Future bright for ‘Man of Steel’

The best thing about Zach Snyder’s “Man of Steel” is that it doesn’t reek of superhero cliché. Not until the final act will audiences see action that screams “been there, done that.” Somehow, nothing about that was bothersome to me. Eventually after a thrilling, dramatic beginning I started twiddling my thumbs waiting for the icon to don his cape and symbol. Snyder and his story writers could sense this yearning, because Superman brought the pain in bucketloads.

This is the piece of the film that has polarized critics and fans alike, but their protests make little to no sense, because eventually a superhero film must bring power to the screen and show the audience a hero who can effectively defeat a villain. Superman is an intelligent character, but eventually a battle of wits is no longer enough and the fists begin to fly.

Unfortunately this hero has just begun his heroic exploits and has not figured out how he can defeat while still being discreet. The final fight between Zod and Superman results in $750 billion in destruction, according to Buzzfeed. If you can’t stand to watch animated characters fly about screen causing CGI damage then “Man of Steel’s” final act isn’t for you. Obviously many of these scenes are shot in front of green or blue screens, but that doesn’t relieve any of the power present in this film.

Even with all the destruction and conflict on screen this final act pales in comparison to the first two acts, which redefine how a superhero film can be made. Snyder is able to make the Man of Steel as human as the Dark Knight by utilizing flashback sequences. The flashbacks have also been a point in which critics call foul. Had Snyder remained with a linear storytelling device then the film would have looked too similar to a saturated version of Richard Donner’s original “Superman.”

“Man of Steel” is not nearly as light-hearted or goofy as Donner’s film or Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns,” but to say it’s not nearly as entertaining is simply false. “Man of Steel” is not the best superhero film released, but you won’t be able to get it out of your head. The questions and answers both provide a fascinating new context for a franchise to build from.

Snyder manages to pay homage to the original mythology of Superman while still redefining what it might be like if a “human” had powers. No film has expertly showcased a new way of viewing an individual who is burdened by special abilities. Rather than focusing on the positive nature of a superhuman transformation this story introduces an audience more to the negatives. With the expertly written screenplay by David Goyer from the story by Christopher Nolan and Goyer, Snyder had it easy adapting something so compelling as a new Superman film from the viewpoint of the young hero rather than standing in as an omnipotent narrator.

Now when Snyder’s film is good it’s very good, but unfortunately there are also moments that are bad, very bad. For example, not since Michael Bay’s “Transformers” has there been a film with such blatant product placement. Clark’s mother works at Sears, his friend at IHOP, and most baffling is a conveniently located 7-11 in small-town Kansas. Additionally, the filmmakers make some curious choices with audio that might pull you out for a moment while watching. Superman coughs uncontrollably while hurtling to the Earth because he’s near a poisonous substance and Snyder does not utilize the majesty of Hans Zimmer’s score often enough.

The film is flawed and is simply not as groundbreaking as Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece, “The Dark Knight,” but it is and will remain an entertaining piece and a bright spot for filmmaker Zach Snyder. The future can only be brighter for the one, the only, “Man of Steel.”

Patrick White

Movie fan Patrick White doesn't spare anyone's feelings when deciding if the latest Hollywood offering is trash or treasure. Catch his reviews on the latest theater and DVD releases in Saturday's paper.

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