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Movie Review: Man of Steel

Superman 

I may be the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen one of the previous Superman movies. Nor have I read the comics. Nor have I seen any TV shows based on it. I know the basic story, just from picking up bits here and there: a distant planet is going to collapse, and mom and dad send their baby away to safety in a pod that lands on Earth, where he’s raised as a “normal” boy until it’s too obvious that he’s not ,in any way, normal. I know there’s love in the mix. I have, of course, heard the name Lois Lane. I know his secret name is Clark Kent. I know he saves people from bad guys and I have a vague recollection of him spinning the Earth backwards to reverse time. No idea where I saw that.

That’s it. I’ve avoided the whole Superman world for the most part. I don’t have a good reason for avoiding it, either. I guess it just never spoke to me. I liked Batman and his gadgets, and IronMan with his gadgets. Superman? He has a cape. In the words of the Incredibles: No Capes!

I guess I always thought he looked silly with that cape. But I digress. The point is, I saw the movie today. I went without any preconceived notions. I deliberately didn’t read any of the reviews or feedback from others. I went with an open mind, ready to be entertained or…something.

Was I?

Yes, and no.

Before you read further, beware…there be spoilers ahead.

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Don’t peek if you don’t want to know!

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Seriously….

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*taps fingers on the desk while she waits for you to decide*

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OK, if you’re still here then you are curious. I won’t spoil the whole thing. For all I know the story is the same one that’s been retold through the years and there’s no surprise left for those who’ve been following it since childhood. But in case there are a few like me…fair warning.

 

Things I liked:

I loved the graphics and the entire look of the film. It’s an immersive world. I love how Krypton looks, all dystopian and falling apart with shades of brown. I love the suit Superman wears (except for the cape). For a thing that’s always seemed to me to be cheesy and somewhat childish, this one manages to leap beyond that and into cool territory. After all, we see every ripple of his very fabulous muscles. Serious eye candy here, folks! I still say they should leave off the cape. For heaven’s sake, capes get caught in things and from what I can tell it serves no useful purpose. Let it go! (I’m sure some rabid Superman fans will cry “sacrilege” at that.)

I loved the sci-fi-ness of it all. The futuristic world, with it’s gadgets, gizmos, fun flying contraptions, and yes even the flying birds/horse/things. How I’d love to have one of those! We wouldn’t need cars if we could breed those. At any rate, the technology looked beyond cool. Kudos to the special effects team and whoever dreamed up some of the computer interfaces.

I loved Henry Cavill in this. He’s amazingly perfect for this role. I loved his expressions, the acting, the way he stood in that suit, and the way he looked out of it. *fans self* In the words of a Captain in the army: “he’s kind of hot.” Yes ma’am, he is. No “kind of” about it. I’d watch another dozen of these movies just to stare at him. And Amy Adams is perfect as Lois Lane. The two had chemistry, and I loved that she was every bit as heroic as he was, even if she doesn’t have super powers. Kudos to the writers for giving Lois Lane a life of her own. The entire movie is well acted and for the most part well directed. The dialogue gets a little cheesy on the part of the bad guy, but then again, the whole premise is a bit cheesy so I didn’t mind. Superman is the strong, silent type. I think every part in the movie spoke more than he did. His eyes smoldered, though, so I’ll let that slide.

Fourth, somewhere around the middle of the movie I started to really get into the plot. It took a long, long time for me to get there. I was hooked at the beginning, then bored for a good while, then hooked again. This movie suffers from mid-life crisis. I could see they tried to salvage it by editing, which didn’t work. It made some of the story jump all over the place. Bits of things were blatantly left out. I know the movie is long, but I saw plenty of stuff included that we could have lived without.

 

Things I didn’t like so much:

The noise. O. M. G. the noise! I’m not old, I swear. But this movie is beyond loud. It definitely jumps straight into bust-your-eardrums territory. I know there’s explosions going on but I really don’t need to feel them in my ear drums. This is not a ride at Disney. Even the kids around me were complaining about it. Several kept holding their ears. Hollywood, seriously. We don’t have to be shocked by sound to understand an explosion is happening. I do not need to hear it “live.”

While I realize there’s epic fighting going on, I got a bit tired of the explosions. Maybe it was the noise. Or maybe it was shades of Transformers…special effects and explosions simply for the sake of having them? I get tired of that. It’s probably just me. If you like to watch things go boom, this movie is for you. If you’d love to see New York City destroyed once again, this movie is for you.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when a really bad guy attacks a city other than New York. Why not hit Vegas, or Dallas, or heck Des Moines or Vancouver or maybe even Sydney? There’s people living there too! But I digress again.

The first half is very…very…sloooowwwwww. I agree with Chuck Wendig (click here for his review, unless bad language bothers you. He curses like a drunk sailor. That is, I assume he does, since I’ve never been around drunk sailors. His points are still quite valid.) that this is an origin story at the heart of it. We see how Superman came to exist…which actually isn’t really that interesting when you think about it. They did their best to make it entertaining, and parts of it are definitely that. But that’s also why it drags. Seriously…flashbacks to childhood are never interesting. I don’t even enjoy revisiting my own childhood, much less someone else’s. I’d much rather see the man he’s become than see how he got there. Unless he’s a serial killer…for some reason those origins are fascinating. But good guys? Eh, we assume good parenting. Let’s move on to the juicy bits, like a love scene with Lois Lane. Or heck, just let him take off his shirt again because…yum!

In other words, I was more entertained by his bare chest than I was by the flashbacks to childhood. My thoughts during those scenes were “wow, they got a lot of name actors to star in bit parts on this” and “I need to pee.”

I saw several people take a restroom break, by the way, which tells me they weren’t enthralled either. In a great movie I don’t notice the state of my bladder.

To sum up:

This is one of those stories that shows the angst of the hero, and the humanity of the villain. I really don’t like it when my superhero has doubts at the crucial moment, and frankly, I don’t want my villain to be human. I don’t want to feel sorry for him. I don’t want to get to the climactic scene of a superhero movie and think “gee, he’s only doing the best he can. He’s only doing his job. Maybe we should let him live.”

Which is exactly what Superman thinks during the final moments. Which to me, isn’t very superhero-like.

Aren’t super heroes supposed to be larger than life? Very clear on right vs wrong? Epic in every way? This one is, well, human. With big muscles. He’s having teen angst well into his apparent 20s. I get tired of teen angst.

That said, I go back to my earlier question. Did I enjoy it? Was I entertained?

Mostly. It’s not all bad. I just wish they’d have edited bits of it differently. And I wish they’d turn the volume down just a touch.

If you watch this one on DVD keep your remote handy. You’ll have to turn the sound up for the talking and down for the explosions or risk waking the neighborhood.

 

To those who’ve seen the other movies…is Superman always this way? If you saw all the various movies, which was your favorite?

 

1 comment on…“Movie Review: Man of Steel”

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