Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Man of Steel" (2013)

I hereby add myself to the list of detractors. “Man of Steel” is a failure on so many levels.

First, there is the failure as an action film. The build-up, back-story portion of the film works pretty well, but it is as if the film gets two thirds of the way in and remembers it is a super hero film and that it must have a lot of action and violence. At that point it ceases to reflect on any interesting ideas and goes completely overboard on mind-numbing, forget-trying-to-follow-what-is-happening, obliterate-a-metropolis, action. In an amazing contradiction, the film becomes boring when it should be climaxing.

Secondly, there is the failure as an adaptation. Adaptations are not bad by their very nature, but this film fails to adapt the Superman mythos in any way that provides new perspective while remaining true to the core of the story. Some would argue that it does do exactly that, but the changes here either fall into the category of mere window dressing, or outright betrayal. It is as though one had made Sherlock Holmes a dunce, or Tarzan a sophisticate. That would be fine if this were a satirical work. Instead Snyder and co. have earnestly made Superman a killer.

Therein lies the ultimate failure of this film. People try to argue that this film had to do what it did because the story demanded it. They placed Superman in a situation where there was no other out. All that really says is either (a) the writers were not skilled enough to solve their set-up whilst guarding the true nature of the character, or (b) they were never really writing a Superman story.

Some will say that this criticism is a case of false expectations. That one should not demand a film meet some preconceived wish of the audience. To that I have two responses. If you tell a story about a beloved, or at least well-known character, you have to contend with such expectations. And, even if you remove the Superman baggage and have this film be merely a highly derivative action piece, you still have to deal with the first problem already stated above; this film is boring.

In the end, that tends to be a common problem with Superman stories. Maybe this film is true to its roots after all.

(Here is the best version of "Man of Steel," the trailer is amazing.)

1 comment:

  1. Good review Jason. A good superhero movie, but not the best in recent memory.


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