On the whole, I liked it
Yes, it was a little on the somber side. And I would have liked to see some more stuff establishing The Daily Planet. But mostly, it was an interesting rejiggering of the Superman Mythos. (And I really dug how Nolan and Goyer connected the fall of Krypton to our current environmental issues.) And Zack Synder has made some interesting choices visually, mixing comic book imagery with Terrence Malick style hyperreality. (Although I am getting a little tired of filmmakers using hand held shaky frame shooting as a kind of shorthand to make audiences believe that what they’re watching is actually happening on the fly. You’re not D.A. Pennebaker. Your main character can fly and has heat vision. Now hold your damn frame steady!) The cast is dead on with Henry Cavill leading the pack as The Big Man himself. Superman has never been a showy role and Cavill is smart enough to recognize that silence is a big part of it. Superman, by the very nature of his existence, is a lonely being. And Cavill nails that. (Christopher Reeve’s performance highlighted the struggle of his dual nature of Superhero and Regular Joe. But this version doesn’t really go down that road.) And while the rest of the cast is dead solid perfect, I have to single out Kevin Costner for just being the embodiment of The Ideal American Dad. Quietly masculine but deeply loving. Costner makes Pa Kent into the almost Platonic Ideal of Dad and he grounds the film beautifully.
So the film is well cast. The writing is sharp and I can roll with it.
Until the third act.
I love chocolate cake.
I don’t have it that often because I’m on the back end of my forties and I have to start being more careful about what I eat.
But I do love a good piece of cake once in a while. And there is nothing, nothing in the world that beats a slice of well made chocolate cake freshly made. Smooth, rich, creamy and with just the right balance of frosting.
For context, a decent blow-job only ties.
Now a slice of cake is terrific. But if you get greedy and try to eat a whole cake…well…the results are not pretty.
The entire third act of “Man of Steel” is a whole chocolate cake.
I get it. “Superman II” hasn’t dated all that well. The fight between Superman and General Zod in that film has dated badly. Particularly in the Richard Lester version which got broken up with little throwaway gags. (Which were mostly excised in the Richard Donner recut.) I can imagine Nolan, Goyer and Synder re-watching that film and going “Fuck yeah! We can top that shit!”.
And they do top it.
And then they top it again.
And then again.
And then some more.
It’s all beautifully staged by Synder and WETA cranks the imagery to eleven. (Which is what WETA does.) And by the time Superman and General Zod square off one last time, you almost want to yell at the screen, “I GET IT! THEY CAN HIT EACH OTHER REALLY HARD! CAN WE WRAP THIS UP?”
By the end of the movie, you feel like someone has tied you to a chair and shoved a whole chocolate cake down your throat as if they wanted to turn your liver into pate.
Frankly, this reaction now makes me nervous for seeing “Pacific Rim” next month.
That one, I may not get out of alive.
Again, let me make the point. This is a really good movie. If you are a Superman fan, you will be in Hog Heaven. If you are a straight female, Henry Cavill will make you very happy.
But the 3rd Act will break you if you’re not careful.
My advice. See in in 2D.
Give yourself a fighting chance.