Man of Steel -- CGI Overkill

                                 Director Zack Snyder gave us "300" and "Watchmen." Both movies could be called as excitable indulgence of special effects and also had a good narrative structure. His last movie, "Sucker Punch" was a catastrophe. Now his "Man of Steel" (written by David S. Goyer from a story by Chris Nolan) travels in different directions, delivering gratifications without managing to be completely satisfying. As an origin story, the movie takes itself very seriously, but the mind numbing action in last 40 minutes is a huge disappointment and shatters the promising build up. 

                                 Like the 1978 Superman movie, the story starts from the planet Krypton, just before it is due to self-destruct. The 1978 movie didn't have Marlon Brando flying around Krypton, but, once again thanks to special effects, we get to zoom about Krypton as Jor-El (Russell Crowe) pilots a giant dragon or insect. There's also an environmental angle to the self-destruction. Jor-El sends his naturally born son to earth in a small space ship, knowing that the boy will have superpowers in this planet. Meanwhile, the villain, General Zod attempts a coup and fails. He and his gang of baddies are temporarily subdued (after few large scale explosions).

                                   Thirty Three years years later we meet Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) -- a fisherman, saving some men on a doomed oil rig. He floats around in the water experiencing flashbacks to his childhood living in Kansas with adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane). Clark encounters Lois Lane (Amy Adams) while she is in the Arctic investigating a mysterious space ship under the ice. Unlike, previous Superman movies, Lois Lane know Superman’s secret from the get-go. Soon, Zod parks a space ship in Earth's orbit and demands surrender or to face total annihilation. He is also after a "codex", which is sent with Clark. It contains the key to rebuilding the Krypton species.  

                                   The movie's plus are Nolan/Goyer's story. It has broad sci-fi outlines rather than the regular superhero histrionics. The script repeatedly hints at the similarity between Jesus and Superman, except, of course, the unbelievably long and violent battle. Director Snyder always have a fondness for explosive action set pieces. Unfortunately, in "Man of Steel", the battles are so numerous and too long that the effect is numbing, leaving us bored rather than exhilarated. 

                                   The casting is perfect. Henry Cavill, the British actor, uses this movie as an opportunity to lay the foundation for what could be a long and memorable run. One of the main requirement for actors playing superheroes is to look the part. Cavill succeeds there by subtly playing emotional moments and conveying sharp feelings of self-doubt. Costner and Diane Lane gives a stupefying performance as Clark's adoptive parents. The talented Michael Shannon rants and snarls throughout the film as super-villain Zod. Lois Lane's character is a improvement over the usual naive, starry-eyed versions. Russell Crowe keeps on materializing as holographic Jor-El and repeatedly reminds Clark to save mankind. 

                                  When Superman finally saves Manhattan from Zod and his merciless Kryptonian renegades, he has ruined huge swaths of the city and laid waste to scores of humans. He contradicts from his ideals and rather than being a legendary hero of his own story he comes across as a pawn of special effects. 
                                  Superman has always been a figure of truth -- unlike other superheroes -- which makes up for a difficult movie subject because there's no ambiguity about who he is and what he represents. The reboot, retold in digital-age justifies its existence, but the climatic excesses pose a question that whether this "Man of Steel" can spearhead a franchise that aims for greatness or for simulated spectacles of mass urban disasters. 


Lazy Pineapple said...

I felt that the movie was a visual treat but was too long in the end. The action scenes could have been shortened in the end as the movie dragged towards the end.

Also I felt that Superman wanted to protect humans but forgot all about them when he fought Zod in Manhattan.
Henry Cavill looks super hot and a perfect fit for the role.

Arun Kumar said...

@ Vinita, Thanks for the comment. Yeah, Cavill fits for the role and there is a promising build up, which is ruined by the long ending.

Haricharan Pudipeddi said...

I loved the first part, but the second didn't quite live upto the expectations. Visual effects looked artificial after a point of time

Arun Kumar said...

@Haricharan, Thanks for the comment. There was a good back story like in a Nolan film, but when it came to face-off scenes, Snyder has gone Michael Bay's way.

Unknown said...

First part was fine, second not so. But music in film is ok.