Thursday, 27 June 2013

Film Review: "Man of Steel" (2013).

"You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders." This is the essence of this year’s DC epic Man of Steel. This superhero film directed by Zack Snyder, produced by Christopher Nolan, and scripted by David S. Goyer. Based on the DC Comics character Superman. A young itinerant boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he is forced to discover where did he come from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation, and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

Development began in 2008 when Warner Bros. Pictures took pitches from comic book writers, screenwriters and directors, opting to reboot the franchise. In 2009, a court ruling resulted in Jerry Siegel's family recapturing the rights to Superman's origins and Siegel's copyright. The decision stated that Warner Bros. did not owe the families additional royalties from previous films, but if they did not begin production on a Superman film by 2011, then the Shuster and Siegel estates would be able to sue for lost revenue on an unproduced film. Nolan pitched Goyer's idea after story discussion on The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Snyder was hired as the film's director in October 2010. Principal photography started in August 2011. Zimmer was confirmed to write the film's musical score. To completely distinguish Man of Steel from the previous films, the iconic Superman March by John Williams was not used in the film.

The film stared Henry Cavill in the title role with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Antje Traue as Faora and Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van. Cavill's performance was mixed, it has its share of pros and cons. His performance was brilliant on one hand in trying to portray Superman as a vulnerable being who has extraordinary powers and is trying to make the right decisions. But on the other hand, his performance was weak in terms of living up to the responsibilities that make Superman powerful. In addition chemistry with Adams was awful. Shannon's performance was imposing and determined, but just not ultimately threatening or even scary. The only one that was scary was Traue as Faora. She was scarier than her leader. When it should have been the other way round. Costner and Lane as the Kents were great performances on a human and emotional level, but failed to meet the onscreen chemistry in the film. Crowe's performance was somewhat of an improvement from Les Misérables (2012), but again suffered from lack of expression.

It's technically impressive and loaded with eye-catching images, but without real characters or a cohesive plot to support it, all of Man of Steel's visual thrills are for naught. With its quests to retrieve DC’s classic superhero, clearly demarcated story, and non-stop action, Snyder's clattering concoction sometimes feels less like a movie than an extended, elaborate trailer for its redundant comic book adaptation. It is the most boring, poorly put together, infantile, crass, adolescent, stupid, chauvinistic twaddle that I've sat through in a very long time since Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997).

Simon says Man of Steel receives:

Monday, 24 June 2013

Film Review: "World War Z" (2013).

"Mother Nature is a serial killer. No one's better. Or more creative. Like all serial killers, she can't help the urge to want to get caught. What good are all those brilliant crimes if no one takes the credit? So she leaves crumbs. Now the hard part, why you spend a decade in school, is seeing the crumbs. But the clue's there. Sometimes the thing you thought was the most brutal aspect of the virus, turns out to be the chink in its armor. And she loves disguising her weaknesses as strengths. She's a bitch." Expect this when watching World War Z. This apocalyptic horror film directed by Marc Forster. Adapted by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard, based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks. The film follows Gerry Lane, a retired United Nations employee who must travel the world in a race to find a way to stop a zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

Pitt's Plan B Entertainment secured the film rights in 2007 and Forster (Monster's Ball (2001), Finding Neverland (2004), The Kite Runner (2007) and Quantum of Solace (2008)) was approached to direct. In 2009, Carnahan (The Kingdom (2007) and State of Play (2009)) was hired to rewrite the script to the film. In addition, Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek (2009), Prometheus (2012) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)) was hired to rewrite the third act, but did not have the time to finish the script and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield (2008) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012)) was hired to polish it. Filming began in July 2011 in Malta on an estimated $125 million budget, before moving to Glasgow in August 2011 and Budapest in October 2011. Originally set for a December 2012 release, the production suffered some setbacks. In June 2012, the film's release date was pushed back and the crew returned to Budapest for seven weeks of additional shooting. The reshoots took place between September and October 2012.

I could go on about how the cast were spectacular and gave brilliant performances, which they all did. But the one actor I would like to talk about is Brad Pitt. Pitt delivered a capable performance in an immersive apocalyptic spectacle about a global zombie uprising. His character was the central piece that drove the entire film forward. This kind of role reminds me of the performance in Se7en (1995), where he had a director and a script that pushed him as an actor to break out of his "pretty-boy" image and be convincing and capable as a true performer.

World War Z is a kinetic, violent and surprisingly worthy zombie movie that pays homage to other zombie movies while working on its own terms. The film works and it delivers just about what you expect when you buy your ticket. But it lacks some vital elements from the novel and the plot flatlines with the third act. Which, in some ways, was tricky, witty and smart.

Simon says World War Z receives: