Monday, January 6, 2014

Man of Steel

In a summary, Man of Steel looks exactly like every other Superman origin story, but the hero has been fundamentally changed, and there's too much for me to want to explain in plot-summary, but rest assured, I'll hit (and beat) on it later.

I'll dive in with my two favorite things about this movie: Henry Cavill and Amy Adams. Cavill looks the part of Superman, no doubt about it, and he's surprisingly convincing as an alien, and I think a great choice to play a modern version of the character. As "Clark" he was enjoyable, but as Superman he sadly only gets to brood, so there a only glimpses of the Superman I've been wanting to see. He's got the potential though, and a play-date with Ben Affleck, so there's a little straw of hope to grasp at. Same for Adams; I couldn't say she was badly cast as Lois Lane -- partly because I don't believe it, and partly because I don't know the character enough to judge -- but she was mostly used as a plot device, and didn't reach her normal heights. But they do get a classic superhero style meet-cute, which is probably the most interesting scene in the film.

I know -- you can't see Lois in this picture, but hey, it's better than my only other option, in which they're about to kiss...

Zack Snider gets directing credits, so anything I dislike I happily credit to him. Even though I've only seen snippets of his other efforts, I understand his style, and it is obviously present in this movie -- the action sequences were uniquely stylish and had a comic book kind of flavor, but they were also overlong and completely devoid of anything compelling. They were overwhelmingly noisy, and with no emotional weight, they were only beautiful from a strictly technical perspective. And this was at least half of the two-and-a-half hour movie -- it goes on so long and so heartlessly, it eventually passes being simply boring and settles boldly on annoying. And the dramatic scenes were slightly better, but mostly dull as well. In a couple scenes, there were also attempts at comedy, but it invariably fell painfully flat.

I'm including this picture here to remind myself that it wasn't all bad. (No, actually, I'm putting this picture here because I want to put it somewhere and this is the only spot left.)

Warning: Spoilers in the next two paragraphs.

Superman's father, Jor-El, is played by Russell Crowe, and even though he's suspiciously convenient about appearing via hologram as a plot device, he's still at least as compelling as any other character... especially his human "counterpart" who did not get an ounce of sympathy from me. Jonathan Kent, played by Kevin Costner, is nothing but annoying, and doesn't know that "with great power comes great responsibility" (this isn't Marvel after all) -- he insists that a young Clark not show his powers whatever the cost. Fortunately, Clark doesn't listen when it would mean letting someone else get hurt. "What was I supposed to do, let them die?" he asks, and the reply is a pathetic, "Maybe..." Later Mr. Kent forces Clark to let him die, even though Clark could have easily saved him without drawing suspicion. And I get the idea; Kent is trying to protect him from the world, and the world from him, but come on; he's invincible, he doesn't need protecting, and why would the world will be ready in twenty years, if it's not ready now? It doesn't make sense, and Kent's death (and subsequent death of that idea) was relieving.

Keep it up, Mini-Man-of-Steel -- you obviously know what's what in spite of your dad acting crazy.

But that wasn't the only fundamental problem with this movie, the most popular being that Superman isn't supposed to kill people, but he kills General Zod (Michael Shannon). And while that does bother me a bit -- just because it was unnecessary and easily avoidable, and only done to make Superman darker like Batman, which is also unnecessary -- at least it was justifiable, and nothing compared to the innocent death count. Apparently, it's not interesting to have a indestructible, unbeatable hero who always saves EVERYONE, so in order to make an exciting movie, something has gotta give, and in this case... it's everything. Everything that sets Superman apart is gone. Even though we almost only ever see expensive-looking shots of crumbling buildings, there's no denying that countless faceless people die unnoticed under the rubble of hundreds of demolished buildings, and Supes is not super enough to save but a handful of them. Plus, he seems to only care about the death of characters with names, and apparently we are supposed to too.

"Everybody lives, Rose! Just this once, everybody lives!" ... Nope, that's just me, wishful thinking.

I'm not much of a Superman fan -- I like the character, but not so much the movies -- but I was hoping this version would change that. Halfway through I gave up though, and from there, it grew continually worse, as it meandered destructively along, and the underdeveloped characters, and enormous plot holes, and uninspiring themes piled up disappointingly underneath all that expensive, lifeless wreckage. Super? Not today, Zurg!

8 comments:

  1. Everything I read about this makes me perfectly happy with the cheesy-in-retrospect old Christopher Reeve version, and have zero wish to see this. I'll keep my Superman noble and pure-hearted, thank you.

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    1. Good choice! Though it is very sad that under better direction Cavill's Superman could've easily been a great and noble version. But instead he was dragged down with the rest of the film. :/

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  2. Excellent review and obviously I agree with you. :D Thanks for commenting over at my blog! :)

    ~Jamie

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    1. Thanks a bunch Jamie, and thanks for leaving me a comment too! I'm glad we agree. :)

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  3. Nice review (though I didn't read past the spoilers warning)! :)

    xx

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    1. Thanks S! :) Sorry about the spoilers being in such big sections. :P (The very last paragraph is spoiler-free though.)

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  4. My feelings are pretty much the same. I was hoping that this film would finally make me a Superman fan but in the end I thought it was only OK. I enjoyed the acting and the music in the film but the plot was uninteresting and I thought Zod was a really boring villain. And you're absolutely right about all of the destruction at the end. Thousands of nameless characters must have died from all of the destruction in this film but it's pretty much glossed over. Maybe they'll deal with this more in the sequel but I very much doubt it.

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    1. Yeah, since Zack Snider is staying on for the next movie, I don't have high hopes it'll be at all improved over this one. Too bad. I don't remember noticing the music, but I agree, the acting was pretty good. Probably the best aspect of the whole movie. Yeah, I agree about Zod, and the plot, which was also full of holes, and just didn't make any sense to me... maybe partially because it was so uninteresting I couldn't pay attention! :P

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