Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hollywood at its Worst

Us Old Guys Don't Like Change
I rented Man of Steel last night. When I saw it in the theater, I was disappointed. Actually, more than disappointed. My first words to my wife were, “I hated that movie.” My wife felt differently, so I decided to give it a second chance. I still hate the film.

Man of Steel is a prime example of Hollywood’s penchant for CGI over storytelling. We don’t need characters, just eye-popping explosions with booming sound effects. I’m a fan of Amy Adams, but in this film she came across flat. And Perry White? What was that about? His role contributed nothing to the storyline. This darker Superman moves in the direction of an anti-hero, so perhaps that explains his complete lack of humor. The bad guys and gal were unmemorable, which is crucial to storytelling.

When director Zack Snyder met with his CGI geeks, I’ll bet the conversation went like this:
“We got some really terrific stuff,” the head-honcho geek says. “We put together thirty sequences of Superman and Zod crashing through buildings so you can pick the ones you like.” 
After watching the special effects, Snyder slaps the honcho guy on the back and says, “Nice work. We’ll use ‘em all.” 
“Okay, what about the fanciful creatures on Krypton? We’re over budget.” 
“Just slap something together. Maybe adjust some of that flying dragon stuff you used before. Just get something quick and cheap.”
The CGI was intended to appeal to the younger, hearing-impaired market, but some hacks also tried to wrench the plot around to appeal to women. One of the major themes of the saga is Lois Lane trying to discover the identity of Superman. But some Hollywood genius said women want romance, and they’re unwilling to wait for a sequel. Simple. We’ll discard that useless bit of tinsel and rewrite Lane as the strong champion and savior of Superman, and that way they can flirt from the gitgo.

I could be wrong, of course. Man of Steel may be a classic. A smart retooling of the saga for a modern worldwide audience. The movie did gross nearly $300 million in the United States alone. However, it cost somewhere around a quarter billion dollars. Even with foreign box office and home rentals, that does not qualify as a blockbuster.

I might be a curmudgeon, but I liked the original Superman better. I preferred the humor and light tone and creativity. The domestic gross was three times the budget, so they must have got something right.

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