Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Trailers@24Panels: MAN OF STEEL Trailer #3

Here at 24 Panels, we like to give each new comic book movie trailer the roundtable treatment. This time, we take a look at the final trailer for Zack Snyder's Man of Steel.

DAVE: Wow.

Dru, James, I think we have just witnessed the new gold standard for trailers when it comes to superhero films. Just in terms of the sheer art of selling a film, this Man of Steel trailer gets everything right: it clearly indicates the tone of the film; it clearly indicates what the story of the film is without spelling it all out; and most importantly, it gives us a taste of what the film offers without spoiling it. So, on that level alone, I say "good work Warner Brothers."

As for the content itself, however, I am honestly in awe. The goal of the previous trailers seems to have been to indicate that what we would be getting is a film that is a reverent take on the Superman myth, and this latest trailer builds on that groundwork in a big, emotional way. On the most superficial level, the trailer clearly shows that we are going to be getting a Superman on film who is going to do the big scale stuff we've always wanted to see. But what impresses me most here is that these shots are not being included here just as empty spectacle, but work to really build on the idea that we are seeing a big, moving MYTH (yes, in full caps) playing out in this film. And I love that.

We are also finally given a bunch of firsts with this trailer, from Zod to Lois and even the score. There still isn't really much that can be said about Michael Shannon's Zod yet, other than that he appears imposing. Amy Adams' Lois, however, looks fantastic. We seem to be getting a real, flesh and blood human being this time out, rather than a screwball counterpoint to Clark, and thank God for it. That isn't to slam the prior takes, but I get the feeling I am likely going to be moved to tears by the Lois and Clark relationship here, and I look forward to that.

Hands down, however, the best thing in this trailer is the music. Right from the first chord, I had a chill of excitement  There is something very operatic in what we are hearing, which feels right in a Superman film. Best of all, it doesn't just sound like a riff on what John Williams did in the 1978 film, nor overly bombastic like many a recent superhero music scores have been. Hopefully, the rest of the score will be just as good, and I have faith that it will.

What about you James? What did you make of this?

JAMES: I want to write down my thoughts, but I also want to watch the trailer again and again. I too am in awe after seeing this. Allow me to crib from my comments when we looked at the initial trailer back in December: Yes, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel looks to be a thoughtful, reverent take on Superman dealing in capital-M Myth. Amir Mokri's striking cinematography and Hans Zimmer's score emphasize the intimacy and the mythic grandeur of Superman in equal parts, which is no easy feat especially in three minutes.

While this trailer doesn't hit me as hard as that initial one, it's pulling on different strings. Here we get more of an idea what the film will be like as a whole, with lots of "whoa!" moments during the action. Besides getting Clark's personal journey, it also looks like we'll be treated to a rousing sci-fi action film, something that's never been done with Superman on film, which really excites me. Yet, the best moment for me is that the "S" isn't a family crest, doesn't mean "Superman," but stands for "hope" (a nice reference to Mark Waid and Leinel Francis Yu's Superman: Birthright). I'll admit it, I got choked up.

Dave, what I like -- as you point out -- is that we only get glimpses of supporting players. I really think whoever cut these trailers deserves an award for whetting appetites without spoiling the meal (does that analogy work?). I like the teases of Amy Adams' Lois Lane -- she's one of my favourite actresses and I think she can really knock the character out of the park, especially if we can see her actually do her job. I also want to see more of Russell Crowe's Jor-El and Kevin Costner's Jonathan Kent. But we also get some enticing footage of a different Krypton, which looks utterly fantastic.

This trailer epitomizes everything I love about Superman: wonder, intimacy, grandeur, adventure, hope. Like I've said before, Man of Steel seems to be shaping up to be the Superman film I've always dreamed of.

Dru, your thoughts?

DRU: I don't disagree with a single salvo of the above. It's beautiful, grand, mythic, intimate, and a host of other superlatives. In the same way that The Amazing Spider-Man fulfilled a lifelong dream for me of seeing a particular vision of Spidey on the big screen, I think that Man of Steel looks poised to have me weeping like a child in the best possible way.

I would like to register a few complaints, however, if only in service of tempering my too-high expectations. Firstly, I was disappointed to not see more Zod here. From what we do see, it's clear that Michael Shannon is killing it, and I simply want more. Like we got in this mysterious TV spot from earlier in the week:

To borrow from The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger changed things when it comes to playing supervillains onscreen, and there's no going back. He inaugurated a return to bigness, to performances defined by bold choices made by great actors in great films. And I would certainly nominate Michael Shannon as one of the best "big" actors working today. When he's extreme and intense, he's extreme and intense. That's what a superhero movie needs. It's not enough to affect some vocal mannerisms (I'm thinking primarily of Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises, which I just rewatched, but I'm also a bit worried that Ben Kingsley's take on The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 will be primarily from the "unique cadence" school of supervillainy): there has to be more to it. And as much as I want to see more, the fact that they aren't selling the movie based on Zod suggests two things to me: (1) that there are plot surprises in store that showing Zod would necessarily reveal, and (2) that Shannon is bringing it in a way that can't be done justice in a trailer. I'm excited by both.

OK, so I guess that wasn't really a complaint. I have have a legit cause for concern, though: David Goyer. I've been re-watching the Nolan Batman films for my dissertation over the past couple of days, and Goyer is definitely not the MVP of that series. (See our episode on The Dark Knight for more of my complaints about that film.) In fact, his clunky dialogue, overly complex plots, and non-sensical twists constantly threaten to derail the series like the monorail at the end of Batman Begins. It seems to me that they're selling this on the beauty of the cinematography, the grandeur of the action, and the intimacy of the performances. What we're not getting a great sense of is the actual story (beyond the obvious elements) and how it will play out. Will Zod's scheme be full of unnecessarily Rube Goldbergian machinations, as were Joker's and Bane's in the previous Batman movies? Has he remembered how to use callbacks in a way that makes sense? 

In any case, if Goyer's going to hammer the themes into our skulls with the force of a Superman punch, at least it looks like he's chosen the right themes. Like you, James, I'm thrilled to see them emphasizing "hope" as the singular thing that Superman stands for above all else. That's what he's always meant to me, and that's why he is the greatest superhero character. I hope that this movie is worthy of him, and this trailer gives me that hope.

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