2 posts categorized "Superhero"

March 07, 2018

BLACK PANTHER

Black_pantherLike adults who read Harry Potter books as if they aren’t children’s books written on a sixth grade reading level, many grown audiences [knowingly or unknowingly] ignore the fact that superhero movies are a children’s genre. Superhero movies such as “Black Panther” represent nothing more than a dubious method for indoctrinating kids into accepting and participating in violent behavior, with the help of their goose-stepping parents.

You need look no further than “Black Panther’s” repetitive return to “ritual combat” as its means of electing a leader for a fictional East African tribe to know that something is rotten in Denmark, or in this case “Wakanda.” Nevermind that Marvel comic book writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby lifted the term “Wakanda” from a Native American word for God. Capitalist exploitation? You bet.

For as boring as the movie is, and “Black Panther” is nothing if not an utter mind-numbing experience, here is yet another reminder of Hollywood’s lazy and persistent use of redundant comic book material to profit from marketing violence to kids while, in this case, spitting on the graves of native peoples.  

These movies aren’t about ideas, such as civilized discussion or compatible behavior, they are about greed and instilling vengeful behavior in kids who grow up instilled with oversimplified notions about wars, fighting, and taking revenge on fellow human beings.  

Black-panther

Just as the “Star Wars” movies have made many times over their box office profits on toys, so too does Hollywood deal in superhero merchandising to elevate profit margins to astronomical levels. Follow the money. You might think it’s a big deal for a movie like “Black Panther” to employ so many black actors, but you can bet the film’s producers are not sharing any product revenues with those same thespians. To put it simply, superhero movies are nothing more than very long commercials. Think about it when Halloween rolls around and every other nine-year-old is wearing a Black Panther costume. You can’t call that Cinema.

Black Panther

“Black Panther” is forgettable as it is toxic. To pretend otherwise is pure folly. As for the popularity of superhero movies, keep in mind their relation to a lowest common denominator cashed in on by faceless corporations. All you have to do is follow the money. Go ahead; buy a toy. But remember to think about what it really represents.  

Rated PG-13. 134 mins. (D) (One [plastic] star — out of five / no halves)

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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Treehouse Brewing's American Brown Ale BEAR is the beer of choice for Mike and Cole to hash out the first (and hopefully only) superhero movie to make it into the Feast. We also have our first food-fight as a result. Do superhero hero movies indoctrinate children into violent behavior? Cole thinks so. Could this be the movie that breaks LA GRANDE BOUFFE (THE BIG FEAST)? Superhero movies do indeed teach confrontation after all. Get out the electric knife for this one Bouffers, and don't worry about the mess. 

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While we're at it, this is what social commentary looks and sounds like.

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

June 10, 2013

MAN OF STEEL

Illegal Alien
Superman The Underdog

Colesmithey.com“Man of Steel” delivers a fresh approach to the shop-worn Origin of Superman narrative (originally published in 1938). Alas, fresh is not enough. State-of-the-art special effects are deployed to deliver the double theme of xenophobia manifested through eugenics — reference planet-Krypton baddie General Zod (Michael Shannon), who plans to repopulate his planet with the aid of Superman’s blood — and America’s anti-immigrant bigotry, turned sideways against resident alien Clark Kent. The movie emphasizes that Superman is not human, much less the red-blooded American he outwardly appears to be (and has been depicted as in previous iterations).

Unfortunately for viewers, the film’s collectivist themes are so overwhelmed by spectacle and pedantic storytelling that most audiences will barely notice their presence — blame Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer for the flat story and by-the-numbers script, respectively.  

Director Zack Snyder’s earnest reboot of the Superman franchise is visually appealing, but "Man of Steel" doesn’t shift gears often or quickly enough to validate its nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time. There are lulls. Boy, are there lulls. Still, Henry Cavill (“Immortals”) is well cast to convey the stoic charm of our holy-trinity extraterrestrial protagonist — Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman. Cavill’s imposing physicality, square jaw, and piercing blue eyes are perfectly suited for the pantheon of superhero comics’ most iconic figure.

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Other casting choices don’t go over so well. Russell Crowe flails in his role as Kal-El’s powerful father Jor-El. Here’s a part that Ralph Fiennes or George Clooney could have hit out of the ballpark with panache to spare. Sadly, we get the overbearing Crowe giving line readings that sound like he's got a marble in his mouth. Momentous visitations between Jor-El’s immortal soul and the corporeal Kal-El provide old-fashioned exposition, which informs the young outlier about the choices he must make toward fulfilling his hero’s journey. 

For her leading lady role as Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane, Amy Adams plays the character ahead of the beat. Every line she delivers seems like an end-run to a foregone conclusion. We never get to see her gears turn. Of course, there’s the non-brunette issue. Why wasn't a more obvious choice — such as Michelle Williams or Jennifer Lawrence —made?  

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Baby Kal-El grows up after being jettisoned on Earth in the wake of the destruction of his home planet, Krypton, by Zod. Kal-El’s adoptive father, Midwest farmer Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner), delivers a stern warning to Clark not to use his super-human powers to save people lest he be outed as some freakish alien. Conformity is the key to survival in America. Naturally, a school bus accident on a bridge prompts the adolescent Clark to defy his patriarchal guardian’s counsel. Clark Kent has his own sense of ethics to answer to. However, it isn’t until General Zod and his army invades to hold Earth hostage in exchange for Kal-El that Clark makes his transition into the Man of Steel. We are told that the “S” on Superman’s chest is a Krypton symbol for hope, rather than the apparent first letter of his super hero moniker. Superman’s ability to use his eyes as a laser isn’t explained, but it gives the movie a kick in the sweet spot every time he turns on the fiery red beam during ferocious battles with Zod and his troops.

Michael Shannon’s Zod makes the movie happen more than the endless stream of falling skyscrapers that Zack Snyder is compelled to showcase for fear that the narrative isn’t strong enough without so much cataclysmic destruction on display. He has a point. But it didn’t have to be this way. Superman is caught between two enemies, the earthlings that threaten to persecute him like the latest King Kong — another version of an undesirable immigrant — or the insane militarized bully from his home planet.  

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Of course, it's a tough genre. As with all other comic-book movie adaptations — save Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” 1 and 2 — “Man of Steel” never connects tone, rhythm, and theme into a unifying whole. That isn’t to say it isn’t an entertaining movie; it is. It just doesn’t leave you walking out of the cinema with that breathless sense of transformative wonder you hope for as an audience member — and need to bring you back.  

Rated PG-13. 143 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

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