They are, in no particular order of importance:
– Russell Crowe is one of my favorite actors.
– Amy Adams is a red-headed thing of beauty that I would not hesitate pro-creating with.
– I would replace my intake of eight glasses of water with liquid chocolate if it didn’t stop my heart from beating.
– I enjoy most of Kevin Costner’s acting endeavors (yes, even that water-logged one) .
– I have affinity for small hot-dog shaped canines.
– I’ve never really been a big Superman super-fan.
Before the kyrptonic hate mail pours in, let me explain. It’s not that I hate the man with the red cape, in fact I actually enjoyed the original Christopher Reeves film of 1978 – which mind you also happened to be the year of my birth and the release of flicks like Animal House and Revenge of the Pink Panther (yeah, it was a good year).
My biggest problem with the red and blue leotard-wearing humanoid alien has always been his lack of imperfection. I’ve personally found it difficult to sympathize with a character who can fly faster than a speeding bullet, leap tall buildings in a single bound, single-handedly destroy a building without messing up a hair on his head, and usually looks as though he just stepped out of a photo-shoot for an Abercrombie commercial.
Call me cooky, but I enjoy my superheroes with more human-like flaws while at the same time being slightly less invincible. I just find it a challenge to feel bad for someone with all of the above-mentioned powers – not to mention x-ray vision and heat ray – because he gets picked on in school and he gets a little scared because he can see through his teacher’s dress. I mean really, who didn’t get picked on in school and what red-blooded young lad wasn’t even a little curious about how their young fourth grade teacher looked like under their class attire. And yes, I am indeed going to hell… albeit in a premium woven hand basket.
Another example of trailer outdoing movie.
I digress though as those are all the biases I had coming into the Man of Steel that I was hoping would be shattered by Nolan’s reportedly darker, more serious take on the American icon. Alas, the latest adaption served up more disappointment than anything else, but at least I was able to see it in Sin City (aka Lost Wages) with my NerdBFF Hot Nerd Girl as part of our Amazing Las Vegas Comic-Con weekend road-trip. I shall delay no further as I present my breakdown of the not-so-super aspects of Clark Kent’s latest incarnation.
WARNING: Some minor do follow, so please avoid them like kryptonite if you’d like to be completely 100% surprised on your own.
The Illegal Chop Shop
My biggest gripe with Man of Steel had to be the choppy way in which the story was presented. The timeline of events bounced back and forth between Superman’s birth to present time faster than celebrities bounce off the walls at a Hollywood “powder” party. Too much leaping around in conjunction with no transitions between flashbacks ruined any flow the movie tried to create and any potential to connect with the characters for more than a 15 second time span.
A Lot Less Talk, and a Lot more Action
This is the one instance where the famous Toby Keith song was appropriate, but shouldn’t have been. Unlike Nolan’s take on The Dark Knight, Man of Steel took the route of pounding the audience’s head in with action and special effects to the point of wondering if a script was even needed. Yes, I understand at its roots is a popcorn comic book action flick, but when my brain feels like even gooier mush than when I came into the theater, it’s usually not a good sign (with a few legitimate exceptions).
Lois Lane and the Cheeseball Effect
Someone help me out here, but when did Lois Lane morph into Wonder Woman? Right before my eyes, Lois Lane has gone from the plucky behind the desk news reporter to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who is now scaling ice caves and traveling with the military to drop alien space vessels into other alien space ships. Someone beam me up. I’m all for a little lady power, but it seemed too much of a departure for me.
What’s more, the prior two complaints with regards to story choppiness and lack of character development led to a very rushed relationship between Super tights and Ms. Lane. After roughly five minutes of shared screen time, the two are lip-locking like they’ve been together for a few decades. If there was any intent of having this film be the first entry into a series of new Super Movies, why not let the relationship simmer a bit before getting all lovey dovey?
Shall I go on? Sure, why not. Despite Hot Nerd Girls attempt at explanation, I still saw no need for the insane and incredibly smart Zod to bring Lois on board the ship with Superman other than to purposely sabotage his own plans. Throw in some very cheesey lines here and there, and this version of Superman was sorely lacking in the humor department, unless one accounts for the unintentional humor.
Longer than Locomotive
Despite everything that felt like it was missing, the movie itself was roughly close to 2.5 hours long. While the film moved quickly, I was also conscious (although just barely) of the fact my brain was being pummeled into sensory overload for most of that time period.
Nevertheless, Man of Steel was not without some strong points. The CGI and special effects were, for the most part, well done. The 3D wasn’t very noticeable, but that seems to be the case with most post-production films these days. Russell Crowe (as Kal-El’s real daddy, Jor-El) and specifically Kevin Costner (as Clark’s adopted daddy, Johnathan Kent) turned in above average performances as the fathers in Mr. Superman’s life. There were definitely some solid emotional moments with Costner, but most of those lost their impact due to the erratic way flashbacks were separated out and presented. Hot Nerd Girl also relayed a little fun fact that both men have played Robin Hood at some point during their careers. (Que the Twilight Zone music.)
Another positive, noteworthy item, depending on your preferences for human eye candy, is Henry Cavil’s almost Greek god-like build and good looks, in the newly modernized super-suit sans red underwear. I actually didn’t notice the omission until Hot Nerd Girl made sure to point that out during our post-viewing wrap-up. Her attention to detail with regards to that area and the rest of Cavil’s physique might explain my need for a snorkel due to the amount of saliva originating just to the right of me in the theater. Admittedly, the guy is a looker and resembles more of the Reeves version of Superman on steroids.
As I learned with the recent Spider-Man reboot, darker doesn’t always equate to better. On this occasion though, I did enjoy the more serious elements that were brought into Clark’s upbringing on earth. Unfortunately, those snippets were too few and far between and haphazardly scattered around the film to allow any type of sincere connection with Clark or the people in his life that actually cared about him. As a random side note, I found Zod more funnier-looking than frightening and what was the deal with how he was eventually ‘dealt with’? I found it a little anti-climactic after Superman and Zod whaled on each other for the better part of the entire movie. For a film that seemed like it had fourteen different endings, it came across as a little abrupt.
For what it’s worth, I feel this latest revision of Superman may appease some of the more die-hard fans that have been awaiting a decent remake much in the same way Marvel fans had been praying for a decent Hulk movie before Norton’s version placated some of the masses. Both movies are adequate in many ways, but still fall short of some of Rami’s Spiderman flicks and Nolan’s Dark Knight offerings.
Despite the struggles of adapting Clark Kent and friends to a theatrical format, long running television successes like Lois and Clark and Smallville, prove that there is demand for the character if done properly. It just may be that Superman’s true Achilles Heel isn’t Kryptonite, but rather the big green screens of Hollywood. Of course, that’s not to say a rebooted Supergirl franchise couldn’t work…