Sunday, June 16, 2013

Man of Steel


Man of Steel the movie has resurrected that perfect man from the planet Krypton.

Actually reborn is more apt description instead of resurrection as the franchise is trying to be reborn into something other than a continuation of a saga.  It went to such great lengths that what the older generation has referred to as the red briefs over pants is gone.  Gone also is the iconic John Williams intro that made movie goers feel they were flying up to the sky.

Man of Steel will make it on its own for this generation or it does not, and the first few days in the box office are looking good.

Definitely looking good is Henry Cavill.  He is the most muscularly defined of all who had played the role and lookie on top; he also has the best hairdo.  The iconic Superman bangs is gone.   In looks and in acting there is no doubt Henry owns it, he is Superman.

Amy Adams is a pretty Lois Lane.  It was a soft kind of pretty which is probably why I had difficulty seeing the strength displayed as an intrepid reporter of the Daily Planet. Nevertheless, I think she pulled it off.  On the romantic front I did not feel the love but to be fair this movie wasn't meant to be a love story.

What Man of Steel is, is about fathers and sons or in this fathers and the son.  I love the effort and the direction the movie makers have chosen.  Still, it felt short somewhere and I am still trying to grasp why.  

Did I see too many TV spots in anticipation of the movie that it messed up the surprise; did I drink too much the night before?   There is a feeling that you’d just hate to see a good man or a Superman down so I was rationalizing some hours after watching.

Just to lay it all out, Jor-el played by Russel Crowe came to me as too preachy. He was always talking of the greater good and Kryptonian destiny than stating he has a son whom he wants to survive beyond the impending doom.  

Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) was always the cynic, it felt like he was forever saying no to Clark’s powers because he doubted mankind’s ability to grasp the unknown.  To say out loud, albeit with great conflict, that Clark probably should have let an entire school bus filled with classmates die, was a big disconnect with the humility and restraint he had already inculcated in his son with regard to his powers. 

Only Superman can pull of restraint amid all the insults as admirable and Jonathan was responsible for that.  Had it been Batman or someone in Marvel like Wolverine or the Hulk, I would still enjoy perhaps with even greater zeal watching them kill the bastards that offended them.  

But this was Superman; sometimes it does feel good to see a nice guy.  So when he said maybe on the issue of saving people, I almost wanted to shout What?!?

Before I get way ahead of myself and give the impression that the fathers of Man of Steel were bad ones because there were scenes that redeemed the coldness earlier perceived.

Alone with the wife and newly born Kal-el, Jor-el was that perfect father until the end.  Perfect, because he gave his all. The big talk about Krypton was always in a formal setting.  Alone with his family, you can feel the desperation of Jor-el, a father, in the mess of a dying planet. 

Jonathan in all that perceived negativity was always the farmer aware the situation was way beyond his head but I guess that would be true of a lot of fathers.  He was a father and he sucked it up.  He died in the same breath a Jor-el, but causing more heartbreak.

I even had a debate with the friend on fathers before writing this.  Fathers can be hard only to be complimented by the mother’s softness.  She’s right. 

As someone who is also a son, and an admirer of a great comic book hero, it just feels like everyone was so hell bent on Kal-el/Clark being a savior.   Can’t the guy get a break just once from daddy, I thought in silence.  I can almost hear the song “It’s Not Easy” in the background in my own silent empathy with his situation.

Granted that the father will not always be mushy I believe it is still necessary to show at some point that the son realizes the point of his father and have that moment of I understand.  Father and son should connect.

I saw the connection in Thor with a defeated look staring at the hammer he could not lift.  I saw it in Iron Man 2 when Tony came upon a reel made by his father from long ago.

In Man of Steel, I saw or felt none of that.  I think it was almost there but it was not boom kind of moment.  Bad script or editing; maybe it was lost in bad chemistry; Russel sounded like Maximus at times in his oratory.  If I had to pick one reason why the human moment was lost it was because of the special effects. 

Somehow the Kryptonian part got the best of the story and the movie maker had to pick a different type of boom.  Ironic, because Jor-el was pushing for more of the human quality.  Superman had to kick ass and he did.

If I had to phrase it in one sentence I would say this: that’s how a superhuman slugfest is supposed to look like!!  Fight scenes were great but I wouldn't mind it going down a notch.

So far with less than a week in sales in, the decision was justified and the special effects has worked. With mixed reviews success is not yet certain but I hope it still manages to go over that financial hump required for a sequel which the ill fated Superman Returns never had. Hopefully from a future sequel yet to be shot the movie makers will take inspiration from Superman himself.

One of the beauty in the character of Superman is not just the power but also the restraint.  Just because there is special effects doesn't mean you should always go for it.  A future sequel should try its best to make a more human story.

If you think about it the lack of a mask is a symbol that Superman can be anybody.  He’s not hiding; he’s just practicing restraint in the suit, glasses, and a reporter’s salary.  Show the human side, show that he can really be anybody: connect. 

When there is connection and everyone will feel they can fly as he flies.  If that is so then a future sequel will be soaring higher than this one.