Straight to the Point : I enjoyed Man of Steel immensely and will start you off with what I posted on my facebook page:
I’m actually finding it hard to express how immense Man of Steel was. Yeah, it’s another superhero film, yes there are plot holes and it was gratuitous but it it pushed every emotive bone in my body: sadness , apprehension, amazement, awe, happiness and elation. Amazing film, truly amazing. Im still buzzing!
The initial defence
I have yet to read any reviews of MOS but I am aware that some, maybe a lot of people, did not see it the same way I did. In fact one of my contributors, for this very site, is busily writing a review which holds Superman in a not so bright light . A shame, but freedom of speech and all. I therefore will structure the enclosed as a review and a defence (at the same time) for what I feel will be lambasted against it…. wish me luck!
Despite not being an avid comic book collector, Superman was and is my favourite Superhero. Watching the films, cartoons and reading the odd comic book I had as a child really started a proper bromance with me and the boy in blue. Why? Well for numerous reasons. I was a thin, scrawny, thick glasses wearing nerd, I got beaten up quite regularly and the dream of being able to fly, leap tall buildings and be impervious to harm, resonated with me. This was at a time where everything was still possible and maybe just maybe I would be granted these powers, or I’d be in an industrial accent that would provide them for me; sadly not.
Obviously we live in a scientific world now ,where pretty much everything is explained and the chances of super powers… well… nil. So why do I still like him now, why don’t I find him boring like many of my fellow geeks? The answer is simple; I am a goodie two shoes , always have been and always will be. I can’t play bad characters in games, I can’t not give money to that homeless guy on the street, I feel deep sadness when I see wrong doing, and I will always look out for others. Virtues that a lot of super heroes have ( not that I would ever stand amongst them) but ones I feel are epitomised by Superman, the Man of Steel.
Honesty, loyalty, honour, belief, kindness, selflessness and Love. All of these are shown in the Man of Steel, lessons learnt from two fathers who saw the best in humanity and the greatness it could obtain with the right guidance…
Superman has been on a bit of a down turn of late, with more ‘real’ super heroes like Batman and Ironman, surpassing him in popularity and the boy in Blue being resigned to the shelf as a fossil of our geek heritage . This is partially down to the belief that he is not ‘real’ enough, because the last movie wasn’t great (which it wasnt) and because the new torrent of hero films have been; darker, grittier and more impassioned affairs, breaking away from the cheesier norm and hitting viewers with something, different.
Rumours of the new ‘Man of Steel’ film were taken with a pinch of salt, with a distinct cynicism and the initial lead up to its release was at best lukewarm. It wasn’t until trailers (like the below) started to come out that peoples appetites were wetted and that Superman fans and non superman fans alike started to stand up and show interest.
First of all it was Zack Snyder (300, Sucker Punch, Watchmen) with help from Christopher Nolan (Inception, the Dark Knight) so we knew it was going to hit the darker and grittier button. and secondly we knew it involved some pretty high rate actors; Kevin Costner, Russell Crow and Laurence Fishburne; with the main roles being filled my established but newish faces in the form of Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon. It looked like it was going to turn out to be something special.
And that it was. From the very Start it was a visual feast or CG, explosions and epic fights. percolated with poignant flash backs of the young Clark growing up and getting to grips with his new family and his powers. I won’t go into great detail about the film itself because I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it but I was impressed. and I will list why:
- I like action films, I know, I know, but I do and MOS delivers and then some. With little time for a rest it hits you like an assault on your eyes and ears and as they say ‘ feels’ Towards the end my heart was racing and I was literally staring a gawp at was unfolding in front of me. This was helped by some emotionally evocative music that kicked home and I am not ashamed to admit, had a tear roll from my eye in a few parts.
- There is very little comic relief and I like that. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good comedy, or in like Iron man, a semi – serious, semi comic superhero film but when in like Ironman 3 it takes over, I think it taints the edge slightly and this is something MOS steal has… edge. Yes there are some mildly comic bits throughout but nothing that over powers or up stages the rest of the film.
- Clark isn’t a bumbling idiot, he’s just a normal guy who’s getting to grips with his powers and trying to help people. Don’t get me wrong, the old Clarke was endearing but I am glad that they moved away from what had gone before , giving a bit of a nod towards the end.
- Louise Lane (Amy Adams) is plain.. and I mean this in a good way. In a lot of films on this level, the heroin would be a photoshopped beauty with big tits, curves and always wearing something revealing. Louise isn’t like this in MOS, she is a beautiful lass but she is not fake looking and I don’t think she ever wears anything that accentuates curves or shows off cleavage. This makes it all the more satisfying to see a superhuman falling for what is in effect average jo public.. a good lesson I think.
- Cavill as Superman (Kal El, Clark Kent) and Shannon as Zod. Two home runs (or knocking it for 6 if you play cricket) actors wise. Shannon plays an amazing General Zod, with an understated but growing menace; an elastic band stretched to its full extent and the finally released and Cavill, at the other end, is now on a par if not surpassing Christopher Reeves as Superman for me. He plays the gentle giant so well, bringing character to all of the virtues I listed previously but still with an underlying human edge filled with anguish, uncertainty and dilemma.
- Finally what I liked the most about MOS was the fact Zods soldiers had to wear respirators and that it was the krytonian atmosphere that weakened superman. I also like the effects the powers had; like when he used his heat vision it had to be shaken off after and how he didn’t just get these powers and know how to deal with them, he had to learn to train and overcome the paralysing effects.
The only gripes I had, and I am unsure if this is the way it was filmed or just because I was watching it in IMAX 3D but at the start when Jor-El is flying around, dodging Zods forces made me feel slightly sick and I couldn’t really focus on what was going on properly. Also I couldn’t help but wonder how Louise Lane got everywhere she was? and how (later on) how many thousands of people died when zod and Superman crashed through skyscrapers, bringing them to the ground… the human cost of a great action film wouldn’t be complete without a great body count I guess.
Yes it does follow a generic formula, it is gratuitous with regards to explosions, lens flair, big sound and big action; and there are plot holes, if you care to look for them, but is that not what big budget action films are all about? Do you really need to pick holes in them? ‘Yes’ you may say, for it is a geeks prerogative to find fault just as others find fault in us. What I would say to that though is, if you pick something apart, you have to be prepared to defend other similar films that you hold dear, as is the hypocrisy of the overzealous geek.
Other Reason I feel people may dislike MOS:
- You don’t like Superman as a character…. fair does
- You like your films in another language (preferably Swedish or Korean), with subtitles and in black and white.
- You only like films with more twists than my lower colon….. the butler did it, what? Orrrr did he? What.. you mean the butler is but a figment of my imagination, and we are all floating inside a cardboard tube on the precipice of evolutionary enlightenment…. oh wait the butler did do it.
- Films are not to be enjoyed for what they are but to be dissected for your enjoyment and to inform others that you have a deeper level and can see through all the superficial bullshit.. being a mindless pleb, I was unaware of the deep value to film and how it is sullied by such cheap crowd pleasers
- They suck! ( awww only joking…. no really they do)
I jest of course (remember, goodie two shoes here) but with all due respect to a lot of my learned, piers, I think too much thought is given to what is, in essence, fast food, in film form. It’s not meant to be refined, or deep, or overly meaningful (though I did find some of this in MOS), it’s just meant to be a good old romp, a visual feast for us to enjoy and something easy to digest at a moment’s notice….suuuure I’d love the veil chop, in honey roasted jus with a fine claret but hey I still fucking looooove KFC and so do a lot of people.
It’s like a food critique going into said fast food joint and reviewing the chicken burger; slightly unfair. Or myself (a massive heavy metal fan) going to Cream Fields.. it doesn’t stand a chance!
Anyway, I have no doubt bored to you tears with what is more a defence than a review so I will conclude.
Man of Steel, is in this humble writer and geeks opinion, one of the best superhero films YET, a big statement I know and I loved Avengers, Iron Man and the Dark knight, but I loved if for more than the film, I loved it not only because it has brought back a more emotionally rich superman but also because, damn it, he’s a good guy; he loves his mum, he loves his people, he will do anything in is power to stop the forces of evil. He is a goodie two shoes, just like me :o)
If you like you fast food, don’t read too much into things, enjoy a good story and some epic CG then Man of steel will be for you. If you a norman negative then i’d stay away.
I loved it, all 10 Geek Pride points!
If you would like to see a more tame, middle of the ground review then check out Dans HERE: