Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Man of Steel – The Review

I’ll admit, I had really low expectations about this going in and boy were they met and then some. I pretty much avoided the majority of the spoilers for this, except for the case of one major spoiler, although all the death and destruction memes were pretty hard to miss. More after the break it’ll get spoilery.

*EDIT* - Added one more thing that bugged the crap out of me...

Okay I honestly don’t know where to begin, so I’ll say that that the movie was way over done in practically all aspects. For a perfect example, there is the literal birth of Kal-El right at the beginning of the film, and after a short brief piece of exposition about how Krypton is about five seconds away from being blown up, General Zod shows up and starts blowing up Krypton. What follows is a 20 minute chase/explostion-fest as Robin Hood fights his way back to send Jesus into space. Now the movie really doesn’t stop being this intense till about the end credits, and it’s overpowering. There is no release from the intensity of each scene as even the pauses that go into backstory (which seem to be constantly triggered by water, I bet it’s difficult for Clark to have a shower) seem to constantly involve Clark using his powers to do something really intensely, or Clark is being intensely lectured by the American Robin Hood.

I’ve got a lot more to talk about, but I think I’ll do it in the usual way...

The Good
  • On the whole I thought the cast was pretty damn good, there were a lot of recognisable faces but it wasn’t exactly a celebrity cattle call, however there was absolutely nothing for them to really do. I don’t like to throw negative comments into a ‘Good’ point, but that was one of the flaws of this movie, there was a load of characters introduced although we are given no real reason to relate to them or even moments where you might care a damn for them to survive the upcoming bloodbath. I loved that Perry White was played by Laurence Fishburne... which was a complete surprise because no fucking body bothers mentioning it in ANYTHING I’ve read about the movie, but even thought I know and love this character there is still nothing in this movie that makes you want to know this character.

The Bad

  • The fact the ‘Good’ list only has one point.
  • This is the most nauseating film I’ve ever seen, I honestly mean it. I don’t suffer from motion sickness but the constant use of really bad shaky cam throughout the entire film just made me feel physically ill, and that’s not an overstatement. I grok using it in fight scenes to ramp up the tension and “reality” of the situation, but its use through just made watching this movie a damn chore and several times I wanted to leave for fear of throwing up. In all honestly the first time it gets really bad was during the beginning and I honestly thought, “Wow this is a really shaky camera work, but I guess it works because Krypton is about 5 minutes away from implosion!” Little did I know that apparently Krypton still had at least another month away from the big bang and it just never fucking stopped through the entire damn movie.
  • Like in most of the origin stories, and particularly in the original Richard Donner Superman, General Zod and his coherts are sentenced to the Negative Zone for penance for trying to take over the council. Well this time this was the best thing that could have happened to them as being put into a jail mean they would have turned to ash with the rest of the planet, instead they were imprisoned for about 5 minutes until they got returned into the reality after Krypton goes supernova taking out the device that sent them in there in the first place.... which really makes no fucking sense. The irony is that in some renditions of the destruction of Krypton, Jor-El suggests to the council to put the population of Krypton into the Negative Zone to keep all the race safe until they could return them, a plan the council always rejects because it’s a “one way ticket”... or until the gateway gets destroyed and it just vomits everything back out again.
  • Okay this is getting really grating but that’s how the movie felt like to me. Next point is over fucking symbolism. Did we really need to see Superman make the Jesus Christ pose so many times, or have Clark talking to the priest right in front of a barely out of focus stain glass window of Jesus. And just how many fucking times does water have to come into this damn movie, if this was about Aquaman then I’d probably accept all the fucking water, but come on do half the entire movie have to revolve around the bloody stuff, or did they do it to make Kevin Costner feel comfortable. There is also so many damn allusions to 9-11 in the destruction of Metropolis, including the whole dust and smoke clouds, glass raining from the skies, and the obligatory ‘person trapped under steel reinforced concrete rubble with one hand reaching out to be saved’, it didn’t help that the person was the Daily Planet intern who I assume we’re supposed to care about but ultimately wasn’t even given a name or personality to help that transition along. This goes back to that whole ‘overdone’ thing and just got tiring.
  • That’s another point, this movie was just tiring to sit through and I got incredibly bored by it. People always piss and moan about ‘Superman Returns’ but long and dull, but I liked the pace of that film as it allowed you to get to know the characters a lot better and you get to see a lot more of how Clark interacts with the world. Sure he doesn’t have a big punch up with other superpowered baddies (although it seems people forget how bad Nuclear Man was), and yeah the big climax involves him lifting a big island into orbit, but it was a great heroic sacrifice and it was a lot more dramatic than anything in this film. As I said before, there was no pauses in this movie no times to just take in what is happening, and this gets incredibly tiring after a while as your senses are just constantly being assaulted and you’re forced to pay more and more and more attention. It’s also weird to say this but you could have cut a lot of this movie out and it probably wouldn’t lose anything, which is strange considering how constantly moving this movie and how much is going on, but did we really need to have fifteen thousand flashbacks, or even more indecisiveness of Clark.
  • Finally before I get into the grittier aspects, where was the hero in this movie? I know that this movie is about Clark coming to terms with his identity and becoming the symbol that we want him to be, but he never truly achieves it and it’s like he is awarded this status arbitrarily for no real reason... his actions certainly don’t convey this. There is all this talk by Jor-El about being a positive role model and being an inspiration, which is counteracted by Jonathan Kent’s constant xenophobia in one of the worse rendition’s of the character since the Silver Age, and yet it’s like nothing becomes of it. If Superman truly inspired anyone it is never shown, in fact the only time someone is shown to be truly selfless, it has nothing to do with Superman being an inspiration (again to the rubble scene) and more to do with Perry having a moment.

The Ugly
  • Finally the worst parts, for starters the fucking score. Urgh did it ever fucking stop for one second, which wouldn’t be a bad thing but it was a fucking Dark Knight style long drawn out low tones that just seem to go on forever. I know I’ll never hear the fucking John William’s theme in this, but having a hero moment or wouldn’t have gone astray... oh that’s right, there was no hero moments. As for the rest of the score it seems to just directly rip of the Reapers from Mass Effect. I love me some movie scores but this one I’ll avoid like the plague.
  • I’ve never liked the new suit. Truth be told it’s not a bad design, but the colours are just fucking too dark. You know it’s bad when ALL the related media have to digitally adjust the colours to make them seem more heroic, especially trying to show the actual yellow in the chest symbol (which pretty much looks either white or grey through the entire movie due to the grading. The whole “That’s not an ‘S’, it mean ‘Hope’ to my people” was just cheesy and grating... if it was grated cheese it might be awesome, but alas. The whole rubber cast chainmail just gave me the shits as well, kinda like the Amazing Spider-Man suit it just looked constantly wet but I suppose with this much water it makes sense.
  • Jonathan Kent. Jeez, where to start? Okay, I'm not a fan of Kevin Costner but I think he was probably well cast for this role if you consider his background and they obviously wanted more Robin Hoods in this movie. Unfortunately his portrayal seems to be the biggest douche out of every single version I've ever seen, and I'm honestly uncertain if this was by direction or not. I get that he wants to protect Clark until such time that he's able to become his own man, that's pretty much Jonathan Kent's job, but this time there is absolutely zero warmth to this character and it just comes across as being an absolute prick. I think of the best developed versions was John Schneider's portrayal in Smallville, there is the whole concern about protecting Clark but it was tempered with some warmth that you knew that he loved him like a son, but Man of Steel none of that exists and in fact the usually cold and analytical Jor-El appears to be more loving to his son then ever before. Then there is the death scene, I would say spoilers but Jonathan Kent seems constantly destined to die in practically every version, and it's usually pretty well handled and it's almost always in a way to facilitate Clark's destiny... except for this movie. Jonathan Kent "sacrifices" himself by apparently travelling to Oz to save a dog that Clark could have done in five seconds if he allowed him to do by not being a fucking jerk, which also stunts Clark's progression by 15 years of not wanting to be a damn hero (assuming Man of Steel is set in current day because he dies in 1997). I was honestly happy to be rid of the mega dick, and it's left to Martha to explain that Jonathan actually wanted him to be a hero that he always prevented him from becoming... really, how about encouraging your fucking son and not being an emotionless fucktard who mentally abuses his son. Honestly by this stage I was glad the fucker was dead, but I'm guessing he'll be back for the next movie when we see even more flashbacks about how much of a fucker he was to Clark growing up.
  • Zod... nuff said.
I would type more but I'm really fucking tired and this gives me the shits the more I think about it.
The entire movie just felt crowbarred into the Nolan Dark Knight universe, which is a fairly obvious attempt at trying to pull off a clone of Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it just stifles the movie too much and they forgot that it still doesn’t need to have the exact cinematic tone and style to fit in with that. I’m not a massive fan of Superman but I have collected in the past and I absolutely love the John Byrne ‘Man of Steel’ post-crisis reboot in the late 80s and what was later done with the character in the 90s to make Clark Kent more of a prominent character isn’t of just a mask of Superman. Superman is supposed to be a character you should look up to whilst Clark Kent is someone you could relate too for most of the time, and this seems to do neither. I wanted to be blown away by this film, I wanted to go on an adventure, but ultimately I felt like I was being forced to endure 3 hours of constant visual and audible stimuli, all the while not trying to feel sick from the shaking camera and droning on low tonal “music”. I honestly don’t want to do this, it just feels wrong to have to grade it like this but I give it 1/10, and I think that is being fair for a movie that seemed to actively wanted me to hate it (and just for clarification it’s because I couldn’t in good conscience give it zero).

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