On Criticism

I wanted to look at something that was bothering me before and I figured that, due to the fact that this is writing about the writing of others, then I would sort of want to write about this where there are other writers, even if not many of them will actually be versed in this type of writing, so here it is.

Why even bother with reviews in the first place? I don't really care anymore. Reviews don't pique my interest in anything from games to movies too much and I really take nearly every word in them with a pinch of salt. This is mostly due to the fact that I know there are many things that, no matter what, I will disagree with anywhere from some, to pretty much anything on these subjects at hand. 

Really though, this is somewhat a rant about two movies, which I will use to relay my points, they are going to be two films that, will here be called "Film X" and "Film Y". I use these names so you can understand my viewpoint before you know what films I'm referring to, though you'll probably see through this anyway. 

Film X is a film which came out recently and is part of a series of film which are adaptions of a series of work. This film worked with a separate writing/directing team to the ones coming before and it has changed tone slightly to come into a compromise between an acclaimed film in the same genre and another film which it is related to in some ways.

Most of the criticism of this film has come from the people who are fans of the source material, disliking how some, and by some I mean one of the, characters have been portrayed in this new work.

This is unfounded for several reasons: The fact of the film actually benefiting from this change when looked at from an non-fan, mainstream standpoint, moaning about the change being something which ultimately makes no sense due to this fact when other films in the same genre have done similar things to great success, while I'll refer to in a moment. Also, the film does this for the reason of taking the elements of the adapted work and making them somewhat applicable to actual scenarios, due to the ludicrousness of the storyline, mixed with racial implications that might have come from the more accurate portrayal.

Furthermore, this character, while originally a villain in the adapted work is more of a "Dragon" figure to the actual villain, who, other than in terms of appearance, is for all purposes a more serious adaption of the adapted character. This also refutes another criticism about this change due to the fact that people have complained about the character    - they claim that this portrayal is almost a self parody. 

This film was well received by critics, to a fair degree. They generally didn't see this from the same viewpoint of fans. 

Due to the fact that you've probably guessed the identity of Film X, I'm going to talk about Film Y now, which is is a similar boat, but one which is a direct opposite. Here the film's criticisms are more substantial, but with one issue at the core. The fans of the work this film was adapted from do like this film though. 

The issue that I have seen at the core of Film Y's critical polarization is that it is too dissimilar to another attempt of adapting the original material. One which is very much revered critically, and unlike the new adaption, is quite comical, and at least a little campy. Film Y has none of this, is much grander in scale, and is much more serious. It looks much more visually stunning than the previous adaption too. (Notice how I don't use the terms "original version" and "remake"). The film is different to a degree in that fits in more with the newer continuation of the source material, and fans have therefore liked it for many reasons with the exception of one, which also polarized to begin with, but has no generally calmed down.

In case you haven't guessed, Film X is Iron Man 3 and Film Y is Man Of Steel. (Spoilers ahead for both) So you might be saying this is a bit of a rant about the reception of comic book movies, but I really don't care about their original medium, basically because I think of all mediums as the same and judge on my own enjoyment and view of merit. But to an extent you could say it is, and I really think that this is due to the way that criticism is thought about. 

Iron Man 3 is a film which is more comparable in tone to The Amazing Spider-Man (which comic book fans have seemingly hated for little apparent reason) than any other, but that's not really because it's copying that film and more due to the fact that it is trying to hybrid a  weird combination between The Dark Knight series and The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble in some places). People have, for some reason, come to scapegoat Iron Man 3 for it's adaption, due to the fact that it's characters are quite different to the ones they adapted, and you know what I think?

No one should care.

The reason I think this is because although Iron Man 3 is sorta technically a comic book adaption, in the sense that Wikipedia would call it that, in reality it's a continuation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and because of this it should have no obligation to respect source material, or any material whatsoever other than the film's that come before it. Shane Black did an excellent job of this and I would happily put all of my faith in his Death Note adapting skills because of this. He managed to capture the other Iron Man films, continue the Avengers, attempt something different and generally make it good to watch. Sure it was a little bit Blockbustery and a little burdened by a few plot holes, but on the whole, it was fine. And fans should be happy, just realise that this is effectively a new Marvel Universe, like the Ultimate Series, and due to that, it will in no way displace the comic books - get over it. 

Man Of Steel is just a bit pulled down by the name Zack Snyder and the existence of previous Superman films. Fans will admit that this carries out a lot of what they wanted to see from the comic books, but film nerds will look at Snyder, think about Sucker Punch, and run out of the cinema screen. The other films are sort of a burden on this film, due to the critics hating this film for not being the same as Superman I & II. But you know? I like this film at least more than Superman II, which is a overwrought mess that due to having two directors, acts like it has some weird form of multiple personality disorder - it's so all over the place in tone. Man Of Steel is very good to me, and my only criticisms are that they underdevelop Superman/Clark Kent due to the cliches that they present him with that exist due to Nolan's other work of TDK trilogy. Everyone else in the film is better developed than he is. Due to this we are left with a climax where Superman kills Zod and some can't grasp why it matters, 'cause 'Superheroes kill the baddies all the time right?'  On the other hand, critics moan, and for the sole reason that this is a more serious (actually probably more faithful and closer to the comic books, as well as if looked at objectively possibly a better film than Superman II) and sad Superman, whom there is no happiness for. 

It is in my personal opinion that these films get both an overhyped two edged sword, where because they're a superhero film, they get all of the promotion, the loathing and the retched fanboyism that goes with it.  But that's inescapable, as is the changes that have to be made throughout the film process to the original story. So maybe these changes are not the worst that could have been (Catwoman anyone). Maybe comic book fans are too close to the original comics to see how good the twist in Iron Man 3 itself was (especially considering the fact it was meant to fool THEM as well). Maybe there should be some sort of boundary that Iron Man crossed in terms of faithfulness, but I don't see it, and if it makes a good film then maybe it should have been crossed. 

Man Of Steel also suffers from the critics, and the general fallibility for nostalgia, liking to complain about what is popular and, though I do think that the film would have been better if directed by Christopher Nolan, it would probably get about a 30% extra rating on RT if it had just had Nolan's name slapped over the 'Directed By:' Credit.

Those are my thoughts.

The End

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