Man Of Steel

August 31, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: August Edition

Hello boils and ghouls.  Okay, this isn’t the Cryptkeeper, and it’s nearly three months away from Halloween, but I couldn’t help myself.  But what I can offer you is The Simplistic Reviews Podcast for the month of August (and some of June and July, we had a lot to catch up on in this edition).

After an extended hiatus the boys are back (of course this is Matt speaking in the 3rd person) and maybe not better then ever, but at least their adequate.  This month they jump into the “Ben Affleck as Batman” debate head first, share their shame in everyone’s favorite segment, “Simply Ashamed,” talk some “Breaking Bad,” celebrate the filmography of Sinbad, and campaign for the best film coming this Fall.

Be sure to check the show notes below for more fun and hijinks.

Show Notes:

What Makes Breaking Bad so good?
SlaughterFilm
Cinema and Suds
Fall Movie Preview

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

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July 13, 2013

Pacific Rim (DJ’s Take)…And Inexplicably…The DC Film Universe

GEEKGASM

One question that has been plaguing my thoughts ever since I walked out of the dreary and utterly disappointing Man Of Steel.  That question is, why does DC/Warner keep entrusting their comic book movie properties to Christopher Nolan?  A man who set out to produce a Superman movie and wound up producing an Incredible Hulk movie more morbid and depressing than Ang Lee’s, starring someone who resembles Superman in appearance but not in character.  A man who admittedly does not truly care for the material he is supposed to be translating into film.  A man who is admittedly apoplectic about the concerns of the comic book fans he’s supposed to be catering to.  A man who feels more comfortable turning anything resembling a classic superhero into a moping, colorless, suicide inducing allegory for daddy issues.  Why would DC/Warner give their entire comic book HISTORY to him?  Yes, I know it’s because Nolan is one of the finest directors working today.  Yes, I know it’s because Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a 3 billion dollar worldwide success.  Yes, I know it’s because Nolan’s Batman trilogy is also the most critically lauded and awarded comic book franchise ever.  Problem is that his bleek, moody, and dystopian societal outlook ONLY WORKS FOR F%*KING BATMAN.  Batman is a dark character.  So yes, the more gritty and realistic you make him, the better he gets.  However, that formula DOES NOT work for the entire DC Universe.  A flawed strategy I spoke about and foresaw during my Dark Knight Rises review almost a year ago.  DC/Warner was effectively entrusting the construction of their cinematic universe to someone who DID NOT want to construct their cinematic universe.  

You’re probably asking yourself why am I ranting about Man Of Steel, Chris Nolan and DC/Warner in the beginning of a Pacific Rim review.  Well, it’s because DC/Warner does have another director in their stable that not only knows the material, but has a genuine love for the material.  A man who should be constructing their universe.  That man is Pacific Rim’s director Guillermo Del Toro.  Give me a reason why not him.  Worried Del Toro can’t bring fun, eclectic comic book characters like Martian Manhunter, Flash, and Wonder Woman convincingly to life?  See Hellboy.  Worried Del Toro doesn’t have the chops to do comic book perfect action scenes and sequences?  See Blade 2.  Worried Del Toro can’t give a film pathos and originality?  See Pan’s Labyrinth.  Worried that a comic book nerd would be the wrong choice to helm a superhero epic.  See Avengers.  Worried that a film like Justice League is just too big to bestow upon him.  Well, Del Toro was the first person Peter Jackson asked to do The Hobbit before scheduling conflicts interceded.  If Peter Jackson was willing to hand over the best fantasy franchise ever made to Del Toro, why is it such a far leap for DC/Warner to trust him with the JLA?  Del Toro’s resume just grows and grows almost without notice.  Pacific Rim is just another awesome notch on his belt.

Rim is the fulfillment of a promise Del Toro delivered when he leaked the film’s original title at Comic-Con. (Giant F%*king Robots Versus Giant F%*king Monsters)  This is a tech versus terror smörgåsbord that draws breath from it’s Toho Company & Manga Studios predecessors and creates something amazingly fresh and original out of it.  If I was a producer on that 2014 Godzilla movie or that long awaited Voltron film, I’d shut down shop right now.  There is NOTHING I can think of that those two films can do to equal, let alone, top Pacific Rim.  Yes, Rim may be cliched empty calories as far as it’s character archetypes and plot are concerned.  However, it is the most tasty empty calories you’ll enjoy this summer and probably this entire year.  I haven’t seen a film with as many GEEKGASM moments since The Avengers.  Instead of the action scenes being incomprehensible, emotionally hollow, blunders, with the visual resonating effect of a strobe light…(Hello Battleship and EVERY Transformers movie)…they end up being well crafted, stunning, and cathartic displays of raw violence.  The special effects here are, and I was convinced of this from just the trailer, the best I personally have ever seen.  That is not hyperbole.  Every effect, every monster tooth, every robot rivet, every building toppling explosion looks breathtaking and FINISHED.  Every penny of the budget and every drop of sweat from the VFX crew is on the screen from beginning to end.  Guillermo Del Toro understands the concept of fan service.  And instead of shying away from it like most, he embraces it.  He doesn’t mind having a character in a giant robot shoot a fallen monster, video game style, as a joke just to get a “Hell, Yeah!” from the audience.  That is who I would want to make my comic book universe.  Someone who wants to please BOTH the fans and the uninitiated.  Someone who can have a balls to the wall battle scene and still have time to make the battle fun.  Yes, fun.  It is not a four letter word, literally and figuratively.  Fun is a word that needs to be the lifeblood of genre movies like this.  If it isn’t fun, then why the hell should we watch?

Recently, DC/Warner announced that Nolan won’t be producing the Justice League film.  However, it’s a safe bet that they won’t have the sense or vision to pick someone like Guillermo Del Toro to take the reigns.  They are losing the arms race to Marvel and it saddens me.  Not because I want them to win.  I love Marvel.  It saddens me because the two companies competing is better for the audiences than one totally dominating the other.  DC/Warner’s savior is right in their face flapping his arms like a cartoon character, and they still can’t see it.  Don’t believe me?  Watch Pacific Rim…imagine while doing so the same care, fun and GEEKGASM moments put into a Justice League film….cry your heart out when you realize that will probably never happen….then tell me I’m wrong.

July 12, 2013

Man of Steel

Man of Steel – Sponsors

SPONSORS

The time is now for Warner Bros. and DC Comics.  The window has already closed to be able to compete with Disney and Marvel Comics so its time to just try and carve out a little bit of a niche for themselves.  Sure, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy was a huge success, but that’s over, and unless you thought “Green Lantern” was a good direction for DC Comics film-wise, well, I’d have to disagree with you on that one.  So with all their chips on the table, Warner/DC has decided to go for the Hail Mary.  That Hail Mary is “Man of Steel,” sponsored by Sears, 7-11, IHOP, and of course, LexCorp.

Contrary to what you might hear about “Man” the film isn’t that bad, sure its loud, bombastic, brash, and suffers from a severe case of style-over-substance…..hmmm, well, I guess “Man of Steel” isn’t that great when I really stop and think about it.  While it has some good ideas, the way Superman is presented almost makes this attempt feel like this is a sequel to another film.  And while “Man” tries it’s best to distance itself from the less-than-super “Superman Returns” there are too many scenes where director, Zack Snyder, once again, lets his ego get in the way and decides to make things explode as opposed to detailing the psychology of Clark Kent and how he’s torn between being the last son of a dying world and the protector to a new one. Snyder shoehorns scenes of Clark’s more impressionable years in Smallville, but the scenes merely feel like a feeble attempt at trying to make us feel like he has a soul and why he feels an obligation to the human race.  I almost feel “Man of Steel” would have been better suited as a trilogy as opposed to fitting everything into one giant action-fest.  Obviously Warners has no interest in another compelling “Dark Knight-like” trilogy, they are so busy trying to catch up to Marvel.  The one thing I will say is that Superman isn’t as interesting to be able to fit into an entire trilogy like Bruce Wayne/Batman.

At the end of “Man” I was left both wanting more and wanting less, if that is possible.  The action scenes were both large in scope, but felt empty; the story of Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman was both easy to follow, yet lacked depth; and the story became inconsequential come the start of the 3rd act when everything that can go boom, goes boom.  I’m sure Michael Bay had plenty of tissue handy when he witnessed Metropolis being torn apart by a group of Kryptonians.

What troubles me the most about this new direction for Warner/DC is the world building, or lack thereof. Sure, you get a nod to LexCorp, Wayne Enterprises and other minor DC characters that may exist in this specific universe, but while Warner says they want to complete with Marvel in the superhero-movie-making business, they still seem to want to make self-contained films and somehow make them all gel.  If you go all the way back to when Marvel released “Iron Man” the plan was already in motion for more films within a coherent universe.  Marvel could have slapped “Iron Man” together and flown by the seat of their pants, but they made a conscience effort to create a world where other heroes could exist.  “Man of Steel” provides us with glimpses, or “Easter Eggs” of companies which have meaning to characters such as Lex Luthor, Batman, and Cyborg, but you’re left to wonder how many movies it is going to take to finally set in motion a “Justice League” or even a “World’s Finest” film.  At this stage in the game it looks like we’ll get another “Man of Steel” film in 2015 and maybe a “Batman” reboot in 2016.  You might say “Well, you can’t create an entire universe in just one film.”  I’d say back “How come Marvel was able to do it, and make us believe they knew what they were doing from the get-go?”

In no way am I shredding this film, even though it might sound like it.  There are things I genuinely like about “Man of Steel.”  I thought the acting and casting was spot on, and it looks like we finally have an actor playing Superman that we can believe in with Henry Cavill.  He fits the suit like a glove and his banter with Lois Lane, played wonderfully by Amy Adams, is vintage.  Michael Shannon continues to impress as General Zod and is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters actors in Hollywood.  The supporting cast is solid as well, including Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White, Chief Editor of The Daily Planet.

With “Man of Steel,” Warner/DC neither loses ground or gains ground on the Disney/Marvel juggernaut.  If anything it washes the taste out of Superman fans mouths for “Superman Returns” and gives people plenty of explosions.  What it didn’t do is break new ground.  Sure, Superman does some super things, but he also feels like a shell of what Superman should be; a protector of the Earth and Metropolis, not it’s destroyer as seen in the final 30 minutes of “Steel.”  This review sponsored by Wayne Enterprises.

Fun Fact:  General Zod’s first appearance was in Adventure Comics #283 in 1961.

June 24, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: A Little More Conversation

If you’ve been following our podcast since it’s inception, you know we like to rant, rave, and go on intense tangents.  Well this month we decided to take an entire unaired section of our May Podcast and turn it into a bonus edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

In this little nugget of joy we take on Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness and you get to hear Matt sink lower and lower into drunkenness.  It’s really a thing of beauty……and sadness.  On top of that we also delve into Peter Weller’s filmography and imagine if Robocop decided to police Hogwarts.

Show Notes:

Iron Man 3
Star Trek Into Darkness
Effects of Alcohol on Speech
Peter Weller

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

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May 6, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: April Edition

It’s that time of the month again, take that as you may, but you won’t need any tampons to listen to April’s Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

In this month’s edition we ponder who is more evil, Red Skull or Adolf Hitler, Sheri Moon Zombie’s ass, and Justin tries to sell Matt on Mad Men, and the P-word gets thrown into the mix.

The guys also test their movie quote knowledge in the new segment, “Simply Quotable,” and do a little Summer movie preview of their own with Iron Man already making waves.

If you like good wholesome family fun, well, find another podcast.  If you like three guys talking out of their ass for over an hour, well, now you’re on the right track with The Simplistic Reviews podcast.

Also, May 6th is National Nightmare Day, a Day to celebrate the 1984 horror classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”  Check over at SlaughterFilm.com for more information.

Show Notes:

Hannibal Review
Summer Movie Preview
The Benefit of Mad Men
National Nightmare Day

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

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December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays: Premium Rush

SILLY

When it comes to Simplistic Reviews, I’m the elder statesman of the site.  My co-reviewers possess an amazingly vast knowledge of film and television stretching back to kingdom come.  I have the slim benefit and sometimes curse of having been alive when some of these older films and shows came out.  Sometimes it gives me perspective.  Most times, as my younger sister would say, it just makes me old.  Premium Rush reminds of a time in the early 80s before Xbox and cell phones and Netflix.  A time where you were the happiest son of a bitch alive if you had a nice BMX bike with the pegs or, God willing, a go-cart.  Where films like Rad, Quicksilver or BMX Bandits, starring an adolescent Nicole Kidman by the way, could capture your imagination like the Avengers does for kids now.  Those three films were SILLY, but you’d watch them a million times on cable and try to pull off the sick tricks they do in it with your friends.  Premium Rush is a film made in the wrong decade.  Made in the wrong century for that matter.  I thought about how my brain would have melted out of my head if had I saw it at seven years old.  Now, it just seems SILLY

What is the biggest flaw of Premium Rush?  The plot essentially makes sense, but can be easily unraveled if you start pulling at it.  That’s forgivable.  The main thing that makes Premium Rush feel SILLY is whenever it tries to introduce serious stakes.  This is a movie about a bike messenger alluding a dirty cop in New York City.  I have a hard time being moved in a film where anyone does a wheelie through Central Park or bunny hops over police cars.  Premium Rush has the benefit of being a 90 minute chase sequence.  However, it short circuits itself by attempting to be poignant.  Take a tip from Sly and the Expendables.  Know what you are.

I’ve made mention that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a soon to be Hollywood leading man.  His work in Looper and 50/50 is brilliant, he was a standout in Inception, and he ostensibly is the glue for The Dark Knight Rises.  You’d think with a film this…well…basic, he’d phone in his performance.  But he doesn’t.  I think Gordon-Levitt, much like his character in Premium Rush, only knows one speed.  All the way.  He does the best with what he has to work with for the character of Wilee.  However, most of the good stuff goes to his antagonist Detective Bobby Monday, played by Michael Shannon.  If there is any reason to see Premium Rush that I could point to, it would be Michael Shannon’s performance.   Monday is very reminiscent, but not better than Gary Oldman’s Detective Stansfield in Leon: The Professional.  Wow, that’s second time I’ve mentioned Leon: The Professional in as many reviews.  It does give me the opportunity the link THIS again.  Shannon is batshit crazy in Premium Rush.  I can only imagine how dark the character could have gotten if the film wasn’t burdened with a PG-13 rating.  Shannon still remains my primary hope to make Man Of Steel awesome.

Visually, Premium Rush is like watching an editor’s orgasm.  Well, that may be a little too graphic.  I mean, it isn’t as bad as Ang Lee’s Hulk or ANY Tony Scott film.  However, the Run Lola Run-like editing is frenetic, though somewhat appropriate for the material.  It turns bike accidents into a video game, which is apropos to the overall feel of the movie.  You have got to give writer/director David Koepp credit for having the balls to make an action thriller about a bike messenger.  Koepp has worked with some of the greats in Hollywood.  However, the directorial style that I think rubbed off on him the most was that of Sam Raimi.  Koepp’s framing, his camera movements, his mixing of comedic visuals during tense moments is all very Raimi. 

Premium Rush is a SILLY, yet, harmless film with a good performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a great one from Michael Shannon.  As a whole, it would have been a great concept for an ongoing webseries.  For a film, however, it is as substantive as cotton candy.  Hop on…yank off the brakes…ride like hell…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  

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