Sunday, June 16, 2013
Cindy Prascik’s review of Man of Steel / This Is the End
Dearest Blog, today I followed the herd to the cinema for Man of Steel. Though I'd happily have seen Star Trek again, I did the responsible thing and paired MOS with This Is the End, so, dear reader(s), I could share my "wisdom" on the week's big new releases. You're welcome. ;-)
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.
A reboot of the Superman franchise, Man of Steel is the obligatory origins tale.
The usual disclaimers, personal biases that will, no doubt, color this review: I love superhero movies. I do not love Superman, but I adore this team of filmmakers, and most of this cast. I very much wanted to love this movie. I did not.
Starting with the obvious: Henry Cavill.
I'm an Anglophile, so this is not the first time Mr. Cavill and I have crossed paths. While he is an extraordinarily good-looking young man, he is, unfortunately, only an average actor, with no special charisma. Never is that more obvious than when he shares a screen with one of Hollywood's most magnetic leading men, Russell Crowe, who is terrific as always, even with limited screen time. This film really needed a Robert Downey, Jr.-esque leading man to overcome its flaws, and Cavill is not that guy. (I'm a fan, but it is what it is.) The cast is fleshed out with big names and very familiar faces: Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Laurence Fishburne, and, as mentioned, Russell Crowe. Other than Crowe, they are as unremarkable as the material. The usually superb Shannon is a particular disappointment, flat and uninspired as the film's main villain.
While the acting in Man of Steel is nothing to write home about, the cast can't really be blamed for the film's chief handicap: it's just plain boring. I somehow managed not to check the time more than once, which, in and of itself, constitutes a super-human feat.
Man of Steel does have some positives, including big, solid special effects, and a grand score by Hans Zimmer. My fellow Crowe fans will be pleased to note that Russell is looking fit these days, and there's no denying Henry Cavill is easy on the eyes, and has the perfect look for this iconic role.
Man of Steel attempts to drag Superman into the darker territory where Batman and Watchmen now comfortably reside, but Superman is ill
suited for that world. Take away the camp, and you're left with something that's no less silly, just less entertaining. This is an okay movie, but, sadly, far from the perfect superhero movie many of us were counting on.
Man of Steel clocks in at an excessive 143 minutes, and is rated PG13 for "intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language." This will make a bundle at the box office this weekend, and, despite my disappointment, I'm very happy about that for all involved, and I look forward to a sequel that I'm already confident will be brilliant. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Man of Steel gets six.
Next on my agenda was the raunch-comedy, This Is the End, starring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and a slew of their Hollywood compatriots as what I'm told are very exaggerated versions of themselves...facing the Apocalypse.
This Is the End is one of those films I don't quite know what to do with. When it was funny, it was really, really funny, but, unfortunately, there was a good bit I just didn't find funny. Being that the film is essentially one long "in" joke, I'm willing to concede that maybe I just didn't get some of it, but there were also times when it was simply too much: too gross, too much foul language, too, too much. (Bear in mind I think Tropic Thunder is the funniest movie of all time, so I'm not particularly squeamish about any of that.)
The entire cast shows off brilliant comedy chops, especially Jay Baruchel (a personal favorite) and James Franco. Not sure how much credit is due there if they were basically playing themselves, but, to a man, they are hilarious. It goes without saying that I loved Harry Potter's Emma Watson in a small role that allowed her to play against type. The movie is a tad too long, and the plot (such as it is) bogs down in places, but generally speaking it's good fun from start to finish. While I won't spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't see it, I have to at least say there's a squee-worthy moment that: a.) caused me to embarrass myself in front of a packed theatre, and b.) immediately allowed me to forgive this film for any shortcomings.
This Is the End runs 107 minutes and is rated R for "crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use, and some violence."
It's a raucous comedy that's a great time, if you've got the stomach for it. I enjoyed it, but I also spent most of the two hours thinking how much funnier The World's End is certain to be. Of a possible nine Weasleys, This Is the End gets six.
The moral of today's cinema trip: If you're thinking of seeing either of these films, but haven't yet seen Star Trek Into Darkness or Now You See Me, do yourself a favor and see one of those instead.
Until next time...
Wait...what was I saying?