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Inspirational Viewing – Man of Steel (2013)

14 June, 2013

Short non-spoilered review of Man of Steel:

Well done special effects are no substitute for a well thought out plot and 3D only make poorly directed action scenes more confusing.  However, Henry Cavill rises above the material he is given to work with to prove himself a worthy actor to play Superman, of the other actors, Russell Crowe improves he scenery chewing skills and Michael Shannon proves he is no Terence Stamp in his portrayal of (admittedly poorly written) General Zod.  Wooden dialog, confused plot and over-exuberant special effects lead to an overall unsatisfactory return of Superman to the big screen except for Cavill’s portrayal of Clark Kent/Superman which managed to ground the film surprisingly well, if only he had had a proper plot and a better script to work with . . .

Still Krypton and Krytonian technology looks fantastic and we have an excellent actor for Superman, so if you like those things, probably worth watching (though seeing it in 3D is surely not necessary).

Disclaimer:

But Sean, you may be saying, you hate Zach Snyder and swore never to give him money again after the travesty that was Sucker Punch.  That is true and my wife was given tickets for her and I by a friend to see Man of Steel, so, I have kept my word and given no money to Mr. Snyder.

Longer, spoiler filled analysis of Man of Steel follows the cut:

The quasi-organic technology and physical computer displays of Krypton look fantastic, a shame the society makes no damn sense.   With the whole Zod’s Coup / Russell Crowe aka ‘Kryptonian Jones action scientist’ sequence’s only justification seems to be for filming this movie 3D as it fails to make sense, establish character or advance the plot in any meaningful way.  Zod’s coup makes no sense at all, what does he seek to do and how does purity of bloodline even make sense in a world where everyone is birthed from a pod?  And if he controls the military, who is it that stops the coup?  Unlike many other version of the story, everyone on Krypton seems to know that their world is about to be destroyed and even though they have spacecraft just lying around (to drag criminals into the Phantom Zone for instance) no one seems to be interested in escaping the imploding planet . . .

Moving forward to the adult Clark Kent, whose childhood is told in flashbacks rather than a continuous story.  Not thrilled with Costerner’s Pa Kent who does not seem positive or, well, American enough.  This in the person who is suppose to instill a love of  Truth, Justice and the American Way in Clark, yet Pa Kent is all about hiding who Clark is because he is ‘different’ and ‘people won’t understand’, bah.   Clark is wondering aroundAmerica seeking his place in the world.  This call is actually not a bad one, Clark Kent is the ultimate outsider, the only one of his kind, who wants to be part of humanity but is always separated from it by his alien nature.  It really could have shined if it would have focused on that story rather than the one it did.

The story it tell is a little bit of Clark searching for his place and discovering his Krytonian heritage (and being discovered by Lois Lane, who does not get enough chances to shine in this, but is a strong character and is allowed to show her reporter’s chops by tracking Clark down by his trail of superhuman good deeds). Clark barely gets to explore his new roll as a symbol of both worlds before Zod and his thugs arrive in a salvaged spacecraft with the intention of turning Earth into a new Krypton (never mind that they had the technology to do that on any other planet but Zod must have his revenge on Zor-El through Clark, yawn, no one likes stupid, petty villains).

Clark turning himself into the government to be turned over to Zod in the hope that it will protect Earth is well done, Superman’s nobility in the face of Zod’s insanity and the distrust of the US Government is very well handled.  But no one else in the world gets a say or a mention, even though the aliens are threatening the entire planet, only the US is ever mentioned, no UN, no nothing.  Then, we move to fights, fights where Superman can barely be bothered to warn or try and defend or save innocents, first wrecking Smallville, then Metropolis, with civilian causalities that must have been in the dozens for the first and thousands in the second.

The final less than climatic fight between Superman and Zod is poorly directed and so frantic and their costumes are so similar, that only be spotting the cape can you tell who is hitting who through much of it, and even that is not always possible.  That it ends with Superman killing Zod . . . just no.  Superman does not kill.  They should have shown some creativity here and allowed Zod’s life to be spared but creativity is sorely lacking throughout the movie.

A much more minor point was that, sadly, missing from the movie entirely were Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen (though a LexCorp logo is seen) which was disappointing, just nods to them would have been fine,  neither needed to be actual plot points.

Reiterating, impressive visually, though much of that is wasted on things that do not advance the plot, good ideas casually abandoned, and ultimately only made worthwhile by Henry Cavill’s dedication to his craft and the role.

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