1. The Tornado Kills Jonathan Kent In Man Of SteelMan of Steel is easily the worst film of the summer. The only real compliment one can make about Zac Snyder's empty-headed take on the iconic superhero is that it has pleasant cinematography. The film is shockingly weightless despite the heavy themes discussed in it, and yet is loaded down with so much exposition as to be dramatically dead. On top of that pile of misused parts is a brooding, "dark" Superman played with zero charisma by the handsome Henry Cavill, who has nothing to do except stare glumly at school buses and occasionally take his shirt off. The plot is murky and incoherent, the score unmemorable, and the emotional "dilemmas" faced by Superman are barely explored. The film spends a lot of talk time working its way to its only purpose for being: the Metropolis-leveling battle between Superman and General Zod. I despised the end of Man of Steel because it reduced Superman to a building-smashing thug who probably murdered millions of humans in process of trying to eliminate Zod and his minions; no other incarnation of Superman would ever do that. Then came the stupid moment when Superman decided he had to snap Zod's neck (can you snap the neck of an indestructible man?) to save the lives of four people huddled in the corner of a subway station. HUH? You just destroyed multiple cities and killed countless people, Superman! Why bother saving this one family?? So much of Man of Steel fails that the entire film could be considered The Worst Moment of the summer. However, one event really bothered me emotionally and intellectually: the tornado death of Jonathan Kent. Man of Steel botches virtually every single character in it. Superman is boring and sad. Lois Lane has no other trait besides being a Nobel-winning reporter. Zod screams and glowers a lot. Perry White is the equivalent of an infected appendix. Russell Crowe's Jor-El wanders around like the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi, morbidly dispensing platitudes. There is nobody here to care about or root for, just a collection of familiar tropes from better films and stories. Except one: Jonathan Kent, played with folksy warmth by Kevin Costner. Snyder's masterstroke was recruiting the missing-in-action Costner for the role of Superman's adoptive father. Costner has a charisma and a warmth onscreen that virtually screams "Middle America." This was critical, as Snyder's script had the elder Kent making some fairly radical statements about young Clark Kent needing to refrain from saving others in order to conceal his alien identity. This was a marked change in the Jonathan Kent we knew from the original story, but Costner sold those lines with surprising depth and heart. In the original story, Jonathan Kent suddenly dies of a heart attack while Clark, despite his amazing abilities, is powerless to save him. It's a dramatic learning experience for Clark, one that spurs him into action to save as many people as he can because he knows their time is short and their existence is fragile. But Snyder jettisons that deep and resonant moment in favor of a gigantic, poorly-rendered CG tornado that suddenly sucks Jonathan away as he tries to save a dog in a car. Oh, and all of this happens while Clark stands there and watches. I mean ... HUH?? We already know that Clark/Superman is faster than a speeding bullet, so the idea that he cannot do something instantly to save Jonathan from being snatched by tornado is beyond dumb. Another possibility would be for Clark/Superman to blow the tornado out with his super breath. Even if he were to let the tornado take Jonathan, Superman could then instantly fly into the sky and catch him. I get why Snyder crafted the moment -- he wanted to show that Clark had learned he shouldn't intervene in human affairs -- but it doesn't make dramatic sense because we know the power Clark possesses to save him. Even worse, it makes our Superman look like an emotionless and impotent dick who refuses to act on the part of those he loves. Who wants a Superman like that? Given that he was unwilling to save Jonathan from death, it makes Superman's decision to suddenly save four random people at the end of the film seem even more ridiculous. There is simply no excuse for filmmaking this lazy, thoughtless, and stupid.
So there you have it - the five dumbest things we saw this summer. Like last summer's crop of stupidity, the films this summer suffered from breakdowns in logic, poor and/or lazy screenwriting, and an addiction to recycling better films and moments. Originality and character development, once so important in the greatest films of summers past, have become rare commodities, indeed.
As long as the video game morons and special effects addicts keep supporting films of this low and careless quality, we'll likely have another list just this scathing to look forward to next year.
See you then!