As I sat at my desk printing out the e-ticket for Man of Steel, I was practically humming with excitement. Superhero movies are my jam.
The film industry has really outdone itself in the last decade in giving us a slew of exceptional superhero movies. No more gimmicky caped-crusaders. Just a lot of gritty Dark Knighting and suave Iron Manning. Plus, I have a great appreciation for ab-tastic supermen.
As you can imagine, I was extremely, unabashedly excited. I expected majestic things. Unfortunately, this left me in a state of mild disappointment by the end of the film.
As I said, Marvel and Christopher Nolan have really ruined me. Alas, it was my own lofty expectations that left me stranded in the abyss of indifference, through no fault of Zack Snyder or his magnificent cast. That’s not to say though that there weren’t some very real flaws.
Let’s just recap the story for fun (since if you don’t know who Superman is, you’re very likely an extra-terrestrial or a Amazonian tribesman. Actually, I bet even the tribesmen have heard of Superman).
Henry Cavill is Kal-El, a.k.a. Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman. He comes from Krypton, sent to Earth by his parents Lara (Ayelet Zurer) and Jor-El (Russell Crowe) to escape the doomed fate of his home planet. Krypton is dying because the greedy Kryptonians have exhausted it of its natural resources. Zack Snyder made a point of smacking us over the head with this allegory throughout the film – ZOMG HUMANS, if we continue this way, we will be Krypton! Stop over-consumption or even Gladiator Maximus won’t be able to save you!
Well, he might save you, but only to embed you with Messiah-like properties. All children in Krypton have long been artificially manufactured from a central DNA codex. It encrypts a predetermined future, so that everyone in society has a place. Waste not, want not and all that. Its all very Giver-esque. Kal-El is the first natural-born child of Krypton in years. To protect the future generations of Krypton, Gladiator Maximus – being the rebel that he is – stole the DNA codex and embedded it into Kal-El’s very cells.
Now you’ll notice that I’m saying Kal-El an awful lot. This is not because I’m some Superman purist. I’m no mega geek of Sheldonian-Cooperian proportions (even though I am going to Comic-Con this weekend – whoo!). This is because Zack Snyder made a superhuman effort to emphasise Superman’s alien-ness – something that really sets it apart from previous incarnations where he’s just Clark Kent, man with super strength and pervert eyesight.
In all seriousness, the exploration of themes surrounding Kal-El’s isolation and his struggles with the freedom imparted by the idea of choice/free will is a highlight of the film. This is where you see the puppet-strings of Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. They’ve painted the Man of Steel as the saviour/protector of the Earth, giving us petty humans an ideal to strive toward and delivering us from the materialistic hands of the Kardashians.
So in other words, Superman is Jesus.
Please, Henry Cavill is much prettier than Brad Pitt.
Speaking of Henry Cavill, Zack Snyder may have produced the most PERFECTLY CASTED film in recent history. Everyone from the leads to the supporting cast are glorious. Like, Beyonce levels of pitch perfection.
HENRY CAVILL IS Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman. This man was delivered unto Earth for the sole purpose of breathing life into this stale comic-book relic from a time long past. He is just so damn earnest. Like, that sweet neighbourhood boy who grew up being bullied and as a result is unflinchingly kind (which makes a lot of sense considering how he used to be Fatty Cavill). He practically vibrates with goodness. It also helps that he’s easy on the eyes. His beauty (yes, beauty) is otherworldly (like an alien – hehe).
For research purposes, let’s examine Exhibit A – his naked torso. Now, we have all seen a lot of shirtless men in our lives. Trust me when I say that the first time you see Mr Cavill’s bare pectorals in motion on a 15m-high screen, you’re brain is going to have a mild stroke.
That’s from this one bit where he emerges from the sea, all semi-naked and wet and sexy as all hell. It reminds me of that infamous BBC Pride and Prejudice scene where Colin Firth declares himself as every woman’s fantasy lover by walking out of the water in a soaking white shirt.
After trawling the Internet for trivia-goodies, I came across this gobbet on the Man of Steel IMDb Trivia page:
Goal definitely accomplished. Furthermore:
Zack Snyder gave him a tub of ice cream and pizza to reward him for his Herculean effort for the shirtless scenes.
How nice. Suffer for months and months, and I shall reward you with a slice of Domino’s and some Ben and Jerry’s. Oh right, I’m forgetting the thousands (millions?) of dollars in compensation too. Pretty sweet deal. If someone paid me a few million to work out for a living, oh hell yeah. I’d do it for a few hundred actually. Any takers?
Aside from Mr. Perfect, his Ms. Perfect is also pretty perfect. When I first heard that Amy Adams had been casted, an automatic eh? drifted through my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I worship at the altar of Ginger Adams. She is the June to my Bug. I guess we’ve all just been programmed to picture Lois Lane as brunette and Teri-Hatcher-like.
Nevertheless, she was amazeballs, as per usual. I had joy leaking through my pores. There is just something so badass about a woman dedicated to her career and uncompromising in her principles. But she was no dragonlady. Amy Adams projects a sheen of innocence and erudition that underscores every action she takes. I love, love, LOVE Ginger. She’s my lesbian love.
The best bit of supporting casting was inarguably – THE PARENTALS.
First off, Russell Crowe as Jor-El. I’m not a huge fan of his super bogan, hyper-machismo ways. But Gladiator Maximus’ echoing wisdom-voice is definitely something that I would listen to when imparting great life lessons about being an alien. Russell Crowe is a scamp, but, my goodness-graces, he has gravitas.
And then, who better than the man who built The Field of Dreams to guide you steadily through life’s tough lessons? Kevin Costner was a revelation. And how has no one ever thought of casting Kevin Costner and Diane Lane in a rom-com together? They are Beyonce-perfect as the Kansan couple that raise the morally-just Clark Kent. If some TV exec is reading this, I’m telling you that you need to get someone to pump out a Lifetime film with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane reprising their roles. Romance in Smallville: Jonny & Martha Kent – it’ll be an unexpected hit.
And what about the supporting personnel?
Let’s see… oh yes, we get a Matrix reunion! Lifelong rivals Morpheus and Lock are back for more action. Except this time, Morpheus is the diversity hire for the Daily Planet (only joking, he’s Lois’ editor, Perry White), and Lock is back to being General Dickbag (although he becomes less dickish as the movie goes on).
Also, we have Christopher Meloni who, when not saving rape victims at the Special Victims Unit and moonlighting as The Vampire Authority, is Colonel Dickbag (who also becomes less dickish as the movie carries on). I love me some Meloni. Do you think his surname has anything to do with the melon-shaped item on his shoulders?
Yes, that is indeed Mr. Meloni attempting to fight off a Kryptonian with an army-issue knife. LOLS.
And FINALLY, the crown jewel of our cast – MR. MICHAEL SHANNON. If you haven’t seen him in Take Shelter, you need flick over the Pirate Bay and torrent that shit right this instant. Michael Shannon is terrifying, yet touching as General Zod. His back-story and characterisation is somewhat similar to Khan Nooniem Singh in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Sad to say, but I think Benedict Cumberbatch may have overshadowed him in this regard. His Khan Nooniem Singh was on a whole other level of menace and poignancy. General Zod might do well as one of his henchman. But like, a senior henchman, who is supervisor over Khan’s other disposable henchman. No offence, Michael – you’re still a crazy maniac (and I mean that as a compliment).
Oh yeah, Zod has some pretty badass minions too. Faora-Ul is freaking hardcore:
Now that I’ve tooted Zack Snyder’s horn a little, let me bring up some minor concerns.
(a) Stiff dialogue
(b) Really shit pacing (as is the case with many Snyder films – I mean, have you seen Watchmen?)
(c) Stunted character development
(d) Action scenes, while cool, were a bit ham-handed in terms of editing
As for Item D, all I can say is that Superman should’ve heeded the words of Edna Mode:
I must say though, Zack Snyder really has an eye for detail. Man of Steel, you say? Thus, he must have HAIR OF STEEL! (Seriously, what kind of gel are they using because Henry Cavill’s coif is as solid as a helmet.)
All in all, I had a smashing good time. Especially since a lot of that time was spent wallowing in Henry Cavill’s baby blues. Despite the structural inadequacies here and there, the charisma and charm of the cast, coupled with Zack Snyder’s epic vision of our Kryptonian saviour, really does result in something special. Maybe not the kind of Avengers special where you shit your pants in excitement. Nor the kind of Dark Knight special where you ponder how a caped crusader made you regain faith in humanity. Its that kind of special where you witness the unsteady rise of something special, and you can’t quite put your finger on it. Hey, I didn’t really like Batman Begins. Let’s hope Man of Steel 2 pulls a Dark Knight on us. C’mon Lex Luthor!
Plus, who doesn’t want to spend another two hours with this adorable couple?
UPDATED – Its been reported in the last few days that Superman is dating Penny from Big Bang Theory. What about LOIS, Clark? What about LOIS? For reals, wasn’t he dating Haywire’s Gina Carano, badass MMA Fighter not too long ago? I guess Henry Cavill wants to be famous in the USA and a girlfriend that can kick the shit out of you doesn’t quite fit into Superman’s squeaky clean image. It doesn’t get more All-American, Girl-Next-Door than Kaley Cuoco. She literally is the NerdGirl Next Door. (For the record, I think its a publicity stunt and they wont make it past Christmas. They share the same publicity firm, after all. I thought you were better than this Henry.)
Kaley – I guess this is an upgrade from Johnny Galecki. Going from dating Superman’s nerd-shipper to Superman himself? Way to level up like a pro.