Fanboy Flick Pick: Man of Steel Will Flatten You

By Luke Y. Thompson in Comics, Movies
Monday, June 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

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Is it over the top? I would rarely say this about a big action movie, but I could have stood for just a few more slow moments that show personality not related to action, i.e. the kinds of scenes Robert Downey Jr. could do in his sleep. I am getting close to forty, though, which could explain a lot. I don't recommend the 3D, even though I usually like the effect - Snyder clearly didn't shoot with the post-conversion in mind, and the handheld stuff and quick pans do it no favors.

At least at my screening, there was no tease or post-credits scene that would indicate a larger DC Universe - the best hope fans can hang their hat on is talk of Kryptonians having colonized many planets, all of which are presumed dead. But after a large-scale alien invasion, sequels can't really be considered "real world" any more. And by the way, considering that invasion, viewers should ask themselves: are we far enough away from 9-11 that falling skyscrapers - followed by people running from giant dust clouds and getting trapped under rubble - can be entertainment? Statue of limitations has probably expired and all, but I'm still unable to view something like that as pure escapism. Snyder does not stylize as much as usual, but he sneaks in a narrative trick that allows him to use his favorite effect - the Kryptonians have a gravity weapon that makes stuff levitate, hold in mid air for a moment, then come crashing down.

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How faithful is the whole thing to the Superman we know and love? There is one key out-of-character moment that I cannot spoil and which will be divisive, but on the whole this is finally the modern-age (post-Crisis, that is; I don't pretend to get the New 52) Superman onscreen as opposed to the Silver Age edition most often mined by the movies. There is one big throwback to the early Siegel/Shuster days - his "flying" is portrayed more like the classic "leap tall buildings in a single bound." Like a virtual Keanu Reeves, he pushes himself off the ground in a shockwave, then flies faster than sound in a straight line. As for the costume allegedly emphasizing the crotch - can't say I noticed that. It is a Kryptonian undergarment, with the baddies adding armor on top of that, so perhaps he needs a little extra protective padding in the Super-jewels.

Surprisingly, the retold origin is not at all tedious - it's too aggressively action-packed for that - but I'm still more interested to see where Superman goes from here. By movie's end he's still on a par with Batman as far as independence from authority goes; watching him turn into that establishment symbol so viciously mocked by Frank Miller in the mid-'80s will be a journey that shows us more of the man. As is, this is a film that focuses mostly on the "Super" part of the equation and by God, it will break down your resistance one way or the other.


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