Look! Up in the sky! It’s a boid! It’s a plane! It’s a hot, brooding, British Christ-figure in a cape!
Yo, you comic book and movie-fans! It’s your bud Bru with an honest-to-beer first-run review of this year’s second comic-book-based blockbuster: the latest revamped “flagship franchise” prayer from DC about their Big Blue Boy Scout, SUPERMAN, The Man of Steel! This thing’s been hyped more than any other film of its kind since AVENGERS. But can the also-rans at Dark Comicfilms finally claim a decent version of the world’s first comic-book superhero that can match or exceed their mega-hits with the Batman franchise? Let’s count them bullet points:
The casting. Henry Cavil makes a dang good Supes. Yes, he doesn’t have the Reeve or Reeves chin, but it’s still dimpled, and he’s got the pumped-up muscles none of his predecessors had. Even without a shirt (which you ladies and man-lovers get to drool over early and often), he still looks like Superman. He’s got a nice emotional depth unlike the vapid performance from the previous version and the more superficial versions before that.
The villain. Michael Shannon as General Zod is not only the best badass in a comic film since Heath Ledger’s Joker, he’s just as bat-crap crazy and acts it! No restraint, no punches pulled, no subtlety. If you saw him as the band manager in THE RUNAWAYS (the fine flick about the all-chick band of the same name), you’ll know what I mean.
Kevin Costner and Diane Lane make good Ma and Pa Kents, as long as you don’t mind them being young, modern blue collar-guy/earthy-natural-woman types rather than the usual white bread, roly-poly, Pepperidge Farm breed that everyone knows from the old comics.
Russell Crowe does a better Jor-El than godfather Brando. (Even tho the latter had a higher cool factor with the wig.)
Special effects are top, top, top notch. Spectacular visuals that must’ve taken months and months of intense effort and expertise. Editing and camera work are well done. Superman flies and moves like he probably would in life, and displays of his powers are pretty believable.
Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has a nice butt.
Watch for a “Lexcorp” logo or two. But that’s all you get of the Man Of Steel’s GREATEST ARCH ENEMY. (Must be saving him for the next film. Pretty hopeful if ya ask me.)
Some of the plot stuff is good, like how Lois tracks down a mystery man and a few other things that I won’t spoil.
Tons and tons and still more tons of explosions!! Buildings crumbling and falling and exploding! VERY LOUDLY!!! Lots of big-ass punches and kicks! Throwing bodies!! Think WWE times a thousand, with the volume at 11.
NO Superman baby daddy. (Thank God.)
Mandatory (but always welcome) creator credit for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The lawyers hate it but we’re glad it’s there.
Beginning section on Krypton took way too long. The birth scene was too nasty for a Supes flick. Krypton is not the majestic, highly-advanced, hopeful and beautiful city it’s always been, but a dreary, dark place with giant flying reptiles and no color. I appreciate the ton of work and thought that went into its design and construction, and making it like, uh, rounded? Whatever the fancy term is. [From Mike: that would be “organic!”]
No less than three long pieces of exposition throughout. At times I wasn’t sure if I was watching a fantasy film or a documentary. And Smallville is apparently next door to Flashback City.
Supes has a cleft chin but also a butt nose. WTF? Was Karl Malden ever on Krypton?
Blue-eyed, raven-haired Lois Lane is a green-eyed ginger? WTF? And Jimmy Olsen, freckled-faced, ginger cub reporter, is “Jenny” Olsen, whining brunette damsel-in-distress? WTF? And Perry White is black? (And since no self-respecting “African-American” would ever say, “Great Caesar’s Ghost”, that classic line was out.) Again, WTF? (And who the hell is “Lombard”?) This whole “change for the sake of the actor” and PC crap is just annoying. (One o’ these days, I’d like to see someone have the walnuts to make a black character white or a female character a male, just to see the hypocrites come crying outta the woodwork. Won’t ever happen, but it would be hilarious!)
Thankfully, Larry Fishburne who plays Perry White is an Oscar-level actor. But did they have to make him look like he ate Perry White? (Either that or he sucked on an air hose for an hour.) I really hope it was all make-up and they didn’t force the poor guy to balloon up for the role, because he didn’t need it.
Zod is the main villain again? Didn’t they use him up already in the Reeve versions? Like they couldn’t think of anyone else? (And that haircut made me think of Sheldon Cooper from THE BIG BANG THEORY every time they showed his face.)
The “S” on Superman’s chest isn’t an “S.” Yeah, right.
Poor Kal-El. His folks can afford to build a friggin’ state-of-the-art rocket ship, but not buy a damn diaper for their poor kid who has to fly light years across galaxies! Not even a red, blue and yellow swaddling blanket. Gee, thanks, Mom and Dad!
Speaking of baby Supes, do we really need to see his super pee-pee? Seriously? I’M EATING POPCORN HERE!
The whole dark, dreary, muted look on everything. The main deal with Superman is his contrast to the darkness of Batman! One had a tragic childhood he’s trying to prevent others from having and the other had an idyllic one he wants for all children. Not here! Clark’s childhood is basically one string of alienation, silent frustrations and bullying after another.
Pa Kent is a dick. Clark is supposed to let a busload of kids die rather than save them and chance showing his powers. Great lesson there.
When Clark flies and breaks the sound barrier, the sonic booms look and sound like fart blasts. “Able to leap tall buildings in a single TOOT!”
The title could’ve been, “Man Of Spiel.” To pay for this mess, Warners hit up Nokia, Nikon, IHOP, 7-11 and even U-Haul! That’s just what I remember. For all I know, Supes had Fruit Of The Loom under his suit and Lois had Tampax in her purse.
The whole Jesus thing was a bit heavy-handed. The beard and blue-eyes, subtle crucifix poses, speeches about the “child of destiny” and “performing miracles” and “being sent from the Lord”…Plus having Kal don the costume at the same age as Christ was when He died. We know Superman was technically Jewish, but King Of The Jews? Come on.
Glaring emissions: no real mention of Metropolis. No clever mentions of past artists and writers like in Marvel movies. Barely any humor (again, unlike Marvel movies.) No hair curl. Heck, when Superman (finally!) becomes the Daily Planet Clark Kent, he doesn’t even change his hair one bit!
Credits? Pascale was peeved that no storyboard artists were listed but that’s a gripe for artist-types. [Mike: thanks to imdb.com, they were Lars Canty and Jay Oliva]. Credit for MLB but no credit I saw for the NFL even tho Clark watches a NY Giants game. And after all the credits, no button! Perfect opportunity to introduce Lex or some other classic character, or lead into the next JLA movie character, wasted.
The death toll and property damage in Metropolis makes that in NYC in the AVENGERS movie look like minor vandalism! Holy crap. Hard to say the last time this many people died in a superhero film. (Reeeeeally upbeat.) And the two “big” deaths were simply unnecessary as staged. (Hint one: super-speed, duh! Hint two: A sleeper hold means the victim goes to sleep. As in passes out.)
To quote Jimi Hendrix singing Bob Dylan lyrics, “There’s too much confusion. I can’t get no relief.” A few scenes just made no sense to me and had me going, “Wha—?” No spoilers, but my head hurts just thinkin’ about ’em.
Didn’t see it in 3D so can’t comment on it. Trust me, it wouldn’t make it move any faster.
If anyone asks you what this movie is about, tell them it’s really about an hour too long. It’s definitely a bad sign if I’m fidgeting in my seat waiting for it to END. [Mike: Despite nine hours of sleep, my wife yawned half a dozen times or more during the second half.] If they cut it down, it would have worked better.
There was so much potential here, and the character was good; but the story fell flat. Clearly a case where brilliant writers and directors who were brilliant with other movies (300 and Batman) don’t guarantee brilliance every time. With all the intense cross-marketing it had to have a monster opening. Of course it’ll rake in huge bucks but time and truth may not be kind here. Or maybe I just have better taste than the riff-raff. YEAH, THAT’S IT!
In the time it took to sit thru this, you could read your favorite Superman comic-book trade paperback. Or two. And get more from your time and money.
If you’re a Superman or even a comic-book fan, you have to satisfy your curiosity and see for yourself. But this was even worse to sit thru than the remake of SPIDER-MAN. I suppose if you have two-and-a-half hours with nothing to do (and want it to feel like four), you might CATCH IT on cable or Netflix or whatever. But please don’t pay money for it. You’ll already be paying with your precious time which you’ll never get back!
P.S.: Great character, fair movie. So how about enjoying a lovely commission of Cavil as the Man O’ Steel? Or any of the classic versions from the comics? That Pascale fella is fast and good and cheap, like a ten-dollar hooker on a military payday. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Bru-Hed are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, or anyone else on Earth, Krypton or the Phantom Zone. Might explain why he doesn’t date much.