Man of Steel
I can't think of anything bad about this movie. It is closer to the Avengers than it is to previous Superman films. You can definitely see the Nolan influence although it feels familiar at the same time. Some moments seem to pay homage to Donner's original while so much is very much new.
We can leave Brian Singer's stinker where it belongs in TBS late night.
Russell Crowd was excellent and Michael Shannon's Zod is a new standard in scifi villainy. Good banter between Supes and Zod during fight scenes (something absent in the Batman vs Bane scenes).
I like the origin story as flashback rather than a linear retelling of what we already know.
The Lois Lane arc is refreshing. It will be interesting to see what they do with this next.
Once more people have seen this we can delve into details.
I saw IMAX 3d but did not think 3d was necessary or helpful as it was in Star Trek or the Hobbit. Think I'll see it down the road in 2d next.
Man of Steel was much better than Star Trek. Didn't like the shaky-cam camerawork, but that damps down later in the movie, or perhaps you get used to it. Good story, and Crowe really enjoys himself in this as Jor-El. Interesting art direction, I think the art staff must have had Journey on their ipods on repeat while designing the Kryptonian technology... you'll get the reference when you see the film.
Much of the dialog for the secondary characters is not great, but you can forgive it. Michael Shannon was intimidating as Zod, but also seemed to be channelling Joaquin Phoenix, I thought.
The final Boss battle was kind of repetitive and long for my taste, with a painful amount of damage done, but finished well. Several scenes mention Lex Luthor's company, must be a diversion or a set-up for a sequel. Plano, IL. was the location for Smallville. They're used to real destruction, as in tornadoes.
I think I have to be a contrarian on this one, guys...
I didn't hate Man of Steel by any means, but I just wasn't all that impressed with it. Having seen it a few days ago, when I try to think about it now, it barely stands out as part of my weekend. I had a more memorable time getting White Castle the night before.
Is it just me, or did anyone else think the first ten minutes of this movie was terrible? What a mess. And it all seemed so redundant, because 45 minutes later in the film, the interactive "ghost" memory of Jor-El (which was an oddly convenient technology to exist) retells everything that happened in the first ten minutes with the Terminator 2 liquid metal computer technology. It was pretty expository to begin with, then it felt like a double whammy when we had already learned about it earlier in the movie. But, I mean, back to the Krypton stuff... Russell Crowe riding around on a dragonfly with lasers and explosions everywhere? I want to say "Hell yeah!", but then I just get reminded of John Carter and I want to splash hot kryptonite in my eyeballs.
I think I could have deduced who General Zod was without the beginning of the movie. And this is coming from a guy who has basically seen nothing about Superman in his life. Well, I've seen the 1978 film, and it's good and all, but I've never seen any of the sequels, or read the comic books, or seen any TV show (from Smallville to the animated series). Superman Returns looked terrible from the commercials, so I avoided that altogether. I just haven't invested a lot of time into watching Superman stuff. That being said, the Superman mythos is so ingrained into pop culture that it felt like I knew exactly what was going to happen throughout the entire movie. THAT BEING SAID, I thought the most engaging scenes were the flashbacks with Clark and his father. So I don't even know what to think about it, other than it was... off. They either should have focused more on a smaller scale, or cut out huge chunks, or made it a more intimate Superman tale... I don't know. I basically saw something I felt like I've seen in its entirety before, despite the fact I definitely have not.
It's a movie that got so bogged down with extra crap, that during the climactic destroying of Metropolis, we are forced to concern ourselves with the fate of three Daily Planet employees digging their way out of the rubble... Three characters who probably had 10 lines combined in the film leading up to that point. I DON'T CARE IF THEY DIE. I just watched like 500 people get killed in the scene before that, why am I supposed to be invested in their issues? Is it because it's Lawerence Fishbourne? Did he want more screen time or something? It felt like forced drama and emotion in a scene when we are supposed to be caring about other things going on. Try for a little subtlety from time to time, Mr. Snyder. Also, in the last scene of the movie when the bald Daily Planet guy asks the intern out on a date, and she scoffs him off like he's a disgusting loser... I seem to recall him grabbing a street sign to pry you out from your death trap and save your life when you were crying under the wreckage of a destroyed building. Maybe treat him a smidge of dignity; you stuck-up, terrible woman.
It didn't help that the entire movie had a Thor feel to it. Didn't I already see stuff just like this in Thor? Did anyone else get that vibe? The fight on the streets of a small hick town in the desert (I think a 7-11 got blown up in both movies)? The two people from another world smashing into each other? The quirky-yet-determined love interest? A protagonist that pretty much can't be destroyed by anything on Earth? And the gratuitous product placement! Oh, the product placement! Superman has a fist fight in an IHOP, for Zod's sake!
The whole thing was just flat. And I don't know if I'd go as far as to call it a great story. It's a serviceable story, for sure, but nothing special. Was there a single twist in the film, or a plot point that wasn't expected to happen? It was pretty by-the-books. I mean it wasn't bad, but it also left no room for surprises. Star Trek Into Darkness at least had a few surprises (for people like me who never watched the show), as silly as the logic in that movie was, as well. And let's be honest, BOTH movies have some silly logic.
Like, why was Zod so adamant about taking Lois into custody along with Superman? I guess they said that they mildly interrogated her, and it didn't work or something (which they don't show). Anyway, she uses her time up there to rescue Superman and get the answer on how to save Earth from the interactive Jor-El ghost. I mean, I GUESS...? Also, when the government is complaining that Superman destroyed a $12 million dollar drone at the end, don't they realize that Superman and his alien foes just did like $50 billion dollars of damage to Metropolis the month before? The loss of life was probably in the hundreds of thousands. America will never be the same. I wonder if they'll touch on that in the sequel? But at least it's nice to know that Superman can cry over human life, as long as they die right in front of him. Just avoid the morning news tomorrow, Clark.
The action scenes were good though! But I agree, Mark, the shaky cam was unnecessary. Was this supposed to be "gritty" because of that? It didn't feel gritty. It also didn't feel that fun. But also didn't feel that dark. It felt like the safest Superman movie they possibly could have made. I think that safeness paid off about 113 million different ways ($$$), so I'm sure the people involved are pretty satisfied. And I always encourage putting Michael Shannon in things, and making him as angry as possible, so I'm cool with this movie on a Michael Shannon level. If I was a billionaire, I'd pay Michael Shannon to sit in my living room while my friends poke him with sticks until he yells at them. But I plan on being sort of an evil billionaire.
Again, I don't want to give the impression that I hated this movie. It's definitely worth watching on a "Hey, it's raining out and we can't enjoy summer activities so let's go see a movie" kind of way. It's long enough that the storm may completely pass over you by the time the movie is over... It's, ya know... a big splashy movie. It's certainly that. But it's not really a game changer for big budget movies, action movies, OR comic book movies. It's not even the best comic book movie Zack Snyder has ever made. Watchmen trumps Man of Steel in focus, atmosphere, storytelling, and action. Watchmen is a good movie, I'll take keep saying that to my grave! It's not my fault that complex themes, interesting storytelling, and well-developed characters appeal to me more than Superman uppercutting a spaceship. So yes, based on the releases this weekend: Seth Rogan drinking his own urine > Superman Origin Story 2013.
But yeah, I'd give Man of Steel like a 6 out of 10. It's alright.
Hm, my reply seems to have vanished into the Phantom Zone....
Spoilers ahead if you care....
What was great in this version is the deeper look into being young Clark, and the key role his mother plays. Typically the origin story is all about pa Kent telling the kid he has a destiny. And we get that this time too.
But the GREAT part I thought was the expanded role of the mom. We see a very small Clark, and we expect to see scenes of him being bullied and learning to endure... but what has never really been addressed before in the films is just how hard it would be to BE young Clark, when your senses are so much more acute; you can see thru your own body and everybody' else, they all look like monsters from a bad acid trip, nobody else experiences this so you are a freak...... and you're like eight years old, and this is your reality, EVERY DAY. Clark by all rights should have wound up institutionalized or psychotic, but for the love, support, and guidance of his mom, teaching him how to filter his perceptions down so he could stand being around people, teaching him the self-control. This becomes a key weapon for Superman in fighting the invading Kryptonians.
I didn't mind the added exposition either. If we're expected to experience this story from Kal-El's point of view, then it makes sense that we know no more of his homeworld than he does, so it feels like we experience his revelations simultaneously. And that gets us into the plot faster. But...
If you want to motivate the villain properly, you have to establish him somehow, and showing where he comes from and the world in which he operates, makes him a more dimensional character. So I liked how we got to see some more of Jor-El and Lara, and to see some of their technology. And what Krypton was like, how Zod operated there.
The plot twist of Jor-El embedding the genetic information of all the Kryptonian race into his son's cells gives Zod more motivation than just a grudge or revenge: Zod is programmed from birth to defend Krypton, and this guy's body contains all the stolen Kryptonian babies that will ever be born. You can understand the villain's motivation very well because of this plot point, and that makes a better story.
This infusion plot point could also be used as a device to explain how Superman has a slight but unique edge over other Kryptonians... it could be some kind of reserve well of strength or endurance or mental fortitude or whatever. Midichlorians, if you will. It also creates the possibility that sometime in the future, Kal will find a way to revive his people and no longer be alone... but dare he play God? Does he risk resuming the same problems that doomed his people before? This is great stuff!
I like how Lois is established early as a real journalist who can investigate on her own. Less Brenda Starr, more Christianne Armanopour.
There are numerous references to Lexcorp in the movie, which could have just been the director having some fun, a diversion to throw off spies while the movie was in production, or it could be legitimately setting up Lex Luthor for the sequel. With all the damage done in Metropolis and Kansas by the battles in this movie, there are going to be plenty of scared or angry and resentful people, both in the government and in the population in general, for a Lex Luthor to tap into and manipulate against Superman.
[Scott Roberts] "I've seen the 1978 film, and it's good and all, but I've never seen any of the sequels"
I'm not much of a Superman guy, or even a comics guy in general either.
However, I undersold the Die Hard sequels before (II and 4 are REALLY REALLY GOOD, and genuinely HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), so I'll try to get it right with Superman II. Think of it as like Star Wars and Empire. Star Wars is the only one anybody NEEDS to see....but it's still fair to say that the second one is BETTER. And seeing the second one makes you enjoy the first one even more.
Not that Superman is even close to Star Wars, but the PRINCIPLE is the same. The second one is better in every way.
And by the second half of the third movie, the whole thing falls off a cliff. LOL So there you go. The parallel holds up. In fact, both Empire and Supermann II came out in 1980.
As an aside, you may ask, why bother to see Superman II if I didn't care about him or comics all that much? Because this was THE ONLY ONE OUT THERE. In 1980, Burton's Batman was still NINE YEARS away! The first Marvel movie to make it to an American movie theater was BLADE, in 1998!!!!
I'll put it this way. Terence Stamp as General Zod in 1980 is the equivalent of Ricardo Montalban. Sure, more of an actual cartoon, but a comic book performance for the ages. No matter what anybody does with Khan forever after, it won't have quite the shaggy yet indelible charm.
FWIW. Superman II is worth more of your time than most of the comics movies that have followed it.
There was more drama in the MAKING of Superman II than there was in the actual movie.
I'd love to see the Donner Cut sometime.
Scott, I agree with your review so much that it worries me. I never agree with anyone this much. What has happened to me?
I don't agree the story was even serviceable though. What was the point? There was no character arc. You never thought Clark would betray humanity or that he would get captured. It was just a complete bore.
Cut out the ridiculous beginning scene and like 75% of act 3 and you might have a tolerable film. I seriously would have left the theater if I thought my husband wouldn't be pissed. I considered feigning illness. It was that boring.
I give it like a 4/10 maybe and hope I never have to sit through it again.
There are no superhero/comix movies that need to be over 2 hours. None. I'm boycotting this one on principle.
I'm actually working on a post called "Dude, your movie is too long." I've been thinking about it off and on for years, but I was pushed over the edge by Entertainment Weekly calling it "Man of Steal -- as in stole two and a half hours of my life."
I think the character arc is really all what happens in his childhood. I can't stress enough how impressed I was with the bits based around his mother teaching him to hold it together, when he and everyone else thought he was a freak. That's never really been well-covered in the movies or even all that much in the Smallville show, apart from the bullying.
And they did a better than average job in creating Zod's motivation: this was the best-motivated and explained Zod of all. Stamp's was just a martinet that needed adoration. This one is the defender and hero of his race, fighting it's genocide.
Mark - I agree with you on the aspect of learning how to control the uh, powers or whatever. That was interesting. And Zod had legit if simple motivations.
I just didn't see the point. The flashbacks were done well, but overall it just wasn't that interesting to me.
Cut it down to an hour and fifteen and my opinion might improve a little.
The movie was too long- I'll give you that.
Ha. They totally set it up for a sequel! Two or Three!
I agree the shaky cam was a bit much. I was so excited to see Kevin Costner, but so many of the scenes with him were shaky!
~Blessed Is He Who Considers The Poor.~
Ok, I have had a couple of weeks to think about this movie.
I really liked some of it. I would have ended it after the Smallville scene, and then have Clark arriving at the Daily Planet. Having a super-battle in Smallville and not destroy and kill all of Smallville, then destroying and killing quite a lot of Metropolis is confusing. That IHOP should have been completely destroyed, not just mostly destroyed. And the entire population of Smallville should have died - we did not see anyone actually die except maybe the military pilots. It was a very A-Team battle - everyone walks away with a limp.
I saw the opening scenes on Krypton and was excited to see some Avatar-like sci-fi in a Superman origin movie. Yeah there were similarities to Thor and John Carter - presumably any advanced distant planet has this kind of action on a daily basis. In hindsight maybe it was over the top that Jor-El was not only a great scientist and political figure, but also Bruce Willis.
Regarding the liquid metal motif - I suspect Snyder said to his contact at ILM "show me something that we haven't seen before" - it was liquid metal but seemingly based upon those pin sculpture toys they used to sell at Sharper Image. They should have made the Jor-El hologram completely out of that stuff, but they probably ran out of money.
I liked how Lois was unable to breathe the atmosphere on the spaceship, and likewise how Zod et al took time to acclimate to Earth.
I agree, the Flashback scenes were the best. In the 1978 version, the pre-Metropolis scenes were also the best. Mario Puzo wrote a 900 page screenplay for the original Superman movie. They filmed I and II as one long process as they were supposed to be one long story. Half way through filming II the studio fired Richard Donner for being too controlling and quality conscious, and they brought in Richard Lester who directed Beatles movies and was more comedy oriented. Hence the Times Square fight scene is kind of cheesy and other scenes are not very Donner-esque.
In the Donner Cut, he changes the ending of to wrap up I and II together, changes the scene where Lois tricks Superman into revealing his identity (really, trick Superman? He knew what she was up to and let it happen) to the audition between Reeve and Kidder - it is quite incongruous but that is the way Donner thought it should have been filmed.
Superman II was an attempt at a superhero comedy. Richard Pryor was the star. Quite horrible for the most part, aside from the Smallville scenes in which Clark goes to his high school reunion and hooks up with Lana, then he is exposed to red kryptonite and turns evil. The woman who played Lana went on the be Mrs. Kent in the Smallville tv series (which also found roles for Reeve, Kidder, Mcclure, Stamp (Jor-El ironically) and others). Smallville the series had the right idea but it went on far too long. Three seasons would have been enough to establish that Clark and Lex were childhood friends, that Clark and Lana had a thing and that Clark and Pete were once good friends. The rest just got silly, but it WAS on WB.
Superman IV was sort of a continuation of II bringing back Lex Luthor but it was done one such a low budget it really appears to have been an attempt by Reeve, Kidder and the Salkinds to wish 1978 never ended. That being said it had a decent director, just no soul.
Reeve was interviewed later saying he regrets having made IV and any future Superman movies would need to have scripts written by Shakespeare in order for him to reprise the role again.
Ok where were we? Oh yeah, Man of Steel. Kevin Costner's Pa Kent and John Schnieder's characterization were similar. Some dialogue reminiscent of Glenn Ford's version in 78 also.
This post is sort of all over the place, kind of like the movie. It went from good to silly a few times. The destruction of Metropolis, as Mark's link suggests, was about the biggest human disaster since Hiroshima. And Superman was so focused on killing Zod that he just let all those humans die in the process. Not cool Superman.
Once Superman Returns was on HBO I recorded it off to DVD keeping only the interesting scenes, which was maybe 20 minutes worth. This one could probably be cut down to 60 minutes to tell basically the same story. The Dark Knight Rises is kind of like that. I loved it at the theater, but I own the Blu-Ray and just can't watch it all the way through. The whole sub-plot with Catwoman and the clean slate was just a contrived way to make her meet Bruce Wayne and a waste of film stock. And the ending...But that ship has sailed.
So yeah Man of Steel had its moments but parts of it were kind of a mess.