Movies

Man of Steel

superman_1I’m a big fan of the Superman film series. As a kid, I would watch Christopher Reeve save the world and it’s inhabitants many times over. His portrayal of the Man of Steel was inspiring and helped to elevate him to Hero status for me, which is something that is very hard to achieve.

As with many iconic film roles, this is one that is nearly impossible to top, much less duplicate. I see Hollywood try over and over again to pass one of these roles to another actor and hope that they will be able to fill the shoes. In nearly every instance, they pale in comparison.

In Superman Returns, Brandon Routh brought the Christopher Reeves version to life better than I had expected. Despite lacking the boy scout disposition and goofy clumsiness of Clark Kent, a lot of the personality was still there. Even his look was a close match (much more than Man of Steel went for). The film also showed that Kevin Spacey, like Patrick Stewart, was clearly born to be a comic book character. Lois Lane on the other hand, continues to be a train wreck, most notably in Superman Returns. Casting Kate Bosworth in the role clearly shows that someone either lost a bet, or lost their mind. You could have gotten Jackie Chan to play Lois and he would have made a better match.

The Remake Disclosure

When it comes to remakes, I’m obviously not a fan. For too long, Hollywood has had a bug up it’s ass about remaking everything they possibly can. I don’t know if it’s because they refuse to pay writers to come up with new material, or because they truly feel they are going to make a better movie. Whatever it is, the Hollywood Film Machine continues to recycle it’s work into lesser versions. Story and acting has been replaced by computer generated effects and gritty styles. Sequels have been replaced by reboots. Actors no longer need to have any talent. Writers only need to modify an existing story, dump a bunch of modern day cliche garbage into it, and it’s done.

Hollywood has become lazy, and uncaring to the fans of the originals they massacre left and right. Just put Jessica Biel’s tits in a wet shirt and don’t bother getting the rest of the story right. Modify character stories to the point where it isn’t even the same character, but remind everyone what you’re remaking so they’ll think it will be just as good, later finding out they were wrong. Remake good movies and fuck them up, rather than remaking fucked up movies to make them good.

That, is pretty much how I feel about the remakes and reboots of today. With that out of the way, let’s get to the actual review of Man of Steel.

My thoughts on The Man of Steel

Superman-Man-of-Steel-posterInitially, I didn’t expect to like this film. The stills that were released last year did not leave me impressed, but rather made me want to throw a rock at someone’s head. When the trailer hit, I wanted to throw a hammer as well.

Making a hard, gritty Batman movie made sense. Batman is a dark character. That goofy ass Tim Burton universe was only made more ridiculous though it’s sequels. I like Michael Keaton, and I thought he played a great Bruce Wayne, but what the hell was Warner Bros thinking? I get that Batman has a strange history with a lot of weirdness in it, just like any comic book does, but seriously…what the fuck Warner Bros?

Superman comes from a similar style, but his character is not Batman. The trailers were pushing the current Batman films essence and the Superman name in hopes you’d want to see it. Forget that Superman and Batman are completely different, this mashup must be great because it worked for Batman.

After watching Man of Steel, I have to say that I liked the movie more than I originally expected to. Explaining how Clark has to figure everything out was a good idea. In the original film (my favorite in the series), he just knows how to fly one day. In this one, he had to figure it out, Hulk style–running and jumping–until he finally managed to sustain flight. He still can’t land or take off correctly, which I hope he figures out in the sequel because that was kind of annoying.

And why is it that when he flew away to his mother, with Lois standing 4 inches in front of him, he didn’t leave her in a crater, but when he flew off to fight the World Engine he made her back up several feet?

Lois Lane was just as pushy and annoying as you’d expect. Actually, I take that back. She was more than you’d expect. She was pissing me off left and right, but that’s what she’s supposed to do. She’s the kind of reporter who believes she’s above everyone and can do whatever she wants. Basically, the kind of reporter I want release a pack of wild angry monkeys on. I like Amy Adams, but I’ve never seen a movie of hers before where I was hoping she’d get sucked into space without an oxygen mask.

Something I would have liked to see in the movie was more of his Superman heroism (not what they showed in the random flashbacks), but based on the way they told this story, that will have to wait until the next film.

Speaking of the storytelling method, let me get right on that insanity. Whoever wrote this must have been in the same tornado Kevin Costner was in, because this shit was a confusing mess of flashbacks across a variety of time periods. It felt like after they wrote the initial story, they decided to go back and patch in several scenes they wanted to include.

The story could have been told in order based on the time periods, but instead they chose to put all the scenes in a hat, shake it up and show the movie in whatever random order they pulled them in. It made it difficult to follow to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was watching right now or a flashback.

Kevin Costner has the best scene in the movie

tumblr_moi2gll4QC1rmjly4o1_500In one of the nauseatingly high number of flashbacks, a tornado hits Kansas. Being such a rare occurrence in Kansas, the Westboro Baptist Church would likely have claimed it was due to gay people. But, the WBC are douchebag fuck heads who have no idea what they’re talking about, so let’s all just hope they die of gonorrhea.

Or burn in a fire while Superman refuses to save them.

{Pssh, get back to the review dickhead.}

When the tornado hits the highway and everyone scatters for cover, Kevin Costner, who plays Superman’s foster dad Jonathan, heads back to the car to get the dog. He tells Clark to get his mother to safety while he runs back into the danger zone, apparently under the impression that he’s still in the movie The Guardian. Personally, I would have sent the guy who can walk through a volcano and come out smiling, but maybe that’s just me.

When he tries to return and clearly can not make it in time, Clark starts to head out to help him (which he should have done sooner, but again, that’s just my thinking). Jonathan (Costner) holds up his hand and stops him. He knows that if he tries to help, Clark will end up revealing who he is to this crowd of people, and he doesn’t want that. He’d rather sacrifice himself to shield his son from the public. And so he does, vanishing into the tornado as swiftly as a cheeseburger in front of Rosie O’Donnell.

man-of-steel-kevin-costnerThe tornado scene was my favorite, and is one of my all time favorite in the Superman film series. The giant battles were just crazy action scenes, made for nothing but incredible amounts of destruction. Those scenes hope to impress you with flashy visuals. The tornado scene was built for emotion. It was the kind of scene that inspires and makes you feel the character. Kevin Costner was very much believable in his role as Jonathan Kent, and I for one was very impressed. I cared more about his character than that of Superman.

As I think about it, the closest scene to compare with was Perry trying to save Jenny from the rubble, despite their approaching doom. He refused to leave her, knowing all was hopeless for her and was willing to die with her. How many people can say they have a boss like that?

A glimpse of Krypton

man-of-steel-krypton
One of the very cool parts of Man of Steel was seeing Krypton. To us, it might be strange to jump on the back of a flying lizard, but on Krypton it’s the same as riding a horse. They’ve also perfected Pin Point Impression Needle Art Cellphone technology because apparently, color pictures wouldn’t do the job. Seriously, stick an LCD screen it in because that 3D model thing was kind of dumb.

Based on what we saw, Krypton was a crazy place. It felt like a George Lucas nightmare. Dark, cave-like rooms and passages, buildings that rose miles into the sky, massive flying battleships and pompous politicians…it was not the ideal location to plan a summer vacation.

For some reason, they keep the most important information about their people stored on the side of some dude’s half broken skull. Why? Because a piece of paper would be a stupid idea. However, it is very cool how they’ve been able to transfer their consciousness to a thumb drive, giving them the ability to live forever.

I never understood why they chose not to evacuate the planet earlier, to go to any of the outposts they had already created. Surely, that made more sense than just burning to death before your planet implodes. I could understand why Superman’s parents chose to stay, in particular his mother. Her Gladiator had just been killed, so there was nothing left for her anyway. Nothing but blistering death at the hands of a massive fireball tearing through her face. A previously beautiful face, I might add. But, now it’s a piece of charcoal floating in space somewhere.

My Favorite Villain was not Zod

Antje-Traue-in-Man-of-SteelOf the main villains, Zod was not the most impressive. Michael Shannon is not a bad actor, but his character’s awesomeness was surpassed by his right hand soldier, Faora-Ul played by Antje Traue.

Why did I like her character more? Is it because she’s a woman? Because of her beautiful eyes? Because she has awesome tits? Because she looks like she could beat the shit out of me for saying she has awesome tits? Because her character had a more dynamic personality, chock full of depth and perseverance?

No, it’s because she was constantly moving rapidly and attacking like a crazy person. Her ferociousness was great, as was her very dark persona. Zod may have been the leader, but she was clearly the combatant, despite the massive Zod/Superman battle.

Watching her do those rapid attacks reminded me of Jet Li in The One, but without slowing down to show us what was happening. It was like the combo moves in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. Her character, standing and being shot just to prove to the person that it was pointless to even do it, put her above the others. It wasn’t just about the brute force that she could inflict, but about showing the opposing force that they were doomed no matter what. Her character was the most comic book-like part of the film, and she could have easily been translated into a main villian had she not be killed by Detective Stabler, who was pretty awesome as well, I might add.

Really, I wish the two of them would have survived. I’d trade Lois Lane and Captain Farris for both of them. But then again, they may not be dead, only sucked through a black hole.

Product placement with Taco Bell…

superman-ihopDespite using Master Tang’s song from Kung Power, Taco Bell wasn’t one of the many product placements in the movie, but it seemed to be the only one missing. That crap was everywhere, and managed to make the movie break the record for most product placement.

Of the ones I noticed, Sears was the most annoying to me. Smallville having a standalone Sears is fine, but Martha Kent with her lanyard…we get it, Sears wants to be noticed. Show someone buying a lawnmower or something and get on with it.

Off camera advertisements were also bad. Gillette, Walmart, Burger King, all of these companies pushed this movie like it was their baby in a beauty pageant. Advertisements are one thing, but these fuckers were annoying as hell. Movies are no longer just movies, they’re commercials for shit you already buy. Those who advertise the movie latch on to it like it’s bleeding lifeforce that they must consume. Knock it off, it’s irritating. No one is going to decide to go to iHop because some fat kid that Superman saved as a kid manages one. People don’t switch to Gillette because a comic book character pretends to use it.

The Battle inside the Matrix

Ignoring the fact that both Morpheus and Commander Lock are in Man of Steel, I kept feeling the Matrix as I watched this. The scene that started this was the baby farm. They explain this later by telling us that Krypton will selectively breed people for specific roles. So, if they have a shortage of plumbers, they just make more.

matrix_punchAs the movie continues, we see the battle between Neo and Smith, err, Zod and Superman. Their battle trashes what was left of Metropolis after the gravity machine destroys a good chunk of it, leading me to continually think of the final battle in Matrix Revolutions. Some of the scenes were very similar, but in the case of this film, they were destroying everything for no reason. Zod doing it made sense because he didn’t care, Superman has to live here but was fine destroying property and lives left and right.

Also, how the hell did Lois get to the battle’s finale so fast? She was miles away, in a jam packed and destroyed city, yet somehow managed to get there in time to see Superman kill Zod. In 30 seconds, she was on the scene, so either she has a rocket in her ass or she can teleport.

The battle itself was a massive, destructive shit storm on the city. According to the Washington Post, 129,000 people were killed in this movie and over $2 trillion in damage was caused. This leads me to wonder if people were trash talking him like they did the Avengers. After all, it was the same sequence of events. Alien comes to earth, beats up city and super hero. Super hero fights the alien invader, destroys half the city, State Farm doesn’t cover damage, people are pissed.

Final Thoughts

I have mixed feelings about this movie. It was better than I expected, but it was not anywhere near my expectations for Superman. There were a few characters I really liked, and a few I hated. Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe were excellent, as expected. Amy Adams was great at being annoying (but that’s Lois Lane for you). The beautiful Diane Lane somehow pulled off playing old ass Martha Kent, which I absolutely hated the idea of when I first heard about her being cast in the role. I just couldn’t see her playing an old lady.

The most annoying character in the movie was played by Christina Wren. She was Captain Farris. The character is listed as Major on IMDB, but at the end she is referred to as “Captain” by Commander Lock at the end. Face it, he’s Commander Lock forever, just as Perry will always be known as Cowboy Curtis…or Morpheous.

Anyway…

captain-farrisIf you don’t remember her, she’s the one who didn’t know what terraforming was and had the “I just think he’s kinda hot” line at the end; the line that made me want Commander Lock to shoot her and leave her in the desert to die.

I feel like that character was put in the movie as a dare, such as “I dare you to put in a stupid as fuck moron who makes you want to kick the character in the head”. She was annoying. The actress…no problem, the character….fired. Clean out your duffle bag and get the fuck out.

It was a useless character, but she was there anyway. Jenny was a far better character, also not very important to most of the movie, but when her time came, she held her own and screamed for help with dignity beneath that pile of rubble. Was Jenny thinking about how hot Superman is? Hell no! Was she trying to figure out what terraforming was, something that really isn’t that odd of a thing, especially given some our space colonization plans involving said activity? Of course not! Jenny was much better than that! A hard worker, a fighter, a passionate lover…

Jenny was a more likable non important character, and sadly, she won’t be going to the game with the CJ from Dawn of the Dead. When the zombie apocalypse happens, he’ll remember you Jenny. He’ll remember how you denied him, after he sort of tried to maybe attempt to think about saving your life. Oh yes, he’ll remember. Then he’ll hide a hooker for Kevin Spacey and go about his business.

And that’s why I didn’t like Captain Farris!

More thoughts of which are more final than the previous final thoughts

Superman-Batman-ApocalypseThe DC Comics animated films are by far much better than the live action versions of their characters. One of the reasons for this is obviously because the characters and actions are much more believable and acceptable in animated form. We also don’t have to put up with bad acting or casting because they can cartoon the character how they want. Personally, I’ve found the Batman and Superman animated films to be a lot more enjoyable, and hold repeat viewing moreover the recent live action films.

Man of Steel was one of those movies that hopes to attract you on special effects and name alone. The problem is that once that’s over, it’s not the same fun that the original series was. The good guy Superman who fights for “Truth, Justice and the American Way”, always trying to make everyone happy and help those he can, no matter how small the problem, has been replaced by a sullen, depressing Superman, trapped in a gritty film that no longer resembles the original. This new Superman lacks the persona of the hero, instead opting to be Batman with a red cape and laser eyes.

He clearly does not care about the lives he is ending with his battle with Zod, or his forces. They clearly wanted to fight him, so if he wanted to, he could have taken the battle into one of the many farming fields of Kansas instead of Main Street. He didn’t have to fight Zod in the middle of Metropolis, smashing through buildings left and right, tearing up construction and using Zod’s face as a surfboard against a building. This new Superman is here to help; to help annihilate everything he’s around.

Imagine if someone decided to take My Little Pony, remove the happy factor and and make it gritty. Makes no sense. That changes everything completely. That’s what has happened here. Superman has become a pretty boring guy that no one would want to be friends with. You’ll have the superficial cheese heads like Captain Farris who are only interested in his looks, but Superman’s character, his personality and attitude have always made him the kind of guy that you would want to befriend, even as Clark Kent. This one…not so much. In films like this, you’re supposed to root for the good guy. I didn’t care what happened to him. Hell, I was more concerned with Perry trying to help Jenny before they were squashed by gravity.

AND WHERE THE HELL WAS JIMMY OLSEN?! WAS HE SUPPOSED TO BE JENNY?!

What I want to see next is the Death of Superman. That book was iconic to me, and I still read it every now and then. They took a much loved character and showed him fighting for everyone, for everything, against a force that ultimately took his life in the end. A man who no one believed could die, who could defeat anything, perished to save us. That film will be amazing if they do it right. By that, I mean follow the book and don’t try to stylize it to keep up with trends.

superman-the-movieI really wish Christopher Reeve was still around. I own all of the Superman movies, including several animated films. Chris was an amazing guy and he showed it in his acting, most notably the films portraying the Man of Steel. To me, he will always be Superman.

And before you jump on the “In the comic books” defense, shut up. If you pay attention, I’m not comparing to the trillion episodes of the comics. I’m talking about the films. If I was going to talk about the comics versus the films, I’d have tons of “WTF!?” about all of the films, but that’s not what this is about.

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