Friday, June 14, 2013

Man of Steel Review: Superman Sinks Again

I just got home from the midnight release of Man of Steel (don't even get me started on the Wal-Mart exclusive early showing) and I feel the need to vent.  So, fair warning, there be spoilers ahead.  Seriously, no bullshit, heavy spoilers.  Read on at your on risk.

I remember a time when Clark Kent was the boyscout of the comics universe.  Captain America maybe stood more for the American way, but he was a soldier, willing to do whatever was necessary, whereas the last son of Krypton always did what was right.  I feel that was lost on Man of Steel.

Nevermind that sending Zod's followers to the Phantom Zone was essentially a death sentence for them, I want to focus briefly on Zod's ending.  I never thought that I would see the day where Superman snapped someone's neck.  Sure, he did it to save a few people, but seriously, the edgier, grittier Batman I loved.  A gritter Superman, a Kal-El who kills?  That belongs in an Elseworlds tale, not on the silver screen. 

Say what you will about Superman Returns, at least it was still a Superman I could recognise.  Yes, Lex's plan was fucking terrible, and yes, the Christ metaphors were heavy, and yes, I know that Superman never used his powers offensively, but still.  Brandon Routh did an excellent job as the titular icon and, given that Returns was a sequel to Donner's Superman and Superman II films, I'd say it did exactly what it was intended to do.  Routh's portrayal of the late Christopher Reeves' Superman/Clark Kent was spot on, so much so that it was eerie to watch, but in a good way.  It was a really good character piece (and not much else) for one of America's most beloved and popular icons.  MoS just... ugh.

Don't get me wrong; Henry Cavil's acting chops were on fine display.  I think he did incredibly well with the script he was given.  Crowe did a fantastic job as Jor-El, but I never envisioned him as a bad ass.  Suddenly, Crowe's casting makes sense on even more levels.  Hel, nobody let me down in the acting department.  I especially enjoyed all the bit parts played by familiar faces; Alessandro Juliani (Lt. Gaeta; Battlestar Galactica), Tahmoh Penikett ('Helo' Agathon and Paul Ballard: Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse, respectively)  and Harry Lennix (Boyd Langton; Dollhouse).  I thought it was really cool.

That's about all that I liked about the film.  The effects were dazzling and dizzying.  I thank my lucky stars that I never jumped in with the 3D crowd.  I can only imagine how much more my head would have hurt watching this film in that particular format. I did like the combat between Faora-Ul and the humans; she moved like a video game character and it was really bad ass.  Sadly, that was the only time combat was entertaining in the film.  The other fights?  Meh, at best.  Now, the gravity effects of the terraforming machine were pretty cool, but why did the thing need fucking tentacles? 

The movie was rife with problems for me.  Jor-El storing the data of all of Krypton in Kal's cells sounds like a great idea, if the general audience doesn't realise that the cells in the body die at a rate of something like 60 billion a day.  I don't care how much information Jor could story in his bouncing baby boy (and can I say that the first shot of baby penis was more than enough; the second was strictly uncalled for), all that info would be gone by the time the kid was six weeks old.  And that's a generous estimate. 

The character assassination of both Jonathan Kent and Clark was just disgusting.  The elder Kent suggesting that his son should have let a bus full of children die just to protect his identity.  Sickening.  Clark wilfully taking a life?  I swear, it was like watching Injustice's Superman come to life. 

And the Christian metaphors just kept coming.  Returns was bad about this, but this one was fucking awful.  Not only did it lay the Christ imagery on thick, but it also took up the war between science and faith.  Several times faith was mentioned (take it on faith, take a leap of faith, etc).  Clark visits a church for guidance as to what to do when his 'fellow' Kryptonians threaten Earth.  There's even a line between Kal and Faora where she tells him that evolution will always win.  This movie isn't bad enough, it feels the need to demonise Darwin.

Overall, I would say that the film is worth watching, but just barely.  I give it a 48/100.  Wait until this thing comes out on a streaming service of your choice, folks; don't waste your money in theaters.  Trust me.

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