Man of Steel
A Middle Aged Movie Blog. Being the periodic journal of a film loving middle aged independent science fiction writing father of two and his ongoing adventures in cinema and home video
The following is a brief summary of my thoughts on Zac Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013), a film I initially despised on first viewing, though have subsequently warmed to in the years since its release.
This is not to say the film isn’t problematic. However I’m less inclined to dismiss it outright these days. Having watched it with my son, who enjoyed it immensely, my hatred of it has mellowed in the intervening years. I still think it’s flawed. However I can balance the positives with negatives more easily. I am less inclined to make jarring comparisons with the Richard Donner movie released in 1978, which is a Superhero classic and not easily improved upon.
So here we go… My revised notes on Zac Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013).
It’s not funny enough. Hans Zimmer’s score is ace. The trailer is better than the movie. The movie is better than Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2018) combined. The opening scenes on Krypton are excellently depicted. Clark Kent barely features, which is unfortunate as he might have added some much needed levity to proceedings. Henry Cavill (in this film at least) is an impressively cast Superman. The film is overly long. Amy Adams’ Lois Lane isn’t feisty enough. Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent rescuing a dog and being rubbed out by a cyclone is stupid. The colour palate is too dark. Zod (Michael Shannon) is a deadpan whiner. The final cataclysmic action scenes are messily edited and barely coherent.
Watched the second Captain Marvel (2019) trailer. The movie looks fun, which is as much as I can glean from it. Watched the trailer for Avengers: Endgame (2019), which was enough to stoke interest, despite revealing nothing. Watched the trailer for Alita: Battle Angel (2019), which looks amazing, though may be a bit reliant on CG laden effects wizardry. Watched another trailer for Aquaman (2018), which still looks like Flash Gordon Goes Swimming, and the definition of kitsch grandiosity.
Found a copy of Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence (1993) based on the Edith Wharton novel from 1920, on DVD in a local charity shop and decided it was high time I watched again.
It didn’t disappoint. The film is a veritable smorgasbord of romance and hypocrisy, ostentatiously costumed, filmed and scored to give a full flavour of the period in which it is set. It’s depiction of a tragic liaison scuppered by the rigidly structured mores of elitist New York society in the 1870’s, is beautifully rendered.
As repressive, breathy melodramas go it is one of the best I’ve ever clapped eyes on. For anybody who thinks Martin Scorcese is not the greatest living director working in American motion pictures, here is yet another flick that would argue the contrary. It might not be to everyone’s taste, however I would heartily recommend it to all and sundry anyway.
As an addendum I would like to quickly add that whilst viewing the film it occurred to me that I would watch Daniel Day Lewis hang washing if given the opportunity, such is the man’s dramatic genius and unrivalled ability to convey emotional honesty. It’s a shame he’s retiring. More of these sorts of performances is what the world needs, not less.
On a sadder note, RIP Sondra Locke, who played in a number of movies I loved as a young un, such as The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), The Gauntlet (1977) Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and Bronco Billy (1980) opposite ex partner Clint Eastwood. She maybe didn’t get the breaks she deserved acting wise post 1980, but she will be fondly remembered round these parts for sure.
Sat up until midnight Xmas eve watching The Sugarland Express (1974), Steven Spielberg’s oft overlooked pre-Jaws crime/road movie, which was his theatrical film debut starring Goldie Hawn and William Atherton.
The actors play a couple of young lovers on the lam being tailed across Texas by an army of police after Clovis Michael Poplin, played with wide eyed naivety by William Atherton, sneaks away from jail to aid his increasingly shrill partner Lou Jean Poplin (Goldie Hawn), to get their son back from foster care.
The performances of the two leads are impressive as are those of the supporting cast fronted by Ben Johnson as Captain Harlin Tannerthe, the stoic lawman tasked with bringing the fugitives to justice and Michael Sacks as Patrolman Maxwell Slide who is taken hostage by the couple in order to facilitate their getaway.
Wonderfully timed comic and action moments break up the slow motion cross county car chase whilst the script, co-written by Spielberg and based on the real life experiences of then 21-year-old Ila Fae Holiday/Dent and 22-year-old Robert “Bobby” Dent, makes the most of its thin premise.
It’s worth noting the film signified the commencement of a timeless collaboration between Spielberg and John Williams, whose atypical score adds warmth to the proceedings. It’s also worth noting that this is the only score composed by Williams for the director that has never been released as an actual album.
Watched as a double bill alongside Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973), a similarly themed, though far weightier work about young criminals on the run released around the same time, The Sugarland Express is a straight up pop rush of a movie that knowingly deconstructs America’s developing obsessions with celebrity, guns and right wing conservatism, without resorting to melodrama or losing sight of the fact that it needs to entertain the audience as well as inform them.
Followed this with a home screening of RAW, Julia Ducournau’s breakout debut from 2017, which is a thoughtful and knowing French/Belgian body-horror dealing with the fleshy discomforts of young female adulthood and empowerment set against the backdrop of an oddly sinister veterinary college.
Weird hazing rituals and dietary habits combined with the transitional stresses inherent in adjusting to higher education, are disturbingly rendered in a properly thoughtful flick, which though it might be shocking and explicit on occasion, is never exploitative or unnecessarily excessive. Starring Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf and Laurent Lucas.