Due to budgetary constraints I only get out to a movie in an actual theater about once or twice a year – so I have to make do with catching it on television. So I was very glad to FINALLY catch MAN OF STEEL on the television.
Well, I was mostly glad.
Visually, the movie was amazing – but I had an awful lot of problem with the creative choices that Zack Snyder took with the movie.
Let me try and break it down for you.
The movie starts on Krypton – which I felt looked way too derivative of the standard Star Wars universe. Then we’ve got Jor-el (underwhelmingly played by Russel Crowe) flying around on a double-winged bat – like something left out of Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars series – and the next thing we see is Jor-el going all James Bond and stealing the only existing download of the Kryptonian racial DNA before going all Rambo against the forces of General Zod.
Hey, I know that it is just a comic book movie and I know that Zack Snyder wants to take the character in a whole ‘nuther direction – but how come Jor-el is BOTH the greatest Kryptonian scientist ever AND The Terminator – UNTIL Zod goes all Darth Vader to Jor-el’s Obi Wan Kenobi?
The next thing you know little Kal-el has grown up and is on Earth and he is doing a sort of Littlest Hobo walkabout through Mike Rowe’s DIRTY JOBS working as a bus boy, a deck hand, a mine worker etc…
Now, funny thing is that I really liked this part of the movie.
I know this wasn’t exactly part of the original comic book origin story – but I thought it was a pretty good way for Superman to sort of get to know us earthlings and to sort of get to know his own powers.
Then we go all flashbackish for a while and we learn a bit more about Superman’s childhood growing up with Ma and Pa Kent – and Kevin Costner makes a pretty darned good Pa Kent for the entire three and a half minutes that he is on the screen.
And then he saves a whole busload of school kids – only Lana Lang and Pete Ross get to see him do it so there goes the old secret identity – but hey, they won’t EVER tell anyone about it because I guess in Zack Snyder’s universe there is no such thing as Facebook or Twitter or drunken frat parties when somebody will have had one too many tequila and grape Kool-Aid shooters and say to anybody – “You know I saw the most fucked-up thing when I was being almost drowned to death on a sinking bus when I was a kid” – and none of the reporters can figure it out either.
Hey, it’s Kansas.
So then we bring on Lois Lane and right off the bat Superman is showing up without any kind of a mask or even a freaking nylon stocking over his face because hey, it’s just a reporter and I’ve been trying to live off the radar but she can see my face because I think she is hot and all and hey – let’s show her a Kryptonian crashed spaceship while we’re at it because of course we can trust the discretion of a newspaper reporter like her and all…
Which brings me to one of my LEAST favorite trend of modern day superheroes.
The secret identity – or rather, the lack of the secret identity.
Remember Spider Man 3? Peter Parker showing his face all over the place?
How about Iron Man? Right off the bat on the first movie Tony Stark is all – “Hey, I’m Iron Man.”
Why doesn’t anyone think that the secret identity works anymore? And even if it DOESN’T work – don’t you think that if someone was TRYING to live under-the-radar that they wouldn’t make SOME kind of an effort to conceal their secret identity while they are pulling buses and burning oil rig workers out of the grasp of death?
No effort is made at all.
Old Superman just figures he can trust the entire planet to keep his secret safe.
Next thing we get to meet Perry White – played by Laurence Fishburne – and he doesn’t really get to do ANYTHING except sort of stand there and represent Perry White because hey, we can’t do a Superman movie without having a Perry White.
Next thing we’ve got General Zod showing up on the planet and for some reason the atmosphere on the Kryptonian ships weakens Superman – because I guess Zack Snyder thought that that whole kryptonite schtick was way too corny to go into – and then for about the last hour of the movie Zack Snyder decides to call in Michael Bay to shoot the big battle as Superman wrecks a small town and a large city and about half of the planet kicking Zod around before finally deciding that the whole Sixth Commandment “Thou shalt not kill” is way overated, dude – and besides, we want to foreshadow the next movie when Batman decides to take Superman down a peg or two.
That – more than ANYTHING – is why I am NOT a fan of Zack Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL.
It is way too obvious.
There is NO air of suspense.
Let me explain.
In the comics it takes Superman something like three or four hundred issues before he FINALLY decides to let Lois Lane in on his secret identity – but here in Zack Snyderland he is just “Hey, I know this is just our first date and all, Lois, but how about I show you an Instagram of my junk?”
Superman doesn’t get into crime fighting at all. He just farts around at a few odd jobs until all of a sudden the Kryptonian battle fleet shows up and starts taking over the planet and Superman is just “Hey, I know this is just our first date and all, General Zod, but how about I destroy the whole freaking city while I smash you down?”
I don’t know if I’m explaining this – but the whole thing just seemed a little too obvious and a little too over-the-top and the big bad battle was just way too obvious.
Biggest beef – we humans don’t get to do all that much at all.
With the except of Christopher Meloni who gets a bit of cool karma-is-a-freaking-high-explosive-bitch style kamikaze vengeance on the Kryptonian invaders we mostly just get to be victims. I wanted to see a few more reasons for Superman to come to respect and love and cherish we humans as a freaking race – rather than him coming and saving us because we are too pitiful to do it ourselves.
Heck, I even wanted to see burger-flipping Pete Ross take a swing at Zod. I mean here is the dude that saved his life getting his butt kicked by a flat-faced goatee wearing animal – (and didn’t General Zod look just as if he had rented his face out as a truck bumper for about twenty-three years or so?)
In the interest of total disclosure I want to let you know that I really did not care for Zack Snyder’s Batman trilogy either.
(Whoops – a friend of mine just corrected my failing memory and reminded me that it was Christian Bale who did the Batman movies. I’m not changing a word here – but I suck out loud when it comes to remembering certain names.)
I feel that all four movies are way too overblown and I really don’t see what everybody sees in them – and dang it, I really WANT to watch a good superhero movie. But Zack Snyder is way too dark and too heavy-handed for my tastes.
Lastly, because I watched an episode of Downton Abbey afterwards I want to leave you folks with this thought-provoking question.
Were Kal-El and Thomas Barrow twins separated at birth?
yours in storytelling,