Humans imagined Superheroes. These Superheroes rose above the ordinary and could do things that no human could possibly imagine! And that was fun, because it rose above the ordinary and became fantastic. It opened up our minds to endless possibilities. We forgot reality and wanted to become a superhero; wanted to become extraordinary. But then somewhere along the way, superheroes became too far disconnected with this world. While humans suffered, superheroes made merry. And this prompted the correction. So now humans started humanising superheroes. But sometimes, the correction is so much, that the fantastic is diluted. And that’s one of the problems in “Man of Steel”. Yes, unfortunately, that’s only one of the problems!
So what’s it about?
It’s Superman’s story retold literally from the moment he is born. So, he is born to “Jor-El” (Russell Crowe) and “Lara Lor-Van” (Ayelet Zurer) on planet Krypton. But Krypton is self-destructing, whilst “General Zod” (Michael Shannon) is trying to usurp total control. In the middle of all this melee, Jor manages to steal the Codex, a glorified pen-drive, that contains all the DNA data for his entire species and sends it along with his son “Kal-El” to earth. “Kal-El” then, as we all know, grows up in Smallville to be the angst ridden teenager who wants to know where he is from. His foster-father wants him to lead an ordinary life, so as not to attract attention towards his extraordinary powers. Well, 33 years later after he arrives, General Zod follows him to earth. And then starts General Zod’s massively destructive hunt to get back the Codex. Will SuperMan be able to stand against a squadron of warriors, equally powerful? Will he be able to save Earth from annihilation? Will he win the trust of earthlings, when he himself doesn’t belong? Now, that’s what the movie is all about.
Everyone loves Superman and that’s one of the biggest draws. You want to watch it frame by frame because of the legend of Superman. And the visual effects are astounding. The sonic boom when Superman flies, the hyper-real superhuman fight sequences and the colossal destruction is mind boggling to say the least. And it’s great to see the origins of Superman. For the gen-next, who have been MARVELIZED, this is their induction to DC’s (and perhaps the universes’) greatest superhero.
What doesn’t Work:
Like I said, we humans have started humanizing superheroes. Even aliens! So “Man Of Steel” is filled with vignettes of the angst ridden child struggling to adjust to his new human setting. There is no joy of discovery, there is just pain. He is quiet while others speak around him. Everyone looks at him with pain in their eyes. Yes, that’s Superman, but couldn’t they have added just a bit of joy?
And it’s extremely surprising to note that this is written by the same guys who wrote the epic Batman films – Chris Nolan and David Goyer; Especially because of the non-linear narrative and the shoddy pacing of the film. Every-time you think Superman is going to soar, the screenplay comes back to a grinding halt. While the earth is being shattered by massive spaceships, Superman still has the time to romantically put Lois Lane back on ground safely! The film goes from a “Heavy Metal” state to a “Meditation” state almost anytime. Even the virtuoso “Hans Zimmer” seems so confused with the film that his background seems erratic. Zack Snyder of 300 fame proves that Watchmen and Sucker Punch were not just a flash in the pan and he does suffer from basic story-telling issues. Even when he does pick up the pace towards the end, it’s so overdone that you feel you are watching an SRK melodrama. Buildings fall left-right and centre, Manhattan (so infuriatingly clichéd) is destroyed to smithereens, but the action keeps going on and on and on. It’s so overdone, that you start feeling numb with the incessant violin playing in the background, dizzy with Superman and Zod pummelling each other like there is no tomorrow; and start praying it ends!
The Quintessential Question: To see or not to see?
For superhero lovers, it’s a must watch. You might come out cursing it, but then you won’t regret not seeing it! But otherwise, it’s just an overhyped anti-climax. Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder stay so true to Superman, that they remove the entire fun out of him. Superman is a plain good guy. He doesn’t have the charisma of Tony Stark, nor the smartness of Batman. But in this film, he is simply boring. Hope he gets back his sense of humour in the next film. Hope it is in a lighter vein and not so overly melodramatic. Hope the director is changed. Quite frankly, this steel needs a lot of polishing coz it ain’t stainless yet!
A hopeless FILMantic, a sit-down comic, a cereal killer, chicken lover, who Copys for a living, really!
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