Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Man of Steel Review

I like to think I know Superman fairly well. One of my very first comics was a Superman comic. And maybe one of my favorite superhero movies of all time is the 1978 Christopher Reeve version of Superman. Followed soon after by the nearly equally awesome Superman II. Followed by the frustratingly painful Superman III, and not forgotten soon enough, the gut wrenchingly horrible Superman IV. But I also at times enjoyed the George Reeves television Superman, (in all it's glorious silliness). And then came Superboy, and Lois and Clark, and the animated versions of Superman, and Smallville seasons 1 through 4 (ignoring the rest), and the meh rated Superman Returns... And the list goes on.

So here we are in 2013, and I learned one of my favorite directors, Zack Snyder, is making his version of Superman, called Man of Steel. What could possibly go wrong???

Well, here we have another origin story. Someone pointed out to me, that Superman (and other Superheros like Spider-man and Batman), need to be more like James Bond. They should give a brief overview of their origin in the first 5 minutes of the opening credits, then we can move on with our lives and focus on the real story. But whatever... we get another origin story. And then Superman fights General Zod.

Did I miss anything? Nope. 143 minutes running time, and that was pretty much everything. Sure, I could discuss the details, but what's the point? Most of those details are lame. Like how Lois Lane seems to have some serious unnatural pull in the military for a newspaper reporter (very similar to one of my complaints about Transformers! Does the military let just anyone give orders now???). Or like how Lois suddenly appears right near Superman, even though he and Zod have been quite literally fighting all over the city, including at one point going to space and landing back in the same city! And I'm still curious, when did the military suddenly decide to negotiate with terrorists before anyone fires a shot??? I guess terrorists can give orders to the military too now, especially if they are alien origin.

Maybe writer David S. Goyer is getting tired? He did write everything from Dollman vs. Demonic Toys in 1993, and more recently Batman Begins, Dark Knight, and Dark Knight Rises. Well, let's be honest, out of all of those movies, maybe I found the least problems with the Dollman vs. Demonic Toys script. Don't you dare tell me for one second how awesome the writing on the Batman trilogy was! We both know, the writing got progressively worse!

I really don't want to blame director Zack Snyder. We were BFF's! I even touched myself thinking about him sometimes! But this time, he really broke my heart.
Let me count the ways:

I have no problem with the planet Krypton being 're-imagined'. However, wouldn't it make more sense if it looked like people lived there? They were a fairly advanced civilization, with ships and lasers and video screens you could buy from Spencers! So why did they live in caves??? Shouldn't there be shops, or art, or maybe a restaurant, or some sort of entertainment center in their homes? Even a pool table would have been nice!

Do I blame Zack or producer Christopher Nolan (director of the recent Batman Trilogy), for the look of things? Having Superman and Zod fighting against gray buildings and gray dirty backgrounds, while they both have very dark colored suits on, makes no sense. I'm far from a fashion critic, but couldn't they at least have made Zod's uniform a bit more black and given Supermans uniform a bit more brighter contrast? I don't mind the battle armor they wore, and I could even sort of accept the new Superman uniform but... I'm confident enough in my manhood to say, it just wasn't fabulous for me *snap snap*

And did anyone else play Mass Effect? Is it just me, or do Zod's ships look a bit familiar?

And sadly, Zack did the worst thing he could have possibly done to me... he shook his camera. Not just once or twice, but all night long! It never stopped! One reason I loved Zack, was because in his past movies (300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch), I could see the action! This time, things were shaking, and too close and too quick edits. My love affair is over, when Zack suddenly became just another *cringe* J.J. Abrams, or Michael Bay. Frustratingly, there were many fights that were impossible to watch. And the fighting takes about half the movie.

But, before you think it's all bad, it's really not. One saving grace, was Henry Cavill. I easily accepted him as Superman. I could go on about his chiseled jaw, or his dreamy blue eyes, or his rock solid chest, or bulging biceps but... you get the idea. He had a very cool Greatest American Hero homage as he was learning to fly, (although I still don't understand the afterburner exhaust). And with every Superman, you get a Lois Lane. This time played by Amy Adams. She got a paycheck, and that's about it. She felt a bit too light and meek to be a real Lois Lane to me. And of course you also get a General Zod. Michael Shannon also got a paycheck for screaming. He was by no means Terence Stamp from the 1978-80 Superman! And at no point, are there any “Kneel before Zod!” moments *sigh*

My personal favorites, were Kevin Costner as Jonathon Kent (who had one of the best moments in this movie, but his overall influence on Clark's life was poorly written), and Antje Traue as bad girl Faora. She was underused but awesome every time. Russell Crowe also made a pretty good Jor-El (but also badly written for the most part).

I really wanted to like this movie, and there were a few good shots. But instead it just made me angry because it had so much potential that was just wasted. And unfortunately, most people will love it, because it's a Superman movie, and everyone loves Superman. And since they spent so much money on it, it must be good! For me, I'll still take my 1978-80 Superman as the best. I would rank Man of Steel better than Superman III and even better than later seasons of Smallville. But not as good as the first few seasons of Smallville, or the recent animated Superman stories. So that puts it slightly above Superman Returns.

Now let's talk about making Supergirl!
Up, up and away!