Meh of Steel

Man of Steel
Starring Kevin Costner
Not directed by Christopher Nolan
In Cinemas June 14th, 2013

by Joanna Orland

With headline writing skills like “Meh of Steel”, I should totally get a job at the Daily Planet!  (It was either that, or “S is for Subpar”.)

Man of Steel is the latest superhero reboot, completely ignoring the last Superman reboot of 2006 which was directed by Bryan Singer and starred the Vegan from Scott Pilgrim VS The World.  This latest iteration stars a British actor named Henry Cavill as the best looking Superman to date, and is directed by Zack Snyder of Watchmen and 300 fame.  Rounding out the cast nicely are Amy Adams as love interest Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Supes’ biological father Jor-El, Diane Lane as his foster mom Mrs. Kent, Kevin Costner in a star turn as his foster dad Mr. Kent, and Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Shannon as General Zod… er… or is it General Maude?

I’d kneel before Maude before I’d kneel before Zod!  In fact, Michael Shannon as Agent Nelson Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire is scarier than his General Zod!  We first meet Zoddy back on the planet Krypton where he’s having a scuffle with Superman’s father Jor-El, played indifferently by Russell Crowe.  Before the Zodster annihilates Jor-El, and after a very long battle with Alien technology and what I can only assume are space dragons, Jor-El manages to ship off his son Kal-El (Superman) into space and onwards to the planet Earth, so he can save the entire race of Kryptonites as the chosen one.  Zoddy is captured and tried by the fashion police for murder, treason, and a dumb haircut, and is sent into space via this space limousine.

Fast forward 30 years and Superman has taken up fishing.  He’s completely evolved into a human being / alien hybrid and he’s also very very fit.  In fact, I think he is perhaps the best looking Superman yet!

The eye candy doesn’t stop at Cavill – the special effects are great and the overall stylization of Man of Steel is slick.  Despite the cool look and cool sounding spaceships, the film falls flat as the narrative is weak, the characters two dimensional, the action frivolous, the corny jokes appalling, and overall it is style over substance.  Making a superhero origins movie does not give a story depth.  The audience still need to like the characters, empathize with them, see them actually maybe flinch when getting thrown through building after building, and well, sometimes it takes more than baby blues to…

er… what was I saying????

The first half of the film is trying, but then come in Kevin Costner and Diane Lane – the salvation of this film.  Every superhero film needs heart, and Costner keeps this one beating.  He gives a touching performance as Jonathan Kent, foster father of Clark Kent (Superman / Kal-Fig).  He has a beautiful adoration for his son and we needed to see more of this.  The origins film should have focused on Clark and the Kents.  What a lovely family.

Then we have Lois Lane.  What kind of transport does this woman use to get around because I swear she is faster than Superman!  Known to be a bit of a feisty female thanks in part to the 1980’s Margot Kidder rendition, Lois Lane as portrayed by Amy Adams is ballsy yet vacuous, and ham-fisted into the plot with her crazy teleportation skills.  The whole dynamic between Lois and Clark is completely off.  She shouldn’t know Clark is Superman, or Superman is Clark in this case.  They have zero chemistry.  This is a terrible role…. second dud in a row for Adams who also stunk it up in The Master.  Why Amy? Why?  You used to be so good!

It’s not Amy’s fault… she’s a great actress.  I blame the director and script writer for creating such a weak Lois.  Director Zack Snyder is definitely about style over substance as you can tell from his previous films.  The story was supposedly co-created by Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan, but after watching this film, I’m fairly sure his only involvement was incepting the idea to make the story about Supes’ origins.  Did he even attend a production meeting?  Doubtful.

As cynical as this review seems, it isn’t all bad.  If it the film had clocked in at 90 minutes rather than the 2.5 hours that it is, it could have achieved something great.  Maybe there will be a producer’s cut and Christopher Nolan can re-edit the whole film and get rid of the boring bits, the endless pointless fights that do no actual damage to anything besides buildings, explain what a space dragon is, add all of Kevin Costner’s deleted scenes, use lots more close ups of Cavill’s baby blues, and voila – you have a great superhero film!  Here’s hoping for the sequel!

One for Kevin Costner. One for the baby blues. One for the potential that this film has, but never quite lives up to.

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