Saturday, June 22, 2013

Man of Steel Review and Analysis

Man of Steel Review and Analysis
By: Jay

I’m a HUGE Superman fan. I have been all my life. My family and friends joke and call me Clark Kent, Superman, etc. I have even been called Clark, Mr. Kent and C.K. at work. So when news of a new Superman movie was being made I was, well Super excited. Especially when it was a reboot, so we would be getting a new origin instead of a fanboy film like Superman Returns. I saw this movie a few times, because I wanted to really get the movie on a level beyond the major Superman Fan viewpoint. This isn’t a casual review. This is going to delve into my thoughts on the movie, on the characters and I will be detailing things as if the reader has already seen the movie, so if you haven’t seen it, and do not wish to be MAJORLY SPOILED, please do NOT read past the Spoiler Warning image.

The movie starts off on Krypton, which is a mixture between the John Byrnes’ post-Crisis Man of Steel, Superman: The Animated Series, and Avatar. I have seen reviews and the most common complaint is that this part dragged on. I didn’t mind the Krypton scenes for the most part though. Russell Crowe as Jor-El was more active and more passionate than we are used to seeing Jor-El, but he reminded me of the animated Jor-El, especially when he is being chased.

My problem with Krypton came from the destruction of the planet. One of the key factors of Superman’s origins is that he was sent from his planet moments before its destruction. In this movie, he is sent away some time before. Another big change is Jor-El’s death. It has always been by Lara’s side as they watch their son leave just as their planet explodes. But with Man of Steel Jor-El’s fate is met when Zod stabs him just as Kal-El’s ship takes off a good time before the destruction of the planet. I prefer the traditional death, because Jor-El and Lara stand together and make peace with their deaths, because they know their son will live on.

One of the early trailers for Man of Steel had Clark and Jonathan talking and Clark asks if he should have let a boy die, and he replies “Maybe.” When I first saw that trailer I felt like Peter Parker with my Spider-Senses going off that this isn’t going to be something I will really enjoy as a true blue diehard Superman fan. But I remained optimistic and decided to wait until I see the movie, because it might have been out of context, or he could have followed that up by saying “No, you did the right thing son.” Neither happened though, Jonathan Kent, the father who raised a Superman, who is responsible for his morale compass made Clark think he maybe should have let someone die.

Kevin Costner really looks like he could be a Kansas farmer. Something about his demeanor let’s you believe he can be that guy, but that is about as close to Jonathan Kent as he gets. This Jonathan Kent isn’t Pa Kent. He isn’t even the Smallvile Jonathan Kent. His death scene ripped my heart out. As a Superman fan, and son who lost his father this scene just ripped out my heart. Not because it was so touching, but because it was just wrong. The lead in scene has a 17-18 year old Clark Kent wanting to go out into the world to discover who he is, which is good, a lot of kids do at that age. Jonathan tries to sell him on farming and tells him that his family has been farming for generations to which Clark retorts, “Your family. Not mine.” That was hard to hear, but then they twist the knife in deeper by having him continue with, “You’re not my dad. You’re just some guy that found me in the corn field.” Yes this is something that happens with parents and the children they have adopted, but the bond between Clark and the Kents have never been like that in any story. But it doesn’t end there, because those would be his last words to his father.

After that scene a tornado appears out of nowhere and Jonathan sends everyone to the overpass, for protection. The overpass wouldn’t protect anyone since it would actually create a wind tunnel (which is talked about more in Comic Uno’s Man of Steel Roundtable Movie Review), but I digress. Jonathan goes into hero mode and helps people to safety while Clark for the most part just stands by and watches. After a few moments Clark goes to help but is handed a child and sent back. While trying to save the family dog Jonathan injures his ankle and can not move to get out of the way of the now moving tornado. Clark watches as Jonathan surrenders to his fate, and gives a hint that he is going to save him, but Jonathan holds up a hand stopping Clark and is swept away by the tornado. Clark’s last words to his father were, “You’re not my dad. You’re just some guy that found me in a corn field.”  That is what truly ripped my heart out. Jonathan’s death always taught Clark a lesson because it was a human death, a heart attack. Clark realizes that even with all his powers, he can’t save everyone, even someone he loves. But this new death was done to teach Clark a lesson also: Don’t use your powers to save people because you can be discovered. Did he learn his lesson? No. Clark goes all over the world using his powers to save people which leads Lois Lane to find out who he is.

That is another issue I had with the movie. Yes I get it Lois Lane is a reporter and she is smart. Well guess what so are other people, which I will get to later on but for now I am focusing on Lois. A key element to the Lois and Clark relationship for 75 years has been the duality of Clark and Lois’ feelings for Superman and Clark. Lois falls in lust with Superman, because he is this guy who can fly and do amazing things. He is a god who notices her and represents all the potential of humanity. But then there is Clark Kent, who is just the guy next door admiring her from afar and is in “The Friend Zone,” who she eventually begins to fall in love with not because of the Super, but for the Man. Even in Smallville they knew that relationship was a key factor to their story and had Clark become the Blur. Another key aspect of their story is stolen in a throw-away moment when someone mentions that they are calling him Superman, yeah Lois doesn’t give him the name just a nameless “they” are credited as naming him. With that said, I think Lois was handled the best. She was a bold, daring and in your face reporter who when she got a story was like a dog with a bone. Amy Adams did a great job bringing strength to one of my all time favorite female characters ever.

My major problem with this movie though is Clark Kent, or the lack thereof. This movie plays on Kal-El being the alien on Earth, and then Superman. Years ago I did a psych paper on Bruce Wayne’s psyche. In it I explain how he could have Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.) reasons why he needs a Robin in his life, and I compare his dual identity to the Clark Kent/Superman one. Batman is the main identity and Bruce Wayne is the mask, while Clark Kent is the true persona and Superman is the mask. Superman is Clark using his powers for good. At his core, Superman is just a country boy with old fashion values who sees the world for its potential for goodness. This movie however does something different. They make the Kal-El/Superman persona the true man and Clark Kent the mask. There really isn’t a Clark he is moody, and brooding through out the whole movie to the point where he almost hates himself because of who he is. The only moment I saw the Clark I knew was during the first flight when he smiles.

The most controversial moment in the movie for fans comes at the end when Superman kills Zod by snapping his neck. Zod and Superman are in an epic battle. They smash up the town of Smallville and the city of Metropolis without Superman worrying about all the innocents dying in the buildings they are smashing through. Superman never tries to move the fight to a field or another unpopulated area they just smash through another populated area. Superman has Zod in a headlock who is threatening to kill innocents using his heat vision. Superman finally says no, and in a blink of an eye snaps his neck. Now I have read the introduction of the Matrix Supergirl where Superman kills the three Kryptonians in a pocket universe, so I know it has been done before. But there was a difference. In that story Superman has no other choice, he tried to just take away their powers and gave thought to other options and finally used the Kryptonite on them as his last remaining option. This was too easy for him. Superman didn’t try to stop Zod from using his heat vision by jamming him in the eyes or smashing his face into the ground, no he just snaps his neck. Then afterwards, there was no reflection, no doubt just a primal scream and he was back to normal. But at least he showed some emotion, the emotion that was lacking after his dad dies due to him not doing anything.

As for the rest of the cast, they were ok. Diane Lane did a great job as Martha, but her role was so minute that I was left wondering did they need a big name actress and the salary that comes with it for this role? I have to say no. It was a waste of money and star power. Lawrence Fishburne is a geat actor, but I think he suffered from two things: One he is too known. He is a big name actor who brings his persona to the screen, so the whole time I am thinking this is Lawrence Fishbourne as Perry White. The second thing is they didn’t give him any Perry White moments. He was a generic newspaper editor he didn’t stand out as Perry White. There was also a character named Jenny, who many believed to be a gender swap of Jimmy Olsen who was ineffective. The character could be removed from the film and no one would notice. Where was the hard nose editor that is Perry White, and the “Man of Action” Jimmy Olsen?

Remember when I mentioned Lois Lane being smart enough to figure out who Clark was? Ok, here is why I have a problem with that. Growing up, a lot of people saw Clark do amazing things like saving a bus full of students, etc.  Lois tracks down these stories working backwards interviewing people and figures it out with ease. Zod finds out because he goes into her head. At this point the Government and the world as a whole know there is an alien that has been living amongst us for years. Zod’s ship literally lands on the Kent’s front lawn. The battle starts in Smallville. Superman mentions that he has been here for 33 years. He also says he’s from Kansas. Yet no one but Lois puts the pieces together and concludes that he is Clark Kent? That is why I don’t think Lois should have been able to figure it out, yes it does show how smart she is, but it makes everyone else including the U.S. Military look really dumb. It also makes me ask: Why have a Clark Kent in this universe?

Overall this is really strong solid action and sci-fi movie. If you want a movie that delivers on action and great fight scenes, this is the movie for you. If you’re a comic book fan but not too much into Superman before the New-52, then again this is the movie for you. But if you’re like me and you love Superman for how he was for 95% of his 75 years, then this is not the movie you have been waiting for. I would say this was a better movie than Superman Returns, but it is not as great as Superman: The Movie. This movie doesn’t make anyone believe anything except big fights and flashy scenes sells tickets. I initially saw this as a failure because I am a diehard Superman fan, but that is why I agreed to see it again. I know that not everyone is a purist when it comes to Superman. I knew that when the New 52 Action Comics #1 came out and people loved it. So while this isn’t my dream come true Superman movie, I am glad that it is a strong movie that has enough content to be a good movie on its own and could bring people into the theater and support a Superman movie, which is a good thing.

As A Movie On Its Own
As A Superman Movie

I say this is a movie you should see, but not one you must see. But as always these are just my thoughts on this movie. Let us know in the comments what you think about Man of Steel. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to know whenever we post more previews, reviews, news and interviews on Comic Frontline.

No comments:

Post a Comment