345-Word Reviews: Man of Steel

Man of Steel flying

The critical orthodoxy has it that Man of Steel is a fine, pastoral origin-story for S******n, before it descends into an overlong, overloud finale. I agree with the second part of that assessment, but I barely noticed any modulation between soft/hard, fast/slow, quiet/LOUD in this movie. The trailer promised a morose, contemplative superhero, thoughtfully bearded, in search of himself. But, after a tacky cod-medieval prologue on Krypton, we get three minutes of shoe-gazing before S******n’s stripped to the waist, on fire, plucking workmen out of a blazing oil-rig. So much for the build-up.Man of Steel oil-rig sceneEverything else is just as madly paced. Hardly a scene goes by without a spectacular payoff: a schoolbus ride provides another disaster/rescue scenario moments after the oil-rig; a father-to-son conversation is interrupted by a tornado. The pacing of incidents is exhausting, and this restlessness transfers onto moments that are meant to be quiet: Kevin Costner walks through a door, and we get an extreme close-up of the thudding doorknob, to make sure we understand that a door has closed. If film is a language, Snyder is its Dan Brown. He puts the “b” in “subtle”. MAN OF STEELSnyder’s lack of sincere interest in yucky emotions or girls who aren’t firing guns in their knickers means that he manages to drain the spark from Amy Adams, although she does get to snog S******n in the rubble of Metropolis, presumably surrounding by the charred corpses of its citizens. Meanwhile, Michael Shannon caricatures his “intense!!!” reputation with an ALL-CAPS, snarling turn as General Zod, pantomiming the potentially interesting character of a race-supremacist antithesis to S******n’s father (played by Russell Crowe, who has stopped acting and now just marches around movies being noble).MAN OF STEELThis was meant to be a corrective to Bryan Singer‘s reverent, stately Superman Returns, but there’s no action here as thrilling (nor as coherent) as that film’s passenger-jet-rescue sequence. And so soon after the witty, spry Iron Man 3, this Man of Steel feels interminably leaden. They wanted to make a superman film that was “dark”, but there’s a difference between “dark” and “dim”.man-of-steel

3 thoughts on “345-Word Reviews: Man of Steel

  1. Yep – that pretty much nails it. With the exception of Kate Bosworth’s Lois, I enjoyed Singer’s Superman Returns very much – especially the way it expressed qualmishness about ‘American-ness’ following 9/11 – both in terms of reigning in all the building smashing and implied deaths of thousands of people, but more poignantly, in terms of a superpower being unloved and passed over and dialled back. Snyder is a total hack. Henry Cavill made for a good Supes, I thought, but the hyper-huge calamities and the un-Superman disregard for the people of Metropolis just felt inelegant to me. Put more simply – I got bored!

    • Thanks, Phil. I’m glad someone agrees. I’ve been working with self-imposed restrictions on my blogging – these ones limit me to 345 words, which is just long enough to make a point, but not enough to cover everything I think is important to note about a film. In this case, I didn’t have time to address the politics of the thing, nor the ridiculously overstretched Christ allegory, which has always been there for people who want to interpret it that way, and didn’t need to be made so thuddingly obvious. Apparently, the MoS producers put together a package for ministers to use in their summons: there is nowhere these people won’t go to sell a few extra tickets. Another thing I missed from the Christopher Reeve movies was the humour that came from the distinctions between the two characters – Reeves’ Clark Kent is a totally different person from his Superman, and he eventually came to prefer being Kent to being Superman. It raised questions about which one was the ‘performance’. Now, Superman and Clark are just two hunks, with or without spectacles. Plus, Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane kicked Clark Kent’s ass on a regular basis. For all his physical strength, she ran rings around him, and was a fully formed character until they sidelined her in Superman III. Snyder is just not interested in women, so aside from the token girl role for Lois Lane, and his favourite kind of woman (the PVC clad, steel-eyed superwarrior), the only other female part I can recall is the soldier at the end who sheepishly says “I think he’s kinda hot”. I should have been grateful that they’d finally managed a joke in the last minute of the movie, but it was just a demeaning way to reduce a female contribution to standing there like a giggly girl in the presence of a sexy boy.

      The more I think about this movie, the more I hate it. But then, I hated Sucker Punch, Watchmen, and 300, so I’ve really only got myself to blame.

  2. Pingback: Pacific Rim | Spectacular Attractions

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