Friday, June 14, 2013

Man of Steel (2013)

Director: Zack Snyder

Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shanon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Chrostopher Meloni, Kevin Costner, Ayelet Zurer, Laurence Fishburne

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A hero will rise.

Plot:  A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.


Well, the special effects were nice.  There's a lot to like with this new origin story of Superman but there's also a lot wrong with it and I'm not exactly sure where to begin.  Once again, Lois Lane is cast as a super young and hot chick and with an actress who doesn't get it.  Literally from the first few words out of Amy Adams' mouth as Lois I could tell this wasn't going to work.  Between her and how her character was written I was groaning.  You may strike her name off of those who need to have my babies.  She's got way too much screen time and she's everywhere and ends up in nearly every location where shit goes down.  We at least get to see her skills as an accomplished reporter. Margot Kidder (who remains on the list as she needs to have my babies) nailed the role (it was also very well written) in SUPERMAN (1978).  She was smart, savvy, and easy on the eyes but she also embodied the character and made her genuinely tough and rough.  Kidder's Lois Lane might have been gruff but it was only Superman who made her forget all of that and she was suddenly vulnerable and fragile.  I miss that Lois.

Henry Cavill does a great job.  I really dig this guy and I like how he portrayed Superman and how the character was written (mostly).  It's not until the end that he gets the gig at The Daily Planet and he looks awkward as Clark Kent.  I guess we'll see in the next film how he handles that side of the role.  Michael Shannon hit a home run as General Zod.  He's intense and shortly before his demise he talks about how he's essentially doing his job and that it's all for saving the Krypton race.  It was a nice monologue and had some emotional weight behind his actions in the picture.  I wish there had been more of an attempt to make Zod less one dimensional and more human (so to speak).

Russell Crowe did a fine job as Superman's biological father but he's in the picture far too much and his character is heavily relied on to save the day when it's convenient.  His character was handled much better in the '78 film.  (Was it supposed to be a joke that Jor-El was standing in the ship's corridors pointing the way for Lois? I laughed out of outrageous silliness by I don't think that was their intention). I got the strong impression that it Crowe wouldn't do the picture unless he had an action scene and his role was expanded. Costner did a fine job with the scant material he had to work with.  It's how weakly the character was written that bugs me.  His insistence that Clark not show his true self to outsiders was annoying.  He'd rather children die (and himself) than let that happen.  His death was completely unnecessary and he could have easily let Clark save him and without letting the cat out of the bag (which, locally, it had been).  I did get a little choked up when he snuffed it but his death was utterly wasteful and served only as a silly plot point that made very little difference to the picture, if any.

The action scenes were fun, excessive and repetitive.  The fights with Supes were neat but it was several long minutes (each fight) of two to three super beings that are virtually invincible knocking the shit out of each other.  The destruction was incredible.  I liked the speed of the characters and how it was super fast.  It's exactly how it should have been (it's going to be hard to watch the Superman fights in the original films now because they'll seem super slow in comparison).  I loved how Superman horizontally hovered a few feet above the ground.  Neat.  Each of the fight sequences, though, felt over long and they kept hitting the same beats over and over.  It reminds me of the soft core exploitation movies of the 60s and early 70s where there were simulated sex scenes filled with 15 minutes of fondling, kissing, writhing and repeat.  It gets old fast.

You know what else gets old fast?  The shaky cam shit when there's nothing going on.  You know, when there's just one or two characters on screen having a tender moment but you're distracted with the forever-moving camera?  Fucking hell.  Who was the DP on this picture, Katherine Hepburn?

I've heard an awful lot about how amazing Hans Zimmer's score is and how it stands up next to John Williams' score from the '78 film.  Yes, I've heard that a lot in the past week.  They must have heard a different score because I wasn't impressed at all.  Zimmer relies too heavily on loud, bombastic scoring. I'm sure it's even less impressive when you listen to it separately from the film.  Maybe I'll hear something different the next time I watch the picture.

I caught the midnight show last night, I was a little tired and the theater's air conditioning was working in my favor so I could have been a little influenced by that but I left the theater feeling uninspired and sad that this picture is so loud, obnoxious, weak in characters while somewhat strong in others, filled with action and a frenetic pacing that would choke a horse, etc.  I'm looking forward to seeing it again in a couple of weeks after the dust has settled and seeing how I like it then.  I'm not giving up on this Superman but I need some time to see other people, I mean movies.

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