Man of Steel – The Monocle

Man of Steel_bowtied
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: David S. Goyer
Released: June 14th, 2013
Theatre watched at: Arclight Hollywood, Hollywood

I am not a Superman fan; I don’t hate him I just think he is too…super. On top of being nearly invincible the guy can turn back time, people! Wrong order at Starbucks? Gets shit on by a bird? Does a few laps around the world and someone else is having their day ruined with a “Shitè Latte on the Fly.” However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like to give Superman a chance. I love the potential of his story but I don’t feel it has been serviced properly thus far (sorry, Bryan Singer). So imagine my excitement after hearing that a reboot of the Superman story is being serviced á la The Dark Knight Trilogy and being written, produced, and composed by David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan, and Hans Zimmer, respectively?! Oh, Zack Snyder’s directing? Watchmen (2009) is one of my favorite superhero movies; he’s capable-I’m on board.

Itching to see it, I took time out of my work day just to run down to the Hollywood Arclight theatre to reserve a free advanced screening (the premiere actually). I donned fancy maroon skinny jeans (closest red thing I had), dorky glasses and a bowtie for a hipster Clark Kent vibe that surprisingly no one picked up on. I even bought the $5 Arclight “gourmet” mango jalapeño hot dog because I was like “You know what, it’s a special occasion-I’m going to fall in love with Superman today!” The lights dimmed, the 3D glasses went on, the movie played, and…I walked out of the theatre so silent and unemotional…I hadn’t been so disappointed by a film in a long time. I’m sorry, guys. They failed.

Man of Steel is a lackluster blockbuster, a cacophonous CGI fest that fails to earn any of its epic moments, as well as its emotional ones, having been voided of any wit or charm due to the catering of Snyder’s obsession with spectacle over substance. I cannot believe how boring this film is, and that’s saying a lot when the CGI and overall look of the film is gorgeous and top notch, they really do shine, but the same heart in the action sequences is lost in the coldness of Goyer’s screenplay. The dialogue in general is really quite generic, any trace of truly unique and defining quotes can be found right in the trailers, and Snyder’s apparent fast tracking of these quiet scenes only adds to the feeling of epic-for-epic’s sake in all of the set pieces, thus rendering the action meaningless and silly.

Right at the beginning, only after about 5 mins, Snyder starts the show with an awkward heist and chase sequence on the planet Krypton. Superman’s biological father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) flies on a Kryptonian mini-dragon while spaceships and the planet around him are falling apart and exploding, he dives in this hibernation tank filled with edamame Kryptonian babies to grab this mystical skull thing, he jumps off from ridiculous heights, all to show that he’s sending his son to Earth. An insane amount of information whizzing passed us for no apparent reason but to say “Hey, look, our CGI doesn’t suck.” Then of course in the final act, which I can confidentially say was the loudest, longest, bang-for-your-buck stretch of just utter CGI mayhem I’ve witnessed in film, all sense falls to sh*t. This is where Snyder says “Remember all that strong foundation we established in the beginning of the film to work up to this point? No? Good, just sit back and get sense raped.” In all fairness, the one thing I really, really loved in this film are the fights Superman has with General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his other officers, specifically Faora (Antke Traue)-damn does she kickass! The altercations are furious and relentless with these super aliens throwing and punching each other across towns and into buildings and with lightning speed; imagine a steel box with indestructible bullets being shot into them. Again, the scenes are not earned, but they do provide the film with its single most definitive Superman experience.

Another big disappointment is the way they decided to handle telling Superman’s back story as a child, a move I was not expecting prior. In the trailer we knew they were going to cover his days as a kid and teenager, and I was under the impression we would go through that experience first and catch up with him as an adult later-nope. When the Kryptonian pod carrying baby Superman is shown in space heading to earth, the scene cuts immediately to grown up Clark Kent working on the crab boat, and from then on his childhood moments are told as flashbacks; chopped up into pieces and spread throughout the beginning and middle to help explain or fill in gaps. It’s a frustratingly annoying move especially since the order of the flashbacks are not chronological, and because they go by so quickly there isn’t time for our connection to settle -this isn’t Lost, guys, you got 15 minutes, not 6 seasons, to give us a coherent childhood story that is being pressed by 2 hours of action. Oh, I see why they had to do that now.

Despite the soulless mess of a script, the casting is very much on point, with a couple of cases where side characters are underused. Henry Cavill is excellent as Superman; he’s got the charm, the stature, and just enough acting chops to sell the kind demeanor and inner torment our hero is characterized with, but it’s unfortunate the script has him spending too much time on his past than his interaction with the aliens (humans). Michael Shannon is phenomenal as General Zod (props to the costume department by the way for inspiring Kryptonian military armor) while Amy Adams makes for a a more aggressively determined Lois Lane although her character really could have been given more of and edge and wit to bounce off the adorable Clark Kent. Laurence Fishburne is in here as Perry White, Editor in Chief of the Daily Planet , and Harry Lennix as Army General Swanwick, both of whom are given way too much screen time for the diddly squat their characters really contribute. It’s a very talented cast that is brought down by a poor script.

Last but not least (trust me there’s plenty to debate about in this film, from the little things to the big things) we have Hans Zimmer’s score-the true star of the film. It’s epic-ly amazing, simple as that. Like The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception (2010), the score is a haunting yet hopeful spread of thunderous percussion accompanied by a weighted, ominous brass line, all coated by a driving string section that makes for quite the iconic Superman melody (Click Here for a Listen!) Zimmer is nothing short of brilliant and has created a sound exclusively for the epic movie; when this kicks in as Superman blitzes Zod from the side harpooning him through two gargantuan, concrete, cylindrical, factory thingies? That chill isn’t a pervert feeling you up, that’s a Zimmer score making sweet love to your ears. As for the sound effects department? Guys tone it down…this is the first time in discharge | ohnerezeptfreikauf ireland the history of my moviegoing journey that I’ve come out of a theatre with my ears ringing-true story.

Man of Steel, despite that the movie truly sucks as a whole, will undoubtedly burn the box office to ashes this weekend. I say go see it to witness it for yourselves, after all this hype you owe it to yourself to know for sure. As of writing this review, the tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes has it at 60% out of 81 reviews, which is still early, but should give you a good idea about whether or not you’ll fly with this flick (laugh at the pun).

Bow Tie Score - 2.0