Review Roundup - Would you care to step outside?

MAN OF STEEL (2013)

So I will go ahead and say it, Christopher Reeve is still Superman... but I didn't hate this. Something of a sticking point for some, but the ridiculously overblown violence, collateral damage and this kinda angsty version of the character isn't so bad despite me expecting the worst. You see Superman Returns is kind of a dud in reality and after the buzz of hearing John Williams blasting at me again had worn off, it just felt like a big lazy rehash of the 1978 movie that didn't add anything of it's own besides some questionable plot threads that will never be continued and some weird secondary casting choices. So this is something different at least on some levels, and the real problems are the writing rather than the darker outlook.


Darker, grittier, more intense? It seems like a mantra for many reboots and sequels particularly in this genre. After the latest Batman outings it was a predictable road map to where this would be heading with producers and writers reuniting, and things definitely hit that tone here. The mood is engaging for the most part, and the mix of flashbacks, action beats and space drama keeps things moving with a moderate pace. It does feel a little derivative at times of recent sci-fi concepts, particularly the Bioware Mass Effect series or some moments in the Star Trek reboot. The more detailed look does add that expected level eye candy at least, even when some of the effects don't hold up in every scene. The big action moments are pretty ludicrous at times, but I found them entertaining. It's fun to see superhuman abilities done with new technology, and despite the overblown violence I didn't feel it detracted so much from the story. The much talked about final moment in the last battle didn't appall me and offered more of a look at making impossible decisions. Unfortunately the script cuts the moment short and things move along to fast, the dialogue doesn't provide any kind of thoughts on what is taking place - as I will get to.

The cast is filled out pretty well, though without any particularly stand out performances. Cavill has his moments, he certainly looks the part - and Shannon does his stuff, but it's hardly Take Shelter. My issue is the writing here which doesn't provide the big character moments to balance the big spectacle. There isn't enough real discourse - Superman at one point literally says "I'm gonna stop you" without debate or flair. Charisma and banter has been dropped - the verbal sparring is lost to the hulk smashing, and ultimately I think there's a missed opportunity. Perhaps it's not the done thing now but I still prefer the comic tone of those Otisburg moments and kind of hammy "diseased maniac" villain scenes which have more flavour. Surely there's still room for that kind of thing in some guise? They've set things up for a new take on some of these ideas, but who knows if they can expand on them properly in the future. It's certainly a step up from the flat and hollow photocopies of 300 or Watchmen at any rate.

3/5