Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Man of Steel -- The Choice

People are talking about the ending of Man of Steel.
Go see it before reading this. Right now. It’s awesome. Take it from someone who’s read Superman comics for 30 years. I’m telling you, being happy with a Supes movie was a tall order for me. I walked out thinking the movie was Magnificent on almost every level. Loved it.
There is much going on in this movie. Some big ideas that you don’t really get the gravity of and discover the far-reaching implications of, until the end.
This is the problem with big ideas in a movie that is being viewed by people who were not ready for big ideas… they need time to think about it. Maybe another viewing.  They think about what they might have missed.
Kind of like taking a test that you thought you were ready for but when you get your paper back, your grade isn’t all you hoped it would be… you tear through the paper and try to find out what you missed. And WHY you missed it.
It could all come down to one question. One tiny aspect of the movie that you disregarded as just a plot Lilly pad --- instead of a plot stepping stone. Perhaps that one line of dialog was more important than you realized. Perhaps those words you overlooked, were meant to bear more of the weight of the plot than you realized… Words have meaning and power. Especially when they are used correctly.
What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended?
This is one of the BIG ideas in this movie. So much of what happens is founded upon this.
Jonathan Kent tells a young Clark to find out who he is.
Jor-El tells an older Kal that he was the first natural birth in a very long time on Krypton. Thereby, giving him a release from what Kryptonians, for ages, have leaned on for assurance and structure. Kal would not be created for a specific purpose.
He would have the ability to CHOOSE.
It is this power of choice that is the ultimate crux of the most controversial moment in the movie.
Clark is faced with a choice.  In my opinion, an impossible choice. Neither is good. Some are mad that he made the choice he made. I wonder if, if they would be happier if he’d allowed to happen- what would certainly have happened, had he NOT acted? I think not. (that may not make sense, but go see the movie)
His opponent, General Zod, is not however a person with a  choice. He will do whatever he has to do to accomplish his goal in life. He was bred for one purpose. And one purpose alone.
Zod will kill humanity. He has stated as much.
Clark’s solution to the situation is to… SPOILER.
Just go see the movie.
It is this power of choice that this movie is ripe with. Some say it violates Superman’s character to accept the choice he made. I do not believe it does. He made a choice. He is pulled in 2 directions in this movie… between humanity and Krypton. There is a time when he doesn’t really like either choice.
Make no mistake. This is a big idea movie. Big idea movies stand up will to the years of scrutiny. I suspect this one will as well.
Well done, to all involved with Man of Steel.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Maximum Overdrive (the bad movie from '86) and a few thoughts on Guns

I’m gonna use this really bad movie to make a political point. If you have seen the movie, you probably remember the cheese that was the motion picture offering of Stephen King’s directorial debut. 

Did you see it? It was a long time ago… I remember watching it over at a friend’s house years ago… I was  a kid. His name was Jim Bob. Nobody names their kids that nowadays… I only mention it to prove it was a long time ago. For those of you that like numbers, it was 1986. So there. 

For those of you who never saw it—don’t. I’ll spare you the trouble with my concise plot explanation(and even this may hurt). In the near future, earth would pass into the tail of a comet, and then all machines start turning on the lifeforms present… Trucks kill people. Toy trucks kill dogs. Soda machines fire can drinks at the crotches of ball coaches… you get the idea. Even a small military cart with a mounted machine gun gets into the fantastic fun. Check out the video.

WARNING: This video contains graphic use of FAKE BLOOD and REALLY BAD portrayals of PEOPLE BEING SHOT because they were still standing up after 100+ rounds have already been fired. So if you don't like fake blood-filled sacks being busted to look like someone has just been shot, please don't watch the video. END OF WARNING...

1986. When the idea of lifeless objects suddenly coming to life and killing people---was a fantasy.

Fast forward (for those of you who remember VCRs and Cassette tapes) to today.

2013. When the idea of lifeless objects suddenly coming to life and killing people---is reality.

You see—there is a distinct difference in people. Some see guns as evil (maximum overdrive)

Now I know that no one thinks that guns are just going to jump off the counters or out of their holsters and start killing people all by themselves. I believe that. The problem is: they don’t act like they know it. Want me to prove it? I’d be happy to. You hear politicians talk about Gun control but you never hear them talk about crime control, anymore. Everything gets blamed on the gun. If we didn’t have guns, the world would be at peace. Even some senators say that if guns weren’t sold in stores—no one could buy them. 

If you don’t see the absurdity of that statement, I’ll point it out. If the what the senator said is true, how do you explain how people are able to buy crystal meth? Marijuana? I used to sell arrowheads I found  by the creek to kids at school when I was younger. If there is a market for a product, there will be a supply of it.  

Some see people as evil (Norman Bates). Norman didn’t need a gun to be deadly, and I don’t need an “assault rifle” to be deadly. 

But here we are. Pretending like their bright ideas will help solve the problem, even in light of good historical data saying it won’t.

Now let us look at the machine as man. Just to give it a full discourse. 

The Terminator. Deadly T-100
Terminator 2. Protecting T-100

What is the difference? Its intended use. Its implementation. The person controlling it.

If Iran was the only country that had Nuclear capabilities, what would the world be like?
What if the U.S. was the only country? What would the world be like then?
One scenario would be very bad… the other would be very peaceful. 

Maximum Overdrive. Bad movie. I guess it was cool to an 10 year-old. But that was a long time ago. I have a firm grasp of reality. I can see that movie for what it was. It was an attempt to make people suspend their disbelief that machines weren’t inherently evil. 

Guns do bad things in the hands of evil people.
But they can do good things in the hands of moral, decent people.