Time to call it a day…

man of steelAt the end of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, we agreed that 2013’s Superman is a real sight for sore eyes. But I fell out of love with the caped crusader many years and caricatures ago… as handsome and smoldering hot as the leading man in Henry Cavill could be, I wasn’t invested in the outcome of Clark Kent’s fate as much as I’d intended originally. Maybe these things are no different from passionate affairs that burn and fizzle out all in the thick of a night — one realizes what a massive waste of time it’d been only after waking up the next morning with gathering clarity.

The magic stardust that co-writers Christopher Nolan (also the film’s producer) and David S. Goyer sprinkled around The Dark Knight has disappeared. At a running time of 144 minutes with less than 20 lines of dialogue given to its key protagonist, this film might as well be titled “Friends of the Man of Steel”. When supporting characters are constantly forcing the narrative with long, loud and generic speeches; perhaps there is a grave problem with the focus and design of this story.

Man of Steel is also an unimaginative reboot of the Superman franchise. The first act is devoted entirely to a lengthy do-over that begins with dad Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and mom Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), deliberating their newborn’s fate on planet Krypton. Here, cinematographer Amir Mokri (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) is limited to the same weary CGI effects and steel-silver-black palettes seen in techy Hollywood films. Ditto for composer Hans Zimmer’s deafening crash-bang cues each time something very bad is about to happen on screen. Even the awestruck respect I had for Michael Shannon’s acting chops as a corrupt NYPD officer in Premium Rush, gradually faded away as General Zod’s gormless, permanent frown kept spacing off and staring into the depths of some epic unknown — it must have been just as tiring for him.

It is difficult to see how sequences of flight weren't inspired by Josh Trank's stylish sci-fi flick, "Chronicle"...

It is difficult to see how sequences of flight weren’t inspired by Josh Trank’s stylish sci-fi flick, “Chronicle”…

Why did I fork out money to watch a run-of-the mill movie I’d seen several times before? Why would anyone make the same mistake repeatedly and still believe things would finally change the next time round? Perhaps wild idealizations that accompany the search for what was once perfection are responsible for my predicament the morning after.

There is little left to remind me of Christopher Nolan’s sophistication that once assured quality in mainstream films. Flashes of grit (however crude) so keenly felt in 2004’s Dawn of the Dead are missing as well. After the awful Sucker Punchtiresome Dark Knight Rises and now, Man of Steel… the mature, sensible side of me hopes to never sit through another Nolan-Snyder collaboration again. You have to be 12 to enjoy watching this.

★★★★★

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11 responses to “Time to call it a day…

    • Nolan is fast becoming one of the most overrated directors in mainstream cinema. It’s been a long time since he came up with a piece of work that is original and entertaining.

      I enjoyed reading your review, here’s another well-written piece that strikes the same chord: Not So Superman

      • Thanks for the mention, Aequus. I agree with all of your points as well. I resisted the urge to speak ill of Michael Shannon, whom I have always enjoyed, but I agree that he made for a lackluster villain. I don’t necessarily blame him, however; his brand of menacing is very quiet and reserved, which this film is not, and it also didn’t help that just about every other male actor in the film had a deeper voice than he. It made him come off as more of a Starscream than a Megatron, to mix franchises. I’d compare his Zod to Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman: sounds great on paper, but simply not calibrated to the tasteless, unsubtle spectacle of the rest of the film.

        • I couldn’t have said it better. Michael Shannon is definitely one of the stronger actors out there with an ability to leave dramatic, indelible impressions. Apart from your observations about style (which I agree) and co-stars, maybe performance was also stymied by overwhelming focus on effects. Once bounded by the need to synchronize with chroma screens and motion capture suits; I would imagine it takes away the luxury of reacting and emoting freely to authentic space, human content etc.

  1. The kid in me wanted it to be great, but I was somewhat disappointed. It wasn’t extremely bad, but I expected more from it. I wasn’t very happy with the changes they made from what I knew Superman to be (Christopher Reeve era). They just can’t seem to get it right anymore.

    • I think the essence of Superman lies in him being a symbol of pure humanity. If only someone is willing to return to simpler days, when heroes are something we aspire to — brave, infallible, uncomplicated.

      Not every superhero needs a scarred / damaged chink in the armor in order to fascinate viewers.

      • That’s what it is. Every superhero nowadays wants to be a badass to impress.

  2. I agree with most of what you have said and share your disappointment in what was dished out. I dont think Nolan had much to do with it eventually and would like to believe he invested his energies on interstellar. the problem for me is Goyer he tries to be too fantastical and even the TDK trilogy for which Goyer claims credit it was more Jonathan Nolan which grounded it in reality. Cavill was dashing but Lois was such a waste. I dont think I have been angrier than I was after MoS well except perhaps Watchmen – Snyder should be taken a few pegs down- he is way overrated. outside of the visual artistry of 300 I have nothing good to say about Snyder. Nolan I dont think is over-rated. his last “original” was Inception – which by all accounts was brilliant. also TDKR while not the same as TDK it still was so much better than Avengers/MoS

    my review here http://lifein70mm.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/man-of-steel-a-review/

    • ‘fraid we differ on Inception. Premise of the film is as simple as heist in reverse + tropes about opinion changing dreams with a smatter of Freudian psychology — nothing that hasn’t been done before. What made it worse was the only way Nolan knew how (or tried) to convey such ideas was via verbal exposition and staged action that appeal to the five senses. As for interconnected dreams and layers of subconsciousness, don’t mistake complexity for innovation. He excels in the concrete, the literal and practically everything was sputtered and spat out to the audiences. Nothing original or brilliant insofar as being a storyteller is concerned, style =/= substance

      Thanks for sharing your insights on MoS!

      • so I can file this under now I’ve seen everything! you are honestly the first person who I’ve come across with such strong and might I say harsh criticism of Nolan… not that it is a problem for me – to each his own otherwise we’d just nod and not have a conversation, but I do feel very differently about Nolan and Inception and also Prestige – what did you think of prestige then?

        • I recall between Illusionist and Prestige, the former was a tad more entertaining. As for Nolan’s filmography, beyond Memento and TDK, guess we’re just gonna have to agree to disagree. 😀

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