Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

TM & © 2013
I was writing a quick review of this film over on the "Nerdy With Children" forums and decided to cross-post it here.

Spoiler-free review ahead, assuming you've seen the trailers.

My short-short version: Go see it. It's awesome.

There - I said it. I put it out there. I'm not one of those people who looks to go out of his way to nitpick a movie that 10 years ago or so people would've totally loved. I think people these days are just too used to "Internet-speak" which pretty much equates to "tell everybody what I hate about things but don't actually say what you like."

So, with that said, "Man of Steel" is a great origin story for Superman. The scenes on Krypton are amazingly well-done and the set designs, costuming, and overall aesthetics of the planet really make it seem like an inhabitable, alien world. Just for comparison's sake, I'll point to the scenes on Asgard in the "Thor" movie, which looked quite a bit fake (and, no, it didn't bother me). The Krypton scenes really do look "real."

The story is mainly told, for the first half to 2/3 of the movies, via flashback scenes where we get to see the Krypton scenes, the exposition on the ultimate bad guys of the film, and of course we get to see how Clark Kent / Superman got to where he is today. These parts of the movie are really stunning, well-acted, and story-wise, very engaging.

The last third of the movie is not quite as strong. I can't say much more without spoiling things. It's just very reminiscent of some recent things that have been done to death in other movies and of which I'm getting a little tired.

Acting-wise, Henry Cavill makes a good Superman - he takes 75 years of Superman lore and makes it his own. It's different than Reeves and Routh and there's nothing wrong with that. We're not here to see those movies remade. We're here to see a new take on Superman, and Cavill delivers that without making change for change's sake.

Show-stealers include Antje Traue in a small, but important, role of Faora, and Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent. However, top-billing for outstanding acting belongs to Michael Shannon as Zod and to Russell Crowe as Jor-El. Both actors take roles that in the past have seemed a bit one-dimensional and turned them into characters that we really care about, and who have a lot more depth than may have been at first surmised.

Some people, including my wife, were thrown by the pacing of the film. The first part of the film especially is told in media res and in non-linear fashion. We continually jump back-and-forth in time to see how things from Clark's past have affected the decisions he's making in the present. I followed it quite easily but my wife was "mildly annoyed," to put it nicely.

The music is fine - sadly, if you asked me to hum the theme from this one, I couldn't do so right now, but I did only see the movie once and wasn't necessarily trying to memorize the score. In terms of grandeur, it's no match for the old familiar Williams score, but as much as I love that score, I'm glad they didn't use it because it does imply a certain era and creates biases about what you're about to see.

There were some things that bothered me, in part toward the end in the way that Superman acts, but I can't say more without revealing spoilers. But, that's not enough for me to admit that I really liked this movie, and as a huge comic book fan, I'm not afraid to say that it's my favorite incarnation of Superman on the Silver Screen since the old Fleischer Cartoons from the 1940s.

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: tap water
Listening: "An Occasional Man" by DJ Yoda

1 comment:

  1. Could have been way, way better, but for a superhero flick; I’ll take it for what it is. Good review Martin.


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