Friday, June 28, 2013

Man of Steel

It's been two weeks since I saw Man of Steel and I think I can finally write a review without going off on multiple tangents. I'm going to even try to keep the review as one post! Be warned, there are spoilers, but that's why it's freeing to write a late review.

In order to keep this review of a straight course and not a mess of angry words, I'm going to go through the good, the okay and the just plain bad, in that order.

The Good

Boy Superman, you sure are dark.
Russell Crowe- This came as a big surprise to me, especially after watching Les Miserables, In Man of Steel he's subtle, poised, smart and still an action hero. During the long/boring prologue,  Crowe managed to keep my attention with his delivery as Jor-El, giving each line a sense of foreboding as the planet was ready to die. It was nice to see him used more throughout the movie and he's one of the bright spots.

Wandering Clark- Where the Krypton prologue was stretched way too far, the bits with adult but directionless Clark is a bit too short. Watching the most powerful man in the universe go from job to job, looking for a place was actually more interesting than I would have thought. The highlight of this is the oil-rig rescue, with the whole scene having a golden age feel to it, reminding me of the old Fleischer cartoons I watched as a kid.

Henry Cavill- It took three trailers and a movie to convince me, but I think Cavill is a darn good Superman. The movie tries to make him boring and brooding, but his charm and sense of humor actually comes across well when needed. By himself, he's channeling Christian Bale, but when he's with others, you can tell that this guy really is a homegrown Kansas boy with a bunch of cool powers. To bad he's stuck in this movie.

The Okay

Michael Shannon- Half the movie, he's a yelling, weird looking dude with a strange way of talking. During the second half, when his plans are failing/failed, he's actually interesting. When he kills Jor-El (both times), I actually felt that he regretted the act. When he's the only one left after Superman stops them from...I don't know, using the Genesis project?...Shannon gives a terrific speech about his soul being gone. If this movie had been better, I would have been just fine with Zod.

Amy Adams- Here's the problem with Lois Lane in this movie. As a character, she pretty good. I get that she's a tough and dangerous reporter. She's willing to stand for what she believes in and take chances. Stand alone, as a friend of Superman, she works. But romantically, her and Superman fall flat. There's some chemistry, if you look hard enough, but it's not enough to believe these two characters are in love. I couldn't believe it when they kissed, the moment wasn't right, they knew next to nothing about each other and the still acted like they just met in a high school cafeteria. In a movie where a man can fly and punch through steel, I could stretch my suspension of disbelief far enough to buy the romance. Too bad for Amy Adams, she tried so hard to good.

The Soundtrack- I just wanted to be more optimistic and have three things to say were okay. It's not as iconic and memorable as John Williams score, but Hans Zimmer does a good job at making a soundtrack I like listening to. The main theme of the movie, the one that played in the third trailer and throughout most of this film, is cool and inspiring, building to great things. I may never own this movie, but I'm sure some of these tracks will end up on my iPod.

The Bad
This poster is more optimistic than anything
in the movie. 

Kevin Costner- I don't understand how this happened. The role of John Kent, Clark's dad, seemed tailor made for a good Costner act. Instead, we get the dumbest, harshest Pa Kent I've ever seen. Bad lessons of life that make no sense to adults let alone the poor kid he's messing up come non-stop. The big moment, where Johnathan lets the tornado take him, because he wouldn't let Clark save the dog, because he wouldn't let Clark save him, is one the stupidest things I've ever seen. It ruins Clark as a character, making him someone who lets his fear stop him from saving the people he loves and it just makes Clark's earthly parents look pathetic compared to his Kryptonian ones. This was a moment of plot driving characters and it almost ruined the film for me. Luckily, there were bigger issues coming forth.

Zack Snyder- I'm choosing to pinpoint the director because it covers a whole lot I hate about this movie. I like a few of his films, but not all, and I now consider Man of Steel to be his worst. For starters, his love of muted color pallets does not work for a Superman film. This is a character who is the most optimistic superhero in the world, who's greatest power is hope, and you surround him with grey skies, burnt oranges, and blues so dark they make Batman want to cross over. Next up, we have his action sequences. Beginning with the Krypton prologue, with video game like fisticuffs and meaningless scifi warefare, to the final fight between Superman and Zod, Snyder makes superhero action boring. There's a cool sense of "finally!" when Superman takes on Zod's soldiers in Smallville, but that goodwill is squandered when it comes to the big moments. The big, city destroying fight between Supes and Zod goes on for a long time, involves the saving of no one, shaking cameras and punching. Lots of punching. This is a fight between two people with a awesome powers and all the do is punch. Which, no matter how much damage it does or where on the screen it's happening, is just a punch and boring to watch. If it wasn't for Zimmer's score, I wouldn't know where the moment of escalation was happening, it all looked the same. If this is what I get for complained about the boring Superman Returns, then I'm sorry!

Superman Kills- I cannot and will not forgive. There's too much attached to this moment and I can't get past it. Superman snaps Zod's neck to save four people. If Superman cared that much for people, he should have killed Zod sooner, saving the thousands dead in the Metropolis skirmish. So, that reason fails to explain why he did it. Superman snaps Zod's neck because he was out of options. Perhaps if Superman stopped punching Zod and tried doing anything else, he might have thought of something. Take Zod to space, recreate the Phantom Zone teleporter, put his hand in front of Zod's eyes to keep those lasers from working, anything else that doesn't involve a neck snap. I have a friend who tried to tell me that Superman panicked, that maybe he didn't mean to kill Zod. I don't buy it. Superman isn't a character we should have to make excuses for. He's an example to look up to. He's not a that in these films.

Okay, I'm going to have to do a new post of Superman killing, it's too big for me to cover in a small(ish) review.

There's plenty of other things to complain about. We're supposed to care about the Daily Planet news team so we're worried about them during the climax but there boring and get ten minutes of screen time. The flashbacks never work in a way that Snyder wanted them to and just make for lagging screen time. There are moments when the film screams "look how believable I am" and then shows Lois scaling an ice wall in the dead of night. Sometimes, the movie is trying to be Batman so badly that it just makes me want to watch Batman. The suit reveal is meaningless, the religious comparisons were in plain sight and the end moment between Superman and the wannabe Nick Fury is funny for all the wrong reasons. It makes me sad that, after pointless violence and needlessly dark takes on characters, people clapped at the credits. It makes me sad to think that this is the type of superhero movie people want. They don't want heroism, they don't want characters we can look up, they want heroes who snap necks and brood.

A superhero.
I was asked recently why I have to be down on everything, tearing it apart and critiquing every little thing. I don't like being disappointing. I would much rather like a movie than not and I consider myself to fairly forgiving with characters I love. I like all the Hulk movies for crying out loud! But I can't forgive character assassination and that's what this movie is. There's nothing to take from this movie accept loud noises and stuff blowing up. If I wanted to see that, I would watch the Transformers movies. But superhero movies are as much about the characters as the action that comes along with them. If the Spider-Man movies were simply punching and kicking, they'd be bad. If Iron Man only blew stuff up, we would care about him like we do when he's joking and having fun. They've traded Superman's soul, his very character, for a movie where a guy can make a lot of things break.

Sigh, I'm rambling. This is why I needed to wait a few weeks.

The movie gets an F. It might not deserve it, but the neck snap ruins everything that comes before it. I'm not going to watch it again unless others make me. It's dark, depressing and there's nothing I like about Superman in it. It can make lots of money, people can say they thought it was great, but I'm staying my ground and refusing to accept it as a movie worth existing.

1 comment:

Claude said...

I just sat in the theater completely stunned after Superman snapped Zod's neck. I just could not accept that Superman would kill Zod. Everything that I had enjoyed about the movie just shriveled up and died in that brief moment of screen time. My friend that I went with and who has read many more Superman comics than me pointed out that Superman killed Zod in the comic books too, as if that somehow made it okay...
I'll see the movie again on DVD and continue to form my opinion, but I was and still am just shocked that they would have Superman snap Zod's neck...