Zod! The Magic of the Movies!

Yesterday I watched part of the bonus disc packaged with the Man of Steel * Blu-ray issued in America. Its a huge three-hour presentation of the movie with added interviews, behind the scenes shots, production art, etc displayed alongside or in place of the actual movie as it runs (its actually half-hour longer than the movie). Its mightily impressive, I just wish it accompanied a better movie… but anyway, I digress. So I was watching, oh, the first twenty minutes, and yes, its lots and lots of green screen. Early on there’s the scene where General Zod and his dastardly cohorts blast their way into the Krypton Council Chamber (or whatever it is), and the actor who plays Zod, Michael Shannon pops up in a sub-window and talks a little about playing Zod, while another pop-up window alongside shows the scene playing in-movie being shot. And he’s being filmed wearing a motion-capture suit. Shannon admits he found it odd playing this big mean villain whilst wearing something that looks like PJs crossed with a leotard. But I’m just watching this all gob-smacked. That big armoured suit he wears pretty much throughout the movie was cg?

General_Zod_Man_of_SteelA few things immediately sprung to mind. Firstly, wow, that’s mighty impressive from a technological standpoint. I’d watched the film at the cinema and would have never guessed that the suit wasn’t real, aint those fx boys clever? Second, that’s a hell of a way of blowing/wasting  a big budget. I mean, wouldn’t a real-life (albeit maybe toned-down) costume have sufficed? I dare say all those fx shots for that suit of armour alone would have funded any number of Dredd sequels, for a start.

The thought struck me that these ‘blockbusters’ are getting so huge and bloated with unnecessary waste. Its not as if spending a fortune on cg armour/costumes made the film any better, is it? Little wonder so much of the latter portions of the film struck me as looking like a cg cartoon, there’s more cg there than I thought. Sure, its impressive, I suppose, but good grief, these films need some restraint, not an excuse to blow more money on needless fx shots. Doesn’t anybody say, hey guys, I know we can do that, but do we NEED to do that?

"This movie's stupid!"
“Zod! This movie’s stupid!”

I haven’t seen anymore of that bonus disc yet. I’m almost afraid to. These days I can’t watch BBC News 24 without venting my ire at the screen for Auntie Beeb wasting tax-payers money sending journos to every slightest ‘event’ (hey, a member of the Royal Family has stubbed his/her toe, rush a filmcrew to the Palace and camp it there for live updates every fifteen minutes for 24 hours), without me now losing it watching movies. At least the Blu-ray of  Star Trek Into Darkness  didn’t add insult to injury by having a similar ‘How We Blew Millions’ feature (although I think its available as a download on iTunes).

*And before you mention it, yes, I need my head examining buying this movie. But I was keen on seeing the making-of/Maximum Stupid Movie Mode thing and its only on the US copy. And besides, it simply has to be better than the monstrously stupid-sounding  Batman vs Superman thing that’s going to follow this. Hollywood seems hellbent on making its films look good by making something even crappier straight after.

(oh, and I’ve decided I’m going to use this accompanying picture of Ben watching the telly with the ‘Zod… ‘ caption every time I watch a really stupid movie. )



5 thoughts on “Zod! The Magic of the Movies!

  1. Thanks for bringing the US exclusive to my attention. That had passed me by — I just pre-ordered it ages ago and forgot about it. Every time I think it’s becoming unusual for special features to not get ported over worldwide (on big titles; obviously niche label stuff is another matter), they begin to tit about like this again. I dunno how quickly I’d get round to watching it (I’ve still not done Watchmen‘s, argh), but now I know I’ll want it.

    Re: Zod’s suit… I’ve not even seen the film, but from pictures etc it doesn’t even look that complicated. What about it isn’t able to have been built physically? Or physical but then CG-augmented? I’d even forgotten until now that there were set photos showing him in the mo-cap leotard — probably because when I saw those assumed his outfit would be something Very Clever and CGI-y, and then the finished photos/trailers just had him in a regular ol’ costume.

    1. Its certainly a huge extra for other territories to lose, and making it available as a download via Ultraviolet over here is a bit of a worrying development regards bonus features and the slide towards digital content. Can’t believe a second physical disc really costs Warner very much so there’s clearly ulterior motives afoot. But yeah, its a big doc/feature as it evidently wouldn’t fit on the main feature disc, its a wholly separate encode.

      Regards Zods outfit, yeah, a physical suit would have been fine. There’s some obvious CGI trickery afoot with the clear helmet that fits over it but that’s what I thought that was, a CGI augmentation over a rubber suit, not a wholly CGI outfit. Like so many decisions made by film-makers these days, its something done just because it can be, not because it needs to be. Just like the OTT ending the film has (I won’t spoil it for you, but you know that this is one director not famous for his restraint).

      1. I was reading up a little on the special features situation after your review, and I agree it’s a bizarre and irritating development. One theory seems to be we’re getting it via Ultraviolet as a trial run of some sort, because the UK has the UV infrastructure up & running while many/most other non-US territories don’t yet (so they don’t get the MMM at all). But, as you say, why not just include a damn disc? I’ve never used UV either, but apparently the player it requires is a nightmare. At least Into Darkness was through iTunes, which (for me at least) works pretty smoothly.

        It still surprises me it needs a separate disc, though. There are many films with an MMM that runs longer than the main feature, and without exception they’re nonetheless included on the film disc. I can’t imagine what’s so special about Man of Steel‘s that wasn’t in Watchmen‘s or one of the many Harry Potter‘s, all films that must have a similar running time to MoS.

      2. Probably something to do with having a feature-only (albeit with some minor featurettes) disc suitable for use across all territories- the main MMM doc then used to test the download waters abroad with it ported to a second disc in America if, as you say, the Ultraviolet thing isn’t up and running properly there yet. Annoys me no end. Are disc-based media ultimately on borrowed time? I fear a PPV future is ahead of us.

      3. I think the mainstream is definitely going that way — more and more you see/hear “I’ll wait for it on Netflix” rather than “I’ll wait for it on DVD”, etc.

        But Blu-ray is already a premium format aimed at people who want high quality. There must be some people who have it because they have it, who don’t actually see the benefit, who are happy with the ‘HD’ you get from downloads/streaming, so they might get lost to new technology; but surely (hopefully) there’d be enough people left to continue with either discs or some kind of drive (films on USB?)

        I remember when whichever book company it was started publishing “Masters of Cinema”-branded books without licence from the long-running DVD label, the latter aggressively fought it because they could already see a future where a disc copy of a film might be an ‘extra’ in what was otherwise sold as a book. Maybe that’ll be the future — a scholarly work on a film, accompanied by it on a high-quality disc.

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