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Tuesday, 2 July 2013


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I happily tucked into the first few minutes of Man of Steel, thinking I had walked into screening of a Colt Studio classic, instead. The opening scene seethed with testosterone. Water, fire, catastrophe! Danger everywhere! No damsel in distress in sight! The protagonist was referred to only as "Greenhorn," and he's half naked and wet and hairy and muscly and intense and...

...and then Russell Crowe reaches in between his wife's legs to retrieve a baby. I snap back to reality, reluctantly letting go of the squished spicy sausage roll that, up to that moment, I hadn't realize I was clenching.

There's loads to like about this movie.

First, it's redemption for Crowe. We're reminded once again why Crowe is so revered, his inability to sing was overlooked in a calamitous outing as Javert in Tom Hooper's Les Miserables. The camera loves Russell Crowe. Those dolorous eyes, those split-second facial twitches, the mumbling... he doesn't have to do much. His mere presence on a frame makes every epic story ever written believable. He proves that here, over and over again, as we're "treated" to lines that would make us barf, had they were delivered by a lesser thespian:  “You’ll give the people an ideal to strive toward. They will race behind you. They will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun.”

In addition to Crowe, the supporting cast's marquee value is enough to make anyone swoon. Amy Adams as Lois Lane delivers a stunning performance in a movie more likely to be remembered for the stunning number of buildings it flattened on Planet Earth (with zero human casualty, if we were indeed to suspend disbelief). She's relentlessly feisty, spicy, sexy whilst never losing her cool. She's also likable, which is a feat all its own. With a Pulitzer and that man - Superman! - wrapped around her fingers, we'd be hatin' on Lois Lane all day.

Laurence Fishburn is awesome and can do no wrong. Kevin Costner - OMG. I thought Waterworld's spectacular failure would have killed his career, for sure. But here he is, still inexplicably magnetic even without a jawline. Diane Lane - fuck, yeah! Same thing as Kevin Costner - inexplicably smoldering even underneath frumpy farm clothes and really bad wigs. And poor Michael Shannon did his best with the cards he was dealt with: clunky costume design, really distracting hair, and a comical death scene (Superman twists his neck). What troopers, this lot are, for realizing that swallowing one's pride is a small price to pay when considering the large paydays they're bound to have as parts of this franchise reboot.

And what of Henry Cavill, who plays the titular character?

"Superman is so hot!" my bestie, Tricia, texted me yesterday.

Clark Kent looking like a Colt god - that's proper hot. Superman looking like an aging BelAmi alumnus - that is proper not. At some point, I even felt like the producers put in greater effort towards ensuring Superman's hair looked more perfect as the movie progressed, than they did towards production design, editing, color treatment... This reboot fell short in creating a distinct look and feel. It's a shame. Planet Krypton looks like every other intergalactic wasteland we've already seen before, but with more disappointing costumes. This coming Halloween, little boys would sooner dress up as Lois Lane than they would as General Zod; he's just not cool enough.

Luckily, Henry Cavill is big enough (literally, physically) to carry this movie all the way through to the end. I might have Hyperactive gripes, but I can't deny, either, that he does look like Superman. This reboot either flies or falls on that alone. We can wax poetic all day about the how this origin of movie evokes Malick-esque auteurial magery and a Nolan-esque look into the darkness of the soul. But in the end, it's just entertainment. I even stood up to clap in sheer delight after Lois Lane delivered the movie's unexpected, punchy final line:

"Welcome to the Planet."

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