Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Steel Crazy

I don't even know why we watched Man of Steel (2013). I guess it was out of respect for director Zach Snyder and the whole comic book movie genre. I don't think I've been a Superman fan since I was around 10, and even then I was more of a Superboy/Teen Titans type. But when I thought of how Batman went from a campy joke to the Dark Knight - well, the last batch of Superman movies were pretty campy, let's see what they can do with Supes.

It starts on Krypton. Usually, I am just bored with the whole Jor-El backstory, even (especially?) when he's played by Marlon Brando. I actually liked this one. Jor-El is Russell Crowe and Lara is Ayelet Zurer (currently on TV in Daredevil). But the design of Krypton is the best part - the art design is a unique mix of organic and Art Deco. Take the levitating robot assistants. They have displays that are made up of tiny silver balls that form 3D shapes, something like those pinbox toys that you press your face into. When it isn't just displaying faces, it uses a graphic style that is distinctly Deco.

But all too soon we leave Krypton for Smallville. The scenes of little Clark learning to shut out the noise and sights that his super-hearing and x-ray vision give him are a bit overwrought, but they make an interesting tie-in to the problems of autistic children with overstimulation. We see Clark being bullied and saving kids without giving away his secret, but it isn't really clear to me why. Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) thought the secret was important enough to die for. I don't know how Ma Kent, Diane Lane, ever forgave him for that.

I believe I have spoken about the odd ubiquity of heroes with father issues before.

So Clark grows up to be Henry Cavill (who I get mixed up with Jim Caviezel because they were both in The Count of Monte Cristo) and gets to meet a hologram of Jor-El and gets his uniform (a rather dingy version - more dark and gritty than the primary colored comics version). So when General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his crew come to take over Earth, he's ready to fight.

So far, so drab. Really, up to this point, the movie hasn't really been grabbing me - not bad, more than just watchable, but not great. Now the action really begins to pick up! And up and up and up! And more action - superpeople pile driving each other through skyscrapers! And on and on...

This movie is about 2 hours and 20 minutes long. I think the last fight took up about 20 of those minutes, with about a half hour to the fight before that. It was too much - senseless and boring. But if they had tightened that part up, it would have tilted the movie away from action. Maybe the whole thing needed to be tightened up, a few themes trimmed, and then they could have gotten him in the tights sooner (and they could have cleaned the tights, too).

In conclusion, for better flying people slamming through skyscraper action, see Chronicle.

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