Rested, reinvigorated and reinvented – Superman is back again for a new cinematic generation, but has the baby been thrown out with the bathwater?
The short answer is…well…yes it has – but I’d still recommend it as a movie worth your time. Certainly it’s worth renting on a rainy afternoon.
Man of Steel’s first third is by far the strongest and focuses on Kryptonian life. Director, Zack Snyder strong visual flare comes to the fore here. Snyder has a long and strong track record of making comic book inspired movies, such as 300 and Watchmen, and most importantly – making them look gorgeous!
His skills work overtime here; redefining the Superman legend. Krypton is a dying planet and society is in a fast decline. Everyone is genetically engineered to perform a specific task from which they cannot deviate – or even want to. Children are grown rather than born and nurtured.
Superman’s father – Jor El, was designed to be a unique thinker and out of the box scientist – and as such rebelliously father’s the first natural born child in hundreds of years.
Played with a perfect blend of gravitas and charisma by Russell Crowe, his story forms what I felt to be the most engaging part of the movie – and was glad to see his presence felt throughout the whole flick.
Equally interesting is Michael Shannon’s villainous General Zod, who paints his character with passionate earnest, desperately cherishing his beloved Krypton above all else.
30 minutes whizz by as this galactic space opera unfolds, and then, all of a sudden we’re in Kansas – which sort of feels like The Wizard of Oz inverted. There’s still strong hopes at this part that we’re in for a definitive Superman flick – as young Clark Kent struggles with his super powers – unable to stop himself from looking through the skin of his school mates and teachers – or block out the relentless noise of his super hearing.
Clark grows up and decides he must stay apart from civilization, lest his superness accidentally causes injury or death to those around him, and he walks the earth doing good in secret and generally being super.
And we’re 90 minutes in and I don’t think he’s even in his tights yet!!!!
And let me take the opportunity to give a note to all film makers, making a super hero movie – WE’RE HERE TO SEE THE SUPER HERO!!!!!!!!! (Yes, I’m looking at you, the last Spiderman movie).
In comes plucky gal reporter Louis Lane to liven things up, and Amy Adams is pretty good with the role – doggedly following the story of the mysterious super powered good samaritan.
When they finally meet, she gets the best line in the movie – seeing Superman’s ‘S’ symbol on his ample heaving chest, she ask’s what it stands for.
“On my world, it means ‘hope,'” says Supes with dewey eyed sincerity.
“Yeah, well here it means and ‘S'” retorts Lois.
And there in is my biggest disappointment with this new take on Superman – it’s just devoid of any of the charm of it’s predecessors. There’s no twinkle in the eye, winking at the camera on display here.
Just LOTS of earnestness.
Now, I’m not looking for a yuk-a-minute laugh track, but a little self deprecating would have gone a LONG way. There’s a great moment in the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie, where he needs to change into his costume, and he takes a second to consider changing in a phone booth – tThat’s the sort of thing I’m talking about.
A bit of charm.
Just writing the above paragraph made me all nostalgic for the Man of Steel’s late 70s counterpart. Like when Supes saves Louis Lane from the helicopter and she’s falling to her doom only to be caught and met with Reeves impossibly deep blue eyes.
“Don’t worry, miss, I have you.”
“You have me, WHO HAS YOU???!!!”
Henry Cavill does a fine job as the relentlessly earnest Superman, being relentlessly earnest in his super earnest way.
Also of note is Lawrence Fishburne (the bloke from the Matrix) who does well as Daily Planet editor Perry White (GREAT CEASAR’S GHOST – Black Perry White!!!).
After what seems a few hours, Superman is in his costume and bad guy General Zod has shown up – and cue a relentlessly earnest super fight. Incredibly, even the fight sequence drags on forever and just becomes dull after a while.
Oh look, a super being throwing another super being through a building…again…and again…and again… and AGAIN…well, you get the picture. And they through at us some very 9/11esque imagery which just felt misjudged and somewhat out of place
Finally then…AT LAST…it’s all over – and in it’s wake there’s a reasonably entertaining two thirds of a movie (and half of that is really rather good indeed). But much of what’s important to me about the Superman mythology has been discarded.
Hopefully for the sequel – which it transpires will be a Ben Affleck Batman verses Superman showdown, they’ll lighten a tone a little and not take themselves SOOOO seriously.
But is it Kosher?
Pretty much so. Supes does have his shirt off quite a bit, and that rippling chest might be enough to make any young lady go weak at the knees. There’s a scene at the beginning where Superman is born – but nothing graphic shown – and of course the villainous General Zod is very villainous indeed, and by extension rather violent.
Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon and Amy Adams
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Run Time: 143 minutes
Release Date: 4 June 2013 (USA) 20 June 2013 (Israel)
Kosher Kritic Rating: 2 1/2 Matzo Balls (out of 5)
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