Saturday, July 6, 2013

Man of Steel

My former co-worker Patrick Markfort. wrote an insightful review of "Man of Steel", a review that may forever be known as the birthplace of the term "Rubble Porn", which he defines as the relentless and pointless destruction of propety. BRILLIANT phrase to capture a new pet peeve of mine. I said it before after "Avengers:, and I'll say it again after having watched "Man of Steel" Thursday night - it is ridiculous and almost irresponsible to portray the destruction of a city as if it has no consequence.

 In 2001, with more than a half hour notice, the two towers fell with a loss of 2000 lives. I'm supposed to believe that an eighth of New York/Metropolis is wiped out johnny-on-the-spot  by guys in tights and meh, the death toll might squeak past that of a bad commuter accident.   I estimated the Avengers climax would have produced 50,000 casualties; MOS certainly equalled that. I guess you have to destroy the village to save the village 

Enough already.          
As to the rest of the film, it was certainly no "Phantom Menace", so fans of the character can breath easy. It was a watchable, moderately entertaining film. It just wasn't a very good one. Some SPOILERS lay ahead, so tread lightly. 

I thought the Krypton scenes looked like something out of a Dune/Riders of Pern mash-up, and I can't say it adds to my respect of that esteemed civilization when they are openly aware that the planet is doomed to explode and are content to just sit down and wait. No "Jor-el you're a doomsayer" here, just a lil' "sure we screwed up the core, but what were we supposed to do?" Blech. 

Jonathon Kent, the true moral compass and role model of Superman - how bad a world would this be if that capsule had landed in the backyard of, say, Chris Brown? - is here reduced to a moral relativist. He suggests that perhaps his son should have let a group of schoolchildren drown, worries more about what will happen to our view of the universe than using his son's gift, and dies in the dumbest, cheesiest way possible. A -it's Kansas. You don't have to stand there yelling at people to run from a tornado. They understand John. B - it's a dog, not a human. It's not worth your life.  C - your son is invincible. Why are you the one out there again? D - what's with the quit at the end, and the 'stop' sign? Are you a suicidal Diana Ross?

Zod has none of the creepy menace of Terence Stamp, but criminy, who does? 

I liked Amy Adams as Lois Lane. I have yet to hear a compelling reason why anyone should feel otherwise. 

Henry Cavill was an ok Superman, but at times I felt he was playing up the "gee golly Mrs. Cleaver" act. And I thought he looked better with the beard. 

I think the film sacrificed humor and heart in a failed effort to match the intensity of the Dark Knight trilogy, a vital mistake as the two franchises have vastly different centrepieces.  Clark Kent is the heart of Superman, and his Superman persona is merely a means of expressing the worldview of Clark; Batman is the heart and tortured soul of what was once Bruce Wayne, and it is Wayne himself who is the mask for Batman. The Dark Knight films were dark and intense because they sought to portray and eventually overcome that darkness in Bruce. It works in that context. With Superman there is no such internal conflict, and I would argue that trying to force one onto the character - his fifteen year walkabout being the best example - is silly. 

As Patrick wrote, the movie hit one tone and one tone only, and the fight scenes seemed pointless and endless. 

At least this version of Superman, however, was proud and vocal about his American heritage, and didn't ignore that where he was raised shaped who he became. 

All in all, as reboots go, I liked Superman Returns better. 

Grade: C+

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