By Botond Gergely (Cluj, Romania)
I know that I’m late for the after-party, BUT after the same critics who loved Pocahontas Avatar continue to (unfairly) bash on genre (mainly comic book) movies like Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness and several others because they’re easy targets, I thought I’d give my 2 cents about the Man of Steel situation. In case you haven’t seen the movie, here’s a trailer.
YES, this will be a (sort of & spoiler-free) review of a movie released in June, deal with it! Also, if you’re pun sensitive, to the Phantom Zone with you.
First of all, some preliminary (& sometimes minor) stuff from news and trailers:
The suit looks good, a bit dark for my taste, but resembles the New 52 Superman outfit, minus the belt. And yes, the cape is CG, because Ryan Reynolds wants his Green Lantern mask back.
Christopher Nolan is “just” a producer, so he’s like Fredo to Snyder’s Michael Corleone (don’t quote me on this, I don’t want cut out Zack Snyder heads under my pillow in the morning). This is made clear by the movie’s ending. Also, cut Zachy boy some slack. Granted, he isn’t the brightest light bulb on the directorial chandelier, but he did make good (Dawn of the Dead), decent (Watchmen) movies too and let’s apply the first rule of Fight Club on Sucker Punch, hoping he learned his lesson. After all, what does the ‘S’ stand for?
Goyer writing the script doesn’t mean a thing. Remember, he wrote Blade Trinity and that Hasselhoff Nick Fury movie before the Batman trilogy. On the other hand, composer Hans Zimmer brings guaranteed orchestral genius to the table, which is important for the atmosphere.
No Kryptonite, at all. Superman’s true weakness starts with a B and ends with ATMAN anyway.
JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESUS… really? That parallel remains. He’s sent to us by his omniscient father… when he’s a baby… to be bullied, yet to, if necessary, sacrifice himself for humanity. Did I mention he’s 33 years old in the movie?
So, after a deep and meaningful exposition, let’s jump into my action-packed review (this feels familiar…).
And I’ll start with the film’s biggest flaw: it clearly can be split into 2 short films:
1. A sci-fi character drama about an alien trying to fit into society while struggling to contain and control his superhuman abilities. So this is what the first 4/5 seasons of Smallville should’ve been. The fact that it’s handled via non-chronological flashback gives it dynamism, so it never becomes stale or boring. We even see an awesome version of Krypton, which actually looks alien, unlike Michael Shannon’s (General Zod) screaming tantrums. Also, Russell Crowe is a badass Jor-El.
But that lasts for like 15 minutes; the real highlights are the Kents (played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) and all the child actors whom I don’t even want to kill. Good job, Warner! I know I haven’t said much of Cavill up until this point, but he doesn’t have much to do in this part of the movie, but when he’s on screen, he’s serviceable and the emphasis is more on the struggles of young/teenage Clark. We get to see the man (/boy) with godlike powers constantly get bullied and emotionally tortured by idiots, a**holes and kids, which makes us see his vulnerability and desire to distance himself from us.
When he’s an adult though he (sort of) loses his calm once.
Also, some citizens of Smallville (sort) of know who Clark really is. That’s actually a refreshing and, if you think about it, logical take on the situation. At the end of this almost masterfully put together first hour there’s a strange death scene however, which is justified in the movie, but I can see people having an issue with it.
2. Here come the problems (and not just the not ginger Jenny Alsen). This is basically an alien invasion/action movie in which Snyder lets his inner child blow s**t up, just without the slow mo.
I’m just going to say: the action is great, made even better with the HD handheld camera perspective and the sound audio effects (along with Hans Zimmer’s score of course) and the CGI is amazing. Thrown punches really do have impact and combatant characters don’t look like rag dolls on ropes (I’m looking at you, X-Men Origins). Amy Adams is the best Lois Lane in a long time, Laurence Fishburne plays a great white (punpunpuuun) guy (note to Goyer: Perry NEVER says and never would’ve said “Now’s not the time for journalistic integrity!”), Cavill is actually a perfect fit for the big blue boyscout and Shannon is (somehow) just serviceable; but the menacing Faora (played by Antje Traue) steals the show for the time she’s on screen. Oh, and the Lois (at that point he didn’t have the name, so let’s call him) Hopeman interrogation scene was awesome.
Not quite this awesome though.
Now for the major (yet minor… Well, f***k you too!) flaws:
– Superman punches Zod into Smallville when there’s nothing but wide open (uninhabited) fields surrounding them. That’s now very cost or human life friendly there, Clarkie. AND right after this Martha Kent remains with Faora and a Kryptonian Pain and Gain reject AND THEY DON’T KIDNAP HER; because who needs leverage against Superman?
– Necessary (almost like racism in Transformers) military-bro eye bonding moments. Because nothing says America more than the good old (red, white &) Blue Steel.
– Unnecessarily long action scene with a dubstep squid robot/ship, but I’m okay with that. Even spell check hates dubstep and so should Superman. If Skrillex is Lex Luthor in Batman vs Superman, I’m giving it 10/10 right now, because yes, dubstep is humanity’s biggest enemy. Right after Adam Sandler.
– The only Kryptonian scientist has a (glorious and) heavy German accent; in case you haven’t noticed that the genocidal aliens with superiority complex are space Nazis.
– Another controversial death scene that really could have been executed, pun intended, better.
– More people die than there are Justin Bieber fans in Kansas, yet they don’t get any kind of a memorial service or ceremony and that’s just cold. If the movie specified they really were Girl Wonder followers, it would be a different story.
A final and omnipresent flaw of the movie is the lack of humor. It’s unfortunate, but the character stuff evens that out. The guy with the weight of the world on his shoulders needs some light hearted moments every now and then.
In all seriousness, as you may have noticed, most of the problems are minor and my biggest flaw (the easy separation in 2 parts) isn’t even a one if you don’t mind heavy, dense action. Maybe it might have been a good idea to mix punches with tears and words a little bit more often for the sake of more action-phobic movie goers. Irregardless, Snyder still does far more right than wrong and this is definitely a huge step forward for him as a director.
So, Man of Steel soared mightily, stumbled a bit at the last few yards, but still reached the Sun without falling. It’s one of my favorite movies of the year (I’m guessing up until I see Elysium).
PS. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime from GoT) would be a great Batman, but if not, Josh Brolin isn’t a shabby choice either. Just NO Ryan Gosling, okay ?! (I’m a fan of his, but he’s not Batman material; make him Nightwing or something).
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