Sunday, June 16, 2013

Man of Steel

I have such strongly mixed feelings about this movie that I cannot come down firmly pro or con on it.  Let me explain why. 

I'm a sucker for the story.  I grew up reading comic books.  I was more of a Marvel follower than a DC fan, but I loved both, and I read Superman faithfully in every comic that featured him.  I've seen all the past movies, and I loved the George Reeves black-and-white Adventures of Superman series, which I caught in reruns as a kid.  Jon Moore, the protagonist of my novel series, is intentionally a bit of a Superman character, a man with superpowers who is never able to put down roots lest those around him discover the truth about him.  (His childhood is rather different from Clark Kent's, of course, but in those novels I'm not in any way trying to retell the Supes story; it's just an influence.)

So, I walked into the theater prepared--no, let's be honest, wanting--to love Man of Steel

I did love parts of it, but not all of it. 

The opening bits on Krypton mirrored the strengths and weaknesses of what was to come:  visually interesting, emotionally overwrought, and full of action scenes that always went on too long, they intrigued and entertained me but also occasionally bored me and made me say, "Really?" 

The parts featuring the brooding, hiding Clark, the twenty-something young man roaming the world and wondering what to do with himself, bothered a lot of critics, but not me.  I enjoyed them well enough, and they did a reasonable job of setting up his internal conflict. 

The cast turned in reasonable performances.  Crucially, Henry Cavill filled the title role more than well enough for my taste.

Amy Adams was a completely adequate Lois Lane, but no more.  I didn't hate her performance, but if someone else signed on to play the role in the sequel, I also wouldn't miss her at all.  She played the entire film as if wondering when the scene would end and how she could get to her next engagement on time. 

Michael Shannon proved once again that when you want a creepy religious fanatic, you need to book him. 

The action scenes, as you no doubt have already read, were visually intriguing and frequently fun, but each one went on entirely too long.  I certainly understand the temptation to fill the screen with action, and you need to do a lot to hurt a superpowered alien, but in almost every action scene I found myself wondering, "Are we going to finish soon?"

I could go on and on with particulars, but instead let me jump to the bottom line:  This movie couldn't decide what it wanted to be.  Maybe that's the fault of director Zack Snyder, or producer and co-story-author Christopher Nolan, but the film lacked cohesiveness.  Sometimes a character story, sometimes an overblown action piece, sometimes the outsider, almost-Christ tale that is undoubtedly part of the Superman mythos, the movie tried to have it all--and couldn't quite manage it. 

On balance, I'm glad I went, and I'll go to the sequel, but I have to recommend it with strong reservations.

No comments:


Blog Archive