OKay so my screening was like this, It was a 2-D screening (because the 3d screening was a week later and I didn’t want to wait any longer to see the movie I’ve been dying to know all year) so my first viewing wasn’t affected by dimmed 3d glasses or 3d headaches. It was a full theater, the true movie going experience, and it was loads of fun. So afterward, I felt I had a really good read on the people’s reaction plus my own opinion of the film. I watched to the end of the credits (to find out there IS NO bonus scene FYI) but still walked out completely pleased and I was expecting to see decent praise about the film from critics across the board... cut to a week later Daniel reading grouchy reviews. “WHAHAPPaAANED you guys?!”
So what do you want? a review or my opinion? Aren’t they the same thing? That’s what I’m seeing mostly in the articles I’ve read from critics (all who are far more skilled than I at writing their thoughts out for others to be influenced by) So I guess I will just go through my thoughts and you can take it for what it is.
Here’s my quick review for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie but wants to know my vote. Afterwards I’ll dive into more spoiler type things:
Man of Steel Review: The film far exceeded my expectations, I really enjoyed it, people clapped during parts of the film, and after. I think it’s a fantastic reboot. But the film does have some pacing issues at times. I don’t mean the flashback style of storytelling (I actually like that style) I mean there are several moments where things are said or major things happen, people react, and then move on WAY too fast for it to feel believable. This is where negative critics have the strongest foothold I feel. In terms of cinematography, color palette, I found the look of the film very cool. It’s got the Dark Knight vibe, but it’s still very much it’s own piece, I thought Zach Snynder should be commended. So I enjoyed it. I’m of the lesser half of critics, but I come from a land where I too grew up with Superman and I wasn’t offended by this new approach in the least.
So lets get into what people are complaining about. Several articles I’ve read either say the film is too bland, there’s no chemistry, it’s just a cg love fest... Semi fair topics, but these complaints to me all sound like someone comparing the film to their personal expectations of what Superman is and how the story should be told in their mind rather than looking at the film for what it is. I.E. how much did it veer away from The classic 1978 version of superman. I grew up with Christopher Reeve as my Superman. I will never forget him... :( But I’m also mature enough now to realize that at some point in life someone else WILL make another superman movie and the image of superman will also change. And that includes the soundtrack. That being said, I can’t get too upset at people enjoying a film, or not enjoying something as I did... that’s just dumb... But this film I felt has been met with a Critics vs M.Knight Shaymalan attitude as in, We aren’t even going to allow you to sit here until you remake what made us smile in the first place. And that just feels overly judgmental to me... Like me going into a Michael Bay film... I get it... I do it too, but this time I feel like defending rather than attacking (some what)
(SPOILERS AHEAD, Please don’t ruin it for yourself)
So what did MoS have to overcome audience-wise? What was on the plate? Look at it from a history of Christopher Reeve all the way to the Smallville series. There is i’m sure a mountain of obstacles that have been labeled as “What Makes Superman Annoying” He’s a boy-scout, He’s perfect, he practically can’t be injured, Lex Luthor is boring in the movies (sorry but it’s true, all he wants is real estate) Superman doesn’t ever kill anyone, nobody really relates to him, on and on the list goes... So in terms of creating a version of superman that attempts to take back all of the name calling, I thought MoS’s Kal-El is freaking perfect.
As for story, is it cliche? Uh yeah, it’s an origin story everybody already knows... it has to follow some template or everyone would have been outraged. However there is a different version of the classic tale being told here for sure. I actually found the focus on Kal-El and the story of his two dad’s far more meaningful than the previous movies ever did. Even if Father Kent pretty much suicides himself to save a dog (which I realize is unbelievable, however if Kiddo was trapped in the path of a tornado, I’m pretty sure I’d dive in to save him cause he’s my bro) As I was saying, it still shows a point where Clark is hurt emotionally, so I appreciated that. I thought all of the moments of wisdom passed on by Jor-El and Jonathan Kent were great. Jonathan Kent says “take it slow, son. The people aren’t ready, you need to first decide what kind of man you want to be” Jor-El’s just like “No dude, they need you to look up to and I already know you’re great. Just get out there.” Then Kal-El does a Superman/Jesus Pose.
Which is another thing I think that makes people uneasy , comparing Sup to Jesus.... Oh well. It’s already out there, and this film doesn’t push away from it unlike Superman Returns being afraid to say the phrase “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” But just add that to the list of “What Makes Superman Annoying” And I can see why they went for it in MoS.
As I said before I thought there were pacing issues. It made me hope there is an extended version in the works for BlueRay release, but something tells me we will just have to grin and bare it. A pacing issue example, Zod’s arrival on earth, You’re telling me the world isn’t going bananas about this? We would freak the heck out and be like “Dude!!!! Uh, Kal-El you’ve got to go! That guys gonna jack up our gravity so he can make babies on our corpses! Sorry we never knew you but PEACE OUT MAN!!!! BY The WaY, HOLY CRAP AAAILLLIEEEENNNNS!!!” I felt we didn’t get a believeable viewpoint from us humans. Military and Daily Planet maybe, but not the public. But does that make it a flaw or just different? Which kind of leads to the next issue.
The other thing that makes this movie different from previous Sup movies, is that there isn’t really a “save the day” campy, “That’s our Superman!” montage, which would be another way to see the world start to appreciate Superman in this movie, however this movie isn’t like that. It’s told from a we are scared to death that he’s so powerful perspective, and he has to prove he’s here to help us. That whole “hope” and "trust" theme thing... We are a people that have already moved away from the classic “Thank you, Superman!” style of people in past movies. We are dark, we watch films about the bad guys being the protagonist, we watch apocalyptic stories, we saturate ourselves with sadness, end of the world, depressing things.... (walking dead, game of thrones) What would we do then when Superman actually showed up? We wouldn’t trust him. So I thought the film made sense in not focusing on the classic “First, I'm gonna work at the Daily Planet. Then, I’m gonna save some people. THEN, people will like me, Then I’m gonna save the earth.” template. However all of those elements ARE in MoS just told in slightly different order..
THE CG! People complaining about the extreme action sequences... I’ll just say I loved the action. LOVED IT! Opening with Krypton to the 3 part battle in metropolis! it was amazing. I even remember a guy in the audience clapping at a point when 2nd wave of super punching starts towards the end, because you could just feel this movie was saying, “We know you wanted this... so we are going to give you all of it” I can see why negative critics would hate this about the film because it’s forcing them to wait even longer to get up and go home. To me I felt it was a DC giving you the fight scene you’ve always wanted but couldn’t because of filmaking limitations. It also further illustrated how powerful and dangerous the kryptonians are on earth. And I feel that made Zod feel even more unstoppable, because lets be honest, did anyone see Superman straight up snapping Zod’s neck as a way to end this coming??? I didn’t. Neither did our audience. They clapped like crazy. And that moment when Superman screams after.... That wasn’t bland. He was pushed and pushed and pushed and had no alternative because he knew Zod would never quit. He had to kill the last of his kind! Plus the idea of Superman murdering someone is freakin dark! Make superman kill someone, and make Superman Cry! Topic removed from superman annoying list.
As for people injured/or killed in the final battle (or people complaining that this is not an issue) I think it very much was is an issue, it just goes back to my pacing statement. Or perhaps ALL of those buildings were magically empty because it was after office hours... right. Either way, action movies have to have some kind epic battle... The fact that it made you think about the matrix or star trek or any other film... does that mean this movie is a rip off? (they even call Neo’s flying his “superman thing” in the matrix. who’s copying who?) Anyway, it is what it is. The real problem is when the pointless intern survives a building collapse, stands up and then interrupts the climax of the battle by immediately saying "Are They Gone??"
What would I change? Good lord, I have no idea. I'd cut that interns lines out of the movie for starters... I suppose I wasn’t completely fired up over Michael Shannon’s portrayal Zod. It never really won me over like other great villains have, but his story is a little more challenging to relate to anyway. I would say maybe with more scenes I could actually understand why he’s so passionate about his cause, but I’m not sure it would have won me over anyway. It just wasn’t as captivating as say like Ledgers Joker. But that’s alright. What can you do when you are an angry alien with weird super armor? ((*EDIT* After seeing the movie a second time I actually enjoyed Zod more than the first viewing)) Another thing I felt was too soft was the comic relief. The comments saying the film is too bland I think are there because the moments of “laughter” are still delivered in a very dry way. when you don’t have Morgan Freeman or Michael Caine’s sweet face/voices to make you go “Ooooo I just love this guy!” The comic relief was very forgettable. But it is in there. Also I would have preferred to see more time alone with Kal-El and Louis? They kiss at the end and even I felt like “Hoooold on there, kids. You two just met sort of.” I also wish there were more scenes of Clark growing up, but that’s probably my 1978 superman love creepin in. When does he run faster than the traaaaaain!?
So that’s really all I can think to share about the film. I really enjoyed it, and I really hope this version of the series gets to play out and develop more. But I saw the Lex Corp gas truck. I have a feeling they’ve already got a plan.
So what would I rate it? Well if I had to vote based my opinion on what I gave Superman Returns I’d HAVE to give it 5 out of 5. But since those days long ago I’ve seriously come down off my superman high and had time to really let “Returns” sink in. It’s very clear to me that I was being extremely generous. Now... I would give both 4 out of 5.
Man of Steel is a GREAT movie, it satisfied on many levels, but I wouldn’t call it perfect.