Able to Crush Tall Buildings In a Single Bound

Note: Please do not proceed if you have yet to see Man of Steel.

In a very similar vain to how I responded to the Rex Reed fiasco earlier, I wanted to wait until the Man of Steel banter ran its course before chiming in. I will, more often than not, forgo a bit of traffic for clarity. In a certain regard my discussion is more about the discussion than my reaction to the debatable points in the film, but I will touch upon those too.

However, before I get to that very specifically allow me to couch my commentary by telling you where I’m coming from. As I chronicled painstakingly in parts one and two of Hero Whipped (and to a lesser extent in further additions), I was a comics reader as a kid, left and returned but was never a superhero guy until my return. Having said that, even since my return there are only a few individuals or teams, usually obscure, that I consider myself to be well-versed in. Therefore, I am not coming at this talking point from a perspective of extreme Superman fandom.

I believe when I was younger I likely saw pieces, if not all of, the Christopher Reeve versions but that’s about all I can claim. The last attempt to revitalize the franchise was one I skipped. The parts of Man of Steel that I enjoyed were good enough that I liked it in spite of my major reservations regarding many sections of the film.

Character vs. Film: The Fan Argument

Man of Steel (2013, Warner Bros.)

The main tenet that I will state here is that a lot of the comments that I saw in my twitter feed seemed to be arguing mixed points. Namely the film was getting slammed for what the character was doing. The climactic battle with Zod is problematic due to its length, repetitiveness and the fact that there are cutaways to pieces of less consequence where better story edits existed.

However, I cannot knock the mere fact that there is collateral damage in the battle. That has happened in myriad action, sci-fi and superhero films depending on how you want to pigeonhole Man of Steel. However, the fact that it exists is not what I’m reacting to. It’s how the destruction is portrayed that’s problematic.

The first aspect of a detrimental nature is the amount and the incessant nature of the destruction. However, I have no issue with this film deciding that Clark’s inexperience and Johnny Come-Lately status to this battle will impact how it occurs. I also fully understand and appreciate that the destruction of Metropolis, in part, is a small price in dramatic context when compared to what Zod intends to do with the world.

Man of Steel (2013, Warner Bros.)

However, while Goyer and Snyder have since broken the silence and discussed the controversy, future plans of a series don’t absolve the sins of an installment much in the same way knowledge of a book doesn’t forgive the shortcomings of a film version thereof. What I was missing from all this was either the film caring about the impact of all these buildings and cars being crushed with people in them. And based on the way he was drawn I believe that Clark does care, and we’ll see that along with his guilt in the sequel, it was not evident in this film until the moment where he just can’t take it anymore and ends Zod rather than seeing someone else victimized.

I’m fine with his attitude in the one exchange with the military. This is not discordant to the posture many superheroes take. They act based on principal, not political agenda. They will assist the common good, but will not be pawns. The police in Gotham have a signal to summon Batman, but Batman does not seek permission from the Gotham PD to act. Superman doesn’t want to be a pawn of the military; I love that scene.

Similarly, the epilogue wherein Clark joins the Daily Planet is a great set-up and capper for the film. To me the film’s highlights are Clark’s humanity and progression. His doubts about how to deal with his gifts, to understand where he came from, who he is and how the world will deal with that are what hold the film together. His regrets about how this battle happened and the decisions made will play into the next one surely, but there was none of that here. In a number of ways Man of Steel is combining certain coming-of-age tropes in the flashbacks and also chosen one tropes from many sci-fi tales, and it mixes them beautifully. What the climactic sequence lacks are what the film gave us throughout: thought, understanding of consequence and introspection.

Man of Steel (2013, Warner Bros.)

Suddenly, we were thrust into random destruction anew that was not elevated either by the stakes or how either character responded to it.

Post-9/11

Man of Steel (2013, Warner Bros.)

Is there something specific about this post-9/11 world that made these images seem so jarring that caused so many to jump on this point in unison as the glaring issue in the film, or is it just a combination of Superman, the original superhero and American icon, with these images that is so jarring?

I personally will admit that apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic films wherein there’s some extraterrestrial source of destruction, or some outlandish cause, has less impact for me and holds less interest than ever before. New York, and or its comic book clones in the DC Universe Metropolis and Gotham, have not been exempt from cinematic disaster since then.

So I think the character has something to do with it, but there’s also a lack of examination of impact that’s my biggest pet peeve. Mind you that Spielberg‘s War of the Worlds deals with a lot of these old hat items, places its ground zero in New York and was released post-9/11 and is very effective part of the reason is the survival aspect. Aside from the workers at the Daily Planet there’s not much in the way of attempted escapes, and due to ratings concerns, none of the buildings being damaged are shown to have visible victims. Their literary ghost status makes it a more haunting tale, but a colder one.

Man of Steel (2013, Warner Bros.)

Does one sacrificial lamb that we can see change this perception? Maybe, that is if we got to see Clark get distracted by it before ending the fight. I get the adrenaline and focus arguments that can be made, but that’s exactly the issue with protracting the fight so long. The longer it goes on the more the audience gets to wonder about things that aren’t happening or being shown because what is being shown is fairly redundant.

Conclusion

Man of Steel (2013, Warner Bros.)

Part of why Man of Steel has gotten pounced on is because films featuring superheroes have had the bar raised in the past several years. In fact, part of that raising of the bar was done by gentlemen involved in this film, writer David S. Goyer and Producer Christopher Nolan first and foremost. One of those films is Iron Man 3 as it does have a strength where Man of Steel has a weakness. Tony Stark starts to show signs of PTSD in light of the events in The Avengers where he had to escort a nuke through a wormhole and save New York.

It was actually a plot element I was surprised by because its precisely the kind of thing you’ve come to expect superheroes to shake off. The fact that Tony doesn’t makes the film that much more interesting and it makes sense when you realize that Tony is closer to a guy in a suit compared to some heroes endowed with certain gifts as birthright.

So coming off a hero that shaken by an experience he had, and just having come through the most recent Batman trilogy, and there’s hardly a more haunted hero than Batman; it’s not a wonder we expected some kind of response from Superman, especially when the film showed his sensitivity and caring prior. I do believe that not unlike Batman Begins, Man of Steel could be a stepping stone, and if Warner Brothers and DC play their cards right, and don’t rush; they could build differently and eventually to a Justice League film, however, that doesn’t mean there weren’t missteps here.

2013 BAM Award Considerations – June

Last year I had one massive running list and it became very cumbersome to add to, and to read I’m sure. By creating a new post monthly, and creating massive combo files offline, it should make the process easier for me and more user-friendly for you, the esteemed reader. Enjoy.

Eligible Titles

Deadfall
Brooklyn Castle
The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
Room 514
Upstream Color
The Giants
The Magic Flute
Kai Po Che!
This is The End
Imaginaerum
Man of Steel
Fast & Furious 6
World War Z
Upside Down
Hanson Re Made in America: The Making of Anthem
23:59
Monsters University
Into the White
The Heat

Best Picture

Deadfall
Room 514
The Giants
The Magic Flute
This is the End

Best Foreign Film

Room 514
The Giants
Kai Po Che!
23:59
Into the White

Best Documentary

Last year this was an omitted category, due mostly to the fact that too few total candidates existed to make the slate feel legitimate. I will hope to be able to rectify that this year.

Brooklyn Castle
Hanson Re Made in America: The Making of Anthem

Most Overlooked Film

As intimated in my Most Underrated announcement this year, I’ve decided to make a change here. Rather than get caught up in me vs. the world nonsense and what a film’s rating is on an aggregate site, the IMDb or anywhere else, I want to champion smaller, lesser-known films. In 2011 with the selection of Toast this move was really in the offing. The nominees from this past year echo that fact. So here, regardless of how well-received something is by those who’ve seen it, I’ll be championing indies and foreign films, and the occasional financial flop from a bigger entity.

Deadfall
Room 514
Brooklyn Castle
The Magic Flute
The Giants
Imaginaerum
Into the White

Best Director

Deadfall
Room 514
The Giants
The Magic Flute
The Heat

Best Actress

Olivia Wilde Deadfall
Asia Naifeld Room 514
De Anna Joy Brooks The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
Amy Carson The Magic Flute
Amitra Puri Kai Po Che!
Amy Adams Man of Steel
Sandra Bullock The Heat
Melissa McCarthy The Heat

Best Actor

Charlie Hunnam Deadfall
Udi Persi Room 514
Joseph Kaiser The Magic Flute
Zacherie Chasseriaud The Giants
Jay Baruchel This is the End
Sushant Singh Rajput Kai Po Che!
Henry Cavill Man of Steel
Florian Lukas Into the White

Best Supporting Actress

Sissy Spacek Deadfall
Kate Maberly The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
Lyubov Petrova The Magic Flute
Emma Watson This is the End
Joanna Noyes Imaginaerum
Diane Lane Man of Steel
Daniella Kertesz World War Z

Best Supporting Actor

Kris Kistofferson Deadfall
Eric Bana Deadfall
Treat Williams Deadfall
Guy Kapulnik Room 514
Creed Bratton The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
Rene Pape The Magic Flute
Benjamin Jay Davis The Magic Flute
Didier Toupy The Giants
James Franco This is the End
Danny Mcbride This is the End
Michael Cera This is the End
Craig Robinson This is the End
Asif Basra Kai Po Che!
Amit Sadh Kai Po Che!
Francis X. McCarthy This is the End
Russell Crowe Man of Steel
Kevin Costner Man of Steel
Timothy Spall Upside Down
Tommy Kuan 23:59
David Kross Into the White
Rupert Grint Into the White

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Zacherie Chasseriaud The Giants

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Teale Hansen Deadfall
Keyanna Fielding Imaginaerum
Sterling Jerins World War Z
Abigail Hargrove World War Z

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

William Dutton The Magic Flute
Luke Lampard The Magic Flute
Jamie Manton The Magic Flute
Martin Nissen The Giants
Paul Bartel The Giants
Digvijay Deshmukh Kai Po Che!
Quinn Lord Imaginaerum
Dylan Sprayberry Man of Steel
Cooper Timberline Man of Steel
Fabrizio Zacharee Guido World War Z
Elliot Larson Upside Down

Best Cast

Deadfall
Room 514
The Magic Flute
The Giants
This is the End
Kai Po Che!
Imaginaerum
Man of Steel
Into the White
The Heat

Best Youth Ensemble

The Magic Flute
The Giants
Imaginaerum
Man of Steel
World War Z
Upside Down
23:59

Best Original Screenplay

Deadfall
Room 514
Upstream Color
The Giants
Imaginaerum
Upside Down
Into the White
The Heat

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Magic Flute
This is the End
Kai Po Che!

Best Score

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
The Giants
Upstream Color
Kai Po Che!
Imaginaerum
Man of Steel
Fast & Furious 6
World War Z

Best Editing

Deadfall
Room 514
The Magic Flute
Upstream Color
The Giants
This is the End
Kai Po Che!
Imaginaerum
Man of Steel
Fast & Furious 6
Into the White
The Heat

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Deadfall
The Magic Flute
Upstream Color
Imaginaerum
Man of Steel
Fast & Furious 6

Best Cinematography

Deadfall
The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
Upstream Color
The Magic Flute
The Giants
Kai Po Che!
Iamginaerum
Man of Steel
Upside Down
Into the White

Best Art Direction

Deadfall
The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
The Giants
The Magic Flute
Imaginaerum
Man of Steel
Upside Down
Into the White

Best Costume Design

The Magic Flute
The Giants
Imaginaerum
Man of Steel

Best Makeup

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
The Magic Flute
Upstream Color
The Giants
Into the White

Best Visual Effects

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
The Magic Flute
Upstream Color
This is the End
Imaginaerum
Man of Steel
Fast & Furious 6
Upside Down

Best (Original) Song

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
The Magic Flute
The Giants
This is the End
Kai Po Che!
Imaginaerum