Friday, 21 June 2013

Man of Steel (2013)

The second reboot of the all American (slightly Kryptonian) superhero to beat all superheroes. Straight away we are plunged into a new world, a world we have never seen explored before, Krypton. Straight away I was disappointed when I was presented with a world that bared many similarities to other sci-fi films with large flying dragon type dinosaurs, a huge embryo harvesting facility and the all too common nasty sci-fi hokem of laser guns and silly battle armour.

In all honesty I was expecting more on Krypton actually, that is what I was lead to believe anyway, I think they could of handled that better really. Less formulaic punch ups and laser guns and a bit more on the actual destruction of the planet and other citizens perhaps. I thought the original 1978 film actually played out that section far better, it was less complicated, more grounded and much more emotional. Sequences like banishing Zod into the phantom zone was just overly done, didn't need to be so stupidly flashy. I also hated the fact we have faceless soldiers just there to be blasted in this new film, that's generic sci-fi crapola.

The film on the whole was sketchy for me, I really couldn't nail it down completely and found myself liking bits n pieces. I did actually enjoy the first half of the film, pretty much right up to Zod arriving on Earth. Up to then I thought the origins of Supes was played out really well, it could of been quite dull and repetitive but the random flashbacks worked well spaced in between the present day plot. I must also say I found myself liking Costner's performance which amazed me, I like how his character teaches Kal-El restraint, composure and inner strength although it does seem a bit preachy at times, you'd think he was the second coming or something geez (yes I get that with all his powers he kinda almost is to us weak humans...but still). I thought the school kid angle was a nice touch also, all his power and sense problems, kinda like Kryptonian puberty.

One issue I had early on was the death of John Kent (spoiler alert?). The new approach is indeed a fine one and it is a strong emotional sequence for sure, but I just feel the more simple original route of the heart attack was even more powerful. Why? simply because Supes can't save him, all those powers but he's unable to do anything, Superman isn't God, he can't stop everything.

So yeah, everything up to the arrival of Zod is pretty sweet. How the Superman suit in the scout ship just happens to fit Kal-El perfectly is odd, why is his suit in that classic red n blue design when no one on Krypton seems to wear that kind of thing, shouldn't it be armour-like as with the other suits? and what on earth is that Jor-El computer programme about?! The crystal hologram thingy in the 78 classic was spot on, this new idea is ridiculous. So we are suppose to believe he somehow stuffs his 'soul' or essence inside the computer prior to everything kicking off...or something like that, how? is he a computer programme? a ghost? is he even dead?? The fact he is able to answer any given question and act as though he is alive seems like a cheap trick to keep Crowe in the flick for easy plot escape routes (which is exactly what happens).

Once Zod arrives that was it for me, we then enter into the realms of complete videogame in-game sequences, hyper CGI. Zod and his cronies all look uber cool that's for sure (they did 'Prometheus' better than 'Prometheus' with those space suits), but Shannon and the other one were useless as the main villains, no bite at all. The classic Donner sequel far outstrips these two on all levels, Stamp and Douglas were awesomely evil in their roles, they were genuinely unnerving if you ask me. Shannon merely shouts and grimaces a lot and that's it, his female sidekick does nothing much accept raise her eyebrow trying to be somewhat sexual, at no point was I ever actually intimidated by either of them, unlike the gaunt unbalanced Stamp and slinky feline Douglas (remember the astronaut slaughter at the start of 'Superman II'? I rest my case).

I also found it funny that Zod's plan isn't all that bad really. If you think about it his plan is actually commendable because he is only trying to save his race, he is very dedicated to all his people, a true leader. This leads you to think quite simply...just use another planet where there isn't a massive amount of intelligent life dude! There are billions of planets out there, surely you can find one which is suitable and won't cause you so much trouble sheesh! Leave Kal-El and Earth alone and just do what you wanna do elsewhere, he's not being exactly bad, just dumb.

This leads me to the action..oh boy! way to make this into a 'Transformers' fest Snyder. I've said it before like so many others, why would Superman fight Zod in the city (Metropolis) which inevitably would simultaneously wipe out millions of innocents?! Plus he doesn't seem to care! makes no real attempt to limit the damage or try to take it elsewhere, in fact he uses the city as a tool to try and defeat Zod!! There are buildings coming down all over the shop, masses of debris, explosions you name it, the city is being reduced to rubble and clearly MASSES of people MUST be getting killed or horrendously injured (you can't evac a city that fast people).

Yet conveniently Lawrence Fishburne and the other two Daily Planet characters manage to be virtually the only survivors as ash rains down from the scorched sky amidst the senseless carnage. And all the while Superman is on the over side of the world, sure he's battling evil but Jesus Christ mate aren't you suppose to be protecting the puny humans??! But hey as long as Lois is safe huh.

The film realistically shows how Superman fights and what would happen if these fights were real-ish, turns out it would be quite depressing actually, full of death. Yes it looks fantastic but it also looks utterly preposterous, it clearly shows how these epic fights obviously don't completely work in grounded films. In comics and certain films yes, but not in a realistic film because the damage is too absurd to take seriously.

In terms of effects this film is utterly epic yes, kudos to the computer whizz kids and costume designers for sure. I can honesty say I haven't seen a film as impressive for some time (even beats 'The Avengers' at times), but I still feel most of it was not required, just done simply to show off what can be done and please the masses with slick glossy CGI. Did we really need Superman fighting those 'Doctor Octopus' tentacles?

So to sum up the first half with Supes origins was fine, Krypton was over the top and of course so was all the latter half of the film with the inane heavy action. There was more I disliked than liked I won't deny, and at the end of the day I still do think they made this into some kind of Bay/destruction porn pleaser flick. I can't deny I missed John Williams classic score and I hated the fact that Lois Lane pops up in almost every scene! what the hell was that about?! every scene she pops up! even in the aircraft cockpit when they're off to airstrike Zod's ship! why would she be there??? Military personnel only lady, surely.

Funny thing is Supes is sent to Earth to save and protect humans (according to Jor-El) yet humans didn't actually require saving until Supes turned up and brought all his issues with him.