Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Seth Rogen can Write

So, I was going to challenge Molly to a cage match over Man of Steel, but the more I've thought about that movie, the more flawed it was. But didn't hate it....

Things I liked about it were:

- Um, Henry Cavill????

- The image of Krypton, great worldbuilding. Cool combination of sci-fi and fantasy in one world.

- Lois Lane wasn't just a damsel in distress, but a genuine heroine. She was smart and good at her job. She came off brave, rather than TSTL, and she affected the outcome of the story.

- The villain had strong motivation. It's been a long time since I saw the original Superman movie (I call the 1970's one the original...) and I haven't read the comics, so maybe this motivation wasn't new... but I liked this villain. Michael Shannon is always strong and his motivation was too. He was trying to save his people, Superman was trying to save humans. That's some damn good conflict, IMHO.

But some criticisms based on further reflection and scanning a couple of reviews. 

- The fight scenes... Were a little silly and long and gratuitous. But I often think that... Fight scenes are rarely my favorite part of movies and, although I tend to have quite a few in my books, I like to keep mine short. And prefer them short in films too.

- As much as I did like the world-building in the prologue on Krypton and as strong as I think the villain's motivation was... I concede that for storytelling purposes, the film might have been stronger without the prologue, and the conflict in the story was really between Jor-el and Zod, not Superman and Zod... 

The prologue really took some steam out of the hero's conflict. Okay, a lot of steam. The prologue explained important information that we didn't get to see Superman learning, so we never really knew how much of it he knew, or how he felt about it. Thus, his choice between saving his people or the human race was more clear cut than it should have been. As far as we knew, he could give a bleep about his people.

I read one review that called Superman a pawn in the story. I think that's going a little far, but I will concede that I might have been so distracted and impressed that Lois Lane wasn't a pawn, that I might have missed that Superman was... Hmmm... The more I think about it, Lois Lane and Russell Crowe are actually the heroes of this story. It's almost like the classic YA mistake of having the grown ups solve the kids problems... Jor-el, with Lois's help, solved all Superman's problems...

The whole film is basically a prologue for what I assume the filmmakers are hoping will be a franchise. I did notice the Luther Corp logo on a truck near the end... and someone told me that the satellite in one of the fight scenes (yes, there's a satellite in a fight scene) had a Wayne Industries logo on it. So clearly they're hoping to compete with The Avengers. Will be interesting to see if they can pull that off. But there needs to be more humor, and I have a feeling everyone's all Batmaned out these days...

So, not a perfect film. But I was entertained.

But not as much as I was at This is the End.

I loved this movie. I thought I might be making a mistake going to a film like this at noon, and not under the influence of anything but coffee... but I found it hilarious.

Was it silly? Sure. Was some of the humor juvenile? Of course. Is it Shakespeare? No.

But it was a tightly told story, with clear (if silly) character arcs, a lot of snappy dialogue and so many references and cameos I'm sure I'd have to see it a couple more times before I caught them all. Even Rihanna was funny. 

And whether or not you like Seth Rogen as an actor: dude can write (along with his writing partner Evan Goldberg). And dude is willing to poke fun at himself, his friends, his job, his lifestyle.

Highly recommend this movie if you want a good laugh. And if you know anything about the actors, their films and their personas... My favorite actor send up was either Jonah Hill or Michael Cera. Both really let themselves be skewered in opposite ways and I found the film versions of them very funny. I guess the Michael Cera send up was a bit reminiscent of Neil Patrick Harris in the first Harold and Kumar movie...  But it went a little further and was so, so, so funny... Oh, and Danny McBride, who I normally hate... His character version of himself was also very funny. So was James Franco's version of himself. Just remembering how obsessed he was with Rogen. 

Okay. The more I think about it, the more things I remember. This movie was very funny. I could go on and on... These are actors who know how they are perceived, and are willing to poke fun at themselves. 

As a Canadian I also appreciated the Jay Baruchel "character" who was so self-righteous and unwilling to sell out to Hollywood, which caused the main internal conflict between him and Rogen. And set up what was an almost sweet friendship story arc inside a horror/comedy film. (This movie is actually based on a short film from 2007 called Seth and Jay Versus the Apocalypse.) 

Overall: I had tears of laughter much of the time. The dialogue was surprisingly subtle and smart. Would see it again.

Speaking of great dialogue, I also saw both Before Midnight and Much Ado About Nothing in the past couple of days, (I'm making up for lost time.) and enjoyed both. 

But this post is getting too long. 


Simone St. James said...

Cage match, Maureen!

I found Man of Steel baffling, and therefore boring. Krypton was a dystopian society that bred people in pods for specific roles. Zod didn't love Krypton, or anything about it, he was just bred to defend it. It's the same lazy motivation as "he's just psycho, because he is."

But worse, for me, were the fight scenes - and they were endless, and massively destructive - that took place in inhabited streets and office buildings in the middle of the day. Entire buildings flattened. By Superman. By Superman!!!!

And he actually kissed Lois in the middle of the flattened wasteland that used to be populated Metropolis! Superman!!!

A few simple lines - "evacuate the building, get out now, I don't want to hurt anyone" and maybe four shots would have fixed the problem. Instead, he hit Metropolis like a nuclear bomb. Like I said, lazy.

Eileen said...

Ooh. Now I'm definitely going to see This is the End. Did you see 50/50? I think Rogen co-wrote that one as well. Also funny, sweet, occasionally juvenile. Wow. Dude's got a brand, doesn't he?

Every time I see him interviewed, he comes off as such a big goof, too. Like I'd love to hang out and watch TV with him.

Maureen McGowan said...

Yeah, I remember thinking that too, Simone. I remember reading before the film came out that the studio was worried about the tornado scene, but, um, it was more reminiscent of 9-11 with countless skyscrapers being hit.

Okay, I'm coming around to the it sucked side. Maybe I was still on such a high from This is the End that I just sat back and enjoyed.

Still, didn't hate it...

Maureen McGowan said...

Eileen, it was shockingly funny. And he makes fun of his persona as the goof, too. And how he basically plays the same role in every movie. And there were jokes about Green Hornet too. It's basically full of digs and movie references.

Oh, and loved 50/50. But I just checked IMDb and he didn't get a writer credit on that one. But he did write Pineapple Express, (which also gets a send up in This is the End). Rogen and Goldberg also wrote Super Bad which was another film that rose above your typical gross-out teen movie.

Maureen McGowan said...

Okay, but the guy who did write 50/50 was also a writer on Da Ali G show when Rogen was a writer on that show... (I love imdb)

Molly O'Keefe said...

Maureen - sometimes your life makes me hideous with envy!

The fight scenes in Man of Steel were ridiculous and then in the end - he just snaps the guys neck???? they were in SPACE! crashing into SATELLITES?? I understand this was all supposed to be a part of his conflict he didn't WANT to kill anyone - but I agree with Simone - if that's the conflict - let's actually see it. I thought Cavill was a humourless strange looking puppet. That's right! I said that! PUPPET!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Can't WAIT to see This Is The End... can't wait.

Unknown said...

I loved 50/50 and Seth Rogen in general and Jay Baruchel in particular.. so I'm in for the End.

Superman, maybe not after these reviews

Eileen said...

I really thought Rogen co-wrote 50/50 and that the character he played was based on himself.

Go figure. You can love imdb, but it's popping my fantasy bubbles.

Unknown said...

Rogen definitely had a hand in the screenplay, and he produced the movie. I did some research. The screenwriter was best friends with rogen and the screenplay is based on his experiences, but Rogen was his friend in real life as well as on screen..
It's a really great story

Maureen McGowan said...

Ah! I remember that now! Thanks Ripley! Sorry, Eileen. He gave the other guy the full writing credit for 50/50.

BTW This is the End is based on a short film from 2007 called Seth and Jay Against the Apocalypse. Or something like that.

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, and Molly. The only reason I had that day was that I had no one to spend Father's Day with. The jealousy goes both ways. :)

And I'm conceding this cage match. But will never back down on Django Unchained. ;)

Simone St. James said...

Aw the neck snapping - don't get me started. So bad.

Christopher Nolan co-wrote Man of Steel. The same Nolan that made Batman so conflicted about taking human life. THAT Nolan.

They should have hired my editor to have a go through that script.

I have been really Rogen-ed out, but I may have to change my mind...

Eileen said...

So I think the fact that Rogen gave the other guy full writing credit on 50/50 is just one more thing that makes me like the movie. And Rogen.

Maureen McGowan said...

Me too, Eileen. Me too. :)

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