Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I mentioned in my last article that two movies I had been waiting for were coming out last week and since I've already covered This Is The End, I figure it's time for me to write about The Man of Steel.

Yeah, spoilers.

As there are already a number of lengthy reviews on the film, and because I doubt anyone reading my blog is unfamiliar with Superman, I'll be keep this brief.

I liked the movie, more than I thought I would and more than I actually wanted to. Throughout the majority of DC and Marvel's silver screen battle, I have been firmly on Marvel's side and have disagreed with many of Warner Bros.' production decisions when it came to the DC characters' film adaptations. I have been of the opinion that rather than trying to make films that are made specifically for the love of the characters, DC has, for the most part, just been interested in playing catch up with Marvel and the financial benefits that would entail. I felt that with the Green Lantern adaptation and even with The Dark Knight Rises, both films which I did somewhat enjoy but not as much as I would have liked to.

The Man of Steel did, admittedly, have some sloppiness to it but I could still feel the love for the character and his legacy throughout. The fights were truly worthy of the Superman mythos and were big, loud, fast and destructive; spectacles that most Superman adaptations have had to do with out due to costs. Many fans have likened it to Dragonball Z, which is an accurate comparison.

One major change of pace in this version of the Superman legend is that Lois Lane figures out Superman's secret identity right of the bat; in fact, she knows him when he still only Clark Kent and for the majority of the film simply refers to him as "Clark." This is a change I actually really like, since it gets rid of the Lois-Clark-Superman love triangle baggage that only serves to draw out a fake conflict with an obvious conclusion. It also brings an instant intimacy to the relationship that no other version of the story has, though I didn't feel the kiss scene was a "destined lovers" kind of kiss so much as a "I think I like you, and I think we should kiss now just in case we don't get to later" kind of kiss. Which is good, considering the characters have only known each other for a short amount of time.

I also really liked Henry Cavill's take on Clark Kent more than I thought I would, the trailers for the film made him seem like a really dry, one dimensional Superman, but I think he brought a sufficient amount of life to the character. There's a realness to him that brings believablity to his plight of a kind man with much power trying to do good by the world. He's conflicted by what it is he's supposed to do, but in the end, is a character who chooses to control his destiny rather than be led by it, which is who I think Superman should be as the last of the Kryptonians.

I do think that Amy Adams' Lois Lane did leave a little to be desired, and while her character did things that were full of pluck, I didn't quite feel the determination or desperation behind those actions that I should have felt. I do still look forward to revisiting her character again in the sequel, though. One aspect that has really stood out to me since watching the film is that all of Pa Kent (Kevin Costner)'s scenes were quite sad and heavy. The familial love between Jonathan and Clark was apparent and palpable (especially if you watched the film on Father's Day), but would it have been too much to show some of the good times they shared together? Thankfully, Diane Lane's take on Ma Kent was able to bring some of that warmth to the family and the film. Also, Russell Crowe's Jor El was definitely much, much cooler and pulled of much better than he ever has been before. I never thought that seeing Jor El again would be one of the things I'd be looking forward to most in a Superman sequel.

That said, I do think that there were many plot points that left only half stated, and I'm not sure whether that was because they were rushed or because they were left for the next film in the series. My previously stated bias tends toward the former, but even if these threads were consciously left hanging there were much better ways to handle them. One particular scene that stood out to me in this way was Zod's interrogation of Clark which lead Clark being buried under a valley of skulls, I think the reason this felt odd was because at this point in the film, Clark was still deciding on who he should be as Superman and had only just appeared before mankind. I feel this scene would have been much stronger if Clark had truly embraced his purpose before hand. I also felt that many of the battles in the film (and Faora's speech) would have been stronger if Clark's moral obligation not to kill had been a bigger plot point.

Speaking of Zod and Faora, I can't really end this "brief" review without mentioning the villains of the film. I don't really remember much about Superman 2, so the character of General Zod is still fairly fresh to me, which was definitely a good thing here. I really thought that Michael Shannon brought a good intensity to the film that played well against Henry Cavill's calm, subdued Clark Kent. He was fierce and a savage, but for understandable reasons. I do think, though, that a look at his days as a better, less genocidal man would have benefited his ties to the El family greatly. Perhaps this could have been achieved by making his crew, the salvo of the Kryptonian military more like a family unit and less like nondescript henchmen. Which is sad, because Faora was a character who definitely had a ton of potential for growth as Zod's right hand officer. Alas, she is played as a stoic, embittered fighter who holds a cold look on battle and evolution and really... has nothing else to her as a character. Never mind that while she says these outlooks, she's given little time to actually live them on screen. Oh well, she is still alive at the end of the film, just locked in the Phantom Zone, so maybe we'll see her again further on down the road.

I suppose I lied about making this a brief review of my feelings on The Man of Steel, but really that could be seen as a testament for how much I enjoyed the film. It is a good film, and as much as I enjoyed Iron Man 3, I can't help be feel all the more giddy about the implications The Man of Steel brings with it (truth be told, I am a bigger fan of the Justice League than of The Avengers), I only hope that I can be so positive about all the upcoming DC projects. With the San Diego Comic Con mere weeks away, I can't help but have high expectations for what The Man of Steel will leave in its wake. So in closing- watch the film, buy the blu ray, and believe a man can fly.

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