3 hours ago
Friday, June 14, 2013
The Man of Steel
I have a couple of friends whose primary request for a new Superman movie is that "Superman punch stuff" (action of that sort being in short supply in Singer's Superman Returns and Donner's Superman, too). I can unequivocally say the Man of Steel delivers in that department, that's not the only thing to like here. This new origin story for Superman follows on the heels of Nolan's Dark Knight films are delivers a pretty well-crafted film that just happens to be about a superhero rather than working primarily on spectacle to disguise a lacking script--not that there isn't a lot of spectacle.
The film starts on Krypton. It's take has little references to several recent versions: Byrne's Man of Steel, Silver Age stories, and stuff more recent. There's also a bit of Russian cosmism and post-Alien techno-organic look. The headgear of the ruling council of Krypton reminds me a lot of Aelita.
When we get to Earth. Baby Kal-El is grown into an adult Clark Kent, set apart from the rest of humanity and drifting like Hugo Danner in Wylie's Gladiator. His growing up in Smallville is delivered in flashbacks interspersed throughout. Some reviewers have felt this made the film feel disjointed but I wasn't bothered by it. Lois Lane and Phantom Zone criminals appear in short order, making this film feel like it has a shorter ramp up than a lot of other origin stories to me.
There are some changes to the Superman mythos (as if there was one unified version) that may bother some people. Jonathan Kent's portrayal, for instance, seems to be the many thing people have a problem with--though I don't think that's the biggest change.
The film is very serious; it's definitely in a different vein than the Marvel films. It works, but it could have had a few more bits of levity without much changing the weightiness they seemed to be going for. The film's palette is muted: from Krypton to Kansas there isn't anything colorful here. Several reviewers have said the action sequences sometimes go on a bit too long, and I can see that (though I really wasn't bothered by it), but what really got to me was how many bystanders were probably killed off-screen in all the destruction. This breezy attitude toward mass destruction is a trend in summer (uh, spring) blockbusters in general, so it's not flaw of Man of Steel alone, but I still feel like it's a flaw.
So anyway, that's my take. Check it out.