COLIN BOYD ON MAN OF STEEL
Do we need Superman anymore? Do we even want him? Since Tim Burton’s Batman, we don’t like our movie comic book heroes “super” so much as “tortured.” And Superman is, frankly, not very relatable. That’s what makes Man of Steel so intriguing. If Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) can’t get us to believe in Krypton’s favorite son again, this might be the last we see of him for a long, long time. Sure, Christopher Nolan was brought in to produce it, but the character’s the character and his story (with some modern embellishments, certainly) is his story.
It’s well-cast and has great, evocative trailers, but in the end, will audiences really want someone perfectly engineered to save the day? It’ll make money, no doubt, but will it save the legacy of one of America’s great fictional heroes? The answer to that question will be the story of the summer. (June 14)
KEVIN CAPP ON THE GREAT GATSBY
Director Baz Luhrmann spent more than $120 million adapting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s slim Jazz Age novel into a 140-minute movie — a sign that maybe he learned a lesson from Robert Redford’s failed effort: You must throw the book out the window. The book’s plot is thin, after all. A World War I vet named Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) wants to reunite with his old lover, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), but she’s married to the fabulously wealthy Tom (Joel Edgerton). To lure Daisy, Jay moves into a mansion across from hers, throws lavish parties and elicits the help of Daisy’s childhood friend, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who serves as a kind of moral, but largely inactive, witness. The magic of the novel, then, rests largely in the texture of the language; so in order to bring it to life on the big screen, Lurhmann must fill out the plot and characters. In short: Fitzgerald’s work must be treated as an outline. (May 10)
TONY RAMIREZ ON BEFORE MIDNIGHT
This summer, I’m not eager for movies about superheroes, starships or vampires. I want a movie with dialogue.
Before Midnight is Richard Linklater’s third film in a series that began with Before Sunrise, about a star-befuddled twentysomething pair who flirt on a train headed toward Vienna. In that 1995 film, Julie Delpy, as Celine, says, “Have you ever heard that as couples get older, they lose their ability to hear each other?” In its sequel, Before Sunset (2004), the two, now in their thirties and having failed to connect romantically, meet again in Paris. A glorious 80-minute flirtation follows. The latest film, set in Greece, got great buzz at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and why not? We get to see two articulate people age out of their first beauty and talk about it.
And that dialogue from the first film was about actual hearing loss — to which Ethan Hawke, as Jesse, responds: “[It’s] nature’s way of allowing couples to grow old together without killing each other.” (June 21)