Man of Steel
I thought we all agreed Zack Snyder’s Watchmen was a miss in the annals of superhero movies, and yet here he is again, taking on Superman.
The latest of many, many versions of the Superman story, Man of Steel finds Kal-El, son of Krypton, being sent forth by his father Jor-El (Russell Crowe!) to Earth as his home planet dies. In Kansas, Kal-El is adopted by the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane!), who rename him Clark and raise him as the human boy he definitely isn’t. In time, he grows up and becomes a journalist and part-time superhero, until Krypton’s General Zod (Michael Shannon!) starts coming around trying to wreck up Earth.
I thought Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns was pretty bad (you probably did, too, since that was the end of that reboot of the franchise), but its 76 percent on Rotten Tomatoes makes it a veritable masterpiece compared with Man of Steel’s 56 percent. Could it be that audiences are getting tired of seeing cities destroyed and countless (fictional) civilians brutally killed just so superheroes can get into fights?
Wesley Morris: “What happens in Man of Steel is unseemly not because it evokes an event like 9/11 but because the filmmakers think they’ve given us characters we care enough about to fear for their lives. This, of course, is the risk of these pre-established franchise movies, that they assume we know who, say, Perry White is and don’t want to see a building fall on him (or anyone else). But the destruction is, in part, a byproduct of the climactic, chaotic brawl between Superman and Zod (it’s like watching a jet through its afterburners). By that moral estimation, it’s not disaster porn. It’s sawdust.”
New and Notable
Frances Ha is the story of a semi-professional dancer (Greta Gerwig) slowly arriving at the realization that her career may not go the way she’d hoped, while also dealing with the fact that her longtime roommate wants to leave Frances to move in with her boyfriend. A series of imperfect living arrangements and iffy professional decisions ensue, and whether they stress you out or merely cause you to roll your eyes depends on your temperament. Or, I guess you might like it? If you like Girls, you probably will.
Gerwig co-wrote this film with her boyfriend/director Noah Baumbach, and I guess I have to give her credit for her evident lack of vanity: Frances may be a manic pixie, but a dream girl she is not.
Wesley Morris: “Maybe this is an older, artier cousin of Girls — Adam Driver does a saner version of his HBO self, but Baumbach and Gerwig are focused on the bond between Frances and her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner), and the way friendships change when life changes.”
“In Theaters”/Early Release Picks
Earlier this week, you were thrilled to see a whole Hall of Fame’s worth of reminders as to why you first fell in love with Shia LaBeouf. Now watch the movie that inspired the post!
On demand the same day it hits theaters, Charlie Countryman finds LaBeouf (playing the eponymous Charlie) on a plane next to a passenger who dies on the flight. He goes on to meet the man’s grieving daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and gets tangled up in her life’s drama. Said drama includes her villainous husband, played by Mads Mikkelsen, and wait, are we supposed to root for Shia’s guy over Mads’s? Because no.
The fairly small genre of Thanksgiving movies gets a little bigger this week with Cold Turkey, available simultaneous with its theatrical release.
Peter Bogdanovich gets in front of the camera to play Poppy, the head of the fractious Turner family who reunite, not especially happily, for Thanksgiving dinner. Between the estranged daughter and the son with the gambling problem, will anything go right?! (It’s still probably more entertaining than Free Birds.)
How I Live Now
For a sullen American teenager, getting sent to spend a summer with her cousins in the British countryside would seem to be a fate worse than death … until death threatens her and him and everyone around.
Based on the novel of the same name (and available the same day as its theatrical release), How I Live Now stars Saoirse Ronan as Daisy, the sullen teenager. Her summer gets much worse shortly after her arrival when anarchists detonate a nuclear bomb in London and everyone around her is at risk of illness from the fallout, not to mention the extreme measures imposed by the government shortly thereafter.