Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review - Man Of Steel: Again And Again And Again

We are not big fans of the superhero genre.
But that doesn't mean we don't go to see superhero movies. Let's face it, you can't really get through summer without at least one of these flicks.
Earlier this year we saw Iron Man 3 and we rather enjoyed it largely because of the cool charm that Robert Downey Jr. brings to the character.
But many of the superhero franchises (Batman, Spiderman and Iron Man among them) have been too dark for us - way too dark.
That's why we've almost always leaned toward Superman. The Superman saga has always been brighter, more optimistic and more thoroughly American. Hey, we grew up with this guy and we associate him with the best in us.
But now along comes the ultimate big-budget prequel -- Man of Steel, the newest Superman entry starring the clear-eyed, square jawed, chiseled Hunk of the Moment, Henry Cavill and featuring the still gorgeous Diane Ladd, the ever-perky Amy Adams, Kevin Costner (as Superman's adopted dad) Russell Crowe, TV's Christopher Meloni and Laurence Fishburne.
This film cost a quarter of a billion dollars to produce, runs nearly two and a half hours, and features endless special effects in 3-D with a soundtrack that is often so loud it makes the whole theater vibrate. It takes place all over the world and throughout outer space -- even in worlds beyond space that one can hardly imagine. And in it Superman doesn't merely fly, instead he soars like a supersonic rocket tearing through buildings, space vessels, galaxies and even planets.  He's not merely faster than a speeding bullet, he's eons beyond the speed of sound, light and God knows (or may not know) what.
This time around, Superman's just too damned super. And as eye-appealing as Cavill may be, a vital human element is often lacking in his portrayal. Insofar as the characters are concerned, there's not much for us to cling to.
But we might be able to get beyond all that if everything else in the film didn't assault us so relentlessly. We have the planetary travel of Star Wars, the darkness of Batman, the wiriness of Spiderman, the cling-clangy armor of Iron Man and the muscled mayhem of The Hulk all thrown into a single movie that turns out like an SFX crew on steroids.
And we dare you to follow the story or keep track of the cast. Characters who are supposed to be "dead" keep coming back again and again -- sometimes as ghosts, sometimes for real and sometimes somewhere in between. Seems nothing is what it seems - not this time, not the next time or not the fourth, fifth or sixth time.
There are at least three spots in Man of Steel where the movie could or should end.
But it doesn't happen because this time Superman's enemies just never seem to go away.
There are no bright colors here (even Superman's cape isn't really red), no sunny days, few smiles and little to cheer about.
Superman used to be the quintessential American hero: calm, steady, appealing, hopeful and ultimately triumphant -- like America itself. At least that's what America (and Superman) were supposed to be.
Make's you wonder what the hell happened.

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