Mr Sunday Review’s MAN OF STEEL
Due to its delayed release in some regions of the world, Man of Steel has finally hit in Australia! Did it turn out as well as hoped? Not exactly. Find out why after the jump!
Check out the embedded video below for a comprehensive and brief review of Man Of Steel or read the transcribed article below that. I recommend the video though, reading makes you blind. According to some (discredited) doctors.
Outside of the comic book universe Superman has always struggled to find success in other forms of media. Though the world he inhabits been adapted into successful TV shows, novels and unplayable video games the best incarnations still harken back to the first two movies and some of the animated versions. Unlike Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Green Lantern (but realistically not Green Lantern at all) bringing a faithful version of Superman to the big screen seems an almost impossible task, perhaps due to some perceptions of him being boring, impossible to relate to, overpowered and unhygienic. That last one is mostly underwear on the outside related.
Man of Steel, the latest incarnation of the iconic character from director Zack Snyder is a successful Superman film on so many levels, but a few glaring flaws prevents this movie from being the definitive adaptation I was hoping to see. As far as it’s source material it draws from is concerned it’s a little bit Birthright, surprisingly quite a bit Secret Identity, especially in relation to his dealings with the government, but mostly it’s a total reshaping of Superman’s origins. Including some nods to what I can only assume is aimed at Kevin Smith’s scrapped version. Polar bears anyone?
The film opens strongly, giving as a look at the planet of Krypton, a dying world in the midst of civil war. Stripping the planet of natural resources plus regimented breeding programs have robbed the civilization of what it once was, forcing the disgruntled General Zod’s into action, a Kryptonian who’s hell bent on restoring the planet to its former glory though seizing control and eradicating blood lines. Blah blah blah, Zod and his forces are imprisoned, Russell Crowe shoots a baby into space, planet explodes.
We’ve seen all this before, but not quite like this. Kypton feels like a fully fleshed out world as do the characters that inhabit it, it’s a stark contrasts to the ‘everything is a crystal’ world that director Richard Donner began and Bryan Singer ended. Definitively. Flash forward three and a bit decades and we find Kal-El, renamed Clark Kent by his adoptive parents drifting from menial job to menial job, trying to find his place as a super-powered alien being on planet earth.
Everything up to a certain point in this movie I was on board with including the portrayal of Clark as an aimless drifter only revealing his abilities in order to help those in need. The casts performance all around (a standout being Russell Crowe) are great as is Clark’s discovery of his natural heritage and harnessing his otherworldly powers. It’s all so promising. Never has the live action character of Superman felt so fleshed out, powerful and at the same time relatable. The first half of this movie however, which could easily be considered light on action compared to what follows, builds to what can only be described as a lacklustre and overbearing second act.
Most of what doesn’t work in Man of Steel is the action sequences, not all of the action sequences mind you, Clark’s initial physical confrontation with Zod is incredible to witness. Watching a man scoop up another man, barrel him through solid concrete silo's and repeatable punch him in the face is amazing on every level. It’s letting the audience know, this is not the deadbeat Dad Superman from Superman Returns. The follow-up fight scene between Superman and two of Zod’s Kyptonian warriors is also particularly impressive.
The problem stems from every unnecessary action sequence that follows, including Superman spending ten minutes fight a some kind of giant lazer spider, again, surely a nod to Kevin Smith’s 1990’s Superman Lives story! From there it’s pretty much one CGI action scene after the next, each more uninteresting and exhausting than the last, until the film wraps. There’s also a bit with a giant world destroying laser, because if there’s one thing I never tire of it’s a giant world destroying.
The destruction level that’s at play in this movie is ridiculous, and is another thing that brought me right out of this film. I understand that if two Kryptonians are hammering at each other in a populated city, the results would probably line up with what we have here. Buildings would collapse and people would drop dead by the thousands. But it just becomes repetitive CGI shaky cam mess with a real disconnect between everything that Clark was supposed to be about up until this point, that is, a beacon of hope and someone who’ll go well out their way to protect others.
I never imaged that Snyder would get the quieter, intimate more character driven moments right in a film like this and have the action for the most part be so unengaging. As a man who’s known predominantly as a visual director I’m just…I’m just not sure what happened here. I can understand the problem people have with finale also, the whole destruction of Metropolis is swept under the rug with no real consequence, then again perhaps that’s something that will be touched upon in the sequel. A sequel, with the way things were left, could really be something special.
Overall I enjoyed Man of Steel, but certainly not as much as I would have liked. I love the way Superman was portrayed, even if he’s mostly joyless, in particular the way his Kryptonian and Earth fathers raised him in entirely different ways, shaping Clark into the saviour of humanity that everybody has come to grow so fond of. The movie however is structured in such a way that it tips the film frighteningly close to, dare a say it, a Roland Emmerich film. This film I would still recommend giving a watch if you haven’t already, it’s not the Superman film I was hoping for, perhaps will be seeing that in the already green lit follow-up, but it certainly has flashes of brilliance and is one of the better action films so far this blockbuster season.
Thanks for reading/watching everyone, coming up in the following week will be an in-depth spoiler heavy analysis covering what I feel is wrong and right with Man of Steel, similar to the pieces I did for both Star Trek: Into Darkness and Iron Man 3 (which can be found here and here). Cheers everyone, enjoy the rest of your week.
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