The Death of Superman (2018)

Rating: 7/10

Superman is the protector of the Earth. But what happens when he’s faced with a fow that’s even more powerful than he is? One able to defeat the entire Justice League single handedly?

This movie is written by Peter J. Tomasi, a DC comic book writer who has a written a fair amount of Green Lantern Corp, which I’ve read. So I understood the style. Tomasi is actually a really good writer, as long as something is happening. Outside of this, he writes what some people might refer to as, myself included, “soap opera-y” and meanders on character relationships and the like instead of the superhero stuff we came to see. It does the same here, but once Doomsday attacks and things actually starts happening again, the movie does get pretty darn good.

Still, there’s about 20 minutes of time where almost nothing is happening. I’m willing to forgive it, somewhat, for taking a so much screen time since some of this was Superman worried whether he should finally tell Lois Lane he’s Clark Kent, only to have him actually do so. Something I didn’t think was going to happen personally, and now anyone reading this knows so there goes the surprise. But still, having this meandering side story actual pay off in a satisfying way did give some “movie-cred” back to the film. Then the rest of it is fairly entertaining, so good job Tomasi!

SCORING:

+7: Fairly entertaining, by the end

-2: Too much meandering

+1: decent side story payoff

+1: didn’t mention this in the review, but very impressive sound editing and foley work, good enough that you notice it in a cartoon, straight-to-DVD film

Roma (2018)

Rating: 3.5/10

Roma is a film about a Mexican family, more specifically about the family’s live-in maid, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) and how she gets pregnant from her boyfriend, only to have him leave her right after she tells him about it. Also, the mother and father in the household have marital problems.

That’s more or less ALL the actual plot points of the movie, or at least the only plotlines that are moving in any direction. Instead, the film concentrates more on Cleo and a few of the other family members, and instead chooses to drag out scenes for a very long time. I’d say these scenes distract from the story itself, except that there isn’t much story to be had. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t really get films like this. To me they feel like they’re sacrificing the substance of a film for stylistic scenes and images. Though some of these things feel artistic and gives us a unique experience while watching, by the end of the film, it feels like a very big pretty box with nothing in it. Films, or any media meant for entertainment, need content to fill our brains with, it doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be present. Otherwise, the whole thing feels like a waste of time.

Truthfully, it’s always a bit tough for me to grade a film that feels like it doesn’t really have a point. The things that happen in this film are so random that it makes it feel like nothing happens for any reason other than to drag out the movie. A good example of this is about halfway into this film there’s a forest fire and the whole town gets together and puts it out taking buckets of water to the flames. I mean, stuff like that happens in reality and life is totally random, right? Randomness can be okay sometimes, but if you fully explore every action as it happens in your story, stuff that doesn’t have to go in the final draft but if you go back to any actions origin, and then to that origin’s origin, and as far back until the catalyst starts the dominoes that fall to make that single action come to pass, you soon realize that nothing happens randomly. True, a lot of things might come about from someone’s mistake, or some natural event, like a bolt of lightning, occurs along the way.

When things just happen by pure happenstance, it makes your protagonist powerless to change anything, and that’s a protagonists job! They’re there to change themselves, the world, the minds of others, whatever. If they don’t change then they’re boring and useless and people might start asking, “why are we even watching this person?” They have to have troubles so they can learn and do it all again later, but better than before. Usually when I see people break this rule it’s because nothing but good things happen to the hero without any effort and the character doesn’t need to grow or change in any way. Here it’s just the opposite. Instead, nothing but bad things to the main character to the point she’s totally powerless in the face of everything. She’s so unable to affect the plot that she might as well just roll over and die. Characters need arcs, without it you’re movie won’t be interesting and you’re audience will just be left wanting more.

SCORING:

+2: Has a couple of good parts, but feels empty by the end of it

+1.5: Pretty great acting all around

+1: An interesting style

+1: The cinematography was noticeably good

-1: Not nearly enough story considering film length

-1: This film needs characters who can change, or at least affect the things happening to them

My List: Unbreakable (2000)

Rating: 9.5/10

After surviving a horrible accident as the sole survivor, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is approached by a strange man with brittle bone disease, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) who explains to David that he believes he might have super powers.

This movie came out at a time when comic books weren’t really being adapted into film. Batman & Robin had kind of killed DC movies from coming out for a while, and though Blade had a decent run, nobody was really taking Marvel-based movies seriously. This stands out as something other than those types of films and coming at a time when people really weren’t willing to give comics a chance, what we have here is an origin story unlike any other. True it’s similar to some, if you read comics, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horror-superhero movie except for this one, at least not one that really does either genre justice. This movie though stands out as something that is truly unique.

M. Night Shyamalan is truly a genius when it comes to directing his shots. Here he shows off his chops as doing something that’s not like anyone else in the same business. I love watching his angles, pans, zooms, and shots as he presents this story to us in a way that shows his expertise along with his own ability to pull the audience in and keep one invested in a somewhat slow-paced movie otherwise. This bothers some about this movie, but it’s never bothered me.

Why it’s on my list: Like I say above, it’s a trully unique experience unlike any other. If you like comics and horror, then definitely check it out.

SCORING:

+7.5: Very entertaining

+1: Great scenes and pacing, truly draws you in

+1: Truly unique way to present a story of this nature