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Man of Steel Zack Snyder
Man of Steel Man of Steel is a superhero movie, no doubt. It’s Superman flying through the sky at faster than the speed of sound, crashing into buildings, and fighting his enemies in epic fashion. The fight scenes are almost exclusively computer generated. This film doesn't mess around. It’s Superman so there’s nothing realistic about what he can do. The combatants are borderline cartoons with human heads spliced onto them. I can't disparage any of the computer graphics, but I found myself bored with the fight scenes. I think maybe I just don't enjoy extended fight scenes anymore. The ebb and flow is predictable and the violence is what you expect, and the decisive moment is never all that surprising.

A reboot of the franchise, Man of Steel is also an origins story. The planet Krypton is dying, its leaders having mined its core for energy. In the midst of an attempted coup by General Zod (Michael Shannon), Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) send their infant son to the distant planet of Earth. Their hope is that Kal, infused with the genetic history of their people, will keep the Kryptonian race alive amongst the similar looking human species. Eventually Zod and his exiled team come looking for Kal, who is living on Earth as Clark Kent (Henry Cavill).

The opening scenes on Krypton are immediately very intense. The computer generated scenery is grand and the costumes and set design ornate, reminiscent of classic space science fiction. The plot involves the death of a world, and the desperate measures people are willing to go to in order to save it. Dramatic music pervades every early scene.

On Earth Clark Kent flies under the radar. As he grows he learns of his powers and has trouble harnessing them. His parents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) help him control them but also demand he hide his gifts, knowing the world is not ready for them. Despite that, a young Kent cannot help but use his strength for good. His father urges him to wait for the right time to reveal himself to the world, even stopping Kent from saving his own life.

I generally liked the film. It had a serious tone but could also be humorous and heart warming. Clark’s concern for his family and other’s safety is really what the idea of Superman is all about, and I think Man of Steel does a good job portraying that. I’m not a superhero expert but it does seem that deep sense of responsibility is what makes Superman more than a guy in a cape that can fly.

Michael Shannon is great as Zod. Like his role in Boardwalk Empire he plays a great villain. There is no humor in his face in either role. I can foresee him having a long career playing the bad guy.

These rebel Kryptonians (including his second in command Faora, played by Antje Traue) differed from my memory of Zod from the Christopher Reeve series. Whereas Zod and his acolytes from those films come off as cold and arrogant, these Kryptonians are passionate about their cause. The original villains, in their tight black suits, looked like they were straight out of a professional wrestling character brainstorming session meant to find the next hated bad guy. In this round Zod and his are in futuristic military uniforms and operate more like a military unit. The fire in Zod’s eyes comes from the death of his home planet and the coup he attempted, while fueled by ego in some ways, was born of a legitimate grievance against the failures of the ruling class. You almost sympathize with him.

I liked Christopher Meloni in a non-sex crimes investigator role as Colonel Nathan Hardy. Harry Lennix and Richard Schiff, are also not bad as members of the American military leadership. I thought the Daily Planet staff could have been better. Amy Adams was fine as Lois Lane. I don’t know if Laurence Fishburne fit well as her boss. Michael Kelly (House of Cards) also appears.
143 minutes
This product was released around June 2013
I consumed this around August 2014
More: Man of Steel
Posted by: Jeff Egnaczyk at: 8/3/2014 11:23:32 PM
Watchmen Zack Snyder
Watchmen Zack Snyder's adaptation of Alan Moore's classic graphic novel is dead on. The film's plot mirrors the book's almost exactly with the few deviations leaving me even more impressed with Snyder's ability to make a film. The newsstand comic interludes were cut and the twist ending was tweaked but both were necessary to create a watchable movie, and neither ruined the story.

Watchmen doesn't pull any punches. I expected the movie to be a softer version of a comic soaked in sex and violence. It stayed true to its origins though. Jeffrey Dean Morgan aces The Comedian's crazed humor and disturbing viciousness. Rorschach is great but once the mask comes off, Jackie Earle Haley is amazing as Walter Kovacs. He absolutely nails Kovacs' cafeteria scene. Haley roars "You just don't get it do you. I'm not stuck here with you. You're stuck in here with me".

The film is a great blend of live action fight scenes and comic book special effects. The scenes with Doctor Manhattan (Billy Crudup) are trippy while Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) tear it up with some kick-ass hand-to-hand combat. The slow-motion scenes in the alley and in the prison were amazing.

The cinematography is able to blend that elegant 1950s style we're all accustomed to with a more modern grimy urban look. If I had any complaint about the movie it was that it didn't go far enough in portraying the filth that Rorschach imagined around him. The heroes were given the goofy costumes of early comic books yet still engaged in all manner of violence. The fight scenes that supplied that violence managed to be explicitly bloody yet beautiful at the same time.

Watchmen was one of the best novel-to-film adaptations I've ever seen in terms of replicating the original work on screen. On top of that, I dare say it was one of the best comic book movies of all-time. I've read the novel but I'm not a huge fan of the book, the authors, or the genre. The film just struck me as meticulously well-done. Almost as important as its entertainment value, I appreciated the work that was put into the balancing act of replicating a great novel and making a great film.
This product was released around UNKNOWN by UNKNOWN
I consumed this around UNKNOWN
More: Watchmen
Posted by: Jeff Egnaczyk at: 5/24/2010 10:42:00 PM
300 Zack Snyder
300 Visually 300 is an appealing film. The action is extremely gory yet much like comic book violence with its splattering of blood. Whatever the truth of the history behind 300, it is obscured by the mythic portrayal of battle scenes and the Spartans' Persians enemies. The Spartan heroes are rough, sculpted and intense.

300 pits the rhetoric of freedom versus that of placation and servitude. It can also be viewed as an "us against the world" story. A small force is outnumbered against a great enemy yet fights for an ideal and in defense of the weak. Along the way, besides the outside enemy, there are internal enemies that seek to undermine the cause. It plays to a sort of persecution complex that is alive today. A great enemy in front combined with a fifth column behind threatens an entire society.
117 minutes
This product was released around March 2007
I consumed this around September 2007
More: 300
Posted by: Jeff Egnaczyk at: 10/9/2007 6:50:47 PM

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