Monday, December 30, 2013

'Man of Steel': This is Not the Superman Movie You Were Looking For

So yeah, late to the... Well, if this movie got a party, it'd be a pretty unfun one.

WARNING

... matey
So tonight, I'd like to rant  a little about Man of Steel. I'm not quite sure how to organize this, so we'll see how this goes.


Okay, so first some small nit-picks.

1) I knew there would be a bazillion explosions. And yeah. The fight scenes were long and predictable. I mean, literally, Kal lands in front of a gasoline truck at one point, and I groaned when I saw the shot even beginning because I knew what was going to happen. And yeah, of course, there's a slam, and BOOM! The thing blows up. There really did not need to be that much.

2) I liked Lois (because Amy Adams WUUUUT!), but I'll admit that I had kind of hoped we'd get beyond the gorram "he saved me so I luuuurve him" bullshit. Asking  too much, I guess. Sigh.

3) If it took Kal "all his life" to adapt to the atmosphere on Earth, why does it only take Zod a few minutes? I mean yeah, he  was genetically modified to be a warrior, but  still. I call BS. 

4) Why did it have to be Kevin Costner? Why?

5) I didn't need the twenty minutes on Krypton at the beginning, especially since that  projection thing of Jor-El shows up and fucking explains everything  again  later. Ohmygod, seriously, dudes, learn to edit your scripts down. We do not need  to see it happen  and then hear  it explained  again. I mean, fuck, you could have at least had  Kal's projection say, "Let me tell you what  happened," and show time pass by a change in how much light was left outside. 

6) Oh yeah, the projection thing? What the Hell was that? It was  a computer programmed...  with his  consciousness? I mean, it could answer questions and such, and somewhat  differently from the A.I.s we see as  Kryptonian tech. So like... why? And alsoalsoalso, we already  saw  Jor die  at the beginning, why make a BFD about the projection getting "killed" later? There's this huge dramatic "BWAAAAA!" (c'mon,  Hans- it's getting hard to defend you, bro) as if it's some big shocker and we're finding out Darth is Luke's father while seeing it in theaters for the first time in 1980. Sigh.

Okay, now the longer critique, and the main  course. 

So, those friggin' Kryptonians. What the frak? I had absolutely no concern for  the fact that their planet was blowing up- I know I was supposed to feel sad, but  I didn't. Why? Because they had totally done it to themselves. It's heavily hinted at in the beginning, and  then made pretty explicit later by Jor-El's projection... thing... during one of the huge-ass exposition scenes between him and Kal-El/Clark. They had the technology to save themselves, in abundance, and they did nothing. And they had become basically an almost entirely loveless society, stagnant and arrogant (the exceptions being, of course, Jor-El and Lara). So you know something? When the council of elders or  whatever sticks Zod in his chryo-banishment thing (which... really? The planet blows and suddenly they're freed?), I'm pissed... for him. Because he's absolutely, 100% right. 

So that speech Zod gives at the end, about how he was created to protect the Kryptonians, how any act of violence had been for their good (he says  "greater good," but what he really means is the greater good of the Kryptonians, after all). It makes perfect sense, and I found there was a rather epic sadness to the  character. I liked him far more than Kal/Clark. And even though I knew Kal would break his neck before seeing it, I was still quite saddened by it. Not because Superman had killed- I didn't care about that much from this particular story's standpoint (which will be  my next gripe). No, it made me sad because Zod basically had no control over himself, had been driven to madness by his, erm, programming, for lack of a better word. He was trying to protect his people, an instinct  that had been embedded into his gorram genetic makeup.  

And so here I go on my disability high-horse. Killing Zod is like killing someone that is mentally incapacitated. Faora, Zod's second, even says she and the other followers of Zod lack any form of morality, to which we can likely associate lack of empathy. So, they're sociopaths. They trully cannot comprehend why committing genocide to save their own skin even could be  problematic. If put on trial, they'd be declared criminally insane and put in a psychiatric prison, not executed.  

So this in itself, in the story within this movie, is problematic. Our hero is killing someone that, sure, may need, um, some pretty fancy holding facilities, but would still likely not be executed. (Sound a tad familiar? Like, c'mon, at ... all?) That's just... gross. And it sort of comes out of nowhere. 

I say "sort of" because while there are a lot of heroic poses and sexy pan shots of Clark/Kal (exhibit A), really most of the movie is just him angsting over "who he really is," so to speak. And I guess the answer to that is "super-human,"  so yeah, Superman. But.

BUUUT.

He's not the Superman we all know. Not at all. He doesn't have the feel of  this guy

or this guy

or this guy

or any other vision of Superman I can possibly think of. (At least, not one actually living in the United States of America- this guy is from a different kind of canon.)

I felt like we were watching a 33-year-old man go through puberty. He was discovering himself, sure, but as a grown-ass-man, and it just made no sense and I couldn't feel attached to him at all.

I think part of the problem is Superman doesn't really have the "origin story" in the same way others do. Like, he starts out as the All-American-Boy in Metropolis,already knowing who he is. Sure, he has a background and backstory, but  there's never  a question over what he's supposed to do. He's supposed to fight  for "truth, justice, and the American way," you know? And sure, that may make  him kind  of  boring, but I've seen Superman be more interesting than Batman before, be shown capable of gritty emotion, actually be compelling

Although, to be fair, I'm not really sure I've seen Superman star in anything I didn't find him kind of boring in before, when he's not backed up by other members of the Justice League. And maybe that's the problem- for us to believe it's Superman, he can't really be compelling enough to be the star, or at least not have other people there. 

Full disclosure: I've never watched Smallville, so I could be missing something huge. 

So I thought Superman was boring  before, but this guy surprised me in being even boringer than I anticipated. Yes, I said "boringer." That's how boring I found Cavill to be.

And I think Goyer was trying to go for the gritty crap in making him kill Zod, but all it did was seem out-of-place and awkward, both in-story and with respect to my overall DC-knowledge-base. Even with Zod about to fry a family, it still didn't make a lot of sense. I actually found myself stifling a laugh as Kal starts yelling with the dead Zod in his arms, and I couldn't help myself but do this under my breath (my little sis laughed). 

And I went into it with a sincere heart yearning to enjoy  it, but I couldn't. Not really. It wasn't as bad as Daredevil, but it wasn't much  better than Green Lantern

I will say this: While yeah, the fight scenes  were overall too long, the one between Zod and Superman looked  just like a comic movie between two supers with powers like that should. The way the concrete was, indeed, crumbling under them, was  exactly  the  sort of thing I'd expect if, say, Green Lantern and Sinestro were fighting one another. Or what happens when members of the  Justice League go against their contra from the various rogues galleries. The fight in itself made sense- and, actually, I'll be honest, here. THAT fight was the only one I thought lasted long enough. Granted, there was still far too much broken  glass and fire for my taste. If they had taken it to a big field or something (which I would think any other Superman would have tried to do), it would have been perfect. Oh, yeah, and there would have been no family for Zod to use against Superman. 

Gah. So. Um. 6/10? 

So this  makes me even less hopeful about the upcoming  Bats-Supes pairing. 

Sigh.


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