up.

See It – There’s something about these “end of the world” films that are at least moderately entertaining because of the spectacle involved.

Unstoppable – Denzel Washington and Chris Pine combine to save some kids from a train that can’t be stopped.

See It – Tony Scott and Denzel Washigton haven’t made a bad film together. They haven’t made many that were very good, but together they do have an interesting ability to pick entertaining films to make together like Tony’s brother Ridley has with Russell Crowe.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at Kubryk@Insidepulse.com and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @MMCritic_Kubryk.

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