My take on…Man of Steel
- Man of Steel official site
- Man of Steel at IMDb.com
- Man of Steel at MRQE.com
- Man of Steel at RottenTomatoes.com
Superman comes from another world, and suppresses his different abilities to better fit in with those around him.
Man of Steel does the same.
It’s absolutely reasonable that Warner Brothers, Zack Snyder (director), and David S. Goyer (screenwriter…who co-wrote the story with Christopher Nolan) want Man of Steel to be another superhero blockbuster.
After all, it’s not just the reported $225 million in production budget that is at stake. It’s the future of the character.
Well, perhaps I should say, “It’s a future of the character.” No single movie can kill off \S/uperman…not that this one would Supes has been too much a part of our lives and our culture for the past seventy-five years. He’s survived many things: the introduction of flight by the Fleischer brothers (in part, to make animating the 1940s cartoons easier); the appearance of Kryptonite in the radio series (supposedly, to let lead actor Bud Collyer take a break); Beppo, the supermonkey…
So, like Clark Kent putting on his (completely unnecessary) glasses, Man of Steel puts on broodiness. “Oh,” says the movie, “and you want special effects laden slugfests? You got it…”
Seriously, and this isn’t really a spoiler, there are fight scenes that just go on and on, with nothing really fancy being tried. I punch you, you punch me, we run into each other…and a whole lot of property damage ensues. These scenes (and they are in many other modern superhero movies…Supes is just trying to be one of the gang) remind me of the battles in early Kaiju (giant Japanese monster) movies. It’s like Godzilla and Anguirus fighting in Osaka. Of course, these kinds of combats happen in comic books, too (“When Titans Clash” was a title used more than once), but the destruction feels much more “Tohotastic” to me.
It’s not a bad movie, but it just felt like it tried to be too current, too “normal” for now.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT
I’m going to go ahead and talk about a few things in the movie. I’m not going to give away any plot twists, but if you like going into a movie with as few preconceptions as possible, you might want to skip this part.
I think one of the oddest things for me is how I keep reading that they wanted this movie to not be tied to the Christopher Reeve movies. For example, they didn’t use the John Williams music (as all of those movies, and Superman Returns did). However, the bad guy is General Zod (accompanied by a female second in command and a giant “unstoppable”). Jor-El is an important character (played by a movie star in a lengthy Krypton prologue), who posthumously advises Superman. This movie owes a lot more to Richard Donner than it does to Siegel and Shuster.
One thing it doesn’t owe, though, is a sense of humor (unfortunately). Until Superman decides to be Superman, we almost don’t see anything funny. Yes, Lois Lane had a line that got some laughs. After the existential crisis is over? We get silly sight gags and a bit of George Reeves style banter.
As to performances…like the rest of the movie, they were all okay, not stand-out. The bad guys, in particular, don’t have much complexity. Michael Shannon’s General Zod seems to be permanently stuck in the personality of a three-year old…although it is hard to imagine anything much more frightening than a three-year old who can defeat a room full of adults. 😉 He didn’t seem like a great super-villain to me…he seemed like he didn’t get to watch his favorite SpongeBob episode…for the thirty-seventh time that day. 😉 Faora, who has some comic book roots, but like Zod is better known from the Christopher Reeves movies (although she is called Ursa there) seemed entirely one-note…that’s not the fault of actor Antje Traue, in my opinion. The role just doesn’t have much to do except glower and fight.
Hm…I want to be careful here to say that I didn’t dislike the acting. I want to give credit to Henry Cavill as Superman…and not least for being able to pronounce “Kansas” without a trace of his natural English accent. 😉 He certainly looks the part, and does a good job with what he is given to do.
Purists will have some problems with some plot elements…and I think that eliminating the whole “Clark Kent as an adult trying to fit in” dynamic in favor of another hour of special effects may not appeal to all.
However, the movie has already opened strongly…and a third of its total box office is coming from outside the USA. Interestingly, at this point, that’s pretty much the inverse of Iron Man 3 (according to BoxOfficeMojo.com which has almost two thirds of take internationally. That percentage will change for Man of Steel over time, with major markets (including Germany, China, and Japan) yet to come.
I think word of mouth will be okay. It’s going to be fun to see with a crowd, maybe more than once…even if that crowd isn’t going crazy.
It might have been nice to see Superman try to stand out more, to be what he is…confident, not conflicted. That would have made him unusual in the current super-crowd that includes Spider-Man, Iron Man (especially in Iron Man 3), The Hulk, Batman, and even Captain America. This Superman wants to be like everybody else in the summer blockbuster lunchroom clique…and it looks like he may have achieved that goal.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle