Sunday, June 16, 2013

Superman


I'm not interested in writing full scale reviews right now. I'm also trying to keep myself from writing about current movies, because I find my opinions of them aren't that interesting to me and seem even less interesting to share.

There are a couple of reasons why I wanted to throw out some disorganized thoughts on Man of Steel, though.

It was hardly self-evident that I would like it. I hated, hated, hated Superman Returns, I made kind of a big deal of it here, which I doubt I'd bother with now, but it's out there and I've made a deal of it. The teaser trailer convinced me to finally throw down and write Fuck your fucking origin, something that had been bouncing around in my head for a while.

I'm also not a knee-jerk fan of newfangled reboots. After a long internal debate, I gave up my 30+ year streak of seeing Star Trek movies in a theater, because I just really didn't connect with the 2009 version enough to feel it was mine, the same thing I'd been following since childhood, for better or worse.

And Zack Snyder I'm ambivalent on and more often frustrated than satisfied by, and, for complicated reasons, I've still not seen the controversial Sucker Punch.

This? I dug it.

It sped by like a rocket, despite being something like two-and-a-half hours.

It's vision of Krypton is dynamic and living. It feels like a place. It also does nicely in blending a kind of retro Golden Age sci-fi look with a more modern post-Moebius/H.R. Giger aesthetic. It's steely, too, whether or not that was intentional nod, I'm not sure. As a blacksmith's son, watching on Father's Day weekend, it stood out to me.

As much as I love Superman: The Movie in that seminal lifetime movie-going experience kind of way, the vision of Krypton as some kind of crystal and white Heaven environment is not one that aged well for me. Frankly, the more surface one tries to make the potential religious allegory of Superman, the less it works for me. The kind of building block elements there in the original Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster version is just fine with me.

In fact, some of the bigger missteps in this version were also when it tries to make more of that then I think there is to be made of it.

Most importantly for me, I can imagine this story going to the crazy areas of Superman's life. I can see how you could bring Mr. Mxyzptlk into this world, although I wouldn't necessarily suggest it. Heck, the bottle city of Kandor would be too obvious and redundant follow-up, at least for the very next movie.

Even the questions raised by Man of Steel, since you asked by the very talented Mark Waid, and involving massive spoilers. Well, I see why it didn't work for him. I do. I respect and understand that position. I'm only left with, it worked for me in context.

I'm happy to have seen and enjoyed this. It was what I wanted from a new Superman movie. It had plenty of awe and wonder.

Yeah, I'm not a big fan of that hand-held feel, but apparently it doesn't bother me anywhere near as much as it does my peers, as it worked fine for me here.

I thought the action was superior, and I understood where everything was in comparison to each other, what they were doing, and I cared about the results. Yeah, that describes what should be bare-minimum competence, but it's, of course, rare in action movies these days.

That might reek of damning with very faint praise, but this was also big and and world changing and presented some real sense of that.

And I love, love, love Kevin Costner's Pa Kent. And, again, on Father's Day weekend, that was an especially nice touch.

Most importantly, it was about Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman, something altogether too rare in superhero movies these days. The X - The Man With the X-Ray Eyes-style flashback to his childhood is just brilliant. Even the most critical reviews I've seen seem to at least give credit to that.

It's interesting. As I said, the elements to this generally didn't add up to a slam dunk for me. Yet the elements for Superman Returns had. I had positive feelings about Bryan Singer generally. I had enough nostalgia for the Richard Donner version that making a kind of direct sequel felt so exciting and right.

This is a great example of how what you think you want isn't necessarily the best thing. Hollywood should take notice of that.


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