Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Man of Steel Trailer #2 - Because, really, what else are we going to talk about at this site?

A second trailer with greater plot detail has surfaced for the coming Superman movie, Man of Steel.

When I think of how superhero movies have traditionally been shot and edited, even recent Marvel event films that I quite liked, I have to tip my hat to the cinematographers and editors of Man of Steel.  While you can almost taste the filter effects, it at least doesn't feel like a disposable popcorn flick from jump that even the Iron Man films tilted toward.  The look and feel may not have been how I would have done things, but I can dig the "I saw a Terence Malick film once" vibe they're going for in an effort to make this film on what appears to be a scale more epic than Donner's Modern America Myth of Superman: The Movie.

I desperately want to fling myself on the alter of fandom and get excited.  I really, really do.  But...

To get it out of the way - the trailers for 300 and Watchmen were also amazing spectacles, but as movies, both based on works I knew very well, I found the actual product terribly disappointing.  And, as every nerdling knows, Zack Snyder directed both of those films as well as Man of Steel.

I gave up hope for an ideal Superman movie when I heard Snyder had been hired - a move I found shocking with Chris Nolan attached as producer.  But pretty clearly, Nolan is receiving a paycheck and isn't really involved.  The studio is just riding off his story treatment with Goyer and the good name 3 Batman films and an Inception earned WB and counting on the fact that John Q. Public has no idea what a producer actually does and how fungible that term becomes when money gets thrown around in Hollywood.

That said, the trailer has some great imagery, some nice dialog, some choice actors and - of course - Amy Adams (rawr).  It also features a lot of elements that pretty much give away the whole plot to any of us who've been anything resembling a serious Superman fan.  But that's okay.  That's necessary.  You don't go see a trailer for a King Arthur movie and find yourself surprised that they're putting Excalibur in the movie and that the king has secured himself a roundish table.

you go ahead and not be Margot Kidder, Amy Adams.  I forgive you.

Over the weekend I was talking to the most intense Superman fan you're likely to find, and he mentioned a few iconic elements he'd like in a poster for the movie, and they're there in the trailer.  Superman flying at Mach 10.  Superman cresting the horizon in space.  Superman about to go toe-to-toe with a villain.

That said, my thousands of Superman comics and hundreds of hours of media inform me - you can emulate a Superman comic or story with the right imagery, but to boil it down to the right essence is much harder.

The Pa Kent of this trailer is the cautious one - taking Glen Ford's suggestions to keep Clark's super-ness on the QT a lot farther than not outrunning trains in Kansas, but maybe choosing not to save lives when Clark can - for fear of discovery.

I think there's going to be a lot of things those of us who grew up with Chris Reeve, George Reeves, or even Tom Welling are going to have to adapt to.  Or, those who became fans under the pen of Eliot S! Maggin or John Byrne or Geoff Johns.  This is going to be different, once again.  The questions may remain the same, but who asks them may be different than what you'd expect - and that's going to be okay.

My concern is:  When I watched Snyder's Watchmen, I saw an excellent art director who fundamentally did not understand the tone and nuance of the material he was adapting.  Screaming, on-the-nose popular songs as soundtrack. Turning the lumpy has-beens of the character roster into super humans.  Sense of pacing so well dictated by the page and panel layout destroyed by editors with ADD.  And some really iffy casting.

I like this trailer.  But I see no reason to believe that the movie itself will be anything more than pop-culture summer candy.  And, that's enough for the intended audience that goes out to see pretty explosions and some snarky one-liners from a dashing (and in this case, brooding) hero.  The movie is meant to appeal to the demographic of today's 13-30 year-olds, not to fuddy duddy me.  And, hopefully, to some kids.  This is their Superman movie, not mine.

We'll have to see how it goes, because I really can't tell much from this trailer.  As I like to say "there are no bad ideas, just bad execution".  In my book, Snyder has epitomized what happens when you have a proven idea and iffy execution in his prior efforts.  He may have grown up.  He may have been pointed in the right direction and can yet surprise me.  Heck, if Joe Johnston can turn in a movie I like such as Captain America: The First Avenger, anything is possible.

But let's get real - It's not like I won't go see this movie.  I just need to level-set before I walk in the door and hope that Snyder surprises me.

I've suffered through 10 years of Smallville, a reboot of the DCU that feels like I'm taking crazy pills when I try to decipher how this is readable, the disappointment of JMS's Superman work on Grounded and Earth One, and an amazing number of "re-imaginings" over the past decade that didn't work.  I can't get too invested, as much as I'd like to, because, yes, this trailer is very pretty.  But we're all going to have to wait and see

Also - done esta Jimmy Olsen?
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