I love Superman more than the son my excessive love of a comic-book character ensures I will never have. I disagree with those who write the character off as too boring because I have read and watched stories that run contrary to that. I disagree with those who dismiss the concept as too goofy because I don’t feel that goofy is inherently bad and because those people are willing to ignore goofiness when it involves billionaire’s dressed as bats or a show where every scene of exposition has to have tits in it, so you pay attention. On the level of a Superman fan, Man of Steel disappointed me because it felt like it was made by people who were embarrassed to be making a movie about Superman.
I would ask you however not to click that close tab button just yet because this is not just a fanboy rant about how They Got Everything Wrong. I could write 2000 words complaining about how cynical Pa Kent is or about the damn-near allergic aversion to using the word ‘Superman’, but this is the year 2013, where there is officially more nitpicking available on the internet than there is pornography. You won’t find either here. (Pornography about picking nits on the other hand is just a few weeks away.) Instead I’m just going to give you my opinion of Man of Steel strictly on its merits as a film.
It was pretty lame, peoples.
After a decent, frantic opening on the planet Krypton, the pacing of the film goes straight to hell. The first half constantly cuts back and forth between whatever Clark Kent is doing in the present (moping) and flashbacks of what he was doing while growing up (younger moping). The second half is the climax. Once the buildings start to get smashed up don’t worry about needing a bathroom break. You could be in there for twenty minutes and they’d still just be smashing up buildings when you got back, and whatever you were doing in there that took so long would presumably be more entertaining than watching this.
Whatever else you can say about Visionary Director Zack Snyder (Obvious, violent, superficial, dunderheaded, director-of-a-movie-about-owls) he is capable of putting some decent visuals together. Before his sugar rush kicks in and he goes full-Michael Bay for the ending there are some good shots to be had in Man of Steel. A scene where a weakened Superman draws in energy from the sun in particular stood out. Unfortunately the visuals are held back by constant washed-out colours, a visual style presumably chose to be grim and gritty and to show us that this ain’t your dad’s Superman! If you wash out the iconic blue and red to the point that they become brownish-blue and brown, everything’s dark enough that your almost watching Batman? You people like Batman, right?
He may cobble together some good visuals but for such a Visionary Director Zack Snyder does tend to wear his influences on his sleeve. As aforementioned Michael Bay would be proud of the drawn out, loud, explosive climax. So would Sigmund Freud. There’s also a lot of Firefly in the scenes of spaceships and people flying around, with real-footage style zooming. The first couple of times this happened it was cool, eventually I just wished I was watching Firefly instead. At least then I wouldn’t get hit over the head with religious symbolism. Visionary Dick Splash Zack Snyder’s attempts to draw comparisons between Superman and Jesus are about as subtle as Kanye West’s attempts to tell us that he’s rather pleased with himself.
The acting is…serviceable. Nobody is doing a bad job per se, but there’s nobody gets a real chance to stand out either, whether it’s because of a weak script or the Visionary Director’s inability to draw more out of them. I’m more inclined to blame the script because none of the characters have much personality to them. Amy Adam’s Lois Lane uses the phrase ‘dick measuring’ shortly after she is introduced to let us know that she is Tough and Sassy but she does little else for the rest of the movie except get exposition delivered at her and make googly eyes at an alien. The fact that there’s not as much of a divide between Clark Kent and Superman in comparision to previous movies means the character isn’t as much of an acting showcase for Henry Cavill as it was for Christopher Reeve but he’s still a little lacking in charisma and his chemistry with Adams isn’t great. General Zod was supposed to be talented character actor Michael Shannon’s ticket to the mainstream but again there’s just not enough in the character for him to hang a performance on. He’s angry. He’s evil.
Man of Steel also borrows from the Batman movies schtick of putting acclaimed older actors in supporting roles, with Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Laurence Fishburne on the sidelines throughout. It fares slightly better in this regard then when Amazing Spider-Man completely wasted Martin Sheen and Sally Field but the trio still feel underutilised. Russell Crowe couldn’t give a fuck as Superman’s Space Dad Jor-El, but he kind of continues the legacy of Marlon Brando in that respect. Besides, anyone who’s seen The Man with the Iron Fists knows that Crowe can still be fun in couldn’t give a fuck mode.
The film is so dreary in spirit that I could never get into it, even if I was trying to. For a two hour summer action movie, there’s surprisingly little comedy to break up the smash-punch-brood-brown monotony. So eager to distance itself from the legacy of Richard Donner, the movie avoids any sense of earnestness like it’s a hunk of kryptonite (I am a hack, you know I was going to put that in somewhere) A Superman movie should be something for kids to enjoy, but unless your offspring really like futuristic thumb drives and in your face product placement I’m not sure what they’re going to get out of this. As always your opinion may differ to mine and if you enjoyed it that’s fine but I just found it to be overly-serious and for long stretches of time, boring. In summary, Man of Steel is less a triumphant return to the silver-screen for the Last Son of Krypton and more a LOAD OF BALLS. SEE SOMETHING ELSE. IT WAS BALLS. BALLS. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-