Saturday, June 15, 2013

"Man of Steel" Review: Kneel before Zack Snyder!

When asked why an alien would fight so hard for a world that isn't even his, Kal-El (Superman for
the uninitiated) responded "I grew up in Kansas.  I'm as much an American as you are."

A very pertinent message in a time where we try to assert our own identities based on the country we hail from.  Zack Snyder's Man of Steel retreads the origins of the original super-hero, Superman, but he does so in a way that is fresh, modern, and successfully divorces itself from the 1978 Christopher Reeve film.

Many critics are saying that this interpretation--heavier and more grave than previous iterations of Superman on the silver screen--is a bad thing.  They complain that it's "too serious," and that Henry Cavill is not allowed to show that lightheartedness that many associate with Superman.  Well, those are some small-minded critics in my opinion.

Whenever you try to compare a movie that is attempting to be great on its own merits, you're always going to find yourself wanting.  If you want a goofy, wisecracking Superman that seems more like a characiture on a poster, then this movie is not for you.  Man of Steel envisions Superman in a real world.

Of course, it's not meant to be realistic in the sense of physical reality as we know it, but it's meant to be real on a human level.  So many are saying that this is devoid of humanity, but I felt the exact opposite effect.  Clark Kent spends the better part of his life attempting to figure out how to cope with what he is: an alien.  He is constantly reminded that he is not from this world, and Henry Cavill and the actors portraying a young Clark Kent, do an excellent job of demonstrating just how much that hurts.

Despite being spurned by humans that fear his boundless power, he still strives to protect humanity and guide it to something greater than itself.  It's not until the arrival and subsequent defeat of Michael Shannon's General Zod that Superman proves his benevolence to mankind, and he is more or less accepted.

Kal-El is more human than the humans around him.  He is compassionate and understanding.  He knows the fears that surround his existence, and he attempts to alleviate those fears by essentially prostrating himself as a servant of humanity rather than a conqueror.

And of course it's all very ironic, because an alien serves as the best, most shining example of what it means to be human.  I think we can all think back to someone in our lives who inspired us to strive towards the best versions of ourselves.  And so, the message in Man of Steel is two fold.  First, that there is hope for humanity (even if a god-like humanoid doesn't exist among us), and secondly that being a part of a particular community doesn't mean you have to be born in that community.

And oh yes, lets not forget about the action.  The action scenes in this film are just as epic as the trailers have made them out to be.  You'll see destruction on a grand scale, and you'll see an epic showdown between Zod and Kal-El that was not doable 30 years ago.

If you can manage to sepparate yourself from the Christopher Reeve Superman, then you will absolutely be treated to a mature, less corny version of Supes in a movie that delivers both strong emotional content and some action that packs a wallop.

Go see this film!


Micky said...

Cool, I'm glad to hear they dropped the silly bullshit and got a little more serious.
I guess what sets the 78 Reeves Superman apart from the seriousness we see today with Batman and this Superman version is that you can attract sci fi fans that are not all snot nosed kids anymore or some breed of Trekkies.
Todays targeted market holds a different society thats been exposed to much more sci fi with serious and more realistic story lines.
Same thing with Batman.
The original series was geared for the intellect of an 8 year old.
Now we see him actually being a prick sometimes, and battling with morality, and a love life.


Hey Jack, have yourself a great Fathers day.

Liberals, hug your kids.
(if you know who they are)

Jack Camwell said...

Thanks =)

Ducky's here said...

Terrible film, absolutely terrible. This is what happens when you let an advertising executive like Snyder direct.

Acting becomes standing in front of a green screen and shouting.

He has no idea what to do with a camera.

It reinforces the point that action is just that, action. It is not dramatic. It is the resolution of drams and a guy like Snyder who's history is commercials has no idea whatsoever how to build drama.

There are some interesting moments like Clark's early experience with his powers and the revenge after the diner incident but they are few.

The final battle follows the action film (there is only one, really) standard choreography ... explosions and bodies being slammed against sold objects. Boring and the final battle needed at least fifteen minute trim.

The film may have wanted to present an existential dilemma but Snyder can't handle narrative.

An absolute waste. The contemporary audience has a limited attention span but Snyder's MSL(mean scene length) is especially short. Either he doesn't trust his audience or he needs the cuts as a crutch.


Jack Camwell said...

This coming from the guy who also thought the Dark Knight was a terrible film despite its critical acclaim and Oscar winning performance by Heath Ledger (which you will no doubt attribute to his death).

Sure, Man of Steel has been hit hard by critics, but the negative reviews I've read almost always compare it to the 1978 film which is ridiculous.

Ducky's here said...

My question remains the same.
How can you fill a film with cliched action sequences and expect it to have significant narrative or dramatic structure?
This was basically a Michael Bay film but they are all the same.

Were you taken by his framing? I wasn't expecting Antonioni but it was pretty dull. Anything you remember?

The acting? Strictly from his "We are Sparta" school of screaming because, once again to put up the debate point, he can't build a dramatic scene and the contemporary audience doesn't have the attention span.

Jack Camwell said...


The moment I found most dramatic was when he killed General Zod. Part of me finding the drama in that, though, is because I know that Superman's M.O. is no killing.

So when he gives that guttoral scream after waxing Zod, that was a powerful moment in my mind.

Yes of course, dramatic moments are more rushed in a film like this than they are in a film that is supposed to be 100% dramatic, but that's okay because it's the genre.

Micky said...

Yeah, I dont think anyone expects this to be a Citizen Kane or something.
But, I've been wrong before.

Heh heh... I still havent seen it, been pretty busy.
But, not unlike blogging, sometimes the comment/reviews are far better than the article/movie.

GodBlade said...

@ Ducky's here
dude....shut the hell up. Do you even understand movies? What didnt you like about the movie? The thing was a master piece, Zack Snyder broke through fan expectations, the film broke box office records for the biggest "June" opening in the history of movies. I'm sorry for the comment, but you're either some guy who missed the movie entirely, or you dont understand english and use a translator for web work maybe? I don't know what it is but the Man Of Steel Rocked! And to those saying that Superman shouldnt have killed Zod, then stop thinking about fairy tale happily ever afters and start thinking "if you were faced with the decision of "killing a mass murderer who would kill and slaughter innocents again and again", or "saving the life of innocent people, including children" in a choise where the only road out is to choose either of the two, which would you choose? And Henry Cavill clearly potrays Superman's agony at having taken the life of Zod, even in a situation like that. Epic work Zack Snyder and co. cant wait for the part 2

Jack Camwell said...

Thanks for stopping by, GodBlade.

My thing is that I can respect the fact that people have different tastes in movies, but what I can't stand is when people think that their taste is somehow superior to others.

People need to realize that preference is just that. Sure there is SOME objectivity to "what makes a good movie," but not a whole lot, IMO.