15 Jun 2013

Media - Man of Steel

I am not a fan of Superman. Yet there are times when I forget that and revel in the sheer power of the Kal-El. It's part of the fantasy and part of reading comics of watching animated cartoons. There are few stories that actually have kept me interested in a God like character. Characters with similar abilities at least have a bit more rounding or weakness. Hulk turns back into Banner and he is always alone, Superman is weakened by leftovers of his planet. Invincible could be miss-named for all the beatings the character takes, while good old Clark Kent rarely bleeds... as sign of the makers of his comics or a sign of the character, maybe both.

Like the Film this is very nice to look at
So what did I think about the most recent attempts at putting the Boy Scout on the big screen? It was pretty good as an action film and ok as a comic adaptation.

PS spoilers after the break.

The score is 4 out of 5, but first the failings of the series.

Lois Lane is the best reporter and the worst use of the character in years. The tried to make her a strong female independent character and add that woman in distress but in doing so it failed at both. Her character was the worst of the film. The final scene where she holds Superman's head in her arms is odd since the fight leading to that final moment was all over the city and she must be ready for the Zombie apocalypse since she can run. How did she get there in time to witness Superman do the thing that made him sad? I'm not sure... she had a lot of plot holes in her and that makes me sad.

I didn't mind her doing her thing at the start of the film but I felt it was wasted knowledge and provided no character development outside of her getting to know Clark Kent. It was a nice twist that she figured out who Clark was before meeting him but it seems anyone could have done that. Plus she has some pretty big evidence regarding her experience at the start of the film with the huge wound she took in the Scout Ship. Those three issues are the largest ones I have with her character and the film.

 - What would I have done.

Kept her and Superman appart for most of the film. Have her discover who he is and have her witness his deeds. Lois Lane is a strong independent woman, but she is also the one who heralds Superman to the world. She names him, she makes the connection and after everything is said and done she is the one who trusts and has faith in the big guy.

There was no need to have her running around with the army or to be taken by Zod. Instead she should be the one trying to convince everyone to help him. Slowly one after another, they see her point of view and start to have the same faith. I would have had her taking shelter with other survivors in the terminal and have her witness Superman do the deed. Yet for his sins, she forgives him because she if anything believes in Superman even when he doubts himself.

She could still have known about Superman's real ID, but it would have been nice if he didn't know that. He shows up at the end and they finally meet for the first time. No him saving her and her forgiving him, they meet as Lois and Clark. She knows and he's hoping she really is that wonderful.

Lois and Clark
There you go reason for romance and the kiss for the eventual sequel.

Speaking of wasted use. The daily planet as Movie Bob says best is "just a check in the box" had the movie been two stories running side by side: Lois discovering and investigating as one and Superman vs Zod as the other they would have seen more use. Otherwise it seemed a bit wasteful to use them so lazily.

The Codex was the last faltering item of the movie. The vaunted Codex is the key for Krypton's future and yet it's little mentioned outside of a reason to fight on in the third act. The loss of the scout ship and genesis chamber had a greater effect on Zod then the loss of his fellow compatriots. It just didn't make sense. Maybe the Codex could have been the key to wake up the various genesis chambers around the galaxy and without the Codex they were inert and slowly failing... maybe. Maybe having the Codex in Superman's genes explains his enhancements over his fellow people even while in Earth's sun rather then a 30 year familiarity being his advantage.

...my parting shot is how Zod goes down: Lame.

- So the good parts.

Well it's a movie and you need to see this movie. When you see it, you will think holy fuck this looks awesome. If anything Zack Snider knows how to do is add that layer of grit and focus the light to really take in the details of the material filmed. 300, Sucker Punch and Watchmen were all stepping stones and lessons learned so he could make this film so visually stunning.

The fight sequences were never borring. As they did the new modern cut in after each hit to keep that sensation of getting hit between blows I never got lost. The Kryptonians fighting was so well done it was never that fast for me to follow. It seemed to skirt the line and never cross it during each fight. It had a great pace to it with plenty of ups and downs in the various fights.

The last fight had so much power and destruction to it I right away thought to myself. This is what the Matrix siblings were trying to do for their final fight of Neo vs Smith. This is the raw power of these Super-humans.

The idea of a "World made of Cardboard" was really shown well in the film but in glorious multi-million dollar budget. You need to watch this film simply for the visual experience.

Zod was so well done. He's better in the films then in the comics. Serious props goes to Michael Shannon who acted the crap out this role. His look and feel through the whole movie was brilliant. I like the small touches of the under armour being the same suit that Superman wears. The silver streaked goat-tee. He looks like a grizzled old war hound ready to keep fighting and chewing even if the war is over.

The emotion brought by the actor to the character makes you forget for those moments on the plot holes. Had the Zod failed as a character, the movie would have flunked and earned a lower score in my books. I dislike the end of Zod I figured something of a better end or getting shunted to follow his followers into the Phantom Zone.

Have a residual anomaly still float over the city of Metropolis and have Superman use Zod to close the hole... maybe. Outright killing him and in the way they did felt like a flat wasted end to the character who's far more interesting then Superman.

His cronies were awesome and had that level of danger to them that was just the right level of power and possible hope to keep fighting against them.

Superman was quiet through most of the film but when he spoke it seemed sincere and Cavill did the man in blue well. Superman is a bit bland, recently in the modern comics his introspection has made the character relavent to readers. Seeing the world through the eyes of a god and his thoughts. Unless you do montages it's hard to get into his head, so you see Clark Kent quiet and remembering his lessons. The flashback and the moments of quiet give a sense of that thought behind his actions and Cavill does quiet very well. He worked with what he had and on the most part they gave Superman few shitty lines.

- The next Film

I can see the destruction of Metropolis as a perfect spring board and motivation for a Lex Luthor to rebuild the city with his great funds and work towards covertly bring down Superman. This has some great potential with the end of Man of Steel I just hope they capitalize on it.

- Final Words

With all that good, I could not give Man of Steel a simple pass or just meeting the standard. It has holes and wasted potential but it was a better then just good. It was no where near perfect but it sat between those numbers. I really hate when reviewers give .5s to their scores. I struggled with this score but after looking at what the scores mean, it's a 4. Had the film not been so visually stunning or Zod failed to produce Man of Steel would have gotten a 3.

It's a piece of history, it's missing some of the fun and joy in the previous incarnations of the character for a dark gritty take but I enjoyed the more thoughtful Kal-El and realized powers. What gets taken for campy is the joy and limitations of previous versions were missed but only for a short time.

Cavill you are Superman.