Saturday, July 13, 2013
MAN OF STEEL (2013)
With Bryan Singer’s dull SUPERMAN RETURNS reboot forgotten, the franchise turned to Christopher Nolan, the man who saved Batman from camp, to give the comic book hero another new beginning. He produces and shares story credit with David S. Goyer but abdicates directorial duties to Zack Snyder. Most of the film’s first half embellishes upon and modifies Superman’s well-trod origin story with some degree of success. On dying planet Krypton General Zod (Michael Shannon) stages a military coup and attempts to stop Jor-El (Russell Crowe) from sending newborn son Kal-El off the doomed home world to Earth. The babe escapes, Zod and his cohorts are captured and exiled, but Krypton explodes. Kal-El’s craft lands in Kansas where farmer Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) and wife Martha (Diane Lane) adopt him and name him Clark. As the boy grows his powers become evident, but Pa Kent asks him to refrain from using them, even to help others, in order to hide his otherness. This conflict drives adult Clark (Henry Cavill) into the wide world doing odd labor-intensive jobs until drawn inexorably to the Arctic and the spaceship buried beneath the ice, where he learns his true identity. There he also meets Daily Planet ace investigative reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and begins to confront his destiny as Superman. While Goyer’s screenplay focuses on Kal-El as the stranger in a strange land and the fear his alien origin engenders, the film flirts with unexpected poignancy. Costner and Lane exude homespun decency, while Adams elicits sparks from an otherwise somber Cavill. However, once Zod and his minions arrive intending to turn Earth into a new Krypton, director Snyder jettisons any thematic groundwork laid and commences a 40-minute aural and visual assault that leaves viewers’ ears ringing and heads pounding. Most distressing, the numbing carnage undermines Superman’s established moral character, because he seems to tacitly accept the unseen but inevitable casualties incurred during his devastating battle with Zod. In reimagining Superman the filmmakers have obliterated him beyond recognition.