Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What I Watched In March

I only went out to see one film last month and I'm not going to bury the lede - I liked BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. I realize that puts me in the unenviable position of liking something that the broader popular consensus has decided is garbage, but I'm comfortable with that. I often like movies that others despise and I've never cared before so why start now. I am a little surprised by the magnitude of the outright hatred generated by this film though. Well - I'm surprised by the non-geek hatred. I'm never surprised by geek hatred. Nerd Rage is a daily fact of life in the 21st century and if you have any interest in listening you can find some group, someplace, bitching about any and all details small and large about every geeky topic you can image - and some you would be shocked to learn about. These days, of course, superhero movies are at the top of the list of bitched about geeky things. Everyone has something to complain about and, in some cases, I can agree that a case is being made that is worthy of attention. I've certainly had problems with some recent superhero films, but overall I'm very happy and outside of hideous missteps like GREEN LANTERN I've enjoyed much more about the genre than I've disliked. I think that might be because I've always had a fondness for new and different interpretations of these classic characters. I don't feel that something I love is being destroyed just because it isn't exactly the way I pictured it. I actually WANT to see different versions of these characters and I don't mind the darker tone at all.

In fact, I love seeing these decades old characters taken down less sunny paths because it allows for some dramatic tension. I have a fondness for the Christopher Reeve  Superman films but I never doubted for a second that he would prevail in the end. With this story I can't be sure of anything. Here Batman has been at his thing for twenty years with Alfred a weary veteran of his ongoing battle against crime in Gotham. That's cool! Superman is new to this hero thing and is very unsure of the correct path for his future and worries that the public sees him as more a threat than a benefit. Seeing the fear that his power causes in some people fills him with uncertainty about his place in his adopted world. That's fantastic! He's not a do-gooder 'god' - he's a man with real concerns about unintended consequences and blowback. Excellent! This is already more interesting than it needs to be in my opinion and we haven't even gotten to the plot! Or the great introduction of Wonder Woman. Why did it take this damned long to get her on the big screen?

But, fanboys gonna bitch. That's what they do. They did the same about MAN OF STEEL and they'll do it about every version of these characters that doesn't conform to their narrow vision. But I'm thrilled with this new road for these films. The older versions of these heroes still exist on my bookshelves, my DVD shelves and I can check them out any time I wish. Maybe the complainers should think of this run of stories as an Elseworlds tale like Gotham By Gaslight or Red Son. In those books writers took familiar characters and placed them in new settings or just changed their backgrounds to explore the hero's journey from a new perspective. (The Marvel version is called What If.) That's fun stuff! Change it up! Stop bitching and remember that, in their own way, these characters are timeless and are certainly strong enough to be reimagined and played with by new creators. The version you prefer - whatever that may be -  hasn't gone anywhere, so calm down. Let someone else play in the sandbox and stop trying to crap in the corner.

The List 

KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1950)- 7 (good adventure tale)
PRAY FOR DEATH (1985)- 4 (pretty bad ninja movie)
THE NEW BARBARIANS (1983)- 6 (rewatch)
CYBORG 2: GLASS SHADOW (1993)- 3 (terrible)
FINAL EXAM (1981) - 4 (not good but watchable)
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974) - 6 (rewatch)
THE BELLBOY (1960)- 5 (Jerry Lewis)
CORMAN'S WORLD:EXPLOITS OF A HOLLYWOOD REBEL (2011) - 8 (excellent documentary on Roger Corman)
THE KEY (1934)- 6 (love triangle set in Ireland in 1920 with William Powell, Colin Clive)
DRACULA (1958) - 9 (Hammer's classic on Blu!) (rewatch)
THE MASK (1961) - 6 (rewatch)
EASY COME, EASY GO (1967)- 5 (amiable, silly and colorful Elvis film)


Nick Rentz said...

Dark superhero movies can be good. Flashpoint is a prime example, although I don't know how most people accept that movie. With Man of Steel most people either loved or hated it. I myself haven't seen BvS, but the criticism seems based on the filmmaking, instead of the presentation of the characters. The destruction of Metropolis and Superman killing Zod were the biggest complaints of the previous film. This one is garnering such complaints as the dream sequences, the performance of Lex Luther, and a plethora of others. I didn't think Man of Steel was as bad as what everyone made it to be. I liked it more than Superman Returns, but not as much as Superman 1-3. However, unlike most of the haters, I will eventually watch BvS and judge it on it's own merits.

Rod Barnett said...

And judging it on its own merits is what should happen. To your point - I loved MAN OF STEEL so it shouldn't be a surprise I liked this follow up. I have problems with all of the various live action Superman films - ALL of them - but most of the hatred for this and MOS seemed more like ginned up rage than real critiques. The 'Superman shouldn't be dark' folks need to chill the fuck out. Having human foibles makes the character better not worse.