Reviews of an Acute Cinephile.

Random Reviews of an Acute Cinephile : Man of Steel

MAN OF STEEL REVIEW

Once again, I apologize about the late nature of my review as I was preoccupied with a lot of university work and like IRON MAN 3, I thought that I would be one among the first people to review this film seeing that along with Iron Man, Superman completes the list of my two favorite superheroes in the world.

So, let’s get down to business, shall we?

First up, I want to put it across that this is going to be a spoiler-filled review and those who haven’t seen the film would do best to steer clear of this review and with that disclaimer, I shall begin.

When man of steel was announced last year, I was ecstatic, the prospect of a new superman film after waiting for 7 years was a dream come true for me and just for the record, I am among the (apparently) very few that actually enjoyed superman returns. The prospect of a Christopher Nolan story envisioned on screen by jack Snyder ( whom I grew to greatly respect and admire after viewing his brilliant work in the film adaptations of WATCHMEN and 300.) just added to my excitement.

Then came the first picture of superman as he would be shown in the film and although, initially I had reservations seeing a superman who wasn’t wearing his trademark briefs or sporting his equally famous ‘s’ curl but I gradually came to like the costume and also admired the talent that they had brought in to play superman (Henry Cavill).

When the film finally released, I saw it on its second day of release and I have got quite a few things to say about it.

The first thing about this film that I noticed was that this is a very different animal from the Christopher reeve films from the 1970’s it has a more, how do you put it… “nolanized” feel to the whole setup which may seem like a good thing but need not necessarily be one.

We are all familiar with the origins of superman and I think even putting up a synopsis here would be a tad redundant.

Anyway, in this iteration of the man of steel, after a lengthy introduction on Krypton setting up the villain General Zod ( played quite randomly by Michael Shannon), we see Clark Kent as a drifter, doing odd jobs and trying to find a place in society.

We learn of Clark’s eventful childhood through a couple of strategically placed flashback s that involve Clark learning a lot of life lessons from his adopted earth parents Jonathan and Martha Kent ( Kevin Costner and Diane Lane). After a couple of trysts with reporter Lois lane and discovering an old kryptonian spaceship in Antarctica which incidentally, also contains superman’s’ new duds and a couple of monologues from Clark’s space father (Jor-El played by a very constipated Russell Crowe) later, our new superman is good to go and face off against General Zod who has returned to “terraform” Earth into another krypton.

Now, I’m going to go a bit more in depth in this review of mine. The reason being, there were parts in this film that made me want to stand up on my seat and whoop with joy and yet, there were also parts in this film that had me cringing and going, “WTF?” at the screen and that too, not in that good way. So, I’m going to save some time and list out what I thought worked and didn’t work in this film.

*Last warning for Spoilers*

WHAT WORKED :

Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman :

Henry Cavill in my opinion is perhaps one of the best superhero casting decisions that I’ve seen since Chris Hemsworth got casted as THOR. Of course, I still love Christopher Reeve but the fact is that Cavill’s superman has the physicality that would make anyone who looks at his body go, “Now, THAT is Superman!” although it is quite sad that the script doesn’t give Cavill enough opportunities to showcase his true potential. Although, there is this one particular bar scene which I felt, was done really well and also felt like a good throwback to a similar scene in Superman II.

Flying Sequences:

There is only one word to describe the flying sequences of superman in this film: Badass. Never since the first Iron Man movie have I ever felt such  an urge to take to the sky as I had after watching the exhilarating flying sequences in this film.

The Action….For the most part:

The action sequences are undoubtedly brilliant in this film. In fact, I at times felt that the filmmakers were trying to compensate for the lack of super fight scenes in almost all the previous Superman films perhaps, they were also a bit overcompensating but I’ll get to the negatives later.

Krypton :

The entire prologue set on the planet krypton was great. The reason being that in this film, we had the chance to see krypton as living, breathing planet rather than just a lump of crystals put together. I just wish that the set designers had put in enough effort to make the planet look less like an AVATAR clone but apart from that, the entire buildup and showcasing Jor-El as a badass was IMO an ace move.

The Soundtrack:

Now, let’s get something straight, for me at least, the John Williams score will always remain the definitive superman score. I’ve always felt that it captures the essence of what it means to be a character like superman. Having said that, Hans Zimmer does not disappoint with his exhilarating and inspiring soundtrack. If you have doubts, Go to YouTube, type in ‘Flight-Man of Steel OST’ and enjoy.

The Ending :

Now, a lot of people have some qualms about the ending, where Supes breaks Zod’s neck to prevent him from burning down a family, seeing it as huge violation of Superman’s No-Killing policy but me, on the other hand agree with the view that this movie showcased a beginner superman and that his entire philosophy of not taking a human life had to stem from somewhere. It was a gutsy movie a la Mandarin in Iron Man 3 but like Iron Man 3, I understand the reason behind it and I personally think it was a brilliant twist.

Faora:

is basically, one of zod’s minions but trust me when I say this- she is MORE badass than Zod! Her fight with Supes is perhaps the most entertaining of the lot and the way she fights using her super speed is indeed a sight to behold.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK :

The Script :

Okay, I’m going to put all my cards in the table and am simply going to call a horse, a horse. David S. Goyer’s script for Man of Steel is cheesy beyond belief. There are times that I unintentionally laughed at some of the lines when they were clearly meant to sound threatening and to incite danger. Especially, General Zods’ ( I will find him Lara, I will find him, I will find him Lara, I WILL FIND HIM….jeez…enough already Zod, you’re drunk…go home). Problem though, is the fact that this one problem with the film is basically the reason for all the other problems I have with the film.

Superman or Batman? :

Again, this is another problem that stems from a weak script. Supes in this film is more batman than superman. He broods and he broods a lot. In fact, I think that batman cracked more jokes in Batman Begins than superman does in this film. I mean, Superman is supposed to personify hope and positivity and it doesn’t help that THAT character goes and stays silent and broods every time. This is one of those instances where a little less of the Christopher Nolan influence would have helped the film.

Jonathan Kent’s death :

Ok, all the other problems I had with the film, I can atleast bear if not roll with but this problem I ( and presumably, many other hardcore superman fans) had is totally unforgivable and let me tell you why-  it shows superman as a complete douchebag and if you’re thinking that I’m extrapolating a little, I will tell you what happens scene for scene. It starts with Jonathan, Martha and teen Clark on a joy ride with Clark having arguments with his father about not being able to utilize his full powers in front of other people before suddenly ( and conveniently, I might add) a CGI tornado appears out of nowhere. Jonathan, Martha and Clark make it out safely but then john goes back to the car to save the Goddamn dog ( I mean, did it not occur to them to just send their indestructible foster son?) the tornado grows close as john fumbles with the dog seatbelt and Clark is just standing there and when he actually makes a move to save his father, his father just tells him to stop with his hand and gets sucked into the tornado.

Apparently, the whole point of the scene was that Jonathan would give his life rather than expose clark’s identity and to that I say, BULLSHIT!…if that was my father and I had fucking superspeed and shit, no matter what my dad tells me, I’d just go and save him. Jonathan kent’s death in the comics and other iterations is much more poignant and quite an eye-opener for clark ( he dies of an heart attack which shows clark that even with all his powers, he cannot prevent something that happens naturally) which further adds to the “man” part of superman, humbling him and showing him that deep inside, superman is in fact, human.

The tornado death on the other hand just flushes 75 years of mythos and superman ideology down the toilet and bringing supes’ down along with it. No matter what excuses anyone gives for this scene, it was one of the worst death for a beloved character since boba fett in star wars.

 

Destruction Porn:

Remember the negatives regarding the action sequences that I had not dwelt upon? Well, this was what I was talking about; the third act of this film is just what the title states- Destruction Porn. More buildings fall and more explosions happen than all of Michael bay’s 3 transformers movies combined. So much so that I began to wonder what the hell was superman fighting to protect? Metropolis by the end of the movie just turns into one gigantic nuclear wasteland. Also, in this film, superman fights against GIANT JAPANESE HENTAI TENTACLES. I am not kidding.

I understand that superman calls for super action but definitely not to this extent and it wasn’t even the entertaining type of action scenes like the ones in AVENGERS. Here, the action is too fast for the eye to register and the flying action sequences just look like a couple of flies playing tag.

It was entertaining , sure but it just grows too wearisome after a while….after all, there’s only so much building penetration one can take. Also, on a side note, if this was supposed to be a post 9/11 superman, the action in this film was like a huge finger to the victims of the tragic incident. Yes, it was that disrespectful.

MONEY MOMENT :

Superman pummeling Zod for threatening Martha Kent (Diane Lane).

FINAL VERDICT :

Man of Steel has a lot of flaws, sure but even then, the movie is quite an entertaining one.  The action was good but overlong and one wishes that the filmmakers improve on what they have built (or rather, destroyed) in the sequel. Just please don’t let David S. Goyer anywhere near the script.

RATING :  7.0  (You’ll be entertained and that’s about it)

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