Last night I got into an advanced screening of The Man of Steel. Below are my thoughts. I don't spoil major plot points, but I do talk some details - and I also assume you know Superman's origin story.
Superman in cinema has had a checkered past. From "classic" (Superman: The Movie) to ridiculous (Superman IV: Quest for Peace), these films have been all over the place. And fan boys are still clashing about the last reboot attempt. Did it suck? Was it genius? Whatever it was, it was polarizing.
So how does THIS reboot fair? It's pretty darn good. It's not a perfect film, but it exceeded my mid-range expectations by a mile. Here's how:
1. The special effects were amazing. Usually fight scenes leave me yawning after a while. This was not the case with Superman. The follow-through on the special effects - they just nailed the physics of it all better than I've seen in the past. They did the math. There were some scenes where I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Kudos to the entire FX crew for doing it better than I've ever seen. And don't get me started on the Kryptonian technology/spaceships/homeworld...beautiful.
And here's something I don't usually say - see it in 3-D. So often studios do a crappy job slapping some 3-D together in hopes of milking audiences for more money. In the case of Man of Steel, the extra buck or two is worth it.
2. The score was perfect. I thought I would miss the John Williams score from the original films. I didn't. Hans Zimmer nailed the tone of this picture and did it justice.
3. Superman. Henry Cavill put a new spin on this character. Make no mistake - he wasn't trying to be Christoper Reeve. Or the Superman in the comics. And he didn't have to be. Some may find his portrayal a little too stoic. I found it spot on.
4. The final battle. Too often climactic battle scenes seem to end almost arbitrarily. ("OK - they've been fighting long enough - let's just have our hero hit the 'Achilles Heel' button and lets call it a day.") This didn't go down that way. The battle started normally enough, but by the end, I was loving it. I'm not going to say any more on this until next week when more people have seen it.
5. Giving the movie "heart". I'll admit, at first the way in which they set up the movie to get its emotional payoff wasn't totally working for me. But it had me by the end. And it was just enough without getting too sappy. And I appreciated that, because it's a fine line...
So why isn't it perfect? Before I dive into the shortcomings, here are some things I expect people to say about it that I DON'T consider faults:
It's too dark/like Batman. Yep - Superman has been officially "Nolan-ized". That mood you get from the previews? That's pretty much the mood of the entire film. Is it like Nolan's Batman? Kinda. Did that bother me? Not really (and honestly, I thought it would). Captain America is kind of like The Avengers in tone. So is Iron Man. Etc.
It's a sci-fi movie. To be clear - this movie is both a sci-fi movie AND a superhero movie. Much more so than The Avengers (and their NYC alien battle). If you don't like sci-fi, you may not be as into this as I was.
So what were its true faults then? In my opinion:
1. Length. Yes, this is an "epic" film in many senses
of the word. But I was feeling the length at points. I think they did an
excellent job of never going too long without some action, but even that wasn't enough. Or maybe that was the true problem. I think I'd have to see it again to truly nail it down, but I can't help
but feel it could have been made tighter with a shorter run
2. One particular action scene. I was like "jumping the shark here - let's get back on track, people!". Luckily it was a short sequence.
3. There were two versions of Lois Lane in this film. Version 1 is a cliche "tough-as-nails" reporter who also becomes a plot device by putting herself in harms way in a way that no reasonable person would. I hated her. Version 2 was a near opposite - a character that acted in a believable fashion given her situation. Amy Adams gets credit for doing her own thing with the role. I just wish it started as well as it ended.
4. Product placement. You'll have no trouble telling which companies paid to be in this one, boy. Annoying! (Now excuse me while I hop off to get some pancakes...)
5. Zod. This is a minor fault - more of an annoyance. Zod got a little cliche/over the top at times. More in the beginning than in the end. Just enough to force me to list him here, not enough to ruin the character.
Even when taking those faults into consideration, I still enjoyed the movie quite a bit.
Final Verdict: B
Also, just so you know - there is no "stinger" at the end of the credits (to the audible disappointment of the preview audience).
...at least according to comic book writer Paul Jenkins. In an open letter, he explains why he will no longer be working with DC and Marvel...at least for the forseeable future:
...the entire medium deserves more than we are
currently giving it. So do the fans, the people who currently shell out
four dollars for each comic that they buy. We have taken away the
consequences of the stories we present to them, and I feel the
mainstream product is becoming a homogenized puddle of "meh." I have no
desire to appeal to a reader's indifference, nor be involved in a final
product that I do not fully support.
I think "a homogenized puddle of 'meh'" sums it up pretty well. There are very few (as in, I can count them on one hand) books from Marvel and DC that excite me anymore. Maybe it's because I'm 40 and have read Batman vs. Joker seemingly 100 different times in lifetime. Or Captain America vs. Red Skull. Or Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin. You get the point.
I'm finding much more exciting books from Image and other "indies". It feels very much like Marvel and DC are doing everything they can to keep things status quo. And that may get new readers in...but how long will they stay?
That free MMO from Marvel you've been hearing about is now live! You can go here, register/downloand, and start playing!
It actually went live on Tuesday, but as with ALL MMOs on opening day, there were issues that delayed launch and then had servers up and down for a while. It seems (judging by creator Gazillion's Facebook updates) that things are more stable now.
Still, I think I'll wait to get into it until next week - I'm guessing this week/weekend things are going to be packed. Looking forward to it though. I hope to unlock Rocket Raccoon before I eventually break down and just outright buy him.
It's time for a third and final round of Kick-Ass!
Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl’s blockbuster return for the LAST EVER story arc of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s mega-selling series. Hit-Girl’s in jail, leaving Kick-Ass to lead the superhero team of Justice Forever. Their first mission: Bust Hit-Girl out of the clink. But superheroes have now been outlawed, leaving Kick-Ass to dodge both cops AND criminals. For the first time since donning the costume, Kick-Ass is beginning to have his doubts. Is he now in too deep to get out? The phenomenal follow-up to the Kick-Ass 2 movie coming this June. Issue #1 features six different covers by the industry’s biggest artists, all available for order. Each cover will feature a different character, and when all six covers are linked, a special message will be revealed.
To see that secret message, as well as a preview, click here.
Astro City is back! It looks like an odd mix of genres and styles, but that's kinda what I like about it:
ASTRO CITY is back in a new, ongoing monthly series that showcases old
heroes and new, as The Ambassador comes to Earth, and an ordinary man is
caught up in a cosmic conflict! Featuring the return of favorites like
Samaritan and Honor Guard, and the debut of some new sensations! Plus,
the seeds of a new mystery: Who is the Broken Man? The entire
award-winning creative team is back to kick off a new epoch of the human
and the super human. Get in on the ground floor of Astro City’s next
The book I'm most excited about this week is Ten Grand #2. The first issue was one of my favorite reads of the year (and lucky for you, Image is also releasing a 2nd printing of #1 today as well so you can catch up!).
"ANGELS NEVER LIE" - FDA (Federal Demon
Association) Advisory. Contents contain: one cult church where
incantations are encoded into the playlist; one flesh-dwelling,
food-obsessed demon; one seer capable of perceiving the spirit world but
blinded to this one; one missing woman; one murder; one angel with an
agenda of his own; and one rendezvous between supernatural investigator
Joe Fitzgerald and the woman he loves, now deceased, in what may or may
not be heaven. Warning: do not operate heavy equipment while reading.
Here's a news report about people who dress up like superheroes to extort tourists and how they are now getting into territorial fist-fights. Much like the real Captain America and Spider-Man would do...?
I think the best thing about this video is how little effort these "heroes" put into making themselves look like their comic book inspirations. And that heavy Spanish accent on Captain America? A dead give-away that you might not be talking to the real Steve Rogers.