(Slightly Spoilerific, Read With Care)
In accordance with what ended up being a fairly small protest to support digital artists working on CGI heavy movies in Hollywood I waited until after the opening weekend to see the new DC offering. So, the best thing I saw last week was Man of Steel, the newest addition to the Warner Bros Superman family.
Holy punching buildings Superman! This film went a long way distinguishing itself from the last outing Superman Returns, which had left a lot of fans complaining that we didn’t get to see hand-to-hand combat with superpowers. Man of Steel goes full-bore into its action scenes and brings you explosive, fast, environmentally-damaging combat sequences that leave you almost breathless. In all honesty I think you could almost re-title this film Man of Steel: Collateral Damage. Kryptonian-on-Kryptonian violence is a truly spectacular thing to witness.
All of the destruction also leads to one of the major complaints about Man of Steel– there isn’t much saving going on in this film. Something most of us have grown accustomed to with previous Superman films. Though when you add the individual saves along with the movie’s fiery sequence at sea, Superman does indeed save many people, this just seems to be overshadowed by the large amounts of perceived deaths in the major cities and the one rural town featured in the film. I would guess that in real world terms this film’s events would have lead to the deaths of possibly a couple hundred thousand people, if not more. But I believe that in a way this was actually one of the film’s goals.
This is a young Clark Kent that’s learning what it means to be Kal-El, long distance visitor from Krypton, moving along the path to becoming Superman. In the way that Nolan’s Batman Begins gave us a glimpse inside the training and experiences that created the Batman, including scenes of a ski masked Bruce Wayne sneaking into Commissioner Gordon’s office, long before the hero of legend became what some now call the Batgod. Man of Steel presents us with a young Clark Kent that has been different his whole life and has hidden himself away from humanity and so has not been learning his limits and pushing his powers to see what he can really do. It’s a great opening salvo as DC tries to play catch up in an Avengers world. The real question is how strong their next shot will be.
Now of course the film does have its problems and plenty of detractors have jumped on them. The pacing could use some work, Superman causes a lot of damage and seems to only rescue a handful of people, a somewhat unnecessary and unbelievable love story and the CGI has a few moments that kind of jump out at you. However I found this to be a fun film that really delivers on the idea of what would happen with a super powered alien flying around our planet, for good or for bad.
So if you’ve waited this long because you just weren’t sure, go see it. Leave all your preconceived notions and all your memories in the parking lot. Whether they are from the comics, the Smallville show, or a desperate hope that someone will be able to someday do what Christopher Reeve did in 1978. Go in with an open mind and I think you will be surprised by how much fun there is to be had viewing this film. And see it on the big screen, hit the local dollar theater if your town has one, ’cause this much destruction and punching deserves the big screen treatment.
P.S. If none of my other blather can convince you to give Man of Steel a chance, I offer two more reasons. Michael Shannon and Antje Traue, they play Zod and Faora respectively. These two actors are worth the price of tickets alone.