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Posts Tagged ‘superman’

batman-v-superman-trinity

Sorry about the clickbait-y title, guys; I couldn’t resist

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theatres this weekend, and love it or hate it, seems like everybody’s talking about it. Whether it’s Vox’s piece on Nineteen Things That Don’t Make Sense coming down on the Hate It side, or articles about the film’s impressive box office returns being used as evidence for Team Love It, everyone has an opinion.

And here’s the shocking bit. Are you ready?

Love it or hate it, that’s your opinion.

I have friends who adored it, who will probably go see it fifteen more times. I have friends who deplore it, who have written at length on why they think it is so terrible. I also have friends who haven’t seen it yet, or don’t plan to see it at all, who are indifferent, or who were genuinely unaware that this movie was happening. (Me, I don’t have an opinion; I haven’t seen it, and likely won’t until it hits Netflix.) But the thing is, whether you think it is the best thing since individually wrapped cheese slices (let’s face it, those things are amazing), or a big steaming pile of terribleness–

That’s okay.

It’s your opinion.

You can like what you like, or hate what you hate.

Think on the old Latin saying: De gustibus non est disputandum. Roughly, “Guys, we shouldn’t argue about matters of taste.”

It’s not just that you can like what you like, or hate what you hate: my opinion of a work of art (which BvS arguably is) in no way diminishes or counteracts your opinion, even if we disagree.

When it comes to matters of taste, we shouldn’t fight. Certainly I’m the last person who can throw stones; one of my favorite movies of all time features two hours of giant robots punching giant monsters, and I’ll happily argue its excellence to you if you have the time and patience for it, but if that’s not your cuppa, that’s cool too.

Opinions aren’t objective, no matter how pleasing to our egos it might be to pretend that we ourselves are the Final Arbiters of All Aesthetic Goodness (or whatever your yardstick is). Now, whether or not the thing you like is objectively good or terrible is a separate question, and one people smarter than me have been tackling for many and many a year, and outside the purview of this little blog post–but even if it is terrible (as many folk said about Pacific Rim, and are saying about BvS), it’s still okay to like it. Something in it feeds your soul, or fires your heart, or sparks your imagination. It’s downright cruel to try to take that away from a person.

So, guys, let’s not fight about matters of taste.

(Although, if you think Pacific Rim is terrible, you’re just wrong, and that’s a fact! XD )

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Maybe you’ve seen the video going around titled “What if Man of Steel was IN COLOR?” Here it is, just in case.

 

 

The video’s taking some flak for tweaking the “original” sequences from the film to make them even more desaturated, if that were possible, and I mention this only in the interests of fairness and full disclosure, because the “original” clips in the video sure match how I remember MoS looking. I haven’t checked back on the actual film, because once was enough for me, thanks.  (I did think the “honest trailer” was accurate.)

 

 

Whether or not the VideoLab folks were being quite fair to Man of Steel and Zak Snyder’s grim-n-gritty vision, the re-touched clips look bright and appealing, and make me wonder how much of the negative reaction to the film is on account of the bleak, desaturated visuals. (The rest of the negative reaction is obviously on account of the script.) That in turn got me thinking about another recent sci-fi action movie with a distinctive visual style.

 

BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMP

BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMP

 

There’s a great article on the visual vocabulary of Pacific Rim, and anybody interested in telling stories in a visual medium ought to go give it a read. (Blue language for them as worries about such things.) The writer touches briefly on the use of color, and he’s spot on: Pacific Rim is an incredibly visually intelligent film. If you have a couple of hours, you might also check out Guillermo del Toro’s commentary on the film, which is packed with one genius observation after another. Yeah, I might be fangirling a little bit.

 

But listen, color plays a huge role in how we experience the world, and thus in how we experience stories. Different colors can cause different effects in us, stimulating different centers in our brain, and a savvy storyteller will know those effects and use them to give his story even more impact. Pacific Rim starts out with a fairly straightlaced “realistic” color scheme, and gradually brings in more and more hues until it’s a rainbow-colored phantasmagoria in the Hong Kong battle, heightening reality so that the audience can forget about “serious” stuff for a while and enjoy the spectacle of a giant robot smashing the hell out of a monster from the deep.

 

Check out these colors! We have the usual action movie orange and teal, sure, but also that vivid blue, and pink, and purple, and that band of lemon in the lower third.

Check out these colors! We have the usual action movie orange and teal, sure, but also that vivid blue, and pink, and purple, and that band of lemon towards the bottom.

 

And then of course there’s this:

 

Gratuitous backlit Idris Elba

Gratuitous backlit Idris Elba

 

I can’t stop.

 

Gratuitous Hellboy--er, Hannibal Chau

Gratuitous Hellboy–er, Hannibal Chau

 

Look at him! His suit is mauve! His shop is green! How often do you see these colors in films nowadays? (And his tie picks up exactly the green of the kaiju specimins behind him. That is attention to detail, man!)

 

Color is powerful and evocative, and while I understand that the grim-n-gritty aesthetic is a thing, I also think the directors of these monochrome films are missing out. Even a pop of color in the right place, or contrasting a colorful scene with a desaturated one, can add flair and drama to your tale.  A color can symbolize a character or an emotion, or tie elements of your story together thematically without anyone having to speak a word.  Colors can enhance emotions, suggest connections that the audience might not even be consciously aware of, like the connection between Mako’s blue bangs, the blue jacket she wore as a child, and the blood of the kaiju (you did read that article, right?).  Also, did you notice that Mako and Raleigh’s colors totally start matching each other once they are co-pilots?  Because they totally do. (Okay, I’m geeking out again.)

 

Or, you know, you could just keep everything kind of grey, if that’s what you’re going for.

Man_of_Steel281080p29_SCREENCAPS_KISSTHEMGOODBYE_NET_0891

I would just like to point out that the color of the sky in this picture…

... is grey.

… is grey.


All screencaps via kissthemgoodbye.net

 

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Not a review!

Also there are probably spoilers ahead.

So, Man of Steel.  So desaturated!  I felt like I was watching an early episode of Supernatural.  Which I guess is appropriate, since both are about Kansans saving the world.

Do you miss the red underpants?  I don't, because I'm too busy gazing at those cheekbones.

Do you miss the red underpants? I don’t, because I’m too busy gazing at those cheekbones.

Actually, the film did pretty well by us Kansans, although I’m not sure why Smallville had a 7-Eleven, a Sears, and an IHOP.  One of those I would believe (probably the Sears), but not all three.  But the Kent farm looked beautiful and perfect, and Kevin Costner, while a lot more ambiguous than you’d expect from Pa Kent, did a fine job.  And they worked in a tornado and never once used the word “twister.”  Well done, writers.

I appreciated especially the line: “I grew up in Kansas, General.  That’s about as American as it gets.”

The artsy way in which the flashbacks were shot and edited had the effect, I thought, of distancing the viewer from Clark.  Now, Superman must be the hardest character in the world to write, because none of the screenwriters who have ever tackled him, have ever succeeded in making him seem human, sympathetic, or relatable.  He is a distant figure, opaque and unknowable.  This I believe is the greatest weakness of Man of Steel and any other Superman film.  (I don’t read the comics, so I don’t know how he comes across there.)

Nice seeing some old friends from geekland, though: Harry Lennix and Tahmoh Penikett from Dollhouse (yes, I know Penikett was in BSG too), along with Alessandro Juliani also from Battlestar, not to mention the ever-wonderful Laurence Fishburne, and Richard Schiff, whom I recognized from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  Good times.

Amazing that a film with so much chaos and destruction could have felt slow and over-long.  I think, again, that the alienating way in which it was shot contributed to the problem.  We never feel invested in the characters.  At least not the main character.  (See above.  Though, as the mother of a son, seeing him interact with his mom gave me all the feels.)  One can’t help but compare it with last summer’s Avengers, which was much brighter both in color and in tone, also levelled much of New York City, and yet had a care for the random unnamed civilian population in a way Man of Steel didn’t.  Oh, except for that one family.  Who knows how many people died in those buildings Clark and Zod were smashing up, but letting that little family die was somehow over the line?  Filmmakers, I do not understand your brains.

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