Kurt Vonnegut said about writing that you should start as close to the end as possible. It seems the makers of Man of Steel decided that was some bullshit and just did whatever in this mess of images and lackluster characters. However, I did leave the theater satisfied. Perhaps I lowered my expectations so low that I had a good time, but as a Superman movie, this is craptastic.
The following are my notes from the film and explanations therein. Beware, all the spoilers beyond this point.
We start out on Krypton with Zod, sorry, General Zod taking over the planet due to nobody doing anything about the planet going boom. Then Jor-El (superman’s daddy) jumps on a dragonfly thing. Some claim this shows him communing with nature, but that’s crap. Imagine and MIT greenhouse gas expert smart person using a horse to get home.
Too much bullshit
At this point we have been on Krypton for about ten minutes. Not once has a man been said to have been made of or be of steel. I have to give it to Russel Crow and Michael Shannon, though, they make all that silly armor believable in over the top Shakespeare acting.
Why not evacuate?
So the planet of Krypton allowed themselves to be programmed as robots and become a master race of people to the point where they would ignore their planet exploding despite the fact they say they had a space program and the ability to build ships, can shoot people into space, have things in space floating around that zap other people into Phantom Zones and why are they this dumb??
Superman bums around the world for a while with a beard. Part of me wanted this to turn into First Blood. That would have been interesting. The saving of the oil rig is great, though.
Superman stands up to some douchpepper while working in a truck stop harassing a lady and allows himself to get humiliated. Then he crumples up the guy’s semi and sticks telephone poles through it that he bothered to sharpen because Superman is on the aggressive side of passive aggressive.
She reads her stories?
Apparently Lois Lane reads out her stories to her editor when he rejects them. Because she has a...
Yep, she said it. Another reference to the previous movies that does not really belong here, shoehorned in to what is otherwise a wonderful performance by Amy Adams. I had my doubts on her ability as Lois Lane, but she nailed it.
The young actors all look really good as young Supermans. These were some of the best parts of the movie, showcasing Superman’s dilemma of not showing his powers versus Pa Kents unwillingness to have his boy be a freak. I also really bought Ma Kent as a tough farm mom who loved her son.
Let his dad die?
I found Pa Kent sacrificing himself to be unneeded and kinda dumb. Crazy things happen in tornadoes and a kid going out and saving his dad would not be seen of a wild superhero tale outside of it being kind of cool. But then all the other stuff would have happened... Anyway, its just silly to kill that character to keep a secret one reporter figures out in about five minutes of screen time.
This movie really does look amazing, including the “dream” sequence with Zod where Superman is standing on a field of skulls. While the characters and story suffer, the images they are presented in are wonderful to look at.
Lois and Ghost Dad
So in this movie Jor-El is saved on a memory stick and when uploaded to a Krypton ship he can appear. Lois is on a ship, has the stick, boom there’s a ghost dad. This is all good and fine except that Ghost in the Machine Dad also seems to be able to see the future, telling her where to duck and swerve to miss attacks that haven’t happened yet. Yeah, nitpicky, but I got to reference Ghost Dad.
Morality - evil
I am in love with Antje Traue, and I want her playing all my evil villain ladies from now on. She did some awesome menacing just truly evil stuff here that made me wonder why anyone would go near her when she got all blood happy. The failing of the writing is that at one point they give her a villain speech where she claims that morality is wrong and blah, blah, basically cackling and saying she’s evil. This was unnecessary and honestly a disservice to the character and Traue’s acting ability.
Christopher Meloni as Hardy pulling a knife on Faora. Total badass move that earned my respect for that character and Faora’s respect as well. Too bad at this point in the movie I had no idea what their character’s names were and had to look them up just to write that first sentence. Bad move, bad. Tell us your characters names, especially when being awesome, or just go outside.
Limit to powers
Around the point when all the Krypton people start throwing each other around, I started to wonder what the limit of Superman’s powers were. Is he stronger than them because he’s been exposed to us longer? That’s kinda what Jor-El said in the beginning, but we can throw out all that because Zod and all his men are strong and fast and stuff and eventually get to fly. And really, what are his limits? In the first movie way back when, Lois Lane interviews him and he gives a rundown of what he can do. That scene sort of happens here, but she just shits on what his symbol means and they move on. I would have liked an explanation of how fast, how strong, how he flies, etc. so when things happen I have a reference to look back on and see if he is overworking himself lifting an oil rig or if that’s just a Tuesday workout for him.
Why that dumb?
Okay, let’s pick on the humans for a bit: If alien life is discovered on earth and is shown to be far superior in every way to us, I hope against hope that the government would send its smartest generals and representatives to deal with it. In turn, I hope those generals and representatives would have with them advisers and staff that are smart enough to figure out basic scenarios dealing with various situations. This basic belief in our leaders makes me wonder why their staff constantly needs every situation explained to them. Don’t get me wrong, asking questions is perfectly fine, but there are some big expository scenes that retread over information we already know seemingly because some junior officer doesn't know.
Only 5 people in army
Also, there are only five people in the U.S. military that deal with large scale assault situations like this, and the U. S. military is the only military in the world at this point, besides a few Canadians.
Flying as will
This goes back to Superman’s powers, but I would really like to have an explanation of how Superman flies. We got an entire montage of him jumping around and then just flying while his brow furrowed real hard, and that was fine, but part of me wanted to connect it thematically to his defeat of the world machine thing and I could not. I do not think it would have been a cheat to use the word “will” when referring to his flight powers. In fact, mind over matter would have been a great message for this movie about super beings beating the shit outta each other, but that was thrown by the wayside to just have them beat the shit outta each other some more.
Superman murders Zod to save a family. I know, he “had” to do it. That’s what people will tell you. No way could he have flown them both away. No way could he have donkey punched Zod in the head or turned him around or covered his eyes or DONE ANYTHING ELSE THAT SUPERMAN WOULD DO. See, that’s the point of Superman. He does not kill. He is better than us. He is a super man, superior to regular men in every way. That’s the point of Superman. He’s supposed to be the ultimate, the one that never gives up, that keeps on fighting, who’s always nice to everyone, who remembers your birthday, who makes you want to be a better person. He’s Mr. Rogers with superpowers, teaching us the right way to be and giving us hope that if he can be like that maybe we can, too. Or we can teach our kids to be like that. Or that someday all people will be that good. All that goes out the window when Superman kills somebody. Killing is easy, quick and messy and sullies the image of a perfect man, taints his hands with blood. It brings Superman down to our level and makes him just a man with powers. And that’s okay for a lot of stories, but that’s not Superman. He deserves better than this.
I would watch that movie
The ending with a new reporter at the Daily Planet made me happy. I do not know why. I found myself wishing this was the beginning of a new movie, not the craptastic back story I just watched. This ending scene proved that these two can have chemistry and were not given that opportunity in the movie.
I really miss the John Williams score. That’s not to say this soundtrack was bad, just lacking any flavor. Of course, I cannot think of the last time I remembered a orchestral soundtrack to a movie.
A shoutout to the thousands of people that were killed in the horrific attacks on Smallville and Metropolis. I’m sorry Superman could not save you, he was too busy getting revenge on Zod for pushing his mama (although I really liked that).
We get a whole montage of him learning to fly, but no montage of him being a hero. You know, like Superman. One cat in a tree, all I’m saying.
Maybe show him helping with the recovery? I dunno. Just seemed they forgot about the “hero” and concentrated on the “spectacle.” This could have been better.