REVIEW: Man of Steel

20 07 2013

Look, it’s a bird!  No, it’s a plane!  Worse, it’s Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” a bomb of heroic proportions torpedoing its way towards a multiplex near you to steal 2 1/2 hours of your life and $10 of your money.  How this could have been touched by moviemaking Midas himself, Christopher Nolan, truly escapes me.

I personally saw nothing horrendously wrong with Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns,” though I haven’t seen it since 2006 (a fact that may ultimately speak loudest to its quality).  However, I can point out a number of gaping flaws in “Man of Steel.”  It’s one thing to leave a movie nonplussed but another entirely to be angry.  If you hadn’t already guessed, I was the latter upon leaving this film.

Most issues seemed to spring from the lackluster story.  The film takes on the practically futile task of humanizing Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El, an invincible being.  He’s always had an identification problem because, well, how many of us can relate to someone who is essentially perfect?  (I’ll speak for myself and say that I certainly cannot.)  While the drama of Clark’s grappling with his power is relatively compelling, it’s told only in brief flashbacks.

And these scenes with his adoptive parents, played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, really only serve to play into the overarching Messianic allegory of the entire film.  I’m certainly not opposed to such grand implications, but they need to be done well (such as they were in Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables“).  “Man of Steel” feels completely disingenuous, exploiting spirituality for its own gain.  If it were any more obvious about its overloaded metaphor, Henry Cavill’s Superman would be wearing the letter t across his chest.

Man of Steel

“Man of Steel” also introduces us to Superman’s Mary Magdalene (that is, if you take a lot of stock in Dan Brown’s opinions), Amy Adams’ Lois Lane.  Though I’m a big fan of Adams and think she deserved an Oscar for either “Doubt” or “The Fighter,” she was tragically miscast in this role.  She and Cavill have no chemistry, which is lethal when combined with their joint dearth of character development in David S. Goyer’s script.

Their romantic relationship comes together by about the 90-minute mark in the film, and once that’s settled enough to set up a sequel, Snyder and Goyer halt the plot entirely.  What we are then subjected to is a senseless bombardment of visual effects that gives Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” a run for its money in terms of sheer mind-numbing capabilities.  After about 15-20 minutes, they lose all potency and begin to drone on.  Not even the normally terrifying Michael Shannon, reduced to histrionic screaming that was only a fragment of what made him so haunting in “Take Shelter” and “Revolutionary Road,” can inject a sliver of life into the film’s drawn-out climax.

After the initial promise of those tantalizing teasers preceding last summer’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” it’s clear that anyone can cut a trailer to look like a Malick film.  But eventually, a final product has to hit theaters, and no amount of effects shots, shaky camera angles, or fancy editing can hide the shaky foundation of a bad story.  C1halfstars



2 responses

20 07 2013

Is it me or is Superman sporting some serious bronzer in the above poster?

20 07 2013

Ha, yes, it might appear that way!

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