You know what film I’m most jacked up about this weekend? Man of Steel. Why? Because it might be the best film of 2013 when all is said and done; I wish that was hyperbole. It has a ton of hype to it, of course, and a ton of pedigree coming into it. For a summer that started out with Iron Man 3 and essentially ends with Kick-Ass 2 there hasn’t been a lot of high moments.
Man of Steel is poised to be that film that makes all the crappy ones from this summer worth it.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited for Man of Steel but I think we can boil it down to five.
5. Zack Snyder’s ability to blend the mythos of others into a grander story
If there’s a guy who knows how to take the grander mythology of someone else’s work into something more grandiose it is Snyder, hands down. Look at his work so far in the comic book genre, if you will.
–300 was a war story, told by campfire, before the biggest battle in Spartan existence.
–Watchmen was about the tolls of being a hero.
He’s done it with other films and genres, of course, but when you need a guy who knows how to craft the modern myth it’s Snyder.
4. Superb supporting character casting
When you look at the cast Snyder has assembled it’s pretty staggering. It’s not like he has a ton of A-listers mailing it in, either. The one thing that Snyder has done with his supporting roles is he’s cast them with high level people who have a tendency to never mail it in. You can tell early on he’s gotten strong performances from Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner, but more on that in a moment. Snyder’s cast never mails it in and the fact that he has an excellent cast whose down for what he’s selling is a good sign. You don’t cut a trailer with Costner and Crowe individually giving narration, and have it be bone-chilling, without having something good to say. You don’t get someone like Costner or Crowe, or Amy Adams (among others), unless it’s a good project.
3. Completely getting rid of anything from the prior series
It was the downfall of Superman Returns, I thought, in that it was beholden to the previous series. One understands why, of course, as it gives it a retro vibe and doesn’t require much story-telling to put it in the modern day. But Snyder restarting Superman from scratch gives him the same luxury that J.J Abrams has with Star Trek: he gets to play with it as he sees fit.
2. Michael Shannon as Zod
This feels like this could be the right role at the right time for him. If anyone could wind up becoming a superstar out of this film it might be Shannon, the guy every film fan loves but isn’t the star he should be. Zod is an interesting role, and an interesting casting, and if anyone could turn it something spectacular it’s Shannon.
1. A new character arc rooted in reality
So far I don’t know jack squat on what Man of Steel is going to be, story wise. But right now we can tell what’s being built. Clark Kent is a man of two worlds. His biological father (Crowe) looks to him as someone who can be the embodiment of what humanity aspires to be. Superman the character has always been about hope; he’s the ideal, something to strive for. He’s the best of what we view ourselves to be. His Earth father (Costner) just wants him to fit in. All he wants is for his son to have a good life, to not be an outcast. It’s engaging and it’s something we can identify with.
It’s different because as a character Superman’s a tough one to deal with. He’s invincible, super strong and flies (among other things). There’s nothing interesting about a badass with no vulnerabilities. But the implications of it as a parent are so much more interesting and I’m curious to see where this goes from here.
A Movie A Week – The Challenge
This Week’s DVD Movie- The Internship
I was going to review a DVD but I’ve been on a Mad Men fix lately and that’s been more fun than for the column, I suppose. Thus comes this week’s film, which I saw in theatres. I’ve been lazy with theatre reviews lately, of course, and Travis already reviewed the film right here so I didn’t want to duplicate efforts. Thus I saved it for this week’s column.
Simple premise: Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are salesmen who just lost a company to sell for. Finding themselves as unskilled for the new world they live in, but skilled at making people buy things, they enroll at the University of Phoenix so they can apply for internships at Google. Somehow they get in and it becomes a competition. They have to team up with the rest of the outcasts, of course, as they have to win a series of challenges to get jobs there.
Travis nailed the film on its quality, or lack thereof, but the one thing I came away from the film was that of disappointment. Why? Because this is the same exact sort of film that Vaughn got famous completely destroying. That’s what the point of Dodgeball was: to trash the formula of the underdog story while also being a great underdog story.
It’s a film that feels complacent from all involved. Vaughn doesn’t have to do more than his usual hyperbolic routine, Owen Wilson trading in on boyish charm that’s long since faded and a concept that’s marginally funny on paper and patently unfunny on screen. But considering they got nearly $60 million of budget, with a ton underwritten by Google in terms of location and set, it’s not a bad waste of time and effort from all involved. Google gets to advertise itself as the greatest place in human existence, with no flaws. Obviously it isn’t, of course, as Google has no problem acquiescing to dictatorships like China but Google gets to be the good guy here instead of helping out the Chinese government indirectly with the Falun Gong, among others.
The film is just a waste of our time as viewers, nothing more.
That’s the only thing I felt at the end of this film. It was kind of sad to see everyone involved lower themselves to making the sort of film they once ruthlessly parodied. It has some funny moments in it but it’s the sort of film made about the modern, young tech geek by people who met one for a brief moment and bases their entire concept of that group of people based on five minutes.
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
Man of Steel – Superman returns … and relaunched.
See it – Snyder hasn’t done anything to not have confidence in him at this point.
This is the End – A bunch of guys who Judd Apatow made famous experience the end of the world together.
Skip it – So far this looks painfully unfunny.
The Bling Ring – The story about the teens who ripped off celebrities.
See it – So far it’s gotten some insanely good buzz and is getting good reviews early. It has the “surprise hit of the summer” written on it.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .