Sunday, July 7, 2013

Man of Steel (review)

I was very reluctant, to see this latest reboot of the Superman character. Not only was the reception mixed at best, from critics and fans alike, but frankly... I'm not that big on the character. Leaving aside that compared to other superheroes, his motivations are rather bland and simplistic (some would even say naive), the way much of media has protrayed him as virtually invulnerable, make it rather hard to feel tension. I'll elaborate on this, later, but suffice it to say I really only saw this movie, as a night out with my friends.

I'm glad that I did, though.

There's not a lot I can say about the story, because about half of it is just yet another origin story for Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman, the last son of Krypton. In this version, his parents (including the stoic Russell Crowe, as Jor-El) take it upon themselves to have a natural childbirth, when Krypton has been mined into oblivion. This is considered heresy, so when General Zod (Michael Shannon) attempts to take over the planet, this earns his ire -- even though this allows for the survival of the Kryptonian people.

When Kal-El reaches Earth, he is adopted by the Kents, learns he has powers, wants desperately to help others, etc. etc. We see takes on Clark growing up, that we've never seen before, but the overall story is very familiar. Crap starts to hit the fan, when Zod and his followers have managed to find Earth, and realize that Kal-El is there. They are desperate to re-create Krypton, and they will kill Superman and everyone on Earth, in order to do it.

The performances all around are very good -- Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, and especially Henry Cavill, to name many others -- knock it out of the park. I was worried, from the trailers, that much of this would either be scenery chewing or overly sentimental pap. However, the actual film does an excellent job at keeping things dramatic yet grounded. The story was a mixed bag, for me. I loved -- LOVED -- that they didn't make Superman all-powerful and seemingly indestructible, for a change... meaning that there was some legitimate danger to him, for the first time I've seen in a movie. However, I couldn't wrap my head around why in the world Jor-El infused his son, with the DNA of all Kryptonians -- what exactly was supposed to be done with that? Was Jor-El planning on having Supes revive his species, by shedding skin cells?

The movie has been accused of being a bit too dark, given the character, but I'm not totally sure that's the case. Then again, I was one of the few people who seemed to find any humour in the Dark Knight trilogy, so it might just be my idea of comedy. They certainly make the flying scenes a lot more fun, than I've seen in a long time. However, I am one of those who finds it a bit peculiar that Superman would be trusted, after seemingly letting two fairly big American cities get demolished by Zod's forces. However, the action scenes are all very exciting, and surprisingly easy to follow -- despite the constant shaky cam, and many of the players looking the same.

If you're a die-hard Superman fan... I'm really not sure if you would like this or not. However, as a popcorn movie, it's hard to go wrong. Though to be honest, the 3D isn't strong enough to be worth the extra money.