Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thoughts On Man Of Steel

This isn't an official review of Man of Steel, but I loved this film so much that I couldn't wait until I actually get down to business and write up a critique.

When I think of a summer blockbuster, this is what comes to mind now. Zack Snyder has given a new cinematic life to Clark Kent/Superman, and I am so grateful! Just to give this opinion some background - I started my official journey with Clark back in 2001 when, as fate would have it, the WB network was still in existence, and the first season of Smallville aired on Wednesday nights. I actually caught the very first episode by accident, not realizing what I was watching, until Jonathan and Martha Kent picked up the infant Kal-El from the rubble of his ship and brought him to their farm in Smallville, Kansas.

It was a journey that saw me through many life changes and stages. When the characters graduated from high school, I also graduated and went to my senior prom. I also started college at the same time as them, and journeyed out into the world with Chloe, Lana, and eventually Lois (who took some time to become my favorite). Needless to say, the man in the cape has been as dear to me as a close friend ever since. So, I was nervous for a new big screen version to come out. Coupled with that anxiety, I was also excited as hell.

Everything paid off. The mythology was revised and expanded in a way that felt so organic and futuristic without turning to the harsh, unlivable crystal fortresses that dominated the films of Richard Donner. Snyder and co. managed to give Russell Crowe one of his best roles in a good many years, and I was on the edge of my seat with glee every time he showed up. Bravo to Jor-El for turning into a heartwarming and intelligent force for good, one that Clark (Henry Cavill) can look up to, as opposed to his previous stern iterations. Also, hands down to Amy Adams. I already loved everything this woman has been in because her acting chops are bar none, but she brought such a depth to Lois that I truly believed that she could hold her own (and boy, is she ever resourceful) and also still need the assistance from Superman that kindles their own relationship. They needed each other, and they were perfect for each other. I am so thrilled to see where it goes.

After gushing about the leads, I must say that all the side characters were so well acted that I truly believed the special effects. One scene - which would have been just another computerized effect - involved a gravity-reversing machine on a massive scale. Cars and pieces of buildings are hurled to the sky and then slammed down to be crushed, further and further outwards as the radius builds. Trapped in its path is a stellar and touching performance that could have been just another forgettable ensemble group, but no - the woman trapped is a tearful and totally convincing Rebecca Buller as Jenny, an intern, watching on as her death moves forward. You can see it in her eyes that she knows that there is no way that she will make it out alive, along with a stoic Perry White, played with gusto by Laurence Fishburne (welcome back, Morpheus!) who struggles to free her in time with the help of another colleague. Of course, this wouldn't be Superman without some truly nail-biting saves, and of course, he lives up to his name in this case - though I won't spoil how. How many times have I been touched by an action movie in the past ten years? I can count them all on two hands, and one of those was last year's The Hunger Games, if that gives you any timeline to follow.

I can go on for pages, but I'll try to save something for the official review (which is very behind, sorry!). Lastly before I head out into the world for the evening, if you were worried that replacing John Williams's iconic score was blasphemy (I know, I had my trepidations too) fear not. Hans Zimmer has done it again, and I have his deluxe edition score in my iPad, played on repeat. It is wonderful and captures the urgency of the film along with the more subtle, emotional character beats. This movie was high-stakes in the plot sense, and it was also high-stakes in the Warner Bros. sense. I believe that the audience showed that it is ready for some competition to go against Marvel's non-stop cranking of hero flicks, and if this is how they're going to be, you have already sold me on the entire thing.