Super People Films

It should be said first of that I do not hate superpeople films. For one thing I have not seen nearly enough to judge an entire genre of film and secondly I do not care enough about this particular brand of film to hate it.

I went to see Superman earlier today mainly because I could not get into The Big Sick (that was sold out amazingly); but being in town and having been told by Derek that the Spiderman film was good I thought I should go and see it.

As any listener of the Iconochromatic Podcast will know I didn’t enjoy Wonder Woman; not because it is a super hero film or a film that focuses on women being strong as many have latched onto. Personally I think this can only be a good thing but because I did not think it was a good film. I did not enjoy the story, I did not enjoy the characters in the film as I felt disjointed and not caring for them one way or the other.

And so to Spiderman. This lands with a heavy thump onto my “meh” pile of 2017. This is not my worst film and will not end up on my worst films of 2017 list because it is not, I have seen worse and I am in no doubt I will see others that are far worse.

I do think this is my problem (and to all those who enjoy the superhero franchises I make no apologies for my opinion because that is exactly what is, my opinion) and not the films, I can see the merits, I know people who have enjoyed it and based on the reactions of people around me it was an enjoyable film but the problem is I was just a little bored.

At no stage did I think Peter Parker was in trouble, at no part did I think he was not going to be able to carry on and not win in the end and that is the problem. For these films to work it needs to do a couple of things:

  1. I need to feel a connection with these leads and in this I did not; nothing they did made me feel their plight or care about them
  2. I need to believe there is a threat of danger and this did not exist; I knew whatever was thrown at peter parker he was going to be fine because of course he was
  3. I need to believe in the development of people on screen; I recently saw The Beguiled and My Cousin Rachel, both of these films show how character development is done well

I accept my connection or lack thereof is the problem, something inside me just cannot buy into it and I promise it is not me being a hard noise critic and wanting to poo poo or be contrary about popular films because certain critics have basically made there name or niche from it, I like films, I enjoy films and it left me feeling very down leaving the cinema and not enjoying it, as I said, there is not hate here.

One Superhero films I saw this year and loved was Lego Batman. It had a clear story, it had clear structure, a very sharp and witty script and more than that it got me hooked in. Without wishing to give spoilers it made me feel for the people I was meant to feel for. Even the enemies. In this I actually cared more about and thought more highly of Adrian Toomes than anyone else in the film but I believe that was the point.

Everything he said was correct and was true and maybe that was the point or maybe it wasn’t, that I am unsure of, what I am sure of is that I paid my attention and I cared far more whenever he was on screen for which I say well done Michael Keaton.

It is possible in the future I may give the superhero Genre another try because based on the trailers I have seen the films are not going away and if they are not that is fine, I am just very pleased that other films are being made in the same way I am glad these films are being made because the world would be a dull place if we took the stance of that only films that one person liked should be made.

We talk about:

Baby Driver

Churchill

Gifted

Glow (Netflix drama)

Norman: The Rise and Fall of a New York Fixer

The Red Turtle

Spider Man Homecoming

And have music from Berlyn Trilogy and Promenade Cinema

We talk about

King Arthur

Wonder Woman

My Cousin Rachel

Freddy Got Fingered

My Life as a Courgette

With music from

Grauzone, The Undertones, Gravity Slip and Caldera

Alien: Covenant

Mindhorn

Miss Sloane

Rules Don’t Apply

and a bit of music from Soft Riot

In this episode Derek & Chris talk about Their Finest (a bit), going to the cinema on your own and then a bit about TV programmes such as Doctor Who, American Gods and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Also Chris possibly gets blown up.

Or is hearing things.

And spends 5 minutes looking something up on the computer.

Derek and Chris talk about:

(in alphabetical order)

Collateral Beauty

Fast & Furious 8

Free Fire

Going in Style

The Handmaiden

I Am Not Your Negro

Power Rangers

Raw

A Sense of An Ending

And we play

Metric – Long to Live (Cosmopolis Soundtrack)

Chu Ishikawa – TD (Tetsuo: The Iron Man soundtrack)

Also Chris’ phone rings a  bit and distracts him and Derek is distracted by an amusing facebook post which doesn’t translate well to podcasting.

We were always up against it really with this one. The trailers hadn’t been promising. The marketing campaign was frequently laughable and co opted by cunning internet memers. They had a godawful skrillexy remix (was actually skrillex?) of the the theme tune. They had a terrible version of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence connected to it. They had pretty much done everything possible to put me off.

Then there was the row over whitewashing.

I’ve changed my opinion on this several times from not a problem to problem to not a problem again. I suppose when you’re dealing with android bodies and human brains and so forth you’re allowed a bit of racial swapping too. I still didn’t like Scarlett being the lead role though, regardless.

I wonder if we’ll ever get another film where she gets to use a different facial expression?

But anyway, I rather like the original film. Not read the 5 billion page long manga but the film is pretty good stuff. Filled with existential contemplation and a fascinating mysteriousness.

This film frequently sets out to duplicate many of the scenes from the animated film as well as ones from the series and also second film. But in a somewhat jumbled up fashion. But in many ways the decisions on where to put some of those key sequences make sense for a traditional bit of western cinematic storytelling.

We strip out a lot of the original story and replace it with the revelation that the Major (a name that I’m going to comment on a bit more later) has a past she can’t remember which may have somewhat disturbing connotaions.

And this is fair enough for a standard sci fi action movie and all that but when you’re referencing so much of the original animated film you can’t help but compare and consider it Ghost in the Shell for dummies.

This ultimate search for the missing past idea is something just a little too familiar for those of us who’ve seen maybe more than 3 movies in our lifetime. The amnesiac protagonist whose past was stripped away by the organisation they work or worked for is a well worn trope.

The visuals have been remarked upon quite a bit and while there is quite a lot to enjoy visually it’s a little bit overloaded to the extent that I find it looks a little silly at times. That much ‘holographic’ cgi on the screen it gets very messy and seems like they were possibly a bit over eager in that regard. I know they wanted to create a striking visual identity to the film but sometimes a little less can be more.

Then there’s the name. Major. The way they use it in the film is very peculiar. We are told her name is Major Mira Killian several times (frequently by her) but then frequently people talk to her as if she’s called ‘Major’. Which is a little odd. But a minor point really.

Acting wise Scarlett is doing her trademark emotionless thing and is reasonably ok I guess but the problem is she’s just too familiar and that makes it awkward. An unknown admittedly probably wouldn’t have had bums on seats in the cinema but still. When she’s been Black Widow for Marvel so much you can’t help but equate the two.

Lovely subtle work from Takeshi Kitano as the section 9 boss. He’s still effortlessly cool even when he does pretty much nothing at all. Subtle facial expressions and dialogue delivery always win. The actor playing Batou I was very impressed with, he gets the character across very well and is undoubtedly the very human part of the film that we are to relate to.

Overall though I just tended to get the niggling feeling of it being people playing at being Ghost in the Shell, almost like a college fan film or some such. It tries so hard but never quite seems to get it and I do think much of that is down to the tweaking of the plot for a more mainstream audience and casting of an all too familiar lead actor.

In this episode we talk about:

All This Panic

Beauty and the Beast

Christine (2016)

Get Out

Kong Skull Island

Personal Shopper

Also accidentally features thematically appropriate music from Siouxsie and the Banshees in the form of track Christine. Professionalism. We’re not it.

Derek and Chris this time talk about:

But not in that order! Derek also puts together a playlist of songs to describe the plot of one of the films but can you guess the film before the end of the playlist?

Discussion of the films Free Fire, Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures. But not in that order. Chris gets a bit fired up and Derek is moved by moonlight.

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