Well here’s two films I’ve seen recently that were similar in their merits and faults. Both received largely negative reviews and both were kind of undeserving on that front. These aren’t masterpieces by any measure but they certainly are entertaining action movies that are a little too long and not as smart as they’d like to be. However they’re still perfectly competent and indeed superior to many films that have received better reviews in the same vein.
Man of Steel is a Goyer/Nolan collaboration directed by Zack Snyder of Watchmen fame, and it sort of has all three traits combined in the film. The action is over the top and ludicrous, the care for collateral damage is utterly minimal unless there’s actually visible people dying, and there’s a fuckload of exposition but it’s not super interesting and integral exposition like one might expect from a Nolan picture.
Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, is terribly written; which is kind of a shame given they got one of the best actresses to play her; but this is also a common theme in Nolan pictures. It isn’t directed by Christopher Nolan and thus its mere slightly above averageness isn’t a pockmark on his as of yet perfect career. Russell Crowe, still awesome in everything and still one of my personal favorites is excellent, and it very much has that Robin Hood vibe where the actors are all acting well and the action is great but it isn’t at its core a very compelling story. This serves to make it a perfectly fine but not great picture.
The Lone Ranger is a Western and I fucking love Westerns so it’s difficult for me to dislike it on principal. The film is pretty good though to be honest, there’s some nice references to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly as well as to Once Upon a Time in the West and I love that shit. However there’s a musical cue that’s pretty much dead taken from Once Upon a Time in the West that means a whole lot for that movie but isn’t really that meaningful in this; which is sort of moderately disappointing. It’s another well acted film with over the top ludicrous action and a fair amount of okay Gore Verbinski/Depp Comedy. It is miles better than the last two Pirates movies but also not as good as Curse of the Black Pearl.
Now the interesting thing is which one of these to watch? Well since the Lone Ranger is a western it’s almost destined to do somewhat poorly so if you’d like to see a sequel (and I would) then go watch that, it is for the most part a better movie. Man of Steel has more impressive action sequences but the Lone Ranger has a semi-interesting plot even if they don’t evoke all of the emotions they’re trying to. There’s no “Half man from the train” for Henry Fonda to brutalize and no amazing comic relief villain but it still tries to do some good things that happened in other Westerns and you have to give it points; the film’s got heart. Man of Steel is guaranteed to have a sequel and does also have the potential to get better but I think it's slightly worse on the whole.