Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Belated "Man of Steel" Review

It's been a while since the last time we had a Superman movie, namely 2006's underwhelming "Superman Returns". In that movie, we got a Superman take that did little more than jerk off the legacy of Richard Donner's classic film of the 70s as well as present to us a Superman that was more of a wanky emo brooder turned Super-stalker. Needless to say, not many liked it, and Warner Bros. and DC decided that rebooting it was the best course of action.

Fast forward to 2013, and here we are with "Man of Steel": a more modern take on the classic superhero as envisioned by director Zack Snyder ("300", "Watchmen") and producer Christopher Nolan. Now without further adieu, here comes my belated review of "Man of Steel", so strap yourselves in assholes.

Be warned, spoilers aplenty are ahead:

"Man of Steel" presents a much harder look at the Superman mythos than has ever been presented in film form before. It also packs some of the most unbelievable wanton acts of destruction to probably ever be seen in a summer blockbuster or "disaster porn" film. Seriously. Metropolis gets obliterated so much that it's amazing there's anything left of it. In those regards, the action sequences are brilliant and the wanton acts of destruction are set pieces that I personally have always wanted to see in a Superman film.

The casting and characterizations are mostly well done as well. While main star Henry Cavill didn't leave the lasting impression on me that someone that plays Superman rightfully should be able to do, the rest of the principal cast was mostly great, in particular Russell Crowe as Jor-El. Even Kevin Costner as Supes' earthbound Papa Kent does great in limited screen time, but it's Michael Shannon that really stole the show for me as General Zod. He isn't Terrance Stamp, and who could be, but he leaves a lasting impression. I also enjoyed Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White (irony!).

Now, here's what so many fans have been having a shit-fit about: the ending. Yes, Superman kills Zod in the film's conclusion. He breaks his neck like a twig to stop Zod from killing more innocent civilians and screams in sorrow at what he's been forced to do. Now I know what you're thinking because I thought the same exact fucking thing when I saw it happen on the big screen: since when the fuck does Superman kill? In retrospect, the idea itself is infuriating, because if it's one thing that Superman stories have been telling us SINCE THE FUCKING 1930s is that Superman always finds another way to save the day. Superman is supposed to represent the best in humanity and put himself over the law...or something. Well, here he broke Zod's neck.

Now, looking back on it, while seeing that bothered the shit out of me, I think I understand why Snyder, Nolan, and screenwriter David Goyer went down this route. Maybe since this was an origin story, they're going to use Superman killing Zod as a benchmark for future events, as to something that Superman can never, ever bring himself to do again, and this is the beginning of Supes deciding to "find a better way" to save the day without having blood on his hands.

That, or maybe film executives still don't get Superman after all these years.

Either way, regardless of its flaws, I enjoyed "Man of Steel" for what it's worth, even more so than I enjoyed "Avengers" or most of the Marvel movies since 2008. That's right, I said it. And since its huge opening weekend, Warner is fast-tracking a "Man of Steel" sequel to lead into an eventual "Justice League" movie. Part of me wants to see that all happen, and part of me doesn't, only because it would never be quite as huge as "Avengers". "Avengers" has the monopoly on safe, family-driven popcorn entertainment that's fairly okay for kids, while DC's properties seem to be going in a darker direction (which I love) that looks like it'll eventually lead into making kids shit themselves.

In 3-D.

Anyway, go check out "Man of Steel", fuck the haters.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Why the Next Generation of Gaming Will Suck Massive Ass

Get ready folks, there's another console-war a comin'.

Last time I was here I talked about the Wii-U and the sad state that Nintendo appears to be in. Since I wrote that post, Microsoft has revealed their upcoming XBox One console, which has pretty much all the bells and whistles that Sony's PS4 appears to have, plus more besides.

Yeah, things aren't looking so good for Nintendo these days. But that's a different story for another time (again).

Anyway, the XBox One managed to wow XBox fanboys across the globe with it's seamless Kinect features and voice-controlled app-switching on the fly, etc. etc. etc. What it didn't show though: games. Now, let it be said that Microsoft has pretty much ruled this current-gen console war, which is in itself kind of surprising. They cornered the multiplayer online component of video games and managed to make a shitload of money with XBox Live: a service that by all rights and purposes should be free to use right off the bat. Sony's is free on the PS3, but goddamnit, do those XBox fanboys ever love their "Halo" and "Gears of War" multiplayer action.

What's most alarming about the XBox One is what it appears to offer and not offer. It looks like an old VCR and appears to be able to function as the all-in-one media console that Microsoft has tried to pimp the 360 as since 2005. Hell, you may be able to even watch cable TV on the damn thing. Regardless of that though, there's some alarming things about this console that need to be addressed. It may not have to be an "always on" machine that requires a constant internet connection (maybe), but it may be charging you an extra fee to play a used game. Now Microsoft and a majority of game publishers are being fairly mum on this thing, but it wouldn't be a surprise. Most games from EA and even recent hits like "God of War: Ascension" and the rebooted "Mortal Kombat" require a purchased online pass if you buy the game used, so this new used fee isn't too much of a surprise. Microsoft, like Sony, EA, Activision, etc., is a mega-conglomorate that wants to make as much money as they can from you, and goddamnit, they are gonna do it no matter what.

So ya know what? Fuck 'em.

Is this really the future of video gaming? Nickel and diming the gamer every chance they get? It's been happening for a decent amount of time now, and it's only going to keep getting worse. Microsoft is suffering a lot of flack since the XBox One reveal, and rightly so. Still, people will flock to the new console for "Halo" and "Gears of War" alone (two franchises which in all honesty I've never ever understood all the hype surrounding them) no matter what they have to pay upfront and in the future, and as long as that keeps happening, we'll all still keep getting fucked in the ass and wallet by these companies like EA and Microshaft.

For me personally, I've often felt like I've been playing the same games for nearly the past 20 years. That's one reason why after this generation of consoles and gaming is over, I'm out. That's no bullshit either, that's all she wrote. I really hope that more people follow suit so that when Microsoft an the rest of the money-grabbers look at their profit margins, they see a steep enough decrease to actually consider to themselves "maybe we're being too greedy here".

Of course that will never happen because the fanboys will flock to these new consoles (except the Wii-U apparently) in droves to play prettier versions of old games, and when you've got a money making scheme like that going well and strong, only an idiot would pull the plug on that operation.