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Review: Man of Steel, Everybody Has a Plan and White Lies

By Cinema, Reviews

Viggo Mortensen in Everybody Has a Plan

Man of Steel is a self-consciously epic re-imagining of the Superman story, first told in print in the 1930s and most recently rebooted on screen by Bryan Singer as Superman Returns just pri­or to the com­mence­ment of my review­ing career in 2006. It’s remark­able both for the scale of the pro­duc­tion, the stakes for pro­du­cers DC and Warner Bros, and for the degree to which I dis­liked it. Usually, I don’t get too riled up about block­buster com­ic book fantasy pic­tures – they are either more enter­tain­ing or less – but this one got under my skin so much I was actu­ally quite angry by the time the clos­ing cred­its finally rolled.

Man of Steel posterI don’t have room here (because there are actu­al good films I’d rather talk about) to tear the Man of Steel apart but I will float a few thoughts that have been both­er­ing me recently about block­buster movies gen­er­ally: It seems to me that the huge amounts of com­put­ing horsepower that dir­ect­ors have at their fin­ger­tips nowadays is being used, for the most part, to des­troy.

I’m get­ting very tired of watch­ing build­ings, streets and even entire cit­ies razed digit­ally to the ground without a second thought for the (admit­tedly still digit­al) people inhab­it­ing them. This is an arms race and some­how dir­ect­ors (like MoS’s Zack Snyder) have decided that every new tent­pole needs to use even more ima­gin­a­tion to des­troy even more stuff and kill even more people who will go unmourned by the her­oes sup­posedly there to pro­tect them.

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Review: Star Trek Into Darkness, Song for Marion, Gambit, Spring Breakers and Maori Boy Genius

By Cinema, Reviews

The 2009 Star Trek reboot went into pro­duc­tion on the eve of the writers’ strike and there­fore had no right to be as enter­tain­ing – or to make as much sense – as it did. In fact, it was so suc­cess­ful that it has become the gold stand­ard of dormant fran­chise resus­cit­a­tion and I’m hop­ing that the les­sons – what to hon­our, what to ignore, the mix of know­ing humour and state-of-the-art action – are taken on board by the forth­com­ing Superman block­buster Man of Steel.

A re-watch of Star Trek on Wednesday night con­firmed my thoughts from the ori­gin­al review. It worked so well, on so many levels, that by the end I was eagerly anti­cip­at­ing my Friday night reunion with Christopher Pine’s Kirk, Zachary Quinto’s Hot Spock, etc. So, it is with a heavy heart then, that I have to report feel­ing let down by Star Trek Into Darkness. Everything seems a lot more self-conscious than before, as if the film­makers have just real­ised that there are a squil­lion people watch­ing and they’d bet­ter not make a mess of things. Which usu­ally means that’s exactly what happens.

Not long after the Federation has been saved in the first film, our her­oes are out explor­ing the galaxy, get­ting into trouble. As pun­ish­ment for viol­at­ing the Prime Directive (and incom­plete paper­work), Kirk is relived of the Enterprise com­mand but before he has time to prop­erly lick his wounds, a ter­ror­ist bombs Starfleet’s London office and threatens to kick off an inter­galactic (intra-galactic?) war with the Klingons.

It’s the exe­cu­tion that dis­ap­points this time around. The humour feels a bit heavy-handed, the attempts to incor­por­ate beloved ele­ments from the Original Series are clunky and the action is repet­it­ive – there are sev­er­al last second res­cues, for example, and at least two of them involve actu­al on-screen count­downs. I can­’t say more for fear of spoil­ers but – suf­fice to say – Star Trek Into Darkness is only a B minus while its pre­de­cessor mer­ited an A. Read More