Movie Review: Man of Steel

Dumb.

One word reviews are fun, useful, and in this case totally deserved. Why do they keep letting this guy (Zack Snyder) go to town on the most revered pillars of the comic book temple?.

Ugh.

Was he trying to model superman’s personality after a crash test dummy? I mean “big blue” isn’t exactly known for his exuberance or wit, but Jeebus H Christmas. This rendition of Superman is even blander than usual and despite trying to fill him with pathos, Snyder instead gives us a ridiculous, almost mind numbing–no wait, its not almost numbing, it’s complete Novocaine level brain drain–plot. These people wander through the film, saying things and doing things as if there is a rhyme or reason for their actions, but I found no thread to grapple with, nor anything human to relate to.

Part of that’s because this Supes’ film focuses primarily on the fact that our Kansas Kent is really an alien from outer space. There are parts when I feel like I’m watching an X-Files movie. Is black ooze going to start leaking out of that glacier to infect mankind? Is Scully going to mock Mulder’s theory on a Super-Being lurking among us unknown to those he passes on the street? No, I guess not. That would be too cool for this movie.

And frankly, it would be inappropriate. In my mind, and I assume in the minds of most of us, Superman is as ordinary and American as white bread and apple pie and a bunch other stuff that has really very little to do with what America is actually about. But he’s still Super American. In an informal poll I just took between me and myself Superman and Captain America are neck and neck in the race to see who’s the most American guy who can jump out of a airplane without a parachute.

But in Man of Steel Zach Snyder gives us something a little grittier and “real”. Why would anyone want a realistic Superman? He is, I argue, the antithesis of realistic. He’s super, for god’s sake. It’s in the name. But Mr. Snyder aims for a different target. The film starts on the planet Krypton, and startled movie goers would be forgiven if they thought they’d actually wandered into a screening of Snyder’s other comic movie 300. But we know this story. We might not have imagined it quite so melodramatically, but like the story of Noah’s Arc (also starring Russel Crowe) we’re not surprised that baby Supes gets put in a rocket and shot towards the Earth as his home planet explodes. I was surprised, however, to see Supes Baby penis pointed straight at the camera. But I digress.

My point is there’s a good solid chunk in the beginning of the movie that I couldn’t make myself care about because I already knew it. On the movie goes. Slowly showing us more and more things We Know and all the while a parade of cardboard cutouts disguised as characters dance around saying cliche things with much gravitas, such as, “People are afraid of what they don’t understand.”

Oh my! Clark saves an oil rig! And then he saved a boy from drowning! How curious. I wonder. Does this dude have super powers, per chance? When at last the villains surface, in the form of an alien spacecraft orbiting the earth, humanity watches it with a sort of strange mix of wonder and emotionless one liners. The US general watching the mysterious UFO from within his command center pontificates with stoic significance, “I’m just speculating, but I think whoever is at the helm of that thing is looking to make a dramatic entrance.”

What the what? Why would anyone ever say that? The film goes to great lengths to make it feel like this is a genuine encounter with aliens, and then it throws this ridiculous line at us? If you were watching an alien orbit the Earth, why would you think that it was trying to, “make a dramatic entrance.” Why would you ever ass-u-me that its motivations are at all human?

Also, why doesn’t anyone think its weird that all these aliens look exactly like humans?

Why am I asking these questions about a Superman movie?

Because Zack Snyder is forcing me to. He’s made a film where you aren’t swept up in boyish delight over a Superdude who flies through the sky, but instead I’m muddling through a strange sci-fi epic about god like beings with funny names and funny outfits made by a team of artists who skipped a semester of script writing seminars and went straight for city destroying special effects.

Sometimes, while watching the steady onslaught of superhero movies which are blasting themselves out of Hollywood I can’t help but shake my head at their formulaic blockbustery-ness, but Man of Steel makes Thor 2 look like the god damned English Patient. Skip this movie. There’s no shortage watchable superhero movies out there so do yourself a favor and rent AvengerIronSpiderXman instead.

[Spoiler] I put spoiler for those of you haven’t seen it, but if you’re like me and you perversely tend to read movie reviews after you’ve already payed to see them, you won’t be shocked. Anyway… I’ve heard cries of “foul” when Supes killed Zod at the closing of the film. I felt no strike of surprise. Being a nerd I’ve seen Clark take lives before, but that’s not even the real reason for my lack of shock. By the end of this movie I felt so distanced from the plot and the characters that honestly I was just glad to be a little bit closer to the end. Did Superman really do that? I’m not so sure. That guy up on the silver screen, after all, isn’t a very convincing Superman.

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One thought on “Movie Review: Man of Steel

  1. Pingback: Age of Dultron (Zing!) | aidan rich

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