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Monthly Archives: June 2013

An obvious problem with the Superman character is that he’s too darn strong, physically. He can fly, smash himself through buildings, defy alien gravity thingies, throw the guy from¬†Bug around…RoboCop wasn’t perfect. We got to watch him spaz out when he got (physically) close to Dick Jones, and he got pretty messed up by the Detroit Police. He had to use baby food to fix his aim. Damn. While RC was really strong, he wasn’t totally invincible. Man of Steel never had me worried for the main character. It’s an old issue with the Superman character, so I guess the task writers are left with is to flesh out his humanity, and the pitfalls of his sympathy for mankind.

Well, Man of Steel has no humanity. When it’s not being soaked in boring CGI, it’s being melodramatic. Right from the jump, we’re treated to this overacted Shakespearean plot on Krypton…which somehow ends up being the most interesting part of the movie.Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon and others try really hard to look serious in a flat set of scenes. They deliver lines like, “…in time, they will join you in the sun.” What’s odd is that this kind of prelude actually worked in Thor. Maybe it was due to the better cast, or maybe the world of Asgard was more interesting. That movie also became less interesting as the focus turned to humans on Earth. You only had one Earthen city in RoboCop, but somehow it was enough!

Computer-generated effects can be great, but they need to be crystal clear. Too much of the time they obscure parts of the action sequences, relying on sound effects and smart editing, so the audience has to use their imagination to figure it all out. There used to be good choreography in action scenes; scenes with real explosives destroying miniatures (see: Bob Morton’s house) and super gory squibs popping on someone’s chest (see: that poor schmuck who got perforated by ED-209). Even when that stuff doesn’t look totally convincing, at least you could follow the objects from point A to point B.

Basically, Man of Steel is mediocre. It does a lot of what you’d expect from big blockbusters these days. It wants to be over-the-top entertaining, but it also desperately wants to evoke emotion. It fails at being interesting.¬†I already had a Man of Steel. A steel man. A robot man. A robot…cop. ROBOCOP

NOT-ROBOCOP

Frances Ha is a movie about a weirdo girl. And white people, mostly. I don’t know if you remember, but RoboCop had, like, three black people and one Asian gangster. All of them were badass dudes – think about the line, “This guy’s a serious asshole.” (Sergeant Reed,) or, “Oh, fuck you!” (Steve Minh.)

Anyway, in FHa, two almost-gay best friends are living together, and then they’re not. Then the main girl, Frances, bounces around without getting her shit together for awhile. That’s pretty much it. It all takes place in the big city of New York, but there’s no construction sites cum war zones, no imposing monoliths of consumer culture, no sprawling criminal landscapes on the verge of rebirth…That’s a missed opportunity if you ask me; compared to Detroit, NYC is big enough to warrant ~2.12 RoboCops.

It’s not just that nothing really happens in Frances. It’s also a lack of real or interesting conversation. While writer/director Noah Baumbach is trying his hardest to channel Woody Allen’s style, he’s missing the knack for natural dialogue. A lot of the lines feel like they were engineered to be clever, rather than realistic. This also induced muscle-straining eye rolls in this fine writer.

The acting is pretty bad a lot of the time, too. I spent most of the movie waiting for a stop-motion, walking turret to show up, but it never happened. Stick to the classics, I guess.

NOT-ROBOCOP