Friday, July 5, 2013
My post title is slightly hyperbolic, but, in general, Man of Steel was a pretty terrible movie. I was disappointed because if anything was ripe for a 2013 remake it was those Christopher Reeve movies from the '70s and '80s. This version combines the storyline from Christopher Reeve's Superman and Superman II, in which Krypton criminals escape their eternal punishment to wreck havoc on planet Earth. So in Man of Steel we get Superman's back story and then some.
My list of complaints is long and it would be tiresome to lay them all out, but here are a few highlights: The film spends far too much time on Krypton. The filmmakers would probably justify this because they would say it's a way to provide a back story for General Zod, but who really cares about him? We needed to begin with Superman. The other main problem is really a stylistic preference. Man of Steel is shot in a modern hyper-kinetic style with constantly moving camera, rapid editing, and lots and lots of close-ups--this last trademark was most annoying. It also utilizes non-linear editing almost randomly. I mean, if you are going to tell a back story/bildungsroman, you kind of defeat the purpose of building the character and story to a climax by shifting back and forth.
The film's executive producer was Christopher Nolan, and I assume that he contributed the one element that I thought was pretty interesting. In this version we get a new philosophical dilemma that Superman is faced with. He has great power but when or if should he use it? Clark is bullied at school and later as an adult and his most difficult choices lie in not seeking vengeance. He learns to be peaceful and harness his power. He learns not to be Superman.
I heard a short piece on NPR describing how the film was marketed to a Christian audience, and, despite the fact that Superman's original creators were Jewish, this version clearly emphasizes the Superman-as-Christ-Figure elements. He turns the other cheek many times, thinks of others before himself, flies like a god, speaks to his omniscient father, and willingly sacrifices himself for the good of the planet.