Thursday, August 17, 2006

more crap

Saw the new superman the other night, it was crap. There were some good elements, a couple of exciting set-pieces, but I’ve been left with the same post-blockbuster thought as the last time I saw one: why bother?

The reviews were good, I like Superman and the director previously helmed X-men which I liked a lot. I went along with high(ish) hopes. And what is presented? The usual crap. A checklist of big-budget special effects heavy action, a dash of [standard superman elements] – as I imagine it was signified in the draft script – rubbish characterization, poor plot and, perhaps worst of all, a horrible feeling of inconsistency and doubt about what the hell they’re doing.

For me this was the main failing of the film, it had no commitment to make its own world believable. This is probably the hardest thing to pull off in a good superhero/fantasy film, and when it fails it really does make your film suck. The problem here was the seeming inability to decide if this should be a new or old Superman, and therefore a new or old world for him to act in. As it turned out we got an unhappy mix of both, a wide-eyed 1940’s style newsroom that featured TVs showing rolling news; little Jimmy Olsen acting like he’d never held a camera before and Pulitzer Prize winning Lois Lane behaving like she's writing for a 6th form newsletter; Superman being shot at with a gatling gun for no particular reason except modernity; cringe-inducing scenes of men in bars clapping Superman's latest heroic feat; Clark gurning and acting like a klutz in a way that just doesn't seem at all feasible in a 21st century, super-cynical environment… yadda yadda yadda. I'm not arguing for 'realism' here, I know this is fantasy, but a self-consistent world is still crucial and if you want to modernize then modernize everything, not this awful half-way house of crap. It can be done, new Spiderman is ace, and Burton's Batman and Nolan's Batman show that you can pull off both a pure fantasy and a more 'realistic' interpretation of your source material; here it all just felt so wrong.

Meanwhile, the plot. What? Are you seriously suggesting that evil mastermind Luther is going to gain the secret technology of an alien planet and use it to broker a real-estate deal? Come on, this is tosh. It's not very evil (well, Ok, there is death and destruction for the America, but it's hardly trying to take over the world), and who'd want to live on his poxy crystal island anyway? More importantly he should fire whoever is drawing the child-like maps he used to reveal his schemes, they were rubbish that no self-respecting super-villain would be seen with. Just like Bond villains of recent years it seems that Luther has discovered that all the good, really nefarious schemes have been used up, probably by Pinky & the Brain.

And the final nail in the coffin? The current Hollywood trend of conflating 'epic' with 'long'. It was far too long, no need! Please stop your film before inducing REM sleep. Also, please have an ending and not 'here's a thought for parts 2,3 and 4…'. Thankyou.

And the positives? Quite entertaining at times (by which I mean isolated 5 minute segments), Spacey is pretty good at hammy evil, er, better than the last shit blockbuster I saw (Kong). But, in sum, it's the same old crappy blockbuster that, this year, just happens to have Superman in it.


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