Monday, June 17, 2013
Monday Review: Man of Steel
My Tweet-friendly review of "Man of Steel" is: It's a good alien invasion movie. Superman movie? Not so much. That pretty much sums it up. Most of the movie is more an alien invasion flick than a superhero origin flick. That's not entirely a bad thing, but it means a lot of the things people associate with Superman are missing: Kryptonite, Lex Luthor, the Fortress of Solitude, and Jimmy Oleon for starters. Oh and Lois Lane knows Superman's "secret" identity already. She figured it out before he even was officially Superman. Though in a way that's good because it makes Lois less of a dupe than most of the time in the comics and movies, except those comics where he finally tells her and they get married until the next reboot.
Anyway, the lengthy prologue was reminiscent of the 2009 "Star Trek" movie where we start out with the main character being born. Apparently Kal-El (aka Clark Kent, aka Superman) is the first natural birth on Krypton for centuries. The Kryptonians have a super advanced society, one that can mine their core for energy and yet they sit idly by while their whole planet goes BOOM! Well not all of them. Superman's father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife Lara put their son into a spaceship and send him to Earth.
Meanwhile, General Zod (Michael Shannon, more low-key crazy than "Premium Rush" or "Bug") unsuccessfully tries to overthrow the Kryptonian government. This government banishes him and his minions into a black hole or something. (And yet again they don't have the means to move somewhere other than Krypton? That black hole is a giant plot hole. Zing!)
We skip forward 33 years (incidentally wasn't Jesus 33 when he was killed in the Bible? Symbolism, bitches!) to where Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is working on a fishing boat trying to live off the grid. It's his bad luck that an oil rig nearby is going up, so he has to step in to rescue everybody and then beat a hasty retreat.
He eventually ends up in the Arctic at some military installation. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) shows up there to investigate the mysterious thing buried beneath ancient ice. But Clark beats her to it, using his heat vision to burrow underground until he finds a ship. He's able to bring it to life with the key from his ship, which also brings to life a hologram of his daddy, who explains what happened to Krypton.
Remember when I said Lois Lane figures out who Superman is? She does this after Clark saves her when she sticks her nose where it shouldn't be on the Kryptonian ship. Too bad he can't use a memory-wiping kiss like "Superman 2" right? She pretty easily tracks him down to Smallville, but agrees not to blow the whistle on him.
But not long after, General Zod and his minions show up and demand Superman surrender to them. Which he does, after he surrenders to the US Army, who stupidly put him in handcuffs. From there the Kryptonian invasion is on with a lot of battles between Superman and the Kryptonians along with stupid humans who can't seem to get that their bullets and missiles can't kill the aliens. (And sadly Jeff Goldblum isn't around to give the aliens a computer virus, though something similar does help Lois escape from the Kryptonians to tell Superman how to defeat them.)
Basically if you were looking for a remake of "Superman" or "Superman 2" then you're going to be hugely disappointed. Of course I thought those movies were pretty corny, but a lot of people liked them and many critics seem to think those are the definitive superhero movies. There's some romance, but no flying through the night sky to the strains of John Williams music. And like I said at the beginning a lot of the traditional Superman elements are missing. I expect though we'll see some of those crop up in the sequel.
I don't usually get into cinematography or anything like that, but there was one thing that kind of annoyed me. Director Zack Snyder kept shooting things far away and then zooming in really quick, which made it look as if the movie were being filmed on a camcorder like a "found footage" movie like "Chronicle" or something. A lot of these shots were mostly CGI too, so why do that?
Anyway, despite that it's more "Independence Day" than "Superman" there's still enough action and excitement to keep you entertained. A lot of the audience applauded afterwards so I guess they liked it well enough. I'll be interested to see what happens in the sequel now that we've got Clark/Superman established. I suspect Lex Luthor will be making an appearance then and maybe some of the other stuff that was missing from this one too.
Since I was one of those rare people who didn't hate "Superman Returns" I don't think this was really an improvement overall. Though we didn't have the creepiness of Superman knocking up Lois and it was good they dialed down Superman's powers a little so he wasn't lifting continents or turning the Earth backwards. Still, instead of believing a man can fly, you're more likely to come away from this thinking "Gee, being Superman really sucks." Really I think Grant Morrison's first few Action Comics from 2011 were how they should have done a Superman reboot. Maybe after this latest reboot series peters out they can do that.
Overall I'd give it 2.5/4 stars. There's definitely room for this franchise to go Up, up and away! (Punny!)
Now here's a brain teaser for you. A lot of people were focusing on how Superman shaves, but as I was watching "Superman Returns" yesterday I got to wondering: how does Superman keep that cape of his under his clothes when he's Clark Kent? Wouldn't that be really uncomfortable when he sits down? Almost like getting a wedgie I'd imagine. And then when Clark goes to the bathroom, wouldn't he always have to use the stalls? But what does he do with the cape then? Hang it up in the stall? Though I guess since he can fly almost at the speed of light maybe he can just fly up to the Fortress of Solitude to do his business. Or maybe he uses diapers like the astronauts.