I remember reading reviews of various types in the 70's and 80's. This was a time when I was vulnerable, or let's say - impressionable - and the things critics said could influence me to see a movie or television show, or not. I could even be influenced to buy and read a book by such people.
Glancing at this review by elderly TIME magazine classic-era film critic Richard Corliss, I am reminded why this hasn't been the case for many years.
Movie genres, no less than great civilizations, have their periods of ascent and descent. Musicals, Westerns and the dead-serious romance have all flourished, then nearly perished. Now the superhero format looks close to being spent.
Pretty strong assertion. He backs it up by citing the numerous other superhero movies released this summer. First, he lists Thor, X-Men: First Class, and Green Lantern. (Note: it's so tempting to call this guy "Dick" for short). "Dick" is right. All three of those are superhero movies.
Then Dick adds these other "superhero" movies: Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I don't know about you, but I never saw those giant toys as "superheroes." They're giant alien robots inspired by toys. As to Pirates of the Caribbean, that's a fantasy movie inspired by pirate and sea legends, and in this case - Tim Powers' 1987 novel On Stranger Tides, nominated for a World Fantasy Award.
One way to say what a lazy pig Corliss is, is to say that as creative energy across the board has passed his 70's ethic behind, so has the days of a film critic being able to write whatever he wants, completely ignoring facts, mixing and matching genres and subgenres, and ignoring the difference between a bedrock comic book character like Captain America and a movie series inspired by a ride at Disneyland: Pirates of the Caribbean.
You think this is bad enough? 70's enough for you? He adds the upcoming "superhero" movies this summer: Rise of Planet of the Apes and Conan the Barbarian. Both are "reboots," and Corliss could write something more general about "reboots" - or Hollywood thinking *another* Spiderman is necessary.
Before the 60's and 70's Planet of the Apes films, there were books, Mr. Corliss. They were written by a French person, "Dick." Or - a Frenchman. They were first-published in . . . French. Since part of your pathetic mid-20th Century ethic is to hate on your country that made your limping, crappy magazine and gave you your sweet job - I get why you picked Captain America to whale on, not Green Lantern. But you are inadvertently whaling on a piece of French culture with Planet of the Apes, based on a 1963 novel by Pierre Boulle of which millions of copies were sold. M. Boulle also wrote another novel (no illustrations - imagine that) which was adapted to film: The Bridge Over the River Kwai. This is not to say that the film adaptations of Planet of the Apes aren't of wildly varying quality - they are - and the upcoming reboot trailer does not look promising.
But how do you get "superhero genre" out of "French science fiction"? How do you get superhero out of Capt. Jack Sparrow, a fanciful modern take on the great pirate legends, popularized from real life characters like Blackbeard and the real Dread Pirate Roberts, and Robert Louis Stevenson . . . on to Tim Powers?
How 'bout that superhero Conan? It's like the entirity of fantastic literature is rolled into one big "superhero" movie. Later, they made comic books or graphic novels out of Conan, because comics wanted scripts and characters too, Corliss. Conan, like pretty much 80-90 percent of every American film ever made is based on a book series. As much as you might want to pretend there's no such thing as books and novelists, Corliss, there really was a Robert E. Howard. There was (and sort of - still is) a Weird Tales magazine and it wasn't a Marvel or DC comic book, Corliss. There were Conan novels, Corliss - many of them - predating the older Captain America serials you recommended as preferable to the new movie. Robert E. Howard's books are still in print.
I saw a few new trailers at Captain America. I wonder where Corliss will put that "superhero" John Carter of Mars in his death of Comic Book Hero Filmography.
Captain America is just as enjoyable in its way as Thor was earlier this summer. I couldn't imagine how they'd make Thor likeable, but they managed to do it. And seems to me Thor was a real Norse god before he ended up as an Avenger. Just sayin'.
You can not like Captain America, Corliss. The Red Skull didn't like him, either. In fact, he could be kind of insufferable in some comics. But every movie with any vaguely unrealistic or speculative element is a "superhero" movie or "comic book" movie? Really. The days where people would lap this up are 40 years in the past, Corliss. That's why you had 31 shares out of a major national publication, Corliss - and your better, smarter, faster, harder working competitors have hundreds or thousands of references or shares.
I'm a female science fiction writer, Mr. Corliss. I write prose. I don't write about super heroes any more than Pierre Boulle did in his thoughtful 1963 book. Jack Sparrow is a pirate, not a superhero. Different genre. You're arrogant enough to call Gone With the Wind a "guilty pleasure." I'm arrogant enough to call you an ignorant, lazy, self-satisfied relic of an earlier generation with no standards whatsoever. The only thing you have to put to your name is self-entitled bigotry and provincialism. And you have the signal shame of hating your own country and culture and having it color your work and what you present to readers. How 70's of you.