Monday, August 14, 2006

Poland wins; Wells recants; rules!

Way back before The Great Embargo, diametrically opposed reviews of Singerman - as written between sworn film critic enemies Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere, and David Poland of The Hot Button and Movie City News - kept Superman fans more entertained than Singerman.

For those who missed the party, Noel Murray summed it up best in his A.V. Club Blog:

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the game of assertion and retraction going on among the industry pundits, and one of the most entertaining pastimes of the summer has been following the sniping between David Poland and Jeffrey Wells, both of whom would probably dispute being dubbed "industry pundits," even though they spend as much time reporting (and debating) "the numbers" as they do acting as critics or trendspotters. Anyway, Wells came out early for Superman Returns, which he found grand and relevant, while Poland found it plodding and needlessly sober. Poland was more turned on by Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which he thought was thrilling and fun, while Wells found it a soulless amusement park ride. Needless to say, they've both been reporting the box office returns and Rotten Tomatoes scores with a pronounced partisan tone. When Poland initially underreported the Superman numbers, Wells jumped on him; and Wells has been flooding his site with snippets of negative Pirates reviews by heavyweight critics.

Wells went on to gush more about the film, but ultimately, Poland "won" the debate before the film ever unspooled. Evidence his opening comments in his first review of Singerman, dated June 15, 2006:

Where to start on Superman Returns? It's terribly cast, poorly conceived, extremely light on action, features a romance that is not remotely romantic, doesn't feature a single memorable, "gosh, that was great" repeat-to-your-friends moment in a positive way (the blunder bits start early and often), will be crushed by Pirates of The Caribbean II and played out completely before August 1.

But what's this we see? Has Jeffrey Wells grown a pair? Errr... maybe he's just become a little more critical over the last couple of months? And well he SHOULD!

As posted today on his blog, it looks like he's doing some backpedalling:

Honestly, truly -- if you were Alan Horn and Jeff Robinov at Warner Bros., would you greenlight a second Superman film? Would you want Bryan Singer to "go all Wrath of Khan-y" on it or would you hire someone else of his general calbire? [sic]

If it was my call I'd say yes to Singer but under the following conditions:

(a) He has to bring in a two-hour film -- no ifs, ands or buts;

(b) Kate Bosworth is dimissed as Lois Lane and Rachel McAdams replaces her in a no-big-deal way, like it was when Val Kilmer was suddenly the new Batman;

(c) All major plot turns and occurences in the script would have to be submitted to a three-person Logic Review Board made up of Superman movie geeks who would ixnay stuff like Superman falling back to earth from gravity when he's well beyond the earth's gravitational pull;

(d) No special effects sequences that make you want to go for a bathroom or popcorn break the second time you see the film; and

(e) Singer doesn't get his sign off on marketing.

Wells' list of "fixes" are quite interesting, to say the least.

Also note the link to Devin Faraci does a great job of summing up the big picture based on Variety's article from yesterday. Excerpt:

The problem there is that no one has figured out why Superman can't fly. Is it because of Pirates? Is it because the character is hokey? Is it because the film just isn't that good? If it's the first one, the DVD could do very well. If it's the second two, there's trouble in Metropolis. Everyone keeps comparing Superman Returns to Batman Begins, but besides the fact that their budgets are very, very different, Batman had legs, which indicated good word of mouth. That later materialized as good DVD sales. Superman has legs like Christopher Reeve, and that could mean a poor showing at the video store.


Singerman is one heck of a money pit for Warners. Too bad the parent company doesn't have a circus shingle as well. With films like Singerman, Poseidon and Lady in the Water, they certainly have enough white elephants to frolic with the studio's newly appointed big blue and maroon clown.

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