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Movie Review: Man of Steel

man.of.steel.posterSuperman is about duality. The fact he’s from another planet but raised on Earth. His roles as Superman and Clark Kent. His two sets of parents. And most importantly, having the power of gods, but his attempts to be normal. Directed by Zack Snyder with the story by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, Man of Steel focuses on that duality. This is an attempt to create a thinking person’s Superman, but really just for about 1/4 of the film, as the majority is made up of punching, lots of punching, and destruction along the line of a Michael Bay/Roland Emmerich disaster movie.

The story is pretty simple. Superman is sent to Earth to escape a dying Krypton. He’s raised by the Kents to live as a regular person, but struggles to come to grips with his powers. Along comes some other survivors who have  a grudge with Supes and a want to recreate Krypton.

What I felt really interesting was how the movie barrels towards it’s destructive drag out finale of a fight. The plot just flows towards the big fight we know is coming, filled with flashbacks about Clark Kent learning about his powers and the advice he’s given. There’s very little Clark Kent like we saw in the classic Donner films. It’s an origin film and an introduction of Superman to the world that’s delivered with a punch instead of staying hidden behind glasses before the big reveal. But, unlike those previous films, this is the origin of Clark Kent as Superman attempts to figure out his alter-ego’s role in his like and the world.

There really is very little Clark Kent in the film, Superman is front and center. This is a film about Superman trying to find his place in the world. And without Kent to play off of, it’s a bit more dour. Superman here shows off every way to portray doubt/frustration/loneliness/contemplation and a few other emotions with his face and few words. I doubt actor Henry Cavill as Superman was given more than 50 words to say in the entire film.

His supporting cast isn’t given much else either other than to chew scenery or act scared or in awe. Michael Shannon as Zod grits his teeth and spews lines with nothing but rage. Russell Crowe attempts to impart wisdom as Jor-El but acts like an irritating hologram with an accent that doesn’t make sense. Kevin Costner imparts wisdom as Pa Kent in flashbacks and Diane Lane mostly looks sad, comforts and hugs her adopted son as Ma Kent. There’s a an equally long list of solid actors given little to do including Laurence Fishburne, Richard Schiff, Harry Lennix and Christopher Meloni.

Then there’s Amy Adams as Lois Lane, a version that’s somewhere between Margot Kidder’s and Kate Bosworth’s versions. There’s a lot for her to do and she does more than just play the damsel, but something to me was a bit off and it’s mostly her infatuation with the Last Son of Krypton. As a journalist she pursues the story about a man who travels the world saving people with amazing powers and when confronted with the truth she struggles with the story. That’s great and fresh. But, as the movie progresseses she’s thrown into ridiculous situations and then a kiss with Superman that belittles both. Of course there’s an attraction but in truth she knows so little about this person, it would make you think she could only like him for his powers and/or looks, both shallow reasons. Luckily the “relationship” storyline is given little screen time, showing how it’s needed even less and a stronger film would have played off the flirtation and explore more in future movies.

But, much like how the movie goes out of its way to mention Superman isn’t hard to look at, Snyder and his collaborators go for style over substance. This is a slick new Superman, more angsty than past on-screen versions and less of the humor and innocence of past live action versions. Snyder over uses shaky cams to attempt to hide fx flaws which is fine, but uses it when it’s not needed at all. What was up with it a the beginning of the film on Krypton? We have a debate and the camera needs to shake? When will this lazy film making end? There is some great use of angles during battles and flights and great visuals in general, but there’s a lot of choices that are clearly made to cover up issues with the fx. The continuation of quick cuts persists. Another film making trick that has overstayed its welcome.

Overall, Man of Steel is a fine disaster movie, I’m still debating if its a fine super-hero movie. There’s a lot I like including the change of what we’d expect as far as plot structure and use of dual identities that we’ve seen in previous films. Instead of a normal person taking on a super identity, finding it and then saving the world, we have someone who is super trying to find his normal identity and place in the world. It’s a fresh take on the big screen Superman mythos.

But, with so much destruction and visuals that are very engaging on the big screen, and I’m not sure would be as awe inspiring on a small screen, it’s difficult for me to say to pass up this big popcorn movie in the theaters. Not a super start, but a welcome return and a decent celebration of Superman’s 75 years on planet Earth.

Direction: 6 Acting: 6.75 Plot: 7 Overall: 6.25

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It’s Saturday and the weekend, and for those that follow internet memes, it comes after Friday.  It’s also sees the second major comic convention, Chicago’s C2e2.  Below is a special sections covering the news of the convention as well as the normal items we missed.

Around the Blogs:

Kotaku – Your Latest Reboot Is Sonic the Hedgehog’s Comic Book SeriesI’ve never been a huge Sonic fan.  I can’t wait for Mega Man though.

Primary Ignition – Comic Book Bloopers: Superman Loses His Religion – An interesting discussion about Superman and religion.

Winnipeg Free Press – ‘Comic Books Go To War’ examines cartoonist-journalists in world hot spots – Comic books and graphic novels are becoming a more acceptable form of examining news and current events.

Shelfari – Graphic Novel Friday: Interview with Mike Mignola – Nice interview with the well known comic creator.

Arts Beat – Meet the Super-Parents: Kevin Costner to Play Clark Kent’s Dad – With Diane Lane as his mom.

Bleeding Cool – C. Thomas Howell Has Some Amazing Spider-Man Spoilers For YouSoul Man is a classic!

C2E2 Coverage:

Comic Book Resources – C2E2 EXCLUSIVE: Remender’s Apocalyptic “Dark Angel Saga”

Comic Book Resources – C2E2: DC Nation

Comic Book Resources – C2E2: Welcome To The X-Men

Comic Book Resources – C2E2: Green Lantern Panel

Comic Book Resources – C2E2 EXCLUSIVE: “Star Wars: Dark Times” Strikes Back

Bleeding Cool – The C2E2 X-Men Slideshow

Bleeding Cool – Transforming Libraries At C2E2 With Greg Baldino

Bleeding Cool – Thor Movie Promotion At C2E2 – Pics And Video

Bleeding Cool – The Doors Open At C2E2, Now With Added Paul Cornell (VIDEO)

Bleeding Cool – Alan Moore’s Neonomicon #4 Out For C2E2

Bleeding Cool – Wandering C2E2 Before The Big Open – With Added Mario Burlesque

Bleeding Cool – In The C2E2 Bar…

Bleeding Cool – First Looks At C2E2 Setup

Bleeding Cool – First Looks At C2E2 Setting Up…

Bleeding Cool – “We’ve Got To Stop Publishing Late Books” – Dan DiDio

DC Source – Flashpoint Friday C2E2 Edition: Your Questions – Answered at C2E2!

DC Source – Flashpoint Friday C2E2 Edition: Fan Question

DC Source – Flashpoint Friday C2E2 Edition: FLASHPOINT goes digital

DC Source – DC Nation heads to Chicago for C2E2 this weekend!

Fantagraphics – Paul Hornschemeier at C2E2

The Beat – C2E2 ready to kick things off

PRLog – RIVER JORDAN, A Graphic Novel by Merik Tadros to be Launched at C2E2

Around the Tube Reviews:

Playback – Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull (Marvel)

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How is everyone this morning?  A little hungover from St. Patty’s day or the pre-C2E2 partying?  Well, I am, so we’ll make this intro short and too the point…. enjoy.

Around the Blogs:

Geekweek – Michael Gough, Four Time Alfred, Dies – Some sad news.

Geekweek – Kevin Costner Confirmed For Jonathan Kent – So, it’s looking like Supes has two good looking adoptive parents (Diane Lane is playing his mom).

Geekweek – Bradley Cooper, Garrett Hedlund Among Contenders For DAREDEVIL – Cooper could be good. Who’s Hedlund?

Geekweek – Robert Pattinson For DAREDEVIL? – Absolutely, fucking not!

Comics Alliance – DC’s Blog Closes Comments, Gives Up On Even Trying To Talk to You Jerks – This is what you trolls get when you’re given something nice. Feel free to start a flame war here….

Comic Vine – DC and ComiXology Bring Digital Comics To Retailers – A new place for you folks to start flame wars.

Pioneer Press – Augusta man publishes own comic books – Well, that’s just super.. is it any good?

Geekweek – Brian Taylor Talks GHOST RIDER Sequel – Cause the first one was so good, it deserves a sequel.

Around the Tubes Reviews:

Paste Magazine – Comic Book & Graphic Novel Round-Up (3/16/11)

Comic Vine – Comic Book Reviews For The Week of 3/16/11

Comics Alliance – Whimsy vs. Grim and Gritty: Knight and Squire #6 / Iceman & Angel One-Shot

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