Sunday, November 24, 2013

"This man is not our enemy."

Today, we finally watched "Man of Steel," the latest incarnation on film of Superman. I want to begin by saying, I'm not really a Superman fan. I'm usually careful who I say that around & how I say it, as, he's become such a part of American culture (though he's an alien) that it almost feels... un-American to admit my feelings. I mean, I already dislike baseball....good thing I like apple pie & hot dogs though, right? I've never read a Superman comic, but I've read & watched things were he was involved. (Kingdom Come, some of the Justice League animated movies) I did really like Smallville though! For awhile. Until it was overwhelmed by teen-age girl angst.

To me, Superman is Christopher Reeve. Aside from a superhero cartoon I watched in the mornings, he was my big introduction to Superman and I loved that movie. I still do! I recently watched a fantastic comics documentary, "Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle," and in the segment where they began to discuss the move to the big screen, they played old interview footage and I cried. I was and still am shocked by my emotional reaction, didn't think I cared that much about the old film.

I read & heard many varying reviews and opinions on Man of Steel shortly after its release earlier this year. Most that were negative began by praising the first 2/3 or so of the film but hated what happened towards the end. For that reason, I was very curious to see it for myself. I went in fully prepared to dislike the movie, but I just didn't! I loved the introduction on Krypton, seeing his birth, Jor-El, Laura... all that was wonderful. I also truly enjoyed Russell Crowe's extended role through the movie. He did such a great job as Jor-El! The way we saw pieces of Kal-El/Clark's life was very well done and the bits with the Kents were so well done. Unexpectedly, there were times I started to cry a little, the first time was when he was young and realized he could see through his teacher and classmates, that he could hear everything, and became so overwhelmed he hid in a closet. That was also the first time I caught something I'd hoped for. In one of those scenes, if you listen carefully, you can hear pieces of the original John Williams Superman theme woven into the score. Just a few notes, here and there, with pauses that are longer than originally written, but it's in there.

We see the evolution of Clark throughout the movie. The scared kid who just wants to fit in, the pre-teen who doesn't understand why saving the school bus could have been the wrong thing to do, the angsty teen who proclaims in anger "you're not even my parents," and finally the man, the drifter who goes from job to job, but is always helping people. He's practically an urban legend and the fact that they had Lois Lane chasing those leads to find him was fantastic. I loved this Lois, honestly.

When we hit the point where Zod goes to the Kent farm...well, that's when I started to understand the negativity. I thought Clark's reaction to hurling himself at Zod was the raw, emotional reaction of a boy who's just seen his mother harmed & he just didn't think about what he was doing and where they were going to end up. Yes, it would have been waaay better if they'd managed to keep their big-ass fight confined to the fields, but, it just didn't happen. It kind of reminded me of just about every alien disaster movie. Then...Metropolis. Good lord, that was insane. I liked Laurence Fishburne as Perry. I thought the bit with him & the other two from the Daily Planet was great when they're trying to just survive what's happening. I get why some people used the phrase "disaster porn" to describe what happens in the last 1/3 of the film, but, the same thing has happened to New York, Los Angeles, and in Transformers 3, Chicago. Every film involving aliens and super-powered things usually involves a city being destroyed. The point of contention that a number of folks had was the killing of Zod. I think that even had I not known what was coming, I would have figured it out when Zod told him that there were only two ways their fight would end - his death or Clark's. I get why Clark killed him, it was the only solution he could see and to have him be so remorseful was the right and responsible way to handle it.

Is Henry Caville Superman? Perhaps. Though he does have an awfully big cape to fill.