Man of Steel

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Man of Steel opened this Friday and I must say if this is how we’re starting DC’s Justice League ramp-up, color me a bit disappointed. I’m not saying it’s not a bad film, it’s just not great. Zack Snyder’s way with visual effects and action scenes just don’t match up to the less than stellar acting. That’s due in part, because in almost every Snyder film, he can’t convey emotion on screen. MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

Let me first start by saying that I went into this film with a very open mind and excited one. Superman was due for a reboot and who better than to do it than Zack Snyder, whose known for his overly stylized action scenes, Chris Nolan producing another DC Comics movie after setting the bar for Warner Bros. and Hans Zimmer providing the emotional sound-scape. The problem that I have is that Zack Snyder is the candy-corn equivalent to directors. I think, man that looks good, I cant wait to try that, but then you remember: Oh yeah. I forgot how lackluster that is. Dont get me wrong, I enjoyed The Watchmen’s translation on the big screen but in the end it’s emotionally void – just like Man Of Steel  is. While I recommend seeing Man Of Steel  in 2D, its outcome is much the same – flat.

We open on Krypton which is on the verge of collapse from its core imploding. Enter Jor El played by Russell Crowe which may be his worst performance to date. It’s just so bland. Your son is leaving a dying planet that you and your wife can’t escape and you have no words to convey how sad you are about it. Trying to stop the newborn from leaving is General Zod. It’s actually quite odd because Michael Shannon was chosen for this role, I presume for his acting chops, and he’s phoning it in most of the time. He’s constantly at an 11 the whole time and for a villain that’s fine but here’s what I enjoyed: his subcommander Feora. I can only blame David Goyer’s writing so much for this movie but it’s the director’s job to make actors come alive on screen and for some reason Zack got it right with her. She doesn’t have much screen time but when she’s on, she’s stealing the show. If there’s one saving grace to the acting of this film it’s Ma and Pa Kent. In fact it’s so good, I want Diane Lane and Kevin Costner to be my parents. Hell I’d even grow up in Smallville if I knew learning my life lessons were going to be that good.

What’s somewhat refreshing in this movie and you can tell from the trailers, is that the Kent’s want to protect Kal-El from humans until he is ready to come to terms with what he is. It takes a massive sacrifice on Costner’s character to learn that and that may have been the heart-wrenching scene of this movie for me. What also helps is that Hans Zimmer is such a master at what he does, you can sometimes rely on his sound to carry a scene further than it looks.

What I did enjoy in Man of Steel  were the fight scenes, incredibly outstanding work on Snyder’s part. What I feel I should point out is how this film is set up. YES, it finally dives into the troubles of a young boy not fully understanding his place in life and learning through difficult circumstances to become the man we are familiar with through past incarnations. It’s how movies are portrayed these days, but it’s also its crux. Modern films, while explaining further in detail the origin story almost feel as if it’s the same formula. Just insert your X’s and Y’s and its translated into the movie you’re making. It almost feels as if you know what’s coming before it happens. Some movie-goers think it’s revolutionary while the rest of us see it as the angst-filled teen trying to become a stronger, better person. Guess that says a lot about the current generation.

Its been noted by Snyder and Co. that this is the first superhero movie in a line of future films, presumably to set up the Justice League. Superman is the first to come out as a superhero with the rest showing themselves to the world afterwards in later films. I’m intrigued by this because Marvel set it up so that each had its own individual origin story and then were forced together to form the Avengers. DC is playing it out to be as if the world already exists and these characters are already here, they just have to show their faces to us. Almost the other side of the coin, if you will. There’s small cameos in Man Of Steel  that I enjoyed if you care to pick them out while watching, Lexcorp on the side of a tanker truck and a Wayne Enterprises satellite in orbit. Again it’s nice to know these characters exist in the world yet are unknown to the characters. In retrospect of my not-so-stellar review, it opened with $113M at the box office this weekend and Man Of Steel 2  has been greenlit so for those of us excited for the Justice League movie, well we’re off on a great start.

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