Saturday, July 13, 2013

Jason watches MAN OF STEEL

You will believe that pixels can fly!

Okay, let's get this out first. I'm not a comic book geek, I'm a movie geek. I don't know if this take on Superman (and yes, despite his name not being in the title he does get nicknamed Superman by the end) is faithful to one or more storylines in the comic, but for me my Superman reference is Christopher Reeve, and this is a very, very different take.

In short, I liked it, I didn't love it, and I have a nagging feeling that if it were about a different human-looking super-powerful alien hero I might have liked it more, but it's unfortunately weighted down by my own preconceived notions of Superman, Krypton, and how humans view him.

The bulk of the plot is dedicated to the idea that if people knew the truth about Clark Kent/Kal-el (Cooper Timberline and Dylan Sprayberry as a child, Henry Cavill as an adult,) they would fear and reject him. And that's an interesting take...but one I stumble over. Superman for me was always, unquestionably, universally seen as good. This take just seems...wrong. Especially in how it's a fear instilled in him by his adopted father Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner.) Without getting too spoiler-y, there's a critical flashback scene involving young Clak and his father that just bugged the crap out of me. Basically, he could have saved the day and witnesses could've attributed it to a combination of adrenaline and their faulty, confused senses. In any case, by the end everyone turns on a dime pretty quickly, abandons their fear of Kal-el, and embraces him as an ally.

Anyway, then there's the take on Lois Lane (Amy Adams.) She's good--very good--at her job. So good that (spoiler) she figures out that Clark Kent is a superpowered alien before they ever meet. Well, that changes their relationship quite a bit. Again, I'm bringing baggage from the Christopher Reeve/Margot Kidder movies with me, and actually I quite like Lois being a stronger character--more of a partner than damsel in distress.

Then there's Kryptonite...or rather, there isn't. Instead of rocks from his homeworld weakening him, it's something about the overall environment of Krypton. So being aboard a Krypton ship with a Krypton atmosphere would kill a human and weaken Superman (but not weaken other Kryptonians--it only weakens him because he grew up and adapted to Earth atmosphere.) So when Zod releases a "World Engine" to turn Earth into a new Krypton, being near that when it's in operation can also weaken him.

Ah, then there's Zod...and for that matter the whole Kryptonian plot. Michael Shannon plays him with excellent menace. I liked him as a villain. The rest of Krypton...whatever. Rather than the crystalline world of the Reeve (and for that matter, Brandon Routh) movies, Krypton is shown as a desolate, harsh world with a strictly regimented and controlled society. As fetuses in a gestation chamber, some are genetically engineered to be warriors (like Zod), some are engineered to be scientists (like Jor-el), some political leaders, and one--Kal-el--is born naturally, and granted the freedom to choose his own path in life. This...could be interesting and powerful if it wasn't handled so simplistically and perfunctorily.

And finally, there's the action. I have had some fun in the past hating on director Zack Snyder. But I will grant that he does action very well. So kudos for that.

So, to sum up, liked it, didn't love it, looking for more in the sequels.

Total Running Time: 143 minutes
My Total Minutes: 333,251
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