Saturday, June 15, 2013

Some thoughts on Man of Steel

Well, I didn't hate it. Which is probably the nicest thing I can think to say about it right now. It rectified some of the problems of Superman Returns, but also, messed up just about everything else. SPOILERS, most obviously.

1. While the visuals were quite stunning, the prologue was unnecessarily long and blech. I know you've got big action man Russell Crowe, and in return for his services you give him cannon fodder to beat up, but still, Morrison and Quitely's All-Star prologue tells the same story in four panels and really what else do we need to know?

2. So the codex. Yes, the codex. The one behind the entire prologue. The one that makes Zod need Kal-El so. Leave the codex out and what happens differently in this film? Nothing. Overplotting 101. Zod just needs his motive tweaked a bit, and you have the same movie, only, you know, simpler. Oi, that damn codex.

3. Sue me but I liked bearded Supes. I liked wandering the planet Kal. Maybe Waid sells it better in Superman Birthright -- having Clark travel the world as an independent reporter -- but I'm down with a CK that doesn't really know what to do with his life yet. And gets totally ripped in the process. Hello nurse!

4. Amy Adams as Lois Lane is one bad mammajamma. This might be the strongest Lois we've seen on the screen -- silver or small. She is a journalist. She discovers the big secret early on. She saves the day. Badass.

5.MORE FLASHBACKS. I could have done a whole movie with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane counseling kid Clark because freaking Kevin Costner and Diane Lane.

6. EXCEPT: So papa Kent counsels Clark not to save people because the big secret might get out. Bullshit. I'm calling bullshit. The scene with the tornado? Also, bullshit. Jonathan Kent's death is a pretty powerful turning point for Clark in other versions of this origin story. The fact that it comes most often from a heart attack is a lesson for Clark that he can't save everyone. Watching his dad die like that though? Bullshit.

7. Every scene with Lois and Superman is perfect. Things go off the rails when they're not together. And that's a testament to the chemistry that Cavill and Adams have on screen. Also perfect? Toby Zielger and Detective Elliot Stabler save Metropolis. I kid you not. Perfect.

8. The fighting, okay the fighting. After the snoozefest that was Superman Returns, I wanted more super-punches the next time around. But here's the other side -- the one thing I have a hard time with during superhero films -- indiscriminate destruction. And the (implied) death that comes with it. Two/three hundred dead in Smallville? Twenty/thirty thousand dead in Metropolis? Which leads us to:

9. SUPERMAN DOES NOT KILL. If every other point is picking nits, then fine. Ignore them. But this is the big one. After punching Zod halfway around Metropolis, killing a few hundred people in the process  from shattered glass, falling debris, and collapsed buildings -- Superman snaps Zod's neck in order to save a family from instant heat vision death. What. Just what. I appreciate that the movie tries to convince us that Superman had no other way. I appreciate that Zod was kind of crazy and just wanted to kill, kill, kill by this point. But still, this is the rule you only break once you've earned the right to break it. And with everything that came before, Zack Snyder didn't earn it. No way. No how. This is a deal breaker. What the actual hell.

10. If Snyder and Nolan hold the keys to the kingdom for future DC franchise films, I'm done. Chris Nolan's take on Batman was entertaining enough. But neither he nor Snyder understand Superman. And if you don't get Superman, how are we supposed to trust you with Wonder Woman, Flash, Canary, Martian Manhunter, and good god, Aquaman? Short answer, we can't. Long answer, WE CAN'T.

(Oops, I guess they were the same answer.)

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