Tag Archives: set design

Swamp Thing 3.20: Seize the Day

You know, they tell you on day one at movie school that every character is supposed to have a clear motivation. In a given scene, the audience should understand what the character wants, and what they’re trying to accomplish.

Well, Arcane’s been in this movie for what is it, thirteen minutes now, and it turns out that it’s not enough, just knowing what a character wants. You also need a grasp on why they want it, what they plan to do with it once they’ve got it, who they think they are, and what the fuck they’re talking about in general.

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Superman II 2.7: To Get to the Other Side

Let us speak, then, of comedy.

When people talk about the difference between Richard Donner’s work on Superman: The Movie and Richard Lester’s work on Superman II, they often say that Lester was a comedy director, and that he turned Superman II into a comedy. There’s some truth to that — there is a different sensibility between the two directors — but it’s not the difference between serious and comic. It’s the difference between two different kinds of comedy.

Donner’s comedy was mostly verbal. Basically, as soon as the film sets foot in Metropolis, everyone starts wisecracking and never stops. Everyone at the Daily Planet is funny, all of the villains are funny, the big scene between Superman and Lois is a romantic comedy sequence. Everybody talks fast, and they talk a lot.

Lester’s comedy is more visual than verbal, and the best example that I have is the scene that just happens to be coming up right now, when Superman crosses the road and causes a traffic accident. In many ways, this scene embodies Lester’s approach to the film, and the fact that it sucks does not bode well for the future of the franchise.

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Superman 1.47: Lair Life

The chilly splendor of the Fortress of Solitude interior, the glass-lined maze of the Daily Planet newsroom, the unbelievably well-landscaped jungle of Lois Lane’s balcony — Superman: The Movie is full of enormous art installations for the characters to live, work and fight in. But the most spectacular of all is Lex Luthor’s lair, two hundred feet below Park Avenue.

Overstuffed and shabby chic, this subterranean museum of crime is the perfect hideout for a villain who’s trying to convince the audience that he’s important, in a hurry. Luthor enters the film with a messy murder that immediately establishes his villainous credentials, but after that, he spends a lot of the movie just hanging around downstairs. Superman gets to fly around catching crooks and saving the day, while the villain sits in the basement, reading back issues of National Geographic. If he’s going to get any respect from the audience, then that needs to be a damn impressive basement.

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Superman 1.26: Let It Go

Man, when Clark Kent says he’s going north, he does not mess around; dude goes north. He is currently just about as north as you can possibly get, clad in a jacket comfort-rated for Easter in Massachusetts, looking for the right place to toss a magic crystal and summon his own personal snow castle.

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small, except for the ice palace, of course, which is fucking enormous. Here he stands, and here he stays.

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