Man Of Steel

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Zack Snyder’s last film was Sucker Punch, the most misguided attempt at making a film about female empowerment ever and the worst film I have ever seen. I have seen pornography with greater artistic merits. He has now made a Superman movie that dare not breath the name Superman.

This is what is wrong with Man of Steel:

It is way too long; the scenes on Krypton are tedious and overly CGIed; everything is incredibly earnest, as though this movie were as important as Citizen Kane; the scenes at the Kent family farm look like a student’s attempt at a Terrence Malick movie; the script is full of people saying things that are very obvious, there is never a subtext; there is, essentially, only one character who is not a cardboard cut out, and that’s being generous; it’s yet another movie where buildings get pounded and explode constantly for 45 minutes with seemingly no concern for the people who must clearly be dying inside, or indeed any concern for the notion of telling a story or doing anything remotely related to character; there’s plenty of crass usage of 9/11-style imagery, with planes (and people) crashing into buildings, buildings collapsing in city streets as people run away from big clouds of dust, people being trapped in wreckage etc; there’s a lot of product placement, but only for IHOP (International House of Pancakes, I believe); there are A LOT of shots of people standing in the street staring up at the sky and marveling while everything around them is being destroyed; Superman’s costume is presented to him by the “ghost” of his father with no explanation as to why he would wear it and it not looking like anything that anyone wore on Krypton; Kal-El can’t breath the Kryptonian atmosphere but can breath in space; at no point is there any real dilemna faced by anyone, the decisions are always easily made; Jonathan Kent dies aged 46 but is played by Kevin Costner looking more than his 58 years, even when he should be in his 30s; the famous “S” symbol no longer stands for Superman… I could probably go on.

Henry Cavill sporting his perma-furrow

Henry Cavill sporting his perma-furrow

Despite all of this, I kind of enjoyed it.

B
Length – 2hrs 28mins – feels 2hrs 10mins

The Iceman

I’ve been a little under the weather and it’s left me with a little bit of a backlog of movies so I’m going to make these next 3 reviews a little shorter than usual. No need to thank me.

The Iceman. Not a friend of Peter Parker's.

The Iceman. Not a friend of Peter Parker’s.

So this is a smaller, lower budget movie starring Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski, a real life mafia (and recreational) killer in the New York/New Jersey areas operating in the 70s and 80s. The film kind of attempts to tell his story in a Goodfellas kind of manner, taking him from his entry into the hitman world through to his capture, with multiple hairstyles (facial and, erm, head-al) marking the passing of the years. The problem is that where Goodfellas opened with a line guaranteed to pull you in – “Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to be a gangster”* – showed you how that fantasy became a reality and then showed you how the reality slowly tore the man and his family apart, here we’re never given the level of emotional investment necessary to properly engage.

Shannon gives a performance that could be used as the dictionary definition of chilling, but the plot never allows us to get to know the man or understand him. It appears as though he becomes a contract killer because he’s asked to be one. He seems to view it as a job that he does 9-5 and can put aside when he gets home, but the reality suggests that Kuklinski was a man who loved his work and took great pride in mastering doling out death. The script never really allows us to see this. Instead, we are shown a mildly reluctant killer who loves his wife (a composed Winona Ryder) and two daughters. Are we supposed to sympathise with a man who allegedly killed over 100 people, including practicing his art on the homeless?

In the end, as stylish as the film looks, and as good as the performances are, the film is a minor failure precisely because it doesn’t draw you in.

C-
Length – 1hr 45mins – Feels – 2hrs

*Yes, I am aware this wasn’t the very start of the film, but it’s the when the film gets kickstarted after the flash-forward opening.