June 30, 2013
Is Man of Steel Any Good? (Amateur Review)
Superman has never been one of my favorite super heroes. That statement is a little vague: I’ve hated Superman for as long as I’ve known of his existence. I don’t dislike his stature or his origins, much less his portrayal as a god amongst men and how film directors can’t seem to find a rival that truly combats the Man of Steel. I have an issue with super heroes derived from fantasy lore: Thor is the major exception; but come on, it’s Thor!
So, you could understand why I walked into a midnight showing of Man of Steel for 2D with little to no expectations and a whole lot of popcorn to stuff my face in between the boring parts. As soon as the opening credits rolled, I never took another reach for my popcorn.
Man of Steel is incredible, and its director, Zack Snyder, has really come into his own as a digital artist and as a storyteller. Snyder didn’t get much respect from me with Sucker Punch (I hated it’s portrayal of women) and 300 didn’t move me any more than a Friday night football game moves a middle aged man with irritable bowel syndrome.
I tried, I really did.
But Superman holds tremendous potential as a superhero, especially with today’s cinema, because of the advances in visual effects and dynamic CGI. But the pretties aren’t the only thing that Superman has going for it: it’s actually a deep, compelling story about everyone’s beautiful flying white guy struggling with acceptance of himself and acceptance of his people.
Let’s get into it (Spoiler Alert).
The film opens on Krypton in dire circumstances, on the brink of extinction as the Kryptonians try to figure out how to save their home planet. Their constant mining of their planet’s core has left it unstable; the planet is structurally falling apart, and will implode in a very short time. Russel Crowe’s character, Jor-El, is pleading with the council on how the planet is to be preserved. Higher authorities still have faith that they can pull the planet out of its slump, but Jor-El believes it’s too late.
Before any proper thinking can occur, General Zod blows through a wall (literally) with a couple satchel charges and an army of like-minded folks that only seem to have black armor. Before ensuring Jor-El that the planet can be saved, Zod blows a hole through a majority of the council before having the others marched off for an execution. The idea here is that Zod has been the grand general of the Kryptonian army for decades, and seeing his planet die like this raises the question of what special council put the planet in this position to begin with.
Can somebody knock on wood for me?
Krypton has a cyberpunk/steam punkish feel to its costume design and machinery. Every piece of technology looks like it was formed from crafting sculptures entirely out of blackish metallic nanites, each with their own specific set of instructions and duties to computing. Because of their size, Snyder can create virtually any item or animal, or planet for that matter with remarkable detail and color.
If there’s one negative that I could give for the first hour and a half of this film, which was the establishment of Krypton, it was that it was far too short. I loved Krypton so much that I felt an imaginary tear shedding from my face. Luckily, the action simply doesn’t stop there.
From here, you can imagine how the rest of this act goes; betrayal, love, a child and, of course, the destruction of a planet. It’s all very sad, really. I’m so used to seeing Snyder milk every last drop of action out of his films that I’d forgotten that we all have the potential to make something very beautiful. For a character that has been butchered by so many writers, Superman lives truly glorious in Man of Steel. But all of this content and debate material is far too much for a single posting, so I’ll continue on the next blog.
But it’s good! More will be covered in a future update on this review, and until then, I’d absolutely love to hear what you think of Man of Steel! Did you see it? Did you hate it? Love it?
Image Credit: Ken Mellott / Shutterstock