Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Monday, April 14, 2014

Movie Review: Man of Steel

So I finally managed to sit down and watch Man of Steel. As expected I couldn't go in blind but I still have my thoughts. The movie feels too big. Don't get me wrong I like big ideas in movies and so it got me thinking why does this not work.

The problem I think is empathy. And the movie lacks that. No this Superman lacks that. Superman to me always served as the answer to a question. If you could, physically at least, choose to do any damn thing you wanted what would you do? How would you use that power? Well... how about a neverending battle for truth and justice.

Yeah that works. That's how Clark got me. But this film chooses to go another route and it's weird. Rather than framing Supes as just a guy trying to use his natural abilities to the betterment of those around him it tries to focus on his more alien aspects. And it doesn't work. Before I could rap my brain around the why of Superman. He was just a boy scout who was bigger than the rest. But here not so much. I don't understand the why. I don't understand the why of Jor El. I don't understand the why of Pa Kent. And most of all I don't understand the why of Clark Kent. The usual explanation is that Ma and Pa Kent raised him that way. You see a man in trouble you help him. And if you're a living forklift well he has a living forklift helpin' him.

The Kyptonian stuff only really came up when writers wanted an excuse to have wacky silver age space hi-jinks. Not that you can't have a serious Superman sci-fi story, but not at the expense of his humanness.

The movie chooses to go from vignette to vignette as Clark goes on a sort of walk about as he can't stay in any one place too long without stuff happening. The stuff happening doesn't really reveal anything about this Superman. He's an enigma.

And because of that the movie struggles to find a new meaning for him. It tries to tap in to the symbol of Superman but the thing about a symbol is that it has to be representation of the thing it represents. It has to have a connection to it. You can't just say something represents hope without showing a connection to it.

Normally (at least to me) Superman represent's hope thusly, he symbolizes humanity's ability to try, to push forward and in the eternal struggle become something greater. I'm not feeling that here. I never get the sense that he's becoming something more because I don't sense any real personal growth. Every other Superman felt like he had been through his arc, he had been the scared little kid having more and more heaped on his shoulders until he became capable of handling just about anything not just physically but mentally because he meet all of those challenges, because he never said "It's too big for me." If he can do it why can't we?

That is the entire point of "New Kids In Town" and for that matter All Star Superman.

It gets better because you get better. That's hope. How does seeing all of that affect Lois and Perry. Heck it's one of the few things to slap Bruce out his normal depression. We aren't all destined to mire in the muck. "Justice doesn't always have to come from the darkness."

Okay okay, but that's all not about the movie. But I suppose that's because I have trouble connecting this guy to my Kent. Apart from that there are a lot of adventure beats. It would be a lie to say that nothing happens in this movie, but none of it feels like it's adding up to something greater than the sum of it's parts.  It feels like a 2 and a half hour trailer. Sure there is cool stuff and all but it feels as though the bits stringing it together giving it all context and meaning was stripped from it.

The more I think on this the more I realize it doesn't really benefit from being a Superman story. And that's problematic since this thing was marketed as the Big Damn Superman movie we all wanted to see since Quest for Peace

There are a lot of interesting ideas but none of them intrinsically have to do with Superman. Humanity's distrust of the alien, Day the Earth Stood Still. Consequences of eugenics on self-determination. Gattaca. Heck the entire last act feels like a more serious yet less meaningful rip off of Doctor Who "The End of Time". At least there I had good old Wilf. I liked Wilf. And who doesn't like Ten, "Allons y". There aren't a whole lot of characters in this thing I like. On top of that Zod feels a lot like Vegeta with less pathos.

Vegeta's a villain but I feel for "The Prince of All Saiyans". He lays out his beef quite clearly, and we the audience have hung around him long enough to know for him these are no small slights. The guy's pride in his strength is everything to him. Just when you thought having a kid mellowed the guy out.

Apart from the script the movie makes some weird editing choices.  Previously I said everything felt meaningless. Part of me feels like that might be because between all the super speedy punches it's hard to see who's hitting who and who's getting saved from being super slammed. And that's not even considering the weird transitions between flashbacks.

At the end of the day I can't say it's a bad movie but like the Man of Tomorrow himself, I feel it could be more. It's an okay Saturday afternoon popcorn muncher but there have been Superman stories that have really stuck with me over the years and obviously they tried to make this one of them but it ain't.

And while the Superman has to kill a dude angle can be interesting and I'm not wholly opposed to it that was one slow ass eye beam.

Why not shout, "Hey guys. I can't hold him forever you might want to run!"

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