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In Defense...of David S. Goyer

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

So here's a guy that, much like David Koepp, seems to be everywhere. If he's not headlining scripts, he's doing uncredited rewrites and is an all-around producer and even director not just of movies but also television. And one can't deny that he's been a prolific force in legitimizing superhero movies ever since 1998's Blade

 

But exactly who is David S. Goyer? What are his concerns, and do they shine through in his writing? From Dark City to The Dark Knight, it's hard to nail down the man's style or voice, mostly because he more often than not collaborates with others.

 

But there's nothing wrong with that, really. Batman Begins does, after all, have a pretty airtight structure that took the three-act structure of Superman (1978) and refined it to a formula. So formulaic, in fact, that Goyer aped himself with Man of Steel!

 

I've read a few of his screenplays, and they don't sparkle like, say, Shane Black's prose. His dialogue is also a little hard to nail down because, like I mentioned above, he collaborates more often than not. Can any of the Joker's quotable lines, for instance, be attributed to Goyer or is that all the Nolan bros.? 

 

But looking at early Goyer when his work was perhaps more his, I do love Blade and think it's infinitely quotable. The thematic battle between science and religion maybe doesn't stick the landing, and that certainly seemed to be a story that was in flux all the way up to the editing room, but I will never not love Blade. And Dark City could be chalked up more to Alex Proyas, but it's a masterpiece.

 

There was some backlash against Goyer a few years ago because of some off-the-cuff remarks he made, taken out of context perhaps, about She-Hulk being the Hulk's fuckable power fantasy for 13-year-old boys. Not Goyer's best moment, but he clarified in later interviews and has kept his head low since. He doesn't appear to have any outrageous political beliefs and doesn't get into flamewars with fanboys like Roberto Orci.

 

But in the wake of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, not just Goyer the man but the writer has received a little bit of backlash. And while I think it's hard to say whether or not he's to blame for what went wrong with those movies (again, collaboration), I do think he deserves credit for what he's brought to comic book movies for almost 20 years now. The man obviously has bonafides, having actually written a JSA comic for several years with Geoff Johns, and if anything can be said about him, he made superheroes palatable to general audiences.

 

From the emphasis on black trench coats to "grounding" stories in violence and anger to streamlining origins by removing the more fantastical elements, we don't get the superhero renaissance without him. That's a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view.

 

So what can be said about David S. Goyer? He's reliable, he's workmanlike, and he can probably get your angsty young man into a costume by the hour mark, although in his defense, Blade is the epitome of in medias res. Aside from he can craft some funny dialogue when he's allowed to have a foul mouth, and he certainly knows how to create functioning worlds for characters that might otherwise be considered silly, is he a bane or a boon to movie fans?

post #2 of 14

For the defense: Blade

 

For the prosecution: Blade - Trinity

post #3 of 14
I just watched Dullzilla (thanks Nooj!) and I'm curious to know which bits of that are Goyer's.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shan View Post
 

For the defense: Blade

 

For the prosecution: Blade - Trinity

Trinity is an odd duck. On the one hand it feels like Goyer unfiltered, as he's both writer and director. On the other it's completely compromised by lack of budget and studio interference. You can feel sticky fingers trying to wrestle the movie away from Snipes. And the best part, Ryan Reynolds, although in line with the dirty dialogue from the first two Blade movies could be mostly improv.

 

I'm just fascinated that when Goyer's movies are successful, it gets attributed to the auteur-istic touch of the director. Dark City to Alex Proyas, Blade II to Guillermo del Toro, The Dark Knight to Christopher Nolan.

 

So is the man really just good for creating a blank template that more brilliant minds can fill in?

post #5 of 14
That's not a terrible job to have, if it's the case!
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Indeed! And no idea about Godzilla, it has a meandering plot that doesn't feel particularly Goyer. Godzilla is like four vignettes: investigation with Cranston, stuck on a train during monster battle, military stuff, last big battle.

post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post
 

Trinity is an odd duck. On the one hand it feels like Goyer unfiltered, as he's both writer and director. On the other it's completely compromised by lack of budget and studio interference. You can feel sticky fingers trying to wrestle the movie away from Snipes. And the best part, Ryan Reynolds, although in line with the dirty dialogue from the first two Blade movies could be mostly improv.

 

I'm just fascinated that when Goyer's movies are successful, it gets attributed to the auteur-istic touch of the director. Dark City to Alex Proyas, Blade II to Guillermo del Toro, The Dark Knight to Christopher Nolan.

 

So is the man really just good for creating a blank template that more brilliant minds can fill in?

 

I still think Blade has one of the two best openings to a film I've ever seen (I can never quite make my mind up whether it's Blade or Miike's Dead or Alive 'that's a long line of coke!'). It was probably *too* good as it could only be downhill from there. A good film for the best part but nothing could really live up to that start.

 

Now I know there was all sorts of chaos with the making of the film (I've heard what Patton Oswalt had to say, for starters), so what I'm going to say, maybe a lot of it could never have happened because of that but I don't know all the specifics.

 

I heard one of the earlier ideas (which would also have been a natural progression) was an I am Legend type scenario where vampires had conquered most of the Earth and Blade was missing. Apparently only a little of that survives in the finished product, the blood farm being it. Daybreakers eventually did something much closer and almost pulled it off. A Blade movie like that could have been very good.

 

Unfortunately, we all know it all turned out. Maybe the behind the scene reasons were why the film ended up this way but I could see Wesley Snipes being annoyed at basically being made a supporting player in his own film (even if he's the reason why it happened - I don't know, was it?).

 

There were a lot of baffling decisions that could have been avoided regardless of cost, surely? A PR campaign against Blade? What??? Dracula smashes up a comic store?!?! Just Dracula generally? Dominic Purcell is good in the right role, this wasn't it. Bringing back Whistler and then killing him again? What was the point? The incredibly wooden performance of Jessica Biel it led too, like straight after? It was just horrible from start to finish. Given Daybreakers must have been done for a fraction of Trinity's cost, why couldn't they have done something like that for whatever money they got for this disaster area instead? I mean I know Parker Posey and Callum Keith Rennie can act, I've seen them do it. It really is true that the material can drag you down to be as terrible as it is.

 

Ryan Reynolds doing that wisecracking thing was insufferable (though 'cock-juggling thundercunt, I'll give him that), as it is in most places. I mean you have Tatiana Maslany playing people playing other people so well you can tell whether it's the actual person or not and even who is doing the impersonation - she's *that* good. Then you have Ryan Reynolds as Van Wilder as Ben Kingsley in Self/Less. No, just no. He was born to play Deadpool and Wade Wilson, I'm just glad they matched him with that in the end, doing what he does elsewhere is usually just painful. I'll also mention Voices as a good example of that persona he plays being subverted to good effect, though. Credit due where credit's due.

 

On the upside, Blade - Trinity did lead to my brother personally insulting Ryan Reynolds, so on balance it was worth it.

post #8 of 14
He looks like an evil Stanley Tucci.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Another thought occurs to me, Goyer writes strong women well. From Dr. Karen Jenson in Blade to Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight trilogy to Lois Lane in the Superman movies, he gives them smarts and gumption and agency.

 

Unfortunately, they're never the main character and often subordinate to a male lead. Or get fridged. 

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post


I'm just fascinated that when Goyer's movies are successful, it gets attributed to the auteur-istic touch of the director. Dark City to Alex Proyas, Blade II to Guillermo del Toro, The Dark Knight to Christopher Nolan.
Wasn't THE DARK KNIGHT primarily written by Jonathan Nolan? Goyer helped shape the story, but I thought he passed the baton after that.

He was much more involved in BATMAN BEGINS.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

According to Wikipedia he penned the first draft. That's what I'm asking here, does Goyer have enough of a voice to be seen in the end result of these movies, or is he just a treatment/rough draft guy?

 

And what does that mean for movies like Blade and Man of Steel where he's the sole writer? Those two movies have almost nothing in common, and Goyer really only excels, to me, when he's crafting poetry out of harsh language.

 

I mean, "Some motherfuckers are always trying to iceskate uphill" gets him a lifetime pass from me.

post #12 of 14
Well, his draft of BATMAN BEGINS is enough to credit Goyer with being more than a "rough draft" guy. In fact, his draft was arguably stronger than the finished film.
post #13 of 14
I heard that the "ice skate uphill" line was improvised by Snipes.

But I like Goyer. I met him once and he was nice to me.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post

You can feel STICKY FINGAZ trying to wrestle the movie away from Snipes.

FIFY
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