MAN OF STEEL (Blueback, June 18th)

manofsteelWhen the main word-of-mouth exchange of information regarding a movie consists of something akin to:

Zack Snyder: (raspy voice) Hey guys! Have you seen my new movie, “Man of Steel?!” He’s not wearing any underpants? Where are his underpants? Oh dear. I just felt that this story needed to be told.

…you know you might not be in for the most thrilling or unique of experiences. But it’s not actually half bad…and if you are going to a movie about a man who is very Super…you know what you are getting in for, so it’s kind of a shame on you situation if you feel disappointed and need to bash it too much afterwards. It’s about an alien, who looks just like us and comes to Earth and puts on a cape and falls in love with a human while flying around and casually leaving the Earth’s atmosphere when needs be. You know? So come on.
Visually, the film looks like a million bucks…maybe even two-hundred million. Seeing it in 3D, there is awesome depth and clarity, which makes for some stunning imagery, but aside from the battle sequences of Supe flying through cityscapes, which we all saw last year—also magnificently shot—in whatever the last first “Spiderman” movie was.
You can see the money and the effects on the screen. Which might explain why the script feels like it was written by a teenage fan boy in the margins of a Superman comic book. The script was written by David Goyer, whom, after his attempt at directing “Blade Trilogy,” people said, “Hey, you are a pretty good writer,” to soften the blow. And when he isn’t left to his own devices (and works alongside a co-writer) he can make pretty good blueprint.
In this origin story, however, as every fifteenth incarnation of a property older than our grandfathers must be, he seems to be having his assistant go through the motions, cribbing not only from the old comic books, but also from a little book called The Bible, something Superman has always done ( a little boy with God-like powers comes down to a childless farmer family and realizes he is man but also much more, and must guide them), and the Christ-like figure is beefed up mucho in this incarnation. But much like how not much is known about Jesus before his 33rd birthday, here too we have an origin story where one wonders why they bothered? They could have gotten to the action straight away, and saved the film to a civilized running time.
Superman, as Clark Kent has to learn to deal with his powers, with humans, with differences, and decide what “kind of man” he is to be. It is a growing pains tale on a grand scale, and a set-up for a moral tale. Here is a man who can lift up your semi and chuck it on a telephone pole, but must rise above conflict and turn the other cheek.
We are given Kevin Costner (alongside his real father, Russell Crowe, Superman is blessed in the paternal department) and Diane Lane as parents, whose every breath is actor-ly brilliance. And Snyder seems to know it, because every time I thought that Clark Kent was learning a lesson, I realized I was just remember something Costner did in “Field of Dreams,” and “JFK.” Here he just keeps saying, “We talked about this,” or “what kind of man do you want to be.” Or “You will change the world.”
So instead of pivotal scenes in the psyche of a truly unique adolescent which could contain amazing insight, instead we have flashbacks of: “Remember that time when we all nearly died, but luckily you are an alien of superhuman strength, but also compassion so you saved us? Oh wait..hey, remember this other time when we all nearly died, but luckily you are an alien of superhuman strength, but also compassion, so you saved us?”
There is one really cool conceit of the film, though…dealing with how Kryptonians deal with all the information they are able to receive on Earth. While, sure it is a gun mentioned in the first act in order to go off in the third; it still is the one worthy youth sequence when we realize the cost of such power here.
And the film thusly goes on, and I begin to become bored at the extended actions sequences, even nodding off a bit. It is been here done that, although done well. I imagine all but the most energetically youthful will find the sequences of folks throwing each other around a bit trying.
Still, you already know if you want to see it. And it you don’t go in expecting “Batman Begins,” but just a good action flick, you will enjoy it. Snyder, action overkill aside, knows how to handle his actions, and even seems to enjoy people, which is something a lot of his comrades do not. So buy your popcorn and your ticket and see it already.
Just don’t go and write a critical review of all the things that are wrong with the film while also sort of recommending it and then put it up on your wordpress blog. You should know better.

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