Friday, May 9, 2008

Ok, so superhero movies, Part 1

This week, someone told me that "Iron Man" was, and I'm quoting here, "stupid."

As you might guess, I'm inclined to disagree, but then I did just see it for the second time, so maybe I'm partial at the moment.*

"Reviewing" creative works has always been a nebulous process. People approach their entertainment in an expanse of ways, and the great value of criticism comes in understanding just how deep and complex that expanse can be.

Take "Superman Returns" for instance:

I thought it was terrible. See, I feel that one thing you usually need in a story, and especially a story about good versus evil, is conflict. Maybe I'm crazy, but conflict seems like a pretty important element. "Superman Returns" doesn't really have conflict, because Lex Luthor doesn't have any sort of plan. Oh sure, he's got his little crystal that he's going to throw into the ocean, so he can create an island and flood the world. But does he have a way to defend said island? Missiles? Rockets? A BB gun, anything? No. So why is Superman even bothering with it, when a single army helicopter could handle the whole thing during lunch? Do we send Superman to deal with a gas station robbery? No, we call the local police. Lex's "plot" is so poorly thought out that he might as well have knocked over a Texaco. When Superman showed up, and the henchmen were LITERALLY playing cards, because the script had written them into a corner with nothing else to do, I laughed.

Which is why I was so confused when a friend told me how much he loved the movie. And the weird part is that I agreed with most of his reasoning: The acting and direction were, after all, pretty solid. But to me those elements are a means to a end: telling a good story. If the story isn't good to begin with, then the rest is null and void.

I had never occurred to me that someone might see a movie JUST to see good acting, or good direction, not caring what the story was about.

*So awesome.

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