If director Zack Snyder had cared so much about his “Watchmen” movie living up to the book, he would not have exploded an innocent blond woman’s calf with a bullet and then blasted away two of her fingers. In slow motion. And if he was willing to dumb down and raunch up one of the most beloved comic book series ever (“Watchmen” made Time magazine’s 100 Best Novel of All Time) how can we trust him with Superman?
The full trailer for “Man of Steel,” the new Superman movie, is online. It’s… hard to decide how to feel about it. On the one hand, the music and imagery is pretty affecting. On the other, we already know Superman can fly. Milking his blast off as some big reveal seems dumb.
What’s fascinating, though, is that it’s Snyder who’s been entrusted to direct this film. Does the studio not care if it’s good? Does the studio want a movie that’s pure action? It’s baffling.
Snyder is a crazy director. Crazy. Let’s look at his last four movies:
“300”: Famous for the rock-hard abs of the Spartan warriors who face a vast Persian army in the Battle of Thermopylae. And for the distinctive, gloss-shined look that saturates scenes of yelling and slow-motion violence. An entertaining hit, the effects in “300” nonetheless rendered one of the great true stories of human history into a fake-looking fanboy jerkoff fanstasy.
“Watchmen”: In the 1990’s, Terry Gilliam (“12 Monkeys”) was hired to direct a “Watchmen” movie. He wound up quitting the project, saying “Reducing (the story) to a two or two-and-a-half hour film… seemed to me to take away the essence of what Watchmen is about.” Snyder did not mind essence-stripping. While claiming he wanted to honor this holy tome of superhero storytelling, he instead made a confusing mess with stupid slow motion action scenes and completely gratuitous violence. That stuff wouldn’t be there if he cared about making a good “Watchmen” movie. The ambiguity that gave “Watchmen” its soul is nowhere to be found. And the book’s writer, Alan Moore, famously said “I’m never going to watch this fucking thing.”
“Guardians of the Legend: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”: A 3-D cartoon with an evil owl inspired by Hitler and Joseph Kony. From my review when this movie was released in 2010: “I don’t think a movie already as bad as ‘Legend of the Guardians’ should rub in its awfulness by including a scene where a girl starts retching as though to vomit, then slowly produces a poop from her face. It really looks like it hurts.”
“Sucker Punch”: I dare you to watch this movie. It’s Snyder’s only movie that wasn’t based on someone else’s work, and you’ll never guess what it’s about… … … sexy mental-patient stripper prostitutes who battle zombie cyborg Nazi soldiers and a giant dragon who’s furious with the sexy mental-patient stripper prostitutes because they slit its baby’s throat. This is what Snyder comes up with when the story’s up to him. Check out a screen shot:
It is what it is, right? I’m not saying any of this to diss Snyder. Not really. It takes a real artist to put these wild visuals up on screen. The guy’s talented in the sense that his movies are cool to look at, they just aren’t good the way good movies are good. Depth and characterization and cohesive storytelling are not the man’s strong suits.
I’m saying all this simply to note that he is a weird choice to direct “Man of Steel.” His stuff has all been incredibly fake-looking, and I don’t think that’ll fly (get it?) on a “Superman” movie. It’s gonna have to look real. And Superman is a tricky character because he’s invulnerable, right? This is why so many of the Superman movies feature Lex Luthor using Kryptonite to make Superman weak, because otherwise there’s no suspense. His powers make it challenging to come up with a challenge for him. Is Snyder really the guy to take that on?
We’ll see. The trailer has spaceships and General Zod, who was the villain in Superman II and has powers equal to Superman’s. Maybe Snyder will make a Superman movie that’s like his past flicks: Full of crazy action but lacking heart and smarts. Would that be so bad? I don’t know how I feel, personally, but I think it’s interesting to ponder.