Man of Steel (2013)

Man of Steel (2013) movie poster

director Zack Snyder
viewed: 06/17/2013 at Platinum Theaters Dinuba 6, Dinuba, CA

Ah, Superman Returns…  Oh wait, he did that already in 2006 in Superman Returns.  But he’s back again in Man of Steel, taking a nod from The Dark Knight (2008) and its director/writer Christopher Nolan (who produced here and contributed to the story), this Superman reboot takes its title from one of the many epithets of the son of Krypton.  And it’s director Zack Snyder (300 (2007). Watchmen (2009), tries to bring it Nolan-style to the franchise reboot.

Of course, Snyder is no Nolan.  And Superman is no Batman.  Meaning Snyder, who is known for glorified digital effects action films can’t quite deliver on the more sombre and serious narrative.  And Superman, who has never borne the Dark Knight’s darkness, is a character of American 20th Century, shakily trying to find a way of meaning something to the 21st.

The film does have Russell Crowe going for it.  He plays Jor-El, Superman’s father, not simply in flashbacks but in convenient digital afterlife as a computer presence with his consciousness uploaded and responsive.  After seeing Crowe in The Man with the Iron Fists (2012), I’m now convinced that he classes up movies quite a bit when he shows up in smaller roles.  As villain General Zod, Michael Shannon is probably the most promising thing the movie has going for it, a really interesting and crazy-eyed bad guy.  The film also features Kevin Costner as Clark Kent’s adoptive dad, a good-hearted all-American farmer who thinks the world isn’t ready for a superhero.  And Diane Lane, still very beautiful, as Mama Kent.

I went with Felix and some family members, all males of varying ages.  The overall response was a fairly apathetic “meh” from all.

Snyder swings for the fences with shots of flashbacky sentiment of the childhood of the young Clark Kent, including one where he plays around in blue jeans, t-shirt, and a red cape.  Who is he supposed to be pretending to be here?  But not only does the emotional depth prove shallow but the action scenes, Snyder’s usual strength, fall into trap of two (or more) CG guys punching the beejeezus out of each other.  Moving at hyperspeed that makes the reality even less real, Snyder loses out on the fact that he has real people, not in need of FX, who can fight here without the need to computers.  It’s stunningly disappointing.  And the finale, in which they destroy New York City (I’m sorry,…Metropolis), they do so in serious earnest though with an amazing lack of loss of life.  Whole buildings crash to the ground and then people just pop up from behind cars, going, “Phew, that was close!”

The film is a proper reboot, retelling the origin story again, this time with Henry Cavill instead of Brandan Routh.  That was a tad less tedious than I imagined it would be.  A tad.

Frankly, I hardly recall a thing about Superman Returns, Bryan Singer’s attempt to bring Superman to the silver screen for the new millenium.  And I would almost be predicting a similar fate for this film if I didn’t already know that a sequel has been greenlit.

It is what it is, as DC Comics tries to follow in the trail that Marvel Studios has blazed with its many franchises that led up to its The Avengers (2012), leading up to its own version of the same thing, a Justice League film sometime in the relative future.  At this point, it still looks like Marvel is the favorite in this heavyweight matchup.

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