Man of Steel
Directed by Zack Snyder
4 out of 10
A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race:
I blame annoying ass comic book fanboys for this film. After the release of Bryan Singer’s 2006 resurrection of the franchise with Superman Returns, fanboys bitched and moaned up and down with quotes like:
“There’s not enough action.”
“Why is the film all about the romantic element?”
“Why isn’t the film darker?”
“Why can’t it be more like Batman?”
Well asshole fanboys, you got what you wanted. And guess what? Your dream version of Superman isn’t very good. It’s not a complete catastrophe but it’s way too long for such a thin story and it literally sucks the joy out of the Superman experience.
The film opens with a long stretch similar to the far superior 1978 version that shows the end of the planet Krypton. What are the differences? Instead of showing an imaginative ice world filled with overly confident scientists whose own arrogance proves to be the destruction of their planet, we get a rock world filled with too much CGI and fisticuffs between Superman’s Dad and Zod. Despite the obvious advances in special effects, it doesn’t draw the viewer in. It’s cold and boring. The unfortunate part of that is that it permeates through the entire 2 1/2 hour running time.
After the obvious jettison of baby Superman to Earth in his ship that is curiously shaped like a penis, baby Supes goes through growing up bullied, alienated, and rejected. Does he discover new powers? Does he realize he’s capable of abilities that make him God-like? No! He mopes, he whines about how he’s different, and he makes himself the victim all the time. It’s again a far cry from the 1978 version that showed a young Clark Kent laughing and smiling while out running a train. Also, unlike the original film, this version does everything in flashback. Clark is roaming place to place in search of where he comes from and once in a while, he finds people to save. There’s no characters even brought into the experience that we relate to.
I’ll run down the list of things this films gets wrong:
1. It’s not fun. Superman hates being Superman almost the entire film.
2. Lois feels crowbarred into the story. She’s in it a lot and you’ll scratch your head as to how she got there in the first place.
3. Clark doesn’t work at the Daily Planet. He’s a fisherman or something else for almost the whole film.
4. There’s no chemistry between Superman and Lois. This was the entire backbone of the original film.
5. Zod is terribly boring. He’s single-minded and 2 dimensional.
6. Perry White is in the film but doesn’t have any bearing on the story.
7. Kevin Costner dies trying to save a dog. Yes, a dog…. Remember the original Johnathon Kent. He had a heart attack and Clark couldn’t save him? It added extra meaning because it reminded him that as powerful as was, he couldn’t save everyone. It was poignant. This is not.
8. Action scenes go on and on without purpose, or suspense, or involvement from the viewer.
What did I like? Henry Cavill could be a terrific Superman in a better film. There’s a few decent moments between Clark and his adopted parents. The problem is that these scenes are few and far between because we keep getting thrown into action scenes that aren’t interesting. It’s a city under destruction that was done better in the Avengers. That films had character development within the action. This does not.
I have always been a fan of the Superman character. He is a representation of the American myth that we are all capable of amazing things. We may not fly, or have super strength, or X-ray vision. But, he represented the inner good and possibility o the human spirit to help his fellow man without the need for reward. It was a character and story-line that was fun, romantic, and made you believe a man could fly. The “Man of Steel” felt like he never left the ground.