Man of Steel (2013)

manofsteel_1Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni, Kevin Costner, Ayelet Zurer, Laurence Fishburne

Directed by Zack Snyder

Expectations: I’m so excited.

twohalfstar


When they announced Man of Steel as a darker, Nolan-influenced take on Superman, I rejoiced. The Christopher Nolan Batman films were great! So this would be too! What I failed to think about was that by darkening the character and his world, it inherently changes a lot of what I enjoy about the Superman films. This is definitely a better stab at Superman than audiences were given in 2006 with Superman Returns, but even that film had something of a sense of fun. Man of Steel is virtually devoid of fun, and in that I found it to be one of the least enjoyable films I’ve reviewed throughout my Superman review series.

Man of Steel is considered a complete reboot of the series, but in a lot of ways it’s something of a streamlined remake of Richard Donner’s Superman I and II. The film opens with a lengthy sequence on Krypton, setting up an interesting dynamic between Jor-El and General Zod, as well as the traditional “baby Supes blasting off of the dying world” that everyone expects. This begins something of a pattern with the film where it doesn’t exactly feel as unique and fresh as they’d like you to think it is. Imagine The Dark Knight containing scenes featuring the “Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” lines from Tim Burton’s Batman, and you’ll feel something of what I felt during this film. This is something they probably couldn’t avoid too much when trying to tell the story of General Zod, but I could have done without another version of Zod landing in middle America and smashing up a small town. There’s even a scene that’s very reminiscent of Supergirl‘s “flying ballet.”

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The Postman (1997)

1997-the-postman-poster1Starring Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo, Daniel von Bargen, Tom Petty, Scott Bairstow, Giovanni Ribisi, Roberta Maxwell, Joe Santos, Ron McLarty, Peggy Lipton

Directed by Kevin Costner

Expectations: Low, but as a fan of Dances with Wolves I’m hopeful.

twohalfstar


2013
The Great Salt Flats of Utah

The last of the great cities died when my father was a child, victims of yet another war. He told of the plagues that followed and how the living hid themselves, scattered in tiny hamlets in hopes of surviving whatever new madness conspired to rob them of the little that remained. In those days, he walked alone, a solitary witness to the chaos that reigned. The earth itself had fallen victim to the insanity. He told stories of the three-year winter and how the dirty snow never stopped falling. He saw the ocean, barren, poisoned, near death. And how they watched the sky for 16 long years, praying for the great lungs to start working again. He said it was as if the ocean had breathed a great sigh of relief.

The Postman tells the story of a lone drifter, walking through the desert with only a few supplies and a burro to keep him company. He dreams of watching Monday Night Football and admires the sunset from the roof of an old Unocal 76 station. The post-apocalyptic setting is complete, but unfortunately star/director Kevin Costner decides to leave all of this iconic imagery quickly behind as he tells us a tale of a western, Civil War-inspired version of the future. I don’t imagine that if the world ended I’d move into the nearest ghost town, but that seems to be exactly what the survivors of the plagues and the wars did in their world.

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