Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Man of Steel Review

I'm starting with what was easily my most anticipated film of the summer. While I was certainly anticipating the film itself, I felt a larger sense of urgency to see just how DC would use Man of Steel to set up a cinematic universe along the lines of what Marvel has done. Say what you will about Marvel and Kevin Feige but they have had enormous financial and critical sucess and their model can be viewed as a template for DC's future sucess. As a nerd there was nothing greater than realizing the Marvel characters would interact with each other on screen. I grew up reading Spider-Man and the team-ups; it was natural. Having been tortured by Nolan's choice to keep Bruce in his own sandbox, I was really looking forward to DC finally letting all their characters share a universe. Just how they were going to do it knowing that if Man of Steel didn't succeed was an interesting topic which I'll get right back to after I talk abut the film itself.
I hate waiting for things myself so I'll tell you right off the bat so you can carry on with your lives that I very much enjoyed Man of Steel. It is, to me, THE definitive Superman film. That was tough for me to process because I grew up loving the Donner Superman films. Superman and Superman II were amazing as a kid. People were flying and burning stuff with their eyes. Zod...c'mon...if you're an 80s kid Zod is THE bad ass. However, as I grew older and stayed nerdy those films got dated because the improvements in special effects made me think of how much cooler Superman could be on screen now. The first time I watched The Matrix I thought there was a solid Superman movie to be made. I had hoped it would be Superman Returns, which I did enjoy in bits, but it left me empty. Well as soon as I saw Krypton I knew Snyder had done something right. And that's not surprising because even Snyder's worst films are visually pimped out. The visuals continued to impress me and as we progressed to the climax this became the kind of thing I had always wanted to see: Superman turned loose, able to punch someone without holding back. I loved what I saw. On that alone I found a Superman movie I will rewatch, which is one way I personally judge a movie. This is a film I will own and watch many more times. I also love taking my daughters to the movies and seeing their reactions and hearing them talk because, afterall, even as an old nerd it was as a child I grew to love comics and sometimes as adults we complicate things. The power of the Kryptonians and the devestation it caused had my girls on the edges of their seats and their eyes peeled. If this is the universe DC is going to have then damn, am I happy.
The cast was good for me. Crowe played a different Jor-El and I was happy for it. Kevin Costner as Pa Kent was genius to me. He can make me cry like a baby as I still hear his voice in Field of Dreams asking his dad to have a catch in every character he plays. His fears for his son played well and even in his final moments you saw him protecting his boy. That spoke to me as a father. Powerful business. Cavill has become the cinematic Superman inside my head by unseating Reeves with his performance. I always felt that Routh was playing Reeves and not Superman. Cavill owned the role of Kal-El and brought a different feel as well: he's fully aware of what he is. He's confident even as he learns, but he puts out the love and compassion Superman must have for humanity as well. I cannot wait to see his take on Clark but I also look forward to him in the suit again. Fishburne was Fishburne and played his part well without overdoing it. I very much enjoyed Amy Adams turn as Lois. I liked her spunky, snarky attitude and I like where the character is headed. She has a lot of power in the secret she keeps...someone will want that secret. Antje Traue stole her scenes. Her steely eyes and stoicism made a believable genetically-engineered sociopath. She was intense. Shannon as Zod...how hard of a job to take on Zod? But this was the Zod the masses needed. This was such a departure from Stamp's Zod I can imagine people wondering just who in the hell he was playing. His every motivation stamped into his DNA while Kal-El, Zod's only hope
to save his people, has the ability to chose for himself because of his parents here and on Krypton...that was powerful to me. I've seen complaints that Superman went the Spidey/Dark Knight route. Stop the world engine or save Metropolis. That was not the critical choice. The real decision was which one of his people would he knowingly destroy. That hits hard.
I enjoyed the exposition. The flashbacks worked for me though my kids were confused. I enjoyed seeing how Clark grew to be Clark. I enjoyed the idea of him being a ghost. The overall plot worked well...it had weaknesses sure but I didn't expect an Academy Award-winning script.
Overall, this was the film I needed to see. I can't wait to see it again and I can't wait until July when I assume DC will unveil some future plans. They have certainly built their future on a very solid foundation with an actor who can carry a film and portray all thw complications of Superman. Well-done DC, Nolan, Goyer and Snyder. Now gimmie more.
So what about the DCCU and my thoughts on that? I imagine that would be the logical next blog.