Sunday, June 16, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Superman is not the easiest hero to bring to the screen. Lately, with Iron Man, Spiderman, and of course, Batman, it was achingly obvious that he was the one most in need of a reboot. What makes Superman so hard to bring to the screen is his perfection. While we all strive for perfection, no one wants to see a movie about a perfect flawless hero. Batman is just dark. Spiderman has teenage angst, awkwardness and the guilt from losing Uncle Ben to contend with. Iron Man has to grapple with his ego and his daddy issues. And the Hulk? Well, it would be an understatement to say that he has anger issues. Superman with his chiseled good looks, strong morals and indestructibility, makes for difficult character development.

So, with Man of Steel we begin again. We see how Clark Kent a.k.a  Kal-El (Henry Cavill) got to earth. We meet his parents Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Faora-Ul (Antje Traue). As their planet imploded, they sent their newborn Kal-El off into the unknown while they perished with their planet. However, before their demise, they thwarted a last minute coup from General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his group of power hungry Kryptonians. Zod and crew escaped the end of their civilization by being sent away in a prison shuttle doomed to an eternity of frozen solitude.

We see Clark’s earthy parents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane). And as a child and young adult, he struggled with his powers and, more importantly, with hiding his true nature (and strength) from the residents of Smallville, Kansas who wouldn’t know what to make of this superhuman alien in their midst.

So as an adult, Clark roams. From fishing boatman to busboy, he bounces from scene to scene. Once he displays his powers – to save a group of men on an exploding oil rig or to come to the aid of an overworked waitress – he has to move on.

He ends up at the South Pole, helping a group of military types who have an unidentified object on their hand. It piques his interest and it should. It’s the last vestiges of his home planet. There, he meets his father, or his memory, and is able to learn about the last days of his people. As fate would have it, a nosy reporter, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is on this case and follows Clark. She learns the truth about him, though no one wants to believe her. Meanwhile, Zod has managed to locate Clark on earth. He holds the planet hostage until they can get a hold of him.

Christopher Nolan, of The Dark Knight Trilogy, produced Man of Steel, but he clearly didn’t direct it. I wanted desperately to love this movie. Henry Cavill was a solid Superman and a very good casting decision. I even liked Crowe, Costner and Lane as his parents. Normally, I can take or leave Amy Adams but she was a plucky Lois Lane. So what was the problem?

I enjoyed the scenes on Krypton and as Clark was growing up. They had heart. However, that heart was lost of the modern day scenes. And heart was needed in the Kent-Lane relationship, in particular, and in these scenes in general. The last half-hour is just a series of explosions and special effects. It went on so long that the intensity was replaced with boredom.

A little romance, or at least a little levity would have been nice. Because Superman is not a Dark Knight, it would have been appropriate to have a little bit of humor. My introduction to Superman wasn’t the comics. It wasn’t the George Reaves of the old black-and-white television show. It was Christopher Reeve, whose Superman was romantic and charming.  A dose of that would have gone a long way in this film.

Having said all of that, I will be back in my seat, munching on my popcorn when the next installment comes out. Speaking of being in your seat, you can leave yours when the credits start as there is no post-credit scene to wait around for.

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