Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Man of Steel: Worth Seeing?
NO SPOILERS AHEAD. This is not going to be one of my usually long and wordy reviews. I'm working on three deadlines at the moment, and I apologize that the blog has gone rather silent, but I promise to pick it up again in the next week.
As I mentioned on Facebook, two weeks ago I went to see Man of Steel with my cousin. When we were kids, he was Superman, I was Wonder Woman, and my brother was Batman. The three of us would tear around my Grandma's house while she fretted that we were going to break something, and she'd pin dishtowels on our shoulders (they helped us fly. No, really, they did... seriously, go try it). We tried to get a full Justice League reunion to go see the movie, but sadly my brother, who lives out of town, couldn't make it on any of the weekends we were aiming for, and so we had to go with one man down. We made the best of it. My cousin showed up in his Superman shirt, and I had my Wonder Woman T on, and we pinned my dishtowels to our shoulders, giggling the entire time as my husband snapped photos. (And also in awe of the fact that my grandmother only had one arm — she'd lost her right arm to polio at the age of four — and somehow pinned these damn things with one hand and we could barely manage it with two!)
ANYWAY. That was the setting: two adults who remembered being a kid and just loving Superman for being Superman. And loved the Justice League (never missed an episode) for being awesome.
I know a lot of people have not liked Man of Steel. I saw a lot of negativity thrown at it leading up to it (many of my friends are in media so they were at advance screenings), but then I began seeing in my Facebook feed a lot of comic book fans that loved it. So I kept an open mind.
And, as an adult going to a movie with another adult, both remembering when we were six years old and tearing around Grandma's house with towels on our backs, we marched into the theatre, ready to be entertained. And we were. I thought it was great.
Some people have complained it's not enough like the Christopher Reeve movie, but if it were, those same people would complain that that movie had already been done so why do it again? Some people have said the acting was lame. I thought it was fine, and Michael Shannon is great, as is Russell Crowe (and to be honest, I think Cavill is playing Superman a particular way and doing a good job of it). Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne, not so much, admittedly. Some have said it's too dark and they've given Superman "issues." But I've heard a lot lately about how boring Superman is because he's so damn flawless that it's hard to identify with him, so I thought it was a good call.
Could it have had some funny infused into it? Yes, it could have, and a few lame jokes fall flat, but I thought it was a lot of fun. It plays with canon (Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane are not what you expect) so it'll be interesting to see how they can carry that through to later films. It's told in a non-linear fashion (you jump around to different points of Kal's life) and I really enjoyed the focus on Krypton and Jor-El, which wasn't a major element of other origin films.
However, I will warn you that there's a lot of handheld camera work and it jumps around a LOT. Luckily two friends told me that, and so I popped two ginger Gravol right before, and had no problem at all. I highly recommend that approach to anyone who gets queasy in films. ;)
Clark struggles with who he is, because he's grown up with an adoptive father who tells him to never show his powers, no matter what, because people won't accept him. It's the opposite message we see in movies these days, where parents tell their children to be whoever they want, and if people don't accept you, screw them. You'll eventually find people who will. Clark's dad, on the other hand, realizes his son's difference is so big that revealing it could endanger him and everyone. And when it is revealed, and General Zod comes to town, Dad turns out to have been right. But it's when Superman comes out to meet him that the real fun begins.
Yes, I wish it had had more humour, but again, these two big kids sitting in the audience were giddy and excited and the movie delivered. Don't go see it with the eyes of a film critic: go watch it with the eyes of a child who loves superheroes. Open your mind, and allow the film to entertain you. I wanted to be entertained, and I was entertained.
Near the end of the film, we flash back to Clark, around age six, and he's running around his backyard as his mother is hanging up the washing. As the camera comes closer, you realize he's got a towel pinned to his shoulders with clothespins. I felt my heart balloon as I watched it, and in that moment — and for the first time ever with this character — I felt like I could be Superman.