Saturday, June 15, 2013

Man of Steel Not Quite Shiny

The new version of Superman will fulfill his true destiny: create a Justice League franchise that will put those smug Avengers in their place.

Whether he really does this in Man of Steel.....not quite, but it's trying to be different than Marvel, and maybe riskier, too. That explains how the movie ended. Whether that will work out in the long run remains to be seen.

Man of Steel is much better than Superman Returns because it wants to recreate one of America's greatest icons by using familiar details and mixing new ones to fit current times. That was a better approach that making Superman Returns the semi-sequel to Superman II, complete with Lois having a child that is MUCH more than he looks. I'm guessing the writers of that movie were expecting a sequel to tie up loose ends. That was one of many mistakes.

In the 2013 version of Superman, we get the usual origin story, but with a bit more meat. I kind of wish there was a prequel with Kal-El vs. Zod over the fate of Krypton, plus what the planet was doing before its final destruction. Then you have Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El, coming to terms with his powers as a child and an adult. It seemed to be confusing, though. It should have been more chronological, especially with one friend who seems to be connected with Clark no matter what. I still thought Cavill played Superman as a hero-in-training, trying to figure out how Earth would accept or fear him, and how he should use his powers to benefit mankind.

I will say Russell Crowe's diving skills were better than in Les Miserables. It made sense for his hologram to tell Clark who he really was, and fill him in on Krypton and Zod. Afterwards, it was overkill, and too much of a plot convenience.

What would be considered unthinkable...allowing Lois Lane to be more familiar with Superman's true identity than ever before...actually works here. She's supposed to be this brilliant reporter, and expecting her not to catch on by connecting the dots is now hard to believe. Remember, in the original cut of Superman II, Lois does figure it out twice. You can't keep her ignorant just because she's a girl.
That being said, Amy Adams is very good as the resilient Lois Lane, much better than Kate Bosworth. It was still odd seeing Lois so deep in the battle between Superman and Zod. Seeing so many differences in the usual Superman myth may be the reason why critics aren't happy with this movie, but customers have been so far.

When Michael Shannon appears as Zod, he was chewing the scenery as much as Sting was in Dune, especially with that "I will find him" remark. He settled down after a while, but he was still a bit too hammy. His explanation of how he got out of the, er, strange-looking cocoons in the Phantom Zone made a lot of sense.

What really drags down Man of Steel is Zach Snyder's apparent need to create more collateral damage than The Avengers. Sure, in that movie stuff got wrecked, but the dialogue kept things interesting.
OK, so what about how it ended?
Some people may say the ending goes against everything the Man of Steel believes in, from his creation in 1938 to now. Snyder made the call, I think, because in this movie, Superman is learning what a superhero is, and what he thinks is right or wrong. A lot of people may disagree with his final decision, but at the spirit of the moment, it made sense.
Also, I think DC wants a movie philosophy where the heroes will make decisions that may not be popular with everyone, but you know why they made them. The template is the Christopher Nolan version of Batman, and it would be applied here because Nolan co-wrote this movie.

So, I'd give Man of Steel two and a half capes out of four. It took some risks to create a new Superman 'verse, but way too much collateral damage towards the end.

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