Sorry this is terribly late!
A thunderstorm in Minnesota lead to my house without power for Friday evening, and I got caught up in other things before I was able to write this.
What I’m Watching: Man of Steel
NOTE: THIS FEATURES SPOILERS FOR MAN OF STEEL
This isn’t a movie I necessarily needed to see; I enjoy superhero narratives, sure, but Superman’s never been my favorite superhero, and I’m more of a Marvel person than anything (*gasp*). Still, I thought it looked interesting enough. I don’t really like Zack Snyder all that much as a director, but I really liked Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and Inception is one of my favorite movies. So I went with a couple of friends and saw it last week.
I didn’t like it. That’s not to say it’s without redeemable parts; the visuals, as expected, were stunning. I do think that Henry Cavill was a great choice, and had this been a better movie he could have made a marvelous Superman. I don’t like excessive action scenes, usually, but I enjoyed a good portion of the big final battle.
Unfortunately, the script really wasn’t up to snuff. I think the biggest issue was that it was trying to be too ambitious. Ambition isn’t a bad thing, but what seemed to be a standard origin story ended up being too ambitious for it. After the way-too-long opening sequence featuring Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kal-El (Superman)’s father, a good portion of the story is told in very fragmented flashbacks. It seems to be a structuring device that would serve another film better, but doesn’t make sense in the context of a Superman origin story. This also makes basic screenwriting and script formatting non-existent; for example, was there a specific inciting incident, a catalyst for the rest of the film? You COULD argue that Jor-El sending Kal-El off to Earth is that inciting incident, but it doesn’t really work as an inciting incident, I’d argue, because it doesn’t really start everything. Films don’t have to follow this standard screenplay formatting, but it’s something you definitely come to expect from superhero movies.
I was also a bit disappointed by the treatment of women in the movie. Yes, Lois Lane is in peril quite a bit. She might have a bit of a feisty attitude, which is good to see, but ultimately she’s saved by Superman. The parent that gets much more focus is Jor-El, as opposed to the mother, who serves only to give birth and hesitate in general. The other female Daily Planet reporter is the one who gets buried under rubble and must be saved by her female coworkers. The female second in command to the main villain, General Zod, is given no personality and nothing to do other than be a resource at General Zod’s disposal. Even though I enjoyed the portrayal of Martha Kent (Kal/Clark’s Earth mother) as someone who can take care of herself, ultimately it’s Clark’s father who is the most important in the narrative. There’s one female soldier, and, after being distracted, says it’s because “he’s so hot.” Centering a movie around father-son relationships is all fine and good, but I was just disappointed that it was this way.
Ultimately, it’s hard not to see this movie and not wish that it could have been something better. I enjoyed pieces of it, and had there been a better script it could have been a solid movie. I don’t hate this movie, but it was just not what I wanted to see.
What I’m Playing: Dragon Age: Origins (and The Witcher 2)
Still really into Dragon Age right now. I’m thinking of doing a review of all of the Origins in the game, because it’s very interesting to see how they play out. So far I’ve been playing around with various origin stories; I mentioned that I had felt disappointed by the Mage story earlier, but the City Elf origin is very fascinating; the way my character reacted to Duncan, a human, was interesting. I was unable to welcome him; instead, all the choices tried to get him to leave, so that he didn’t cause any trouble. Playing through as an elf is very interesting, as well, because of just how often it’s brought up. People amazed that an elf was able to do this or that. It’s a really interesting take on race, and I definitely recommend it. I also recommend, if you usually play as a male character, trying out a female one as well. Some of the most interesting conversations are with Sten, who is perplexed that I, as a woman, can be a warrior. These origins definitely color what your experience is in the game, which definitely drives replays.
Recently, through the GOG summer sale, I picked up The Witcher 2. While I didn’t really enjoy what I played of the first one, I’ve been assured the combat is better. So far, it is a lot more fun to play, but I don’t know how fond I am of Geralt as a playable character. I was also bothered by the way they introduced Triss, nude and in bed. This is a character who’s supposed to be very powerful and a good female character, yet she’s objectified and sexualized. I want to give this game a fair shot, so I’ll keep playing; it seems like fun, anyway. Still, as someone interested in female representation in media, it threw me a bit. I have a feeling I’ll end up mostly playing Dragon Age for my fantasy gaming, but we’ll see.
What I’m Reading: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
I’m not very far yet, so there will be no spoilers or much of anything. I’m just very excited to be reading a new Neil Gaiman novel, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts!