Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Man of Steel gets its PG-13. Is the high-profile live-action PG-rated film an endangered species?

As of this morning, Zack Snyder's Man of Steel has been awarded a PG-13 for "intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language."  That's not a surprise, as pretty much every major comic book film since Bryan Singer's X-Men has received said rating.  Even if the content seemed more appropriate for the more kid-friendly PG rating, such as I'd argue was the case with Fantastic Four and Thor, studios don't want the potential kiddie-flick stigma that's still somewhat attached to live-action PG-rated films.  Unless you're dealing with fantasy that's somewhat aimed at families, such as The Chronicles of Narnia or four of the eight Harry Potter films, or high-brow family adventures like Hugo or The Life of Pi), it's PG-13 or bust. Part of that is the way in which Shrek turned the PG rating into an acceptable 'for all rages' status for animated films back in 2001.  Part of that is merely the fact that getting a PG-13 doesn't seem to be making parents think twice about bringing their very young children to the likes of Transformers: Dark of the Moon or Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.  

The once consistently PG franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, and the James Bond series (all of which of course existed well before the PG-13 even existed pre-1985) have now permanently (?) aligned themselves with the higher rating.  Yes, Disney could end up releasing Star Wars: Episode VII as a PG, and I was frankly shocked that they allowed Tron: Legacy to forsake the seemingly automatic PG-13.  In general, the PG-rating is now all-but extinct beyond animated features or live-action/animated hybrids which darn-well could have slipped by with a G back in the day (what horrifying language or violence caused The Muppets to be PG again?).  It's not a complete wash, as we've actually seen an uptick in PG ratings over the last few years, as evidenced by films like Won't Back Down, Mirror Mirror, and The Three Stooges.  Anyway, aside from discussions about the rubber-stamping of a perhaps harsher rating than required (which I don't believe is the case this time around, by the way), the big news is that the Zack Snyder-directed and Christopher Nolan-produced film is already pretty much locked for its final cut.  That's actually four months earlier than even The Dark Knight Rises, which locked in its PG-13 in April of 2012 ahead of its July 20th, 2012 release date.

Obviously how well that portends to Man of Steel's quality depends on your opinion of The Dark Knight Rises, but it does show a confidence in the final product and that they mostly got what they wanted during principal photography. It is still somewhat unusual that the picture is apparently somewhat locked (barring probable post-production tinkering still to be done), and I would argue it's more likely to portend to quality than disaster. This also means that we'll probably start hearing rumblings about a running time within the next few weeks, with even money going for 140 minutes.  The big question isn't about its "intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction" (all three, eh?), but for its "some language" label.  Does this mean we get to hear Superman drop the F-bomb or perhaps a less harsh form of profanity?  

The mind reels at this as I try to stretch this piece out so I can have three even paragraphs. And that should just about do it, so I'm signing out.  What is your take on this news and/or the legacy of the live-action PG rating?  

Scott Mendelson

1 comment:

Brandon Peters said...

When I was younger I used to scoff at the ratings and such. But honestly, if its a good movie...who cares what the rating is? I don't understand those who get worked up about a PG-13 before even viewing a film


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