Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Man of Steel

UK Release: 14th June 2013
Watched in Cinema: Saturday 15th June 2013
Rating: 12A
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Runtime: 2hrs 23mins
IMDb Plot Synopsis: A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind. 

My Review: I need to start by saying that I went into this film knowing very little about it, or even about the general Superman back-story. It was also my first ‘superhero’ movie that I’ve seen in the cinema (the only other ‘superhero’ film I’ve seen being Iron Man on TV). I’m probably as far away from the target audience as you can get, and yet I couldn’t help but be excited to see it. Amy Adams is an incredible actress and I’ve been a fan of Henry Cavill since The Tudors, so I knew that I’d enjoy their performances, if all else fails!
Firstly, I was taken aback by the heavy science-fiction element. What felt like the first half an hour of the film was set on another planet, called Krypton, setting up the rest of the film very thoroughly which I was rather impressed by. The special effects and CGI were imperative to get right, otherwise it would been very hard to believe in, but thankfully it was beautifully immersive and full of depth, helping me to get to grips with this alien world and its conflicts, which we are immediately thrown into. Essentially, Krypton is being destroyed, due to the last of the energy resources being used and so as the planet begins to crumble there is also political unrest and a battle springs. In amongst all this we are also introduced to Superman’s parents and we see him being born. I’m so glad they didn’t skim over these vital 'origin' scenes as you really get a sense of his parents and the struggles they face as they prepare to give him up, sending him to Earth to have a better life away from Krypton's unrest.
I also really enjoyed the scenes when Clark Kent is a young boy, grappling with being an alien and the effects where we see what he sees - skeletons and beating hearts - were really powerful. We get to know his human parents as well and you can really tell how much they love and care for him, building the character much more than I expected.
So, by the time we meet him in the present day, we really feel that we know him and by then I'm fully invested in him and the story. I didn’t expect to get sucked in as much as I did, but I was - mostly - enthralled throughout. I especially loved Amy Adams as Lois Lane; the fact that she wasn’t the ‘stereotypically’ skinny, pretty blonde love interest really appealed to me. She was a fully fleshed character who I could emphasise with and she had storylines of her own, as we got to know her work life at the Daily Planet and her boss and colleagues were more than just cardboard cut-outs too - they even had scenes all to themselves in the last act!
I was genuinely surprised at the lack of ‘cheesiness’ also, as it felt more aware of itself and smart, rather than being distracted by cliches. The aliens felt pretty realistic too, as they weren’t just a group of them against the noble humans: we emphasised with them and they were individuals with different personalities, just as humans are all different, good and bad.
The biggest gripe I had, however, was the second half. Despite opting to see the 2D version, I still started to get a headache as the special effects, constant explosions and fight scenes became a bit too much. It got dull as it felt like it was constantly at its climax, but then moved on to another supposed climax. I kept thinking, “OK, this is the big blow-out, the big finale”, and then oh no, there’s another one in a different location. It just felt like there was no point to half the big fight scenes other than to show off the special effects and it was at this point - the point where I should have been at the edge of my seat - that I got bored. I began to lose interest as the ending felt very drawn out and overplayed.
It’s a shame as it had kept up the pace up until then and I was really enjoying myself, but the last act really reminded me why I don’t usually watch these sorts of films. It was just constant CGI, guns and explosions and not enough real character interaction and development, to keep it from becoming mind-numbing. I think I just prefer more depth and subtlety to my films and so, while it has opened my eyes a little to the world of blockbusters, I’m not giving up my usual taste in films any time soon!

Score: 8/10

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