Originally Posted by Batmannerism
Much respect to you as well, my friend, but I think your assertion that I have derailed this thread is a bit unfounded. While it's true that I didn't reply to the topic at hand, my post was clearly directed towards DorneyDave's insinuation that if one likes
something, then that must mean that it's good. To me, the idea that a prerequisite for responding to a thread should be contingent on rigid relevance to the OP and the OP alone stifles the free-flowing nature of discussion. On that note, I sincerely apologize if I've offended you or anyone else; that wasn't my intention, and I simply saw a post I honestly disagreed with and responded in kind.
The latter half of my post was admittedly a tangent, but with regard to the former, the point I'm trying to get across is that there's more to judging art than personal preference alone. Now, I'm about to go off on yet another tangent, so I'll zip it up into some spoiler tags and you can read at your own discretion.
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Alright, since it seems that my food comparison fell on deaf ears, I'll present it in a different context with a bit more relevance - photography. Be advised that this is something of an extreme example to drive the point home.
So let's say I have a friend whose favorite photo is a portrait they keep on Instagram. This photo is taken with a low resolution phone, features a crooked composition, distracting elements in both the foreground and background (coma, flare, chromatic aberration, dirt, dust, take your pick), has uneven/poor lighting, is slightly out of focus, has poor contrast, inaccurate colors, and is riddled with digital noise.
Now let's say I show this friend another portrait of the same subject that was taken and processed by an adept photographer. This particular photo has a very high resolution, a pleasing and balanced composition, has the eyes & face in perfect focus, achieves excellent subject/background separation, features pleasing OOF highlights, has soft & even lighting, is noise-free, balanced and rhythmic, and features rich & vibrant, yet believable colors.
My friend declares that the Instagram image is still his/her favorite, and then goes on to assert that said photo is the superior of the two. The former I find to be perfectly reasonable and human
, but wouldn't you agree, even slightly, that the latter is just the least bit
self-absorbed? Aside from that, doesn't that show blatant irreverence towards something that was clearly given a greater degree of care, artistry, and consideration?
Again, this was an extreme
example, but this isn't me saying that preference is all for naught or in some way secondary to established standards, but I do believe that there should be some semblance of balance when engaging in discussion and passing judgment. I really don't think that's unreasonable. I'm also not saying that commonly accepted standards and principles aren't open to interpretation either, because hey, that's a matter of perspective and discretion, and every individual will bring their own unique perspective to the table when evaluating something. All I'm saying is that it's a good idea to temper personal preferences with a degree of respect and appreciation for established, proven standards when evaluating and comparing different things
Last thing I'll address before moving on to the topic of your OP:
Originally Posted by Batmannerism
Honestly, I don't see the distinction. if a critic compares the two films, which I agree makes perfect sense (they're essentially 2 versions of the same story), and finds one to be superior overall, then doesn't that imply that the inferior film is inferior because it's not like the first film ?
Not at all. The point of comparison (and in this sense, contrast), at least in my eyes, is not to declare that one thing should be more like the other, but to demonstrate that one is superlative due to superior execution of a particular element or dynamic. For example, when I say that the dialogue in MoS is worse than that of STM, that isn't arbitrarily because one didn't ape the other, but because the execution of one was simply better than the other. In MoS, I found the dialogue to be trite, forced, unnatural, contrived, and creatively lacking, thus it was uninteresting. STM, on the other hand, featured dialogue that I found to be natural, clever, and complementary to the character interactions, thus it was both interesting and entertaining. None of this implies that one should have been like the other, rather it demonstrates poor execution vs successful execution. It's entirely feasible for one to be completely different from the other, but then that erodes the value of comparison somewhat if the subjects are too different. I could compare the dialogue between Clark & Lois to that of Robin Hood & Maid Marian, and while it's still fundamentally similar (hero & love interest vs hero & love interest), I think we can all agree that two versions of the same thing will usually provide for more relevant comparison...way too far off track now but I hope I've been clear.
I'll address the topic at hand since you were good enough to extend me the same courtesy.
You know that I don't hold MoS in very high regard, and I'll go as far as to say that it was awful. With that said, I'm not as enamored with STM as some others, but I do appreciate the things it did well. We've chatted a bit about some of this before, so I'll just cover the broad strokes:
- MoS attempted to juggle so many elements unnsuccessfully, and to the point of convolution. Far too many subplots, devices, and themes were introduced and not given due exploration and/or resolution. The plot buckled under the burden of unnecessary and ill-conceived complexity. Again, we've discussed this before, so I'll assume you know what I'm referring to.
STM adeptly handled its much simpler story, for the most part. Understand that I'm not saying that simpler = better, because in all fairness, some simple movies just suck
, as do others that suffer from needless complexity. However, I will point out that STM had plenty of plates to spin as well, the difference here is that the writing was superior overall, and most of what was featured seamlessly integrated into the plot.
- ...or the lack thereof in the case of MoS. I don't feel like we were shown enough of Clark's personality in the film. Not only were his speaking lines sparse and unremarkable, but he didn't do much interacting with other characters when he shared scenes with them. Far too often, he would defer to others and was relegated to being a sounding board for their preaching and exposition.
In STM, the protagonist was indeed the Big Blue Boyscout, but he embodied that distinction so as to be convincing
. The dialogue and interactions, the failings of MoS, were what reinforced the effectiveness of the hero in S'78 for me. He wasn't constantly upstaged by everyone he shared the screen with, he had character and convictions all his own that the director was never coy about conveying to the audience, and Reeve owned it throughout the duration. Whether it was his playful, witty repartee with Lois or his unwavering confidence in the face of his nemesis, Superman's values and personality were expertly communicated to the audience.
I've already covered in a previous comparison, but add that one to the STM column as well.
This is a biggie. No matter how refined we all love to think our taste in film may be, this is ultimately why we watch superhero movies
. With that said, action and heroics must be earned; it needs to seamlessly fit into the beats of the plot and have a sense of relevance and gravity. Unadultered action is every bit as bad as thoughtless slapstick and cheap scares; I've said this many times before. It's also not the amount or length that matters, it's the context, execution, and impact. In terms of visual splendor and choreography, it's easy to make a case for MoS. The action was big, beautiful, and bombastic, but due to the poor writing and characterizations, the impact of the action scenes suffered as a result. In this respect, the comparisons to Transformers aren't completely unfounded. Even so, I'll go a step further and say that Transformers was superior in the sense that there were actual stakes involved for the individual combatants. In MoS, we saw repetitive scenes of super people smashing into one another seemingly to no avail. There was never any risk of injury, exhaustion, or exertion in the battles; it all seemed very much like video game characters with endless lifebars wailing on one another to no avail. Then there were really silly scenes like the world engine tentacle bit, which struck me as little more than excessive, contrived spectacle.
By contrast, the heroics from '78 were reinforced by Superman's strong character and screen presence, and his values made his willingness to rescue ordinary citizens convincing and engrossing. Did it all look as cool as the more modern, big budget adaptation? Of course not, but as I alluded to earlier, there's more to it than "Superman gets to punch people all over the place" for me. Even his trek to avert the Jersey missile and save the west coast had a greater sense of urgency than the similar world engine sequence. The baggage from Lex's little girlfriend may have been a cheaply inserted plot device, but it was still effective as it reinforced Superman's uncompromising moral compass, as well as giving the audience a sense of his compassion. Again, not as visually impressive from a spectacle point of view, but more effective in how it contributes to the movie.
Went into a bit more detail than I initially intended, so not quite the broad strokes as I said earlier, but by and large, this is how I would weigh one film against the other. About the only area in which I find Man of Steel superior is visual aesthetics. He's never looked better on the big screen, and that S symbol is the best design I've seen across all mediums. That's about where it starts and ends, however, as Superman '78 is superior in about every other way for me.