Super Somber: Man of Steel

Amy Adams, Henry Cavill and Antje Traue

Amy Adams, Henry Cavill and Antje Traue

It’s hard not to have preconceived notions about what you think a Superman movie should be. The story of Superman is ingrained in our collective pop culture subconscious.  But I was optimistic and open to any and all things new. I think it also has to be hard for the filmmakers of a new Superman movie not to want to cling a little to what has come before. The 1978 Superman was a landmark film. It  ushered in the modern superhero film and it also happened to be a terrific movie so I imagine that anyone taking on a new adaptation is going to be conflicted/challenged in taking this well known mythology in a new direction. But that is what director Zack Snyder and company have tried to do with “Man of Steel”. There are a number of changes made to the Superman mythology this go round and some of them are good ideas. Unfortunately, it’s just not a very good movie.

I will pass on the plot. Here’s my reaction:

It is utterly joyless. Humorless. It’s no fun. The narrative is fragmented in a way that undermines the story and the pacing. There is a drab,  somber tone that permeates the whole film. There is very little to cling to here in the way of characters. Kevin Costner comes the closest. Henry Cavill’s Superman is mostly flat and distant. There is a lot of characters telling us things that the film has already shown us. The last third of the film is wall to wall action that is repetitive, bloodless and mostly someone (Superman, Zod or one of Zod’s entourage) being thrown through a building. Lots and lots of damaged buildings. Lots. It never feels like a Superman or even a superhero movie. It felt more like Independence Day meets Dune. Snyder’s direction is surprisingly pedestrian. I wasn’t expecting 300-style visuals but everything here is handled with little inspiration.

Random thoughts

*Marvelous production design by Alex McDowell

*The death of Jonathon Kent is an embarrassingly bad scene.

*Jor-El’s explanation to Kal-El of why he and Lara didn’t escape with him off Krypton barely made sense.

*I really loved the idea of Superman having to adjust to Earth’s environment and that his senses were often in overload mode.

* I loved the look of the Krypton computer technology.

*Ihop and Sears

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1 Response to Super Somber: Man of Steel

  1. Matt R says:

    I agree with all of your Random Thoughts bullet points, but I didn’t think that the movie was “no fun”. I enjoyed watching it. However, I think to some degree it shares a problem, that most of the modern super-hero movies have. They try to remove all of the “camp” elements and take everything super seriously, but a lot of the basic elements of super-heroes and their origin stories are totally absurd. I think the less seriously these films take themselves, while still respecting the source material the better they turn out.

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