Friday, June 14, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Between the movie's sub-60 freshness level on Rotten Tomatoes and my lukewarm response toward the trailers, I wasn't expecting to have a great reaction to this. Most of what I saw beforehand suggested a hard-SF spin on Supes; another in a long line of DC superhero movies embarrassed of being a DC superhero movie. But it turns out while Warner's marketing department might be having cold feet, Zack Snyder was making a comic book flick through and through.

Sure, this is a different interpretation of Superman and Krypton than Donner's. And, yes, the costume looked better with the red shorts (I suspect the director secretly agrees: there were very few shots showing Kal-El's waist clearly). But, overall, this adaptation of Superman felt as valid and as authentic as any live action version that came before it. Maybe more so.

All the talk about this being a new version of the story is bull. The Superman on display here is one generations of comics readers have imagined. It's a darker spin than we got in the older movies, but it's nothing new to the comics, where Superman has had to face incredible odds - and often stark reminders of his limitations - for a long time. On some level, this is the story Superman II tried to tell in 1980... it just does it much better.

The movie opens on Krypton and puts to rest any concerns about them taking too serious an approach. This is pure, unapologetic Burroughs science-fantasy. And it's fantastic.

When Krypton blows, the linear story-telling goes with it. Much of the movie is a series of vignettes, feeling almost like a silent picture at times. The movie's actually at its best when it embraces this, using images to build a cohesive world, characters, and tone. It doesn't quite succeed in delivering a fully cohesive narrative, but it doesn't really need one. Superman was never really about stories, anyway.

Man of Steel struck me as fundamentally true to the character and mythos of the world's first Superhero. Just as importantly, it delivered easily the greatest Lois Lane we've gotten outside of the Timm/Dini animated series.

This is absolutely worth checking out. It's got some issues - you'll roll your eyes at least a few times before the end credits roll - but the movie delivers a live action portrayal of comics' first hero a lot of us waited a long time to see.

Here's hoping Warner Bros. moves forward with plans to expand this into a fully realized DC live action universe, including a new Batman, Green Lantern, and - for the love of God - a long overdue Wonder Woman movie.

Only, if it isn't too much to ask... maybe give Superman his shorts back for the sequel.

No comments: