Saturday, June 29, 2013

Man of Steel

Plot: Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sends baby Kal/Superman (Henry Cavill) to Earth just as Jor-El is killed by General Zod (Michael Shannon). Kal lands on earth, and in the next scenes the young Clark Kent is keeping a low profile but saving people's lives when he needs to. Reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) notices and eventually confronts Clark, and she figures out that he is a space alien. Just then, General Zod arrives on Earth to terraform it and turn it into a new Krypton. Clark gets out his Superman costume, and goes to battle so humans are not exterminated.  From then on, buildings are smashed and smashed and smashed and eventually the movie ends. After the movie should have ended, there are extra scenes to set up the sequel.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Why did people complain about John Carter?  It was twice as good as Man of Steel. The beginning of Man of Steel was interesting, but once Superman puts on the cape, the movie is doomed. 

Man of Steel was unpleasant, especially the fight sequences at the end, which are pointless and unwatchable. By the time General Zod himself is fighting instead of his henchmen/woman, I was beyond caring about buildings falling down. 

It starts out well enough with the back story on Krypton -- it was stilted but Russell Crowe and Mom Antje Traue played the birth and then destruction of Krypton with suitable angst and emotion. I liked the early General Zod scenes on Krypton when it was unclear if he was a friend or a foe. The art direction of the Krypton set was modern and steampunk -- I thought it was interesting. 

The problem with Superman is that he too powerful to be interesting. When he is fighting with his super opponents, it was like two armored knights hitting each other with Nerf swords --  they couldn't do enough damage to hurt each other. Superman and Zod never figured this out: they kept beating on each other as if they were trying to get exercise.

The sound track was all orchestral by Hans Zimmer, and was suitably grand but not inspired.  I bought one song online, the drum-heavy, battle music 'You Die or I Do.' The special effects were OK, but got boringly repetitive. It would have been better in 3D.

Cast: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams

Directed by: Zack Snyder, who directed 300 and Watchmen.

Rating: 1.5 stars: not recommended.

More: World Engine is a great name of a science fiction device. Whatever a World Engine is, it has got to be cool.

Even more: [Minor Spoiler] Why did Superman have to fly through the center of the Earth?

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Heat

The poster has some of the flavor of the opening credits, and it show-
cases the stars. If you look carefully, you see this is a police satire.
Plot: [Minor Spoilers]FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) goes to Boston trying to track down drug dealer. She meets tough girl Boston detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) and they instantly hate each other; having profanity filled fights. They run down leads, learn to tolerate each other, and after a drunken night that lasts into morning they become friends. Soon they solve the crime, and the movie ends happily. There is a sub-plot with Det. Mullins family. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: This was the funniest comedy of 2013 so far.

Melissa McCarthy was really funny, her character was ten-feet over-the-top, and writer Dippold's script kept the outrageousness coming. Sandra Bullock was likable and played the straight-woman well.  

The plot was just an excuse to set up zany situations and to poke fun at both cop dramas and society. The story was to track a drug dealer through his suppliers to the big boss. 

I liked the soundtrack and bought the Isley Brother's oldie "Fight the Power."  I liked the opening credits design. 

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy

Directed by: Paul Feig

Written by: Katie Dippold

Rating: 3.0 stars: Best comedy of the year so far.

More: Last week we saw, This is the End, and other reviewers said it was crude but funny. It was undeniably crude, and not that funny. It was often misogynistic too, for example it had only one female costar and she ran away because she was afraid of being raped.

The Heat is crude and profane too, but funnier. Unlike This is the End, The Heat doesn't have endless sodomy jokes, but it had balls jokes and penis-envy marksmanship. I don't think the so-called misandry is as offensive, but role-reversal is hard to analyze. There is intensional satire in The Heat so it gets more leeway. One problem was when  Melissa McCarthy's character teased the police captain about the size of his balls -- that was more mean than funny because she was abusing one man instead of men generally, and the gag went on for so long.