Movie Review: Man of Steel

That's great acting if he's going for a guy that's daydreaming about dinosaurs.

That’s great acting if he’s going for a guy who’s thinking really hard about whether or not he left his oven on before he left his house that day.

I didn’t hate Man of Steel by any means, but I just wasn’t all that impressed with it.  Having seen it a few days ago, when I try to think about it now, it barely stands out as part of my weekend.  I had a more memorable time getting White Castle the night before.

Is it just me, or did anyone else think the first ten minutes of this movie were terrible?  What a mess. And it all seemed so redundant, because 45 minutes later in the film, the interactive “ghost” memory of Jor-El (which was an oddly convenient technology to exist) retells everything that happened in the first ten minutes with the Terminator 2 liquid metal computer technology.  It was pretty expository to begin with, then it felt like a double whammy when we had already learned about it earlier in the movie.  But, I mean, back to the Krypton stuff…  Russell Crowe riding around on a dragonfly with lasers and explosions everywhere?  I want to say “Hell yeah!” (plays air guitar solo for five minutes), but then I just get reminded of John Carter and I want to splash hot kryptonite in my eyeballs.

I think I could have deduced who General Zod was without the beginning of the movie as it was.  And this is coming from a guy who has basically seen nothing about Superman in his life.  Well, I’ve seen the 1978 film, and it’s good and all, but I’ve never seen any of the sequels, or read the comic books, or seen any TV show (from Smallville to the animated series).  Superman Returns looked terrible from the commercials, so I avoided that altogether.  I just haven’t invested a lot of time into watching Superman stuff.  That being said, the Superman mythos is so ingrained into pop culture that it felt like I knew exactly what was going to happen throughout the entire movie.  THAT BEING SAID, I thought the most engaging scenes were the flashbacks with Clark and his father, i.e. all the classic stuff.  So I don’t even know what to think about it, other than it was… off.  They either should have focused more on a smaller scale, or cut out huge chunks, or made it a more intimate Superman tale…  I don’t know.  I basically saw something I felt like I’ve seen in its entirety before, despite the fact I definitely have not.

"I ALWAYS LOOK LIKE MY TEETH REALLY HURT!"

“DO YOU HAVE ANY GUM?!”

It’s a movie that got so bogged down with extra crap, that during the climactic destroying of Metropolis, we are forced to concern ourselves with the fate of three Daily Planet employees digging their way out of the rubble…  Three characters who probably had 10 lines combined in the film leading up to that point.  I DON’T CARE IF THEY DIE.  I just watched like 500 people get killed in the scene before that, why am I supposed to be invested in their issues?  Is it because it’s Lawerence Fishbourne?  Did he want more screen time or something?  It felt like forced drama and emotion in a scene when we are supposed to be caring about other things going on.  Try for a little subtlety from time to time, Mr. Snyder.  Also, in the last scene of the movie when the bald guy asks the intern out on a date, and she scoffs him off like he’s a disgusting loser…  I seem to recall him grabbing a street sign to pry you out from your death trap and save your life when you were crying under the wreckage of a destroyed building.  Maybe treat him a smidge of dignity; you stuck-up, terrible bitch.

It didn’t help that the entire movie had a Thor feel to it.  Didn’t I already see stuff just like this in Thor?  Did anyone else get that vibe?  The fight on the streets of a small hick town in the desert (I think a 7-11 got blown up in both movies)?  The two people from another world smashing into each other?  The quirky-yet-determined love interest?  A protagonist that pretty much can’t be destroyed by anything on Earth?  And the gratuitous product placement!  Oh, the product placement!  Superman has a fist fight in an IHOP, for fuck’s sake!

Superman ONLY uses Nokia phones, kids!

Superman ONLY uses Nokia phones, kids!

The whole thing was just flat.  It’s a serviceable story, for sure, but nothing special.  Was there a single twist in the film, or a plot point that wasn’t expected to happen?  It was pretty by-the-books.  I mean it wasn’t bad, but it also left no room for surprises.  Star Trek Into Darkness at least had a few surprises (for people like me who never watched the show), as silly as the logic in that movie was, as well.  And let’s be honest, BOTH movies have some silly logic.

Like, why was Zod so adamant about taking Lois into custody along with Superman?  I guess they said that they mildly interrogated her, and it didn’t work or something (which they don’t show [why didn’t they torture her more?]).  Anyway, she uses her time up there to rescue Superman and get the literal answer on how to save Earth, from the interactive Jor-El ghost.  I mean, I GUESS you could do it that way…?  Also, when the government is complaining that Superman destroyed a $12 million dollar drone at the end, don’t they realize that Superman and his alien foes just did like $50 billion dollars of damage to Metropolis the month before?  The loss of life was probably in the hundreds of thousands.  America will never be the same.  I wonder if they’ll touch on that in the sequel?  But at least it’s nice to know that Superman can cry over human life, as long as they die right in front of him.  Just avoid the morning news tomorrow, Clark.

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

The action scenes were good though…!  But the shaky cam was unnecessary.  Was the movie supposed to be “gritty” because of that?  It didn’t feel gritty.  It also didn’t feel that fun.  But also didn’t feel that dark.  It felt like the safest Superman movie they possibly could have made.  I think that safeness paid off about 113 million different ways ($$$), so I’m sure the people involved are pretty satisfied.  And I always encourage putting Michael Shannon in things, and making him as angry as possible, so I’m cool with this movie on a Michael Shannon level.  If I was a billionaire, I’d pay Michael Shannon to sit in my living room while my friends poke him with sticks until he yells at them.  But I plan on being sort of an evil billionaire.

Again, I don’t want to give the impression that I hated this movie. It’s definitely worth watching on a “hey, it’s raining out and we can’t enjoy summer activities so let’s go see a movie” kind of way.  It’s long enough of a film that the storm may completely pass over you by the time the movie is over…   It’s just, ya know… a big splashy movie.   It’s certainly that.  But it’s not really a game changer for big budget movies, action movies, OR comic book movies.  It’s not even the best comic book movie Zack Snyder has ever made.  Watchmen trumps Man of Steel in focus, atmosphere, storytelling, and action.  Watchmen is a good movie, and I’ll keep saying that to my grave!  It’s not my fault that complex themes, interesting storytelling, and well-developed characters appeal to me more than Superman uppercutting a spaceship.  So yeah, based on the releases this past weekend:  Seth Rogan drinking his own piss > Superman Origin Story 2013.

6 out of 10

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