Thursday, June 20, 2013

Man of Steel Review

Superman is important to Christians.  The hero has a longstanding tradition, whether intentional or not, of being a Christ figure.  His father sends him from the heavens down to lowly earth in order to lead and save humanity.  He is (nearly) all powerful, a God among men.  The only thing fiercer than his strength is his goodness.  

Man of Steel has been catching a lot of negative feedback, but I just don’t see it.  I thought this was the best Superman movie yet.  Here's why:


The Good

  • No sex!  Finally, a blockbuster movie that doesn't flaunt what the good Lord gave it.  There's no skin tight leather Black Widow here and nobody decides to get dressed in front of the camera at entirely inappropriate times like certain members of Starfleet (I'm looking at you Into Darkness).  Let's face it, with the history of Lois Lane and Clark's X-Ray vision, it would have been easy to throw sexual garbage in there.  Instead, they took the high road and made a movie that believes there are more things that sell than just sex, like…
  • Action!  Holy canoli!  Here's a Superman movie that actually shows the kind of scale and devastation that would be involved if someone as indestructible, fast, and powerful as Superman actually got into a fight.  Some have complained that there is too much destruction, but when Superman and his equals face off, it's silly to think that there would be little or no collateral damage.  This movie shows just how devastating a superpunch can be when thrown in Kansas, Metropolis, spaceships, satellites, and everywhere else you can imagine.
  • Jumps right in.  We all know the classic story of Superman.  So much so that it's honestly starting to get stale. Planet goes boom, Superbaby lands in a field.  Kents raise him and then “Holy super pubescent powers Batman!”  Clark meets Lois.  Will they?  Won’t they?  How many more scenes will those glasses fool her?  Until we all want Clark to just tell her his secret already!  Instead of dragging all of that out for us again in time honored fashion, this movie handles it in a fresh and different way.  The Lois arc moves quickly and some well-timed, emotional flashbacks give us what we need while allowing the film to jump right into its own story arc.
  • Realism.  Superman movies have always been hokey and filled with more cheese than a calzone.  This one was more serious and I like that.  None of that "Up, Up, and Away" business.  This movie tried to seriously deal with what Clark would go through growing up on earth.  How would the nation and world react knowing such an unstoppable individual existed?  Could he ever really be one of us?  
  • Old villain, new experience.  Zod and the gang from the Phantom Zone are old characters who have been recycled over and over.  But this movie does a great job of making them new and fleshing them out.  Deeper backgrounds, creepy dialogue, and a new armored look made these villains better than ever.  (Props to my friend Don for pointing this out to me)
  • Great acting and casting.  Henry Cavill nailed Clark/Kal/Superman which is no easy task.  I think what I liked the most was that, aside from the Kryptonians, everyone in this movie looked like real down to earth people.  Movies filled with gorgeous people often add to the phoniness of the film.  These actors looked real and made the movie all the more immersive.

The Bad
  • Rapid clean up.  The end of the movie doesn't really address or display the aftermath you would expect from the colossal showdown.  Jump to the Daily Planet where everything seems A-OK.  Apparently, the devastated city regrew overnight.  And let's just pretend the entire planet is fine and earth's atmosphere and gravity have better healing powers than Wolverine.
  • Confusing science.  How does the atmosphere and sunlight give the Kryptonians all of that power with just an instant of exposure?  Why is it that the Kryptonians with all of their technology can't just relocate to one of their outpost planets?  For that matter, why can't they make their AI floating computer things sound better than an echoing cassette player in my bathroom shower?   How is Lois standing calmly in the open bay of a flying aircraft without falling to her death?  And what is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?!
  • As always, Superman's disguise is lousy.  But for tradition's sake, you've just got to give the guy a pass on that one.  In other news, the costume looked great!
  • Long action.  These fights tend to drag on and on.  That’s enjoyable for most people but can leave you overwhelmed.  It makes sense that when you have indestructible Kryptonians punching each other in the face, you're going to be there a while.  In the midst of the high speed and long fights, it's easy to get a little lost wondering who is throwing what punch and which guy is getting his face rammed through an exploding vehicle.  Overall, I suspect the majority of teens and guys won't raise this objection.  It's an adrenaline ride many will enjoy.
  • MAJOR SPOILER HERE Superman breaks his golden rule and they don't give it enough consideration.  The Man of Steel never kills.  It would shatter the ability for earth's people to trust him and would take him one step closer to being a tyrant accountable to no one.  When he breaks this huge rule, he cries for a second and sheds a single tear.  It left me feeling like the movie makers didn't realize what a big deal that moment was for Superman history.
The Godly

Man of Steel doesn't disappoint the Christian looking for Christ imagery.  The dialogue is ripe with stuff that believers can unpack.  Superman strikes a pose that reminds us of the cross and Clark even visits with a priest for counsel.  There's so much of this, that some non-Christians might gag on it as it's shoved in their faces.  Sorry guys, I didn't make the movie.  

While undoubtedly violent, I believe that Man of Steel will open family and friends to great conversations about faith, sacrifice, and even the purpose of your own life.  Just check out these words from Jonathan Kent, "You are my son. But somewhere out there you have another father, and he sent you here for a reason. And even if it takes you the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is."  Powerful words for Clark and just as powerful for you and me.  

With Man of Steel, you get a very entertaining movie that continues the tradition of Superman by pointing to the real Savior.