A mere three weeks after it came out, I saw Man of Steel (3D).
I’ve been looking forward to this since they announced Zach Snyder as director. Admittedly, his output has been decidedly mixed, for every Watchmen you get a Sucker Punch, but there’s no faulting his visual style. And frankly, if your main character is essentially unkillable, you’re going to have to make the ride pretty. And it is pretty. its also ridiculously overlong, and incredibly indulgent in destructiveness, but, you know, pretty.
I’ll cover the good stuff first:
This is an origin story, but enough has been twisted to make it feel fresh. Much like any self respecting geek, I’m more than familiar with Supes’ backstory, but this was told in a new way, with a much greater expansion of life on Krypton than ever seen before. The cynic in me says that this was put in so that when the inevitable Justice League movie surfaces, the greater universe has already got a foothold. The geek in me says, who cares? Cool shit!
The character of Zod, and Faura to a lesser degree, were done extremely well. These were villains with purpose and a morality that even if you couldn’t side with, you could at least identify. Sadly, a lot of villains don’t get this sort of in-depth writing and come off as very one-dimensional but this is not an accusation you can level at David S. Goyer’s script. At least, not this time (He also wrote all the Batman and Blade films). The conclusion to the film, which I was surprised by due to the characters involved, felt just and very natural. It would be excellent if they can use that in the sequel.
It was good to see two of my favourite actors, Richard Schiff and Christopher Meloni, put to good use. Given the quality of talent elsewhere in the film, I really hope they don’t get overlooked for the skills they brought to the table.
Other goodness: The use of american brands like Sears and IHOP giving it that natural aesthetic. Better than its predecessors use of ‘Coca Cola’ and ‘Carlsberg’.
Lois Lane being something better than the wimpy version from the last film. Not quite as awesome as Margot Kidder, but there’s room for her to own the role in time.
Russell Crowe’s Jor-El getting to kick some serious arse before turning into a ghostly satnav.
No Lex Luthor. This, and the complete lack of Kryptonite made this film worth seeing. It’s all too easy to make a Superman film with the usual ingredients, and frankly Smallville used them to abuse. I don’t think I would have bothered watching it if it wasn’t for the fact that they hadn’t used these staples. It really is a refreshing change to see what else you can do to the god-like character wihout the green rock and baldy villain.
So on to the bad stuff then:
it’s too damn long. Look, I know when cinema trips become more expensive than eating out you want to get as much for your money as possible, but much like my food analogy, it’s better to get quality over quantity. Superman is known for being epic, always has been, but surely it would be better to have your audience leave wanting more rather than leave with numb arses?
Wanton destruction. it’s carnage everywhere, The entire city of Metropolis is destroyed by the end of the film (not that it’s ever named as such). So much so, it looks like the bottom level dream from Inception. Honestly, with no word of a lie, it’s fucked. There’s no bloody way The Daily Planet team would have been going back to work after that. At the very least, someone is going to have a Superman shaped hole causing a draft through their office. The level of structural damage is stupid. And frankly, it’s getting a little old. I’m not sure I’ve seen a blockbuster in the last three years that didn’t level at least one city. Just how many times do I need to see buildings falling down? I think this film could have benefitted from a scaling down of the climatic ending, and had a more personal endgame, but there you go.
Most of my quibbles are already covered now, but I would like to say that the women of this film seem to have been underrepresented. Every single male character was played by a name or face you’ll already have been familiar with, but all the female roles were (Amy Adams the exception) played by people I’d never seen before. They were all played well, and kudos to the actors involved, but if Kal-El/Clark’s father was played by Russell Crowe/Kevin Costner respectively, then why weren’t similarly famous names invoked for Lana/Ma Kent?
Lastly, and I know before I start I’m turning the geek up to eleven with this, but where was Zod’s most famous of lines? Nowhere, that’s where. Complete and utter miss with that. Can you imagine a Star Trek film featuring Khan where no-one shouts KHAAAAAAN!? No, because it would be crap that’s why. Anyway, that’s that.
Overall, I’d give this film a three out of five. You’ll like it, you’ll enjoy it, there’s a very good chance you’ll fall asleep through repeat viewings of.
P.S. Skip the 3D. Barely noticeable.