Last week I posted a text interview I had with my oldest friend about the Superman reboot, Man of Steel. Well, now I’ve seen the film and would like to share the opposite side of the coin. Instead of writing a full review, I will just transcribe the texts I sent immediately after leaving the theater. Besides, they’re about as long as my standard review anyway.
First, let me say that I was able to shed my expectations and preconceptions before seeing the film. Not an easy task for a Superman fan. Sadly, it made no difference.
Me Upon leaving the theater: I don’t think a film has ever infuriated me more than Man of Steel. I almost left and asked for my money back. I am disgusted.
A few minutes later: It’s a mess. Putting aside my angry fanboy and looking at it as a film, it is a bad, sloppy, miserable, shallow film.
Feeling I should elaborate: Structurally it is a disaster. The film begins with an overblown prologue, that could have been told in flashback, and skips ahead 33 years, resorting to telling Superman’s formative years in flashback. That is lazy, poor story structure. (Later I corrected myself by saying inappropriate, after another friend asked for clarification.) By removing his childhood, and putting them into a patchwork of scenes, out of context, u kill the emotional core of the character, rendering the rest of the film utterly pointless.
Later, when asked if there was anything I liked: It looked nice. And I get the feeling that Henry Cavill is a great Superman, but they changed the context of his performance, stripping it of power and resonance.
Note: Seriously, this dude put his ALL into the role. The Shoddy scene placement made his work feel almost forced. When I look into his eyes though, I see Superman and Clark. Too bad the movie forgot to show that more.
I tried to be a bit more specific: Basically, the movie wants you to care about Jor-El because he’s Superman’s dad. U should be excited that to see Superman fly because that’s what Superman does. Lois and Clark have Zero reason to fall in love. But they do because that’s what’s supposed to happen. There is no reason to invest in anyone other than that’s just what they expect you to do. Why does Superman Choose to save Earth? Because he’s Superman. They say it’s because of his parents, but we see so little of them it’s hard to believe.
Getting even more specific: It was loaded with call back moments that would have been incredible character moments, had they established a set up. Like characters proclaiming big emotions that feels like a turning point, falling flat because they never alluded to it before.
Then I tried to sum things up: I think they made their choices based on, “This is what is supposed to happen in a Superman film, so we’ll do that. He’s supposed to wear a suit, punch people, fly, fall in love with Lois Lane, and save mankind…just ‘cuz. Nothing was cohesive or natural. It was sloppy and forced. If this is the Garbage they plan on force feeding fans, exploiting their fandom, then I dread Justice League.
Now to actually Summarize.
I can’t escape the feeling that Zack Snyder made a good film, threw it in a blender and released what came out. It was shot well, most of the actors were good (except Amy Adams, but she didn’t have much to work with). Already my memory is re-cutting the film and I enjoy what’s coming out of it. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane were robbed. They put in wonderful performances as John and Martha Kent. I believed that they could have raised this boy. But instead of giving us time to get to know them, we are given brief glimpses of their lives, taking away what makes this Super guy a Man.
That is the film’s major failing. Superman is not a great character because he has powers – it’s because of how he chooses to use them. What informs the character is his upbringing. You can skip Batman’s childhood because he is about a single moment. There is one night that made Batman what he is. Superman is the product of a lifetime of love and understanding, decades worth of humanity. He’s not great because he’s Super, he’s Super because he’s a man. Something this film forgets until the end when it desperately wants you to make believe he’s a simple boy from Kansas by just telling you.