Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: Man of Steel

1. Jonathan. I hated their portrayal of Jonathan Kent. I didn't have as much of a problem with the "Maybe" scene as some did, but Jonathan Kent is an open-hearted man and Clark's real father. The Jonathan Kent I know is not cold, is not ruthless, would not admit to not being Clark's dad even if Clark said he wasn't in a teenaged moment. He absolutely wouldn't ask Clark to do what he did. Ever.

2. Martha. Have we ever had a really good screen Martha? The one in Lois & Clark wasn't bad, but it seems she's a hard character to get right. The one in this movie simply killed my suspension of disbelief. I could not imagine somebody as weak as her running the farm without either Jonathan OR Clark to help her.

3. To be honest, my dearly beloved had a point. This movie had what I call the "movie problem." Or, as I characterized it at dinner, "This is the Superman run DC wouldn't give the writers." I'd actually like to see the Director's Cut to see if it helps, but there was a bit of a sense of watching a "Highlight reel" caused by trying to get too much into a movie. Nolan and Goyer's prior work has not had this problem, but I wonder if there was a weird intersection between Nolan's often non-linear style and Snyder's tendency towards choppy imagery and camera work.

4. They do the classic Kid Clark in a cape scene. When Superman is clearly the only hero and nobody wears a red cape. Sigh.

5. Nolan and Snyder. You do not have the right to change Kryptonian female naming convention. Even if it is ridiculously patriarchal for an advanced society. And if you must change it, do it consistently...why do we have Lara Lor-Van and then Faora-Ul?

6. Lara Jor-El, or Lor-Van as she was credited for some reason, was too...housewifey...to be a leading scientist in her own right.

7. Pete Ross ends up working at iHop? Give me a break. Way to turn a cool character into a total loser.

8. No Jimmy. No Jimmy Olsen.

So, what made me like it.

1. What set this movie apart, for better or worse, from other Superman movies was its unashamed echoing of the character's pulp roots. This is the closest Superman movie ever to being a planetary romance. We see Jor-El flying across Krypton on a creature that clearly originated on Barsoom, the terraforming device the Kryptonians use has three legs, there's even a nod to the original explanation for Superman's powers. And I loved all of that. I'm a huge fan of pulp in its true form, and it was nice to have a reminder that supers comes out of pulp.

2. Henry Cavill was awesome. He was really awesome. I think he carried the movie through its flaws. He's the first Superman since Christopher Reeve to catch the humor at the edge of the character, particularly at the end.

3. Antje Traue as Faora-Ul. For those who don't know, this IS the same character as Ursa (DC changed the name, perhaps because they wanted something less "Earth"). She. Was. Awesome. She wasn't the same Ursa Sarah Douglas played in Superman II. Sarah Douglas' Ursa was arrogant and cold. She used Zod and he her and they both knew it. Antje's was the loyal lieutenant, cold, ruthless, the perfect soldier, but with just that slightest edge of being in love with Zod even though she could never act on it. I like both approaches to the character equally. And she was visually perfect.