Man of Steel Review
This is way off the theme of my site and I am not a movie critic/writer, but I am a Superman fan starting back to the 1950s TV series, and the various iterations of the comic book hero that have been done over the years. The Superman story has gone through a lot of changes the past 75 years and everyone has their own take on the story. Obviously when you are a kid reading the comics, your imagination fills in a lot of the blanks, and the dialog is basic because there is only so much you can put into each one of the little picture blocks of the comic. What looks good in a comic book doesn't necessarily look good on film/video, but in your imagination all is cool.
To give you an idea where I am coming from I liked the very first year of "The Adventures of Superman". Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane and I think she did a great job, she was one tough reporter. She hated Clark's cowardliness and went after the bad guys as if she herself were invulnerable. Her Lois Lane more admired Superman than was smitten by him. My feelings about Clark Kent was that he had to act like he could feel pain and was afraid of things like everyone else, but in reality nothing frightened him and nothing could make him blink. In an emergency Clark became Superman and he would explode off the ground into flight. That sense of urgency and power is what Superman was all about. So when I was young and someone was pushing me around, that was Clark being pushed around, only I understood what could happen if I were to decide to be Superman. That is what brings Superman home to many of us as children. In the movies we want to see this guy do his thing as we imagined it.
That brings us to "Man of Steel". More than anything else Superman in the comics is real, and not a comical character. To be a good movie, Superman has to be presented as an alien living among us in the real world. He cannot pick up the Statue of Liberty and fly it around without it falling apart. In a Superman movie you are asked to suspend belief and accept the premise of an alien with super powers. Ok, I am willing to do that, but I cannot suspend belief for all the laws of nature! Anyone who read the comics knows that Superman stories are serious, with an occasional fun story thrown in from time-to-time. If you are not a fan of the comics or didn't read the comics you might base your opinion of Superman on other things like Superman III which pretty much disappointed me and most true Superman fans. So "Man of Steel" does exactly what it should do, which is to place Superman in the real world and have him come from an advanced civilization that was on the brink of destruction. MOS opens on the planet Krypton and spends 20 minutes giving us some real geeky science fiction, and mixes in a few elements from the comics that many people will not notice or realize. What is good is that it really doesn't matter if you spot it or not. Was the opening of "Superman The Movie" in 1978 on Krypton cool? You bet it was, for 1978 it was great. However, Jor-El in "Man of Steel" played by Russell Crowe isn't some old guy being wise, we is a guy that is smart for a lot of reasons, not just that he figured out Krypton was doomed. I like the entire setup in the first 20 minutes of the film that sets the stage for the 3rd act.
In the second act we jump to Ka-El/Clark as a 30 something man trying to discover more about himself, and conflicted about containing his emotions and powers, and at the same time tempted to feel better about himself by using those powers. It is when he is helping people that he feels most comfortable about himself. The story of his childhood is seen as flashbacks, as current events remind him of lessons and experiences he had as a boy. I would like to have seen a little bit more of him as a boy, but there is enough in the movie to make you understand what makes him tick. Some reviewers of the movie complained about the flash backs (broken timeline), but I really didn't have a problem with that. It advanced the story and I got it. Little Clark was tormented by his powers as they became more a part of his existence.
In the third act we have a knock down drag out fight with General Zod and Faora from Krypton and their henchmen. In this film we do not have the limitations of 1978 when it comes to special effects. Computer generated imagery (CGI) is at it's best in MOS. There really wasn't anything that I saw that just didn't look real, even Superman's cape looks much more majestic in CGI, it looks more like we saw it drawn in the comic books. In this movie General Zod is more than just power hungry wanting to rule over a world. He has a specific purpose in life and he is driven like "The Terminator" to achieve it. We now understand why Zod does what he does. There is controversy over the ending of MOS, but I had no problem with it. My view is General Zod got exactly what he wanted and forced Superman's hand. If you saw the movie you will get this statement.
There are scenes in the movie that show you that the producers, writers, and the director just get what Superman is all about. That he has tremendous strength, explosive energy, and walking or flying for Superman is easy and second nature to him. Could there have been a couple more funny moments in the film? Sure I guess so, but I don't recall anyone complaining about that in the Godfather movies.This is a serious movie about a serious topic. Enough said about that.
MOS brings issues and concerns from today's news headlines and current events. It isn't just made to feel more real by seeing IHOP or Sears stores as back drops. It is also about a civilization that abandoned space exploration, plays around with genetics, has moral undertones of right and wrong, and a government spying on its people. Jor-El's statement “What if a Child Aspired to Something Greater?” is what America is all about. The story tellers have managed to get the "Truth, Justice and the American Way" into the movie without saying it.
Overall I give this movie a 4 out of 5 and a thumbs up to see. It was good but not great. I liked the opening, but it seemed rushed or just too much going on for the time allotted. There should have been another 5 to 10 minutes spent on Clark in the second act trying to discover who he is, and interacting with his dad played by Kevin Costner. They could take a few minutes out of the third act to help keep the run time down, I would start with the world engine for a little cutting here and there. More than anything, Man of Steel sets us up for Man of Steel 2 which could be a really great film like "The Dark Knight Rises" was to "Batman Begins".
- The first season of "The Adventures of Superman"Great supporting cast and George Reeves was great
- Superman The MovieChristopher Reeve and Margot Kidder have that on screen chemistry
- Superman II: The Richard Donner CutShows you how much better the movies could have been with Donner