Man of Steel

120px-Film-stripFirst review in some time as I was almost forced to go to the cinema against my will. Mainly as I’m knackered. We’ve missed some (apparently) great films recently – the new Star Trek and F&F’s for a start – but we had a window and it was either Man of Steel or the new Simon Pegg one. We opted for the big budget release as I already knew people who’d seen it and liked it.

Man of Steel

“People are afraid of what they don’t understand.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Oh, come on. It’s a Superman reboot.

See it if you like: the current run of Superhero films.

I’m not sure if I enjoyed this film or not. Which is a weird way to start a review.

On the plus side, it’s a new take on the mythos which brings it into a more contemporary setting. There’s no follow-on from any previous Superman film. It’s big in scale, brash and littered with generally very impressive special effects.

Downsides include some dreadful shaky camerawork that doesn’t so much emphasise action or destruction (much of it is during conversational scenes) so much as it cries that the film-makers wanted to make your eyeballs hurt. The dialogue seemed bland, which is surprising given the quality of the cast, They just didn’t seem to be stretched, with the possible exception of Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent. He gives an exceptional performance and about the only one in the film that dragged any emotion out of me.

The big thing that didn’t hook me was, surprisingly, the scale of destruction. The effects were good – very good. But destroying stuff is just so common in films these days that it gets boring. The bigger the film-makers try to make it, the more it seems to be there to distract from the plot. Much as I enjoy watching a skyscraper collapse, I’d much rather have some decent dialogue and a plot twist or three.

Looking at it from a positive point of view, there was a good merging of the stories from the original Superman: The Movie and Superman II. The vision of Kryptonian architecture as organic rather than crystalline makes a nice change. The constant flashback jumps back and forth in Clark’s life makes for something slightly non-linear, but the events they portray all make the same point. It very much labours the “you have to keep your powers hidden” message.

The story borrows from several sources and just doesn’t seem particularly original. Obviously, the Superman origin story is expected. But then there’s the way the ships hang in the air and send light beams down. It just seems like a scene from too many sci-fi films (and TV series) in recent years. The way that Jonathan mentors Clark is too similar to the Peter Parker / Uncle Ben relationship.

On the other hand, I sat through all 140+ minutes of it and never really felt bored, or that it was over-long.

So, in my own head, I’m no further forward. I didn’t hate it or find it a bit silly (like Thor), but I also didn’t really take to it the way I did the first Iron Man.

So while most other reviews are polarised – quite literally love- or hate-filled – I’m afraid I’m going to have to sit on the fence. Overall, it’ far more good than bad. It’s just not awe-inspiringly brilliant or “film of the year” material.

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Ashley Lambert

The undeniable wonder of Richard Donner’s 1978 film Superman can be summed up in one word: Reverence. For decades, comic book fans were dismayed by movie and TV adaptations of the heroic stories with which they grew up. Producers and writers seemed to feel that the material couldn’t stand up on its own. Rather, it had to be made campy (Holy Evil Menace Batman!) or have asinine new characters added or adopt an ironic or juvenile tone. What Donner and Producers Alexander Salkind, Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler understood is that the reason untold millions of people around the world love Superman is that it’s a thrilling story with an inspiring central character. In short, it didn’t need some Hollywood type to change it, it needed someone to take it seriously on its own terms and produce it with a real budget and good actors. The result is a superb movie without which many subsequent, highly entertaining comic book hero films (e.g., Spiderman , Captain America , Iron Man ) would be unthinkable.

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