Friday, 14 June 2013

Man of Steel Movie Review!!!

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a flop??? Read our review to find out!

Now it’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Superman or DC characters in general.  Wacky made up cities like Metropolis and Gotham as well as depressive characters such as Batman have made the DC comic universe one that does not appeal to me.  Superman, the man who has every super power you can think of, although a favourite of mine growing up has fallen out of favour in my books in recent years.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached this movie.  The online buzz has been quite deafening with people proclaiming left, right and center that it is the best superhero movie ever made.  Well, that my friends is not true.  With a budget large enough to probably cure world famine, of course the end product is highly polished and very very good but, at the end of the day, this is simply not as good as The Avengers.

Now I cannot comment on how faithfully the comic has been reproduced but I can say that this was a very enjoyable movie.  We begin on Krypton, introduced to Russell Crowe as Jor-El, father of Kal-El AKA Superman.  The alien vista of Krypton is quite remarkable and reminiscent of something out of Star Wars and Avatar with flying beasties and alien technology all around.  A far cry from the opening sequence of the 1978 Richard Donner movie.  Some of the story elements will be familiar to anyone that’s seen those original movies. 

Krypton is dying, so in a bid to save their race and their son, Jor-El jettisons Kal-El to earth in a space pod where he would eventually be found by Martha and Jonathan Kent (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner).  Raised under their values and taught to keep his powers secret for fear of persecution, Clark Kent grows up one lonely and conflicted individual.  The father-son relationship is beautifully portrayed with one pivotal scene leaving me fighting to keep my tears back.

As an adult, Kent (Henry Cavill) finally finds his feet and learns his true identity under the guidance of a holographic Jor-El.  Unfortunately this happens at about the exact same time General Zod (Michael Shannon) finds him.  Essentially a Kryptonian patriot gone mad, he seeks to rebuild Krypton on Earth, burying mankind in the process.  The catch being that he needs something that Superman has before he can do it.  Well of course Supes isn’t gonna let that happen without a fight.

The casting for this movie, for the most part, is spot-on.  Cavill makes for an excellent Superman.  He has the looks, the presence and the poise to pull off wearing the famous blue and red costume – thankfully now with no more red outer-underwear.  Crowe and Costner are excellent as is the obsessed Shannon.  The only casting I didn’t agree with was that of Amy Adams as Lois Lane, much in the same way Kirsten Dunst did nothing for me in her portrayal of Mary Jane in Spider Man.  The chemistry between Cavill and Adams just didn’t feel organic and it also didn’t help things that she is eight years older than Cavill, something which is highly visible in every close-up shot.  They better start filming those sequels soon is all I can say.

The movie is very straight laced and almost void of all humour and this was a problem for me.  Batman has always been the dark depressed loser of the comic world.  Superman, I thought, was supposed to be bright, sunny and happy in the vein of Iron Man.  But that’s not the case here.  For me this will significantly affect the replay value of this movie.  Whereas, no matter how many times I’ve seen Iron Man and Avengers, if they are on TV, I will still happily sit down and watch them again through to the end, but I can’t imagine doing the same with this movie.  It's one of those movies, much like the Dark Knight series, where you need to be in the right mood to enjoy watching it again.

But perhaps the action and effects are what some people are after.  They should, for the most part, be very happy.  The grand finale displays more wanton destruction than I think I’ve ever seen before in a film.  Think scenes from 2012 on steroids and you might have some idea of what to expect.  Despite attempts by Bays Transformers to give the impression of a city being destroyed, they don’t come close to this.  Definitely do not watch this movie in 3D.  The action would be just too fast to appreciate.

The whole city is pretty much leveled and although it’s not shown, this invariably means that millions of people probably died during the battle.  It just made me wonder, if Superman was such a hero then wouldn’t he have tried to lead the fight to some remote unpopulated area.  But of course, that wouldn’t be as fun to watch.  Additionally, I’m sure the world would blame Superman for everything seeing as he was the reason all the bad guys came to earth in the first place.  Surely they would want him to leave earth rather than embrace his presence.

The way the action was framed and filmed also left me slightly disappointed.  Every boy has at one point or another wanted to fly.  The first time Robert Downey Jr flies in Iron Man is such a great scene - it really makes you want to fly.  The scenes in Superman however were filmed in a really strange way such that you either had a close up of Superman’s grinning face as he was flying or the camera pulled back so far that Superman would look a small blue and red dot flying around over the ocean, between canyons and herds of animals.  You never get to see Superman flying, fully framed on screen in the breathtaking way that you want to.  The same can be said for some of the fights.  They are either too close up or sometimes pull back so far that all you see are some small fast moving blobs hitting buildings and the buildings collapsing. 

I also had a lot of difficulty trying not to get bogged down by the lack of consistency and logic to Superman’s powers.  I still don’t understand why coming into contact with things from Krypton, his home planet, makes him weak.  They say in the movie that it is because Superman has lived and been conditioned to the atmosphere of earth, that the environment on earth bestows Kryptonians with unusual powers such as laser eyes and x-ray vision amongst other things, but coming into contact with Kryptonian material, which he is not conditioned for, weakens and kills him.  This can also be seen when Zod takes his helmet off and experiences the new powers for himself.  But does that mean that these powers are lost when they leave earth?  Superman can fly through space and still retain his powers can’t he? 

Similarly, Superman can move and think at greater than light-speeds supposedly, so why is it that when he is thrown or hit, he is sent crashing through tens of buildings before he falls.  Wouldn’t he just stop himself after perhaps crashing through the first building?

Now I may sound very negative in my appraisal of Man of Steel but that is far from the truth.  I’m merely highlighting why this movie may not be the picture of perfection that many are screaming that it is so that you can go in with the correct expectations and enjoy this year's biggest summer movie. 

Whether this is the first stepping stone towards the realisation of an Avengers-esque Justice League movie with Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman & Co, remains to be seen.

I easily prefer this to the Dark Knight series.  Zack Snyder has done a great job and it looks like he still has some of that 300 flair left over.  This is a real superhero movie at a scale that no one has attempted before.  You will probably need some assistance lifting your jaw off the floor after the last half an hour of this.  There is no doubt about it, Superman really has returned.

Check it out!

Rating 4 out of 5.


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