Superman – Man of Steel a review
Now, first I feel the need to point out I am not my brother. I do not hate everything. In fact, I like superhero movies. I don’t read the comics/graphic novels, so I am not hard-core fan. Still I enjoy the hero’s tale, good triumphing over evil, amazing powers and greater responsibility and all that fun stuff.
Superman may not be a childhood favour – I always found his story a little bland. However, I do have fond memories of watching the first several seasons of Smallville – before my source dried up (I was watching a housemate’s bother’s collection in university). I know the basics of Superman – he can do amazing things, including disguising himself with just a pair of clear glass frames. He can leap tall buildings, stop bullets with his chest and somehow fall victim to Lex Luther on a regular basis. I have seen some of the older films and was looking forward to the new reboot.
Casting is probably one of the strongest elements of the movie. It had an incredible supporting cast of well-proven actors. And the main lead fit my visual of the title character perfectly. There was clearly a huge budget available for all the shiny, computer assisted cinematographic tricks used to push the visual appeal for good to great. And Christopher Nolan was also part of production.
So, what happened?
Well, not a lot of anything. Man of steel turned out to be one of the most boring movies I have seen in a while. The most exciting part was surmising that Superman’s ‘flight’ was gas-powered through flatulents. How else do you explain the puffs of air emerging from his backside as he leaps into space?
From the previews I had expected an origins story – but there was no character development. You could not even describe the film as an epic good vs evil as there was not progression of such a plot. It seemed at several moments the writers wanted to do something, they had half an idea, but then nothing came of it.
Superman’s history was interspersed throughout the long two hours in which nothing much occurs. Sure we see scenes of Clark being bullied (for undiscussed reasons), but what was the point? Why was he bullied? What did he learn from this experience? And why do all modern superheroes have to follow this over-done plot device? Can we not have a reformed bully become the hero?
Lois Lane was tossed into the film because even the director recognized you need a female on screen. But her role was so muddled and random to be completely irrelevant to the story. After doggedly hunting down her mysterious guy (Superman), she is suddenly caught by the FBI – how? And why does Superman, having met the woman once and told her to leave him alone, suddenly want to protect her more than anyone else? I think we are supposed to believe that they have some sort of romantic connection, but why? They interact for barely five minutes together over the course of the entire movie. Also, why is Lois taken by the bad guys? What use do they have for her?
The evil guy – with the ridiculous sounding but otherwise forgettable name – would have twirled a ludicrous moustache, if he wasn’t so two-dimensional to even lack that interesting aspect to his character. He was genetically evil – or so he claimed – without being consistent. He was a warrior bred to protect his people, but initiates a coup and tries to take out one of the few remaining people when he attacks Superman.
I also really struggled with the alien ancestors of Superman. For a species supposed to be different from our own (they are Aliens), they were disappointingly human: in appearance, behaviour and thought. There was nothing particularly interesting about them as all of their characteristics and problems were pulled unimaginatively from our own western-culture thought and history. Their evil plot to terraform earth and rebuild their population on our deaths was so poorly justified. There was no way the audience could sympathise with their actions – which given humanities propensity to do the same should have been an easy accomplishment. Actually, what little dialogue and … culture? … was littered at the beginning of the film I felt the writers wanted to comment on … something.
There were snippets of conversation and thought regarding over population on Krypton and the unfortunate consequences. This led to colonization in the galaxy that was mysteriously abandoned. Birth was controlled by use of test-tube babies. This in turn resulted in limited bloodlines and genetically engineered individuals. Questions arose about the role of genetics over an individual’s fate, free-choice, and natural birth. With our growing skill in genetic engineering this could have been a topic of relevance, but the science was botched (how do two individuals genetically modified not to breed miraculously give birth to a child?) and like everything else the topic fell to the side.
Also, why did the planet suddenly exploded for no particular reason? For those not in the know, planets do not suddenly and violently explode by themselves.
So, underdeveloped, bland and boring summarize my Superman experience. The visuals were nowhere near original or spectacular enough to compensate for story in which nothing really happens over a 2 hour period.