Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let's Review Something: Man of Steel

Can we take a few moments to discuss how this film doesn’t suck?

I have to say, the reviews weren’t very kind, and word of mouth was even worse.  True comic book fans were furious, offended even, and the comic universe, while months earlier were brimming with pure excitement and anticipation, were pretty much ticked off that all that hype and all that buzz was for something they deemed unworthy.  Sure, it had it’s nice points and found validation in the slew of comments about those special effects, but outside of that many found themselves disconnected from Zack Snyder’s direction and found the film’s epic conclusion to be more controversial than desired.

Despite all of this going on, I really wanted to see this in the theaters but wound up missing it entirely, even when it hit the local dollar theater.

So, I settled in last night and geeked out while I apparently appreciated this far more than the rest of the world.  I guess the fact that I was never really a Superman fan in general probably helped a lot, since I had no expectations and no nostalgic attachments to who or what Superman was supposed to represent.  At the end of the day, I just wanted to be entertained…and I was!

Like many new action films today, there was a detractor for me in that elongated ending that really should have been cut in half.  ‘Iron Man 3’ suffered from it, as did ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’.  It’s weird to me the sudden shift in action films being rather lengthy, when for the longest time they were notoriously brisk and easy to sit through.  ‘Gravity’ was a brisk 90 minutes, but the bulk of these summer Blockbusters are pushing 2 ½ hours and I just don’t get it.  I understand you have a story to tell, but do we really need you to unload all your special effects glory in a full on thirty minute fight scene where you basically just destroy building after building to the point where it becomes a redundant blur of special effects?  I mean, I enjoy a good fight scene/action scene/explosion sequence or whatever, but let’s try and show a little restraint.

But let’s move onto more positive feedback.

Seriously, if we exclude that final act, ‘Man of Steel’ is kind of perfect.  It feels more serious in tone, but not quite as dark as Nolan’s universe (which is appropriate considering the hero in question).  The use of flashbacks are great at filling in the gaps without taking away from the crux of the story.  We don’t need to watch Clark grow up, but the selected ‘moments’ from his childhood are great (that closet schoolroom scene is perfection).  The cinematography is gorgeous, and calls to mind more artistic fare (I remember all the Malick comparisons when the trailer hit), and the pacing for the first two thirds of the film is fantastic.  The way that the story is built, it just feels so organic and the acting from all (especially Costner, Crowe and Lane) are so natural and free flowing that you can’t help but become completely sucked in.

Speaking of Crowe, I could have watched an entire feature length film revolving around Jor-El and the destruction of Krypton.  Seriously, that world was gorgeous and that dragon soaring was marvelous(eat your heart out ‘Avatar’) and Crowe was easily the best thing about this film (I was so happy he kept popping up).

And then there is that finale.  So many things have been written and debated about the ending and I just have this to say (without spoiling anything)…while I take issue with the fact that it last SO LONG (seriously, that fight scene between Superman and Zod’s henchmen was ridiculous), the actual final moment that has all the Superman fans riled up was, in my eyes, PERFECT.  YES, this is what we need with these superhero reboots.  Give him a moral dilemma!  Confliction!  He may be super, but let’s attack him where it counts!  His final cry, his emotional and moral defeat…it was everything this movie needed to be.

Yes, I understand that fans have their issues with this, but it really MADE ME a fan.

Snyder tries something really good here, and while he doesn’t completely pull it off (his true limitations as a director came in the editing and the over ambitiousness of the finale) he creates something worthy of praise and really creates a nice stepping stone for himself here.  I hope he can follow it up with something equally inspired and continue to build on the character development he initiated here.

I give this a solid B+.  That finale killed its chances for an A, but up until then it was firmly in my top 12 so far this year.  Oscar will ignore this, sadly.  I’m really shocked that the special effects were left off the semi-finalists list, since they were really great in many places (although the never ending barrage of busted buildings could have been its downfall).  Personally, I think that the costumes and art direction should be considered for the creation of Krypton alone.  It was a true visionary sights (those babies) and the armor was inspired in design and composition.  Also, Crowe really should be in the conversation.  He showed such range with so few scenes.  He was charming, sincere and witty.  His whole scene with Amy Adams was probably my favorite scene in the whole film.


  1. You're not the only one who loved Man of Steel; I did too! I consider that the first hour is an origin story and the second hour is finally the epic battle between Clark and Zod; it's a bit tedious but the whole movie is definitely worth it from the story to design. I look forward to the sequel, and trying to have faith that Ben Affleck will be a Batman worth supporting. :D

    1. I actually think Affleck can pull it off, so I'm excited to see it all go down, even if I wish Bale stayed on.

  2. I really enjoyed it, and I'm glad you mentioned the performances by Crowe, Costner and Lane. Seriously, they were just right for those roles. I can't wait to see how Batman vs. Superman turns out.

    1. Crowe may actually remain in my top twelve for this, and I really wasn't expecting that. His performance was so well rounded!