Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Man of Steel


By Jon Gallagher

Man of Steel (WB, 2013) – Director: Zack Snyder. Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Amy Adams, Dylan Sprayberry, Cooper Timberine, & Jadin Gould. Color & 3-D, 143 minutes.

When I sat down in the theater a few minutes before the show began, there was a low rumbling sound coming from the speakers in the theater. At first, I thought it was the music used for the movie with the bass turned up. I was wrong. It was the combination of Christopher Reeve, George Reeves, and anyone else who has ever played the Man of Steel in film, rolling over in their collective graves at once.

Other critics have been giving Man of Steel rave reviews, at least if you listen to the TV ads that have been assaulting us for the last week or so. Let’s cut to the chase. Man of Steel is not a good movie. It’s director Snyder’s way of taking 15 minutes worth of plot and combining it with two hours of computer generated special effects to give us a colossal waste of time.

I went to a sparsely attended afternoon showing of the 3D version in Peoria. I was looking forward to the movie since I’m a big fan of Superman, but they got things off on the wrong foot by subjecting me to nine minutes worth of commercials for stuff that appears in the movie or looked like it could be in the movie. Then, there were four trailers for movies heavy on those CGI effects. Finally, we got to the movie. Unfortunately, only about half of the movie is done in 3D. They should have saved the money and done it without the unimpressive 3D effects.

It opens on the Planet Krypton with Jor-El (Crowe) addressing the Kryptonian Elders with the fact that their planet was about to explode. He and his wife have secretly had a naturally born son (Kal-El) because there hasn’t been a natural birth on their planet in centuries. As we find out, everyone who is living there has been genetically engineered from conception to do a certain job.

Jor-El sends off his son in the spaceship and then we begin a journey into the warped brain of Snyder, who can’t figure out whether he wants to tell the story from the time Superman appears with his superpowers or whether he wants to do a flashback to Clark Kent’s boyhood. Between the flashbacks and the reappearance of Jor-El throughout the rest of the movie, it was confusing. 

What plot there is revolves around Clark Kent/Superman trying not only to figure out who he is, but why he is. That plus a bevy of Kryptonians led by General Zod who have come to Earth to establish a New Krypton and extract revenge on Kal-El for the sins of his father who imprisoned all the bad guys in the Phantom Zone.

Other than as a boy, Clark Kent doesn’t even make an appearance till the last 10 minutes of the movie, and because of that, it was hard to judge how Cavill is as an actor. His suit (which slightly resembles the Superman outfit we’ve all come to know and love) does all the acting for him.

Adams is Lois Lane and is okay, but barely. Usually I like her in whatever she’s in, but I thought she just read her lines and swooned at appropriate times. In fact, there’s nothing special about any of the performances in the movie with the exception of General Zod (Shannon), who really has the only freedom in the film to develop his character.

Gone is the excitement that we saw in the first Reeve movie when everyone sees Superman for the first time. Gone is Jimmy Olson. Gone is mild mannered reporter Clark Kent and evil genius Lex Luthor. Gone is Superman’s secret identity! Perry White is the editor of the Daily Planet but from what they have him doing in the movie, he could have been an insurance agent. He does nothing that really pertains to a newspaper.

Snyder has been quoted as wanting to make a movie that was more “realistic” than previous incarnations. I’ve got to scratch my head about that statement. We’re talking about a strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. He can freaking fly, fercryingoutloud! And he wants realism?

At times it was hard to tell if I was watching a Superman movie or a Transformers movie that had a guy with a red towel taped to his back. 

There’s a scene from the movie that REALLY bothers me because if people follow the directions, someone could get killed. A tornado is heading towards a line of cars on the highway, and Jonathan Kent, Superman’s dad, directs everyone under an overpass to take shelter. The National Weather Service cautions against this because the winds from a tornado whipping around a structure like a bridge, can actually increase as they pass and result in a lot more damage. The proper thing for people to do is to lie flat in a low-lying area. The fact that they included this in the film is irresponsible.

Don’t bother with the big-screen version. Save your money and rent it when it comes out on video (that was one of the commercials prior to the movie – preordering it through Walmart), which shouldn’t be that long.

I’ll give it a D. It ends in perfect position for a sequel, which would have to be better than this. I’m just not sure if I like Lois knowing who his is or not.

As mentioned several months ago in the long article I did on Superman and all his movies, they did explain in this one that the big red S on his chest does not stand for Superman. It’s the Kryptonian symbol for HOPE. If you’d been reading regularly, you’d already have known that.

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