Sunday, June 16, 2013

Man Of Steel

Man of Steel is the new reboot of the American Icon, Superman, which features dazzling action, loud noises, redundant exposition and some acting. I must admit that I am a huge fan of Superman, and I think that Superman: The Movie is one of the most important films of the 20th century, but my expectations for this film weren't high. I do like Zack Snyder, but he is not a great film maker. He is essentially a director for hire, but he easily makes his films look good. The film did lack subtlety and hit me over the head with annoying amounts of exposition, but, from what I understand, the point of the film is to show a big budget action spectacle. Normally this would bother me, but in the case of Superman, I gave this a pass this time. Most of the good big budget blockbusters have a story to tell, (The Avengers, The Dark Knight, Terminator 2) but a lot of the time they are just lousy, clunky excuses to show visual effects (Transformers, Transformers 2, Transformers 3). Man of Steel kind of meets in the middle. It tries to tell the story of an alien sent to earth from a dying planet who tries to find his place in a world that may reject him out of fear, but really uses character development, and exposition as a means to get to the next action scene. The first act feels like all the scenes are slapped together just to rush the story along. It was a very choppy and sloppy transition. The film also had some very questionable shots, that were obviously lifted from other action films. The visuals, as a whole, were taken from The Avengers, Star Trek and Prometheus. The script was also very questionable, with a lot of puzzling one liners that were laughable at time. Trust me on this, this was not a well made film, but it is watchable. Overall the acting was good, even if a lot of characters were shafted on development, but the best part of the movie, which was my main reason to see this, was General Zod, played by Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, Mud). He was the only character that really had depth. He was the most likable character, because he was the only one who was creatively written. My favorite scene is the fight with Superman, Faora, and Nam Ek. There was some pretty cool things that they did with the Kryptonians, especially Faora. Overall, the film is a generic blockbuster, but it is better than most blockbusters, and I thought Superman needed the big, dumb action movie treatment, just to get him back on the map. I say give it a watch, but don't expect something deep.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Before Midnight

Before Midnight is the final chapter of the "Before" franchise created by Richard Linklater. It's been 18 years since we first encountered a young Celine and Jesse, and they have grown up a lot, but they are more or less the exact same characters we know and love. Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Handsome Hawke) are just as charming and intelligent as ever and they have some of the best on screen chemistry I have ever seen in cinema. Their relationship is really natural and you can tell that they really love these characters, which is evident by them writing their own dialogue. The "Before" trilogy is less a thematic or spiritual trilogy, and is more of a three act play. Before Sunset is about the inception of love, Before Sunset is about the journey love leads us on, and Before Midnight is about the destination. Its hard to believe a film about two people talking would be as magnetic and intellectually (as well as emotionally) stimulating. It has been a great journey seeing these characters where we all hoped that they would end up, with a very satisfying resolution. Admittedly, I can not decide which film of the first 2 I like more, but this film is slightly worse that the others, but not by much. It's still a fantastic film and I enjoyed it more that any other film I have seen this year, but that is because the first 2 are among my favorite films and I'm glad I got to see resolution in this series, finally. The direction isn't as subtle this time around, but the direction is a metaphor for their relationship. It matured as Celine and Jesse matured. Not that Richard Linklater matured. He has always been a very intelligent and well rounded film maker, but he took careful steps as symbolism in his "Before" films. The film is clever, emotional, intelligent and well written, acted and scored and touches on themes of love, parenthood and regret, and its all told to us by two people that feel as real as life. I won't say go out and see it if you haven't seen the first two, but I will say go see the first two, then go see this, because if you like your films to make you think, it may not get much better.