Well, time to review Man of Steel. This is a film I’ve been waiting for since I saw the first trailer, so I had a lot of expectations going into this one.
I want to say right off the bat that this is a good film. It’s got some flaws but it’s a good film. Just not a great one. When you realise that this is supposed to do for DC what Iron Man began for Marvel, it just doesn’t quite hold up, and that’s a shame. However, you should definitely go and see it because it’s still going to be one of the best films you’ll see this summer.
Unusually for a Superman film, the main driving force for the first third is character development. The spectacle and the superpowers come later (Well, after a brief prologue on Krypton, but we’ll come to that). Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent spends time as an itinerant worker seeking out his origin, all the while using his powers to help those in need (with the occasional bit of dickery as well). His childhood is told through a series of flashbacks, each bringing with them a good deal of raw emotion as he has to come to terms with his powers and his unique situation. For me this was a highlight of the film, and while it maybe dragged a little, it made for some very compelling viewing. Essentially compressing the whole of Smallville into the first act.
Anyway, the movie itself starts on Krypton, giving a rare glimpse of life on Krypton as well as setting up the back story for General Zod. As usual Jor-El and Lara bid their son farewell as the planet collapses, but not without giving him a McGuffin for Zod to chase after.
Following on from the character driven third, Zod finally makes his way to Earth. In the scenes that follow we get some interesting interaction between Supes and the US Military, in scenes that I feel would likely mirror the US military response to somebody like Superman just showing up.
We see Lois Lane managing to be pretty bad-ass and then the film takes a turn for the worse. As we hit the final third and the climactic fight scenes in which vast portions of Smallville and Metropolis are razed to the ground, the fist-fights between Supes and Zods minions are almost interminable. They’re peppered with nice moments and a couple of spectacular shots, but largely once you’ve seen Supes get thrown into one skyscraper you’ve seen it all. I honestly felt like these fights were lacking variety, and with the two combatants explicitly evenly matched for the most part, they’re just dull. I seriously felt like you could have cut half the fight scenes and still had a decent movie.
I also felt like the Superman we’re used to from other adaptations wouldn’t have wilfully caused so much property damage, or endangered so many innocent bystanders.
The plot is eventually resolved and the McGuffin kept from Zod’s clutches, but towards the end you sort of stop caring, as there is a more immediate threat to the planet, and then another set of interminable fight scenes.
This aside, I felt that the actors were very strong. Cavill makes an impressive superman, He has the right looks and physique but he brings emotion and frailty to the role, which I felt was refreshing. I particularly loved his boyish glee as he figures out how to fly for the first time.
Amy Adams was also excellent as Lois Lane, I’ve seen some criticisms, but it was refreshing to see a Lois that was an active part of the film and not just the damsel in distress. She has strength, and determination and they shine through.
Laurence Fishburne made a good Perry White, but his role was so small as to almost be inconsequential, except to name-check the Daily Planet regulars ready for the sequel. Anybody want to bet that Jenny’s surname turns out to be Olsen?
However, the star of the film was Michael Shannon. His Zod is a wonder to behold. Creepy, Egomaniacal, yet flawed and somehow trying to do what he believes is the right thing. All the while chewing on enough scenery to rival Brian Blessed in full on Ham mode. Absolutely fantastic.
So to sum up, a good film with a good cast and some wonderful character driven moments. Weakened by endless repetitive fight sequences and a slightly shonky plot. It is however one of the better Superman adaptations I’ve seen. finally shedding the camp image that even Superman Returns struggled with. It’s definitely a solid start for DC, and there were enough subtle hints at the shared universe that I’m looking forward to see where they go next. I’m also definitely looking forward to the sequel to this.
friendly reminder that:
- you are not weak if you want meds for your disorder
- you are not weak if you relapse once
- you are not weak if you relapse a thousand times
- you are not weak if some kinds of therapy don’t work for you
- you are not weak if some kinds of meds don’t work for you
- you are not weak if you have a mental disorder.
So, I asked the fine folks at the LoadingReadyRun forum to pick a film for me to go and see. That film ended up being Furious 6. (For some reason the producers couldn’t decide which name to go with).
I have to admit, that I might have seen some of the original Fast & Furious film, but I certainly haven’t seen any of the intervening films.
This made for a few confusing issues, but the important plot details were at least covered via a series of flashbacks. Yes, I was surprised to learn that there was a plot, but there we go.
The first confusing point was the fact that the villainous team seemed to be comprised of a series of doppelgängers of the main cast. A point laboriously pointed out by a character at one point.
Sadly this was made even worse by the fact that the director appeared to suffer from ADHD. Fight scenes became almost impossible to follow, with near identical characters fighting each other, and the director cutting and changing angle with every single punch. You couldn’t tell who was who, and who had the upper hand. The same was true of the car chases as well, with the camera angle chopping and changing with every turn of the wheel so that in the race segments you had no idea who was leading. Even the set piece car chases were confusing, though they did at least contain some slightly longer establishing shots.
The London setting felt wasted, and they managed to populate their fictional version with a significant number of British stereotypes, though mainly cockneys and east end hard nuts and geezers.
The plot was at least present to string the set pieces together, but the big twists were telegraphed well in advance and shouldn’t have been a surprise to anybody. However, the poor direction was coupled with characters who were all barely 2-dimensional, let alone being able to aspire to 3. The worst culprit was (to borrow a phrase from my friends over at What Have You Comedy) Poundland Jude Law as the main villain, who was wholly unbelievable as a villain, and seemed to lack any motivation. The best acting probably goes to The Rock’s muscles.
Overall, there were worse ways I could have spent the time, and with my brain switched off I did find some of the set-pieces enjoyable. It certainly has the advantage of spectacle, even if it is lacking elsewhere.
So, Epic. First of the big summer animated blockbusters (Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 still to come).
From the name and the trailers I was expecting a long epic quest, however when looking at the run time I realised we were in for a much shorter film, then again it is a kids film. I was also initially worried that this might be trying to be this generation’s Fern Gully, but although the eco-friendly theme is there, it’s not a main focus.
The storyline for this films follows the usual arc of the heroes quest, hitting all the usual targets along the way. Although the main heroine does seem to miss the denial of the quest stage, accepting her situation and the quest very easily.
That being said, the story is good, with very interesting characters, as well as some good comedy turns. I especially enjoyed the parts of the story dealing with the heroines relationship with her estranged father. In fact I was a little sad this this didn’t feature more in the story, as I felt it gave the story a lot of weight.
The other thing I particularly enjoyed was the character design. The slightly cartoonish appearance of the characters enabled the designers to have a lot of fun with the leaf men, but at the same time they were still able to show off the detail on creatures such as the birds and deer. I especially enjoyed the creepy, over-the-top designs of the villains. Another highlight was the 3-legged, one-eyed dog Ozzie, it’s rare to see a family pet depicted in such a way in a kids film.
They also had a lot of fun with the scenery, especially given that the characters were at such a small scale, it lead to some beautiful backdrops and set pieces.
The choice of voice actors was good as well, with the actors lending a lot of believability to their animated personae. With maybe the sole exception of Beyoncé as Queen Tara, but thankfully her scenes are sparse and short.
Overall, this film falls short of Epic, and it lacks some of the subtlety and jokes that a Pixar film might throw in for the adult audience, but Blue Sky have turned in a very good effort. I found it to be a fun and enjoyable film.
Well this first report is going to be a short one as I’ve been too ill to exercise all week. I have, however, lost 4lbs bringing my weight down to 21st 6lbs.
Who said gastroenteritis isn’t good for anything…?
Dreams in Blue
Each year these blossoming blue fields attract thousands of tourists. Hitachi Park is located in the Ibaraki Prefecture on Honsyu in Japan. Its a beautiful spectacle during the flowering of the nemophila. Nemophilas are annual flowers. The word is a combination of the Greek words “nemos” (small forest) and “phileo” (love). The Japanese word “hitachi” translates to dawn. Taken together: “small forest love in dawn.” A blue heaven on Earth.