Remember the days when superhero movies were goofy and fun? You know, like the actual concept of superheroes? Yeah, it’s pretty safe to say that those days are gone, fallen victim to the literal fun sponge that is gritty realism.
It’s somewhat frustrating, because it undermines the very idea. We don’t watch a movie about a superhero to reflect upon the social issues of our society, or to question the very fabrics of our existence – we just want to watch some really strong guy beat up a bunch of bad guys. Luckily, Man of Steel has got plenty of that – but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to try to make you do all the other boring stuff, too.
Man of Steel really tries to have it’s cake and eat it with this, because the initial concept is so goddamn ridiculous. You can’t put this guy in our reality and expect us to be able to connect with the world the same way would would in, say, The Dark Knight. You can continually tell us that it’s earth, and that this is real, but the very concept of Superman undermines the power of that statement so much, that you might as well have set it in Neverland. Applying gritty realism to Superman is pretty much redundant. The fact that you opened the film on Krypton only further distances us from reality.
But that’s just the way it is now – films, and stories as a whole, are attempting to recreate life more and more. Everything has to be real, has to reflect reality. Forget about escapism, the world is a bleak and awful place, and you have to be reminded of that in every film, game and novel that you experience. We can’t have strong, powerful protagonists any more, because that isn’t real. They need to have weaknesses, they need to be vincible. That’s the biggest problem with this film – trying to convince us that Superman is mortal.
He’s Superman for Christ’s sake! Forget about Kryptonite for now (because Zack Snyder certainly did) try and actually imagine Superman not being super. You just can’t – but that’s not going to stop Snyder trying to convince you otherwise.
So, what’s the film like? It’s all right. It’s intense, fun, entertaining, and ever so slightly thought provoking. That’s about all you could ever ask for from a superhero film. Yet, Man of Steel isn’t without it’s problems. The first (and most petty) problem is that the film is too long. It doesn’t need to be 143 minutes, no real character development happens in that time, not a lot of Superman‘s history is adequately explained in that time.
Right near the end, there is a distinct moment where the bad guy has been overthrown, and everything looks to be over – The two protag’s share a kiss, and the credits are ready to roll. But no, for absolutely no reason at all (except for a climactic final battle) the bad guy is still going. This leads to a 15 minute fight which involves two big guys throwing each other around in space. That’s literally all that happens. For 15 minutes.
The story is wafer thin, and it’s poorly explained. The film raises about a billion questions that remain unanswered. Zod (Michael Shannon) is a cartoonish, over-the-top buffoon, which ordinarily would be a point in the films favour, had they not taken the ‘dark, gritty’ approach. The films attempt at ‘humour’ are ghastly at best. Also, there is a staggering amount of destruction that happens in the background of the fights, that is seemingly forgotten at the end. Seriously, by the end of the film America looks to be a desolate wasteland – yet 5 minutes later, everything is perfect again with no explanation, or consequence displayed.
You know what, it’s not even worth going into depth, really – at the end of the day, it’s just a superhero movie. It’s attempts to be more than that are shallow and token. If you can look past the weak story, and the fact they speak English on Krypton (yeah, I went there) then you will enjoy this film for what it is. A silly superhero film. A film which nobody in their right mind could say is a perfect film.
Verdict: Like building an Ikea wardrobe and it being slightly askew, but functional (6/10)
My face when watching: