You made it? Good. Here’s how I saw it:
What do I think of the plot and treatment?
I think the plot is where I felt the most off-balance – there are several narrative details that point to DIFFERENT plot directions, and I mostly couldn’t get a proper feel for any of said stories because of the treatment. So. Many. Mood shots. Sure, parts of it had glimmers of a true Superman feature; but overall, I felt that it stole a truckload of concepts from OTHER films – thus making this a not-Superman tale.
I’m not just talking about the fact that Henry Cavill is distractingly moody and hairy (I almost mistook him for Wolverine the first time I saw him). I’m talking about this weird “with great power comes great responsibility” undercurrent that you feel throughout the movie. It doesn’t help that the surrogate father figure Jonathan Kent DIED the way he did, which just made the Spider-Man ripoff seem more obvious. Did they really have to reference Uncle Ben so completely this way?
Couple that little tidbit with the digital ghost of Jor-El being uploaded to every alien ship via a Kryptonian USB, and my mind goes on this tangent that explores the sheer number of geek films that use “Daddy Issues” as a major plot point over the last five years or so. Hal Jordan has daddy issues. Peter Parker has daddy issues. Captain Kirk and Spock have daddy issues (that they’re yet to address). And now, Clark Kent/Kal El joins their ranks. Apparently, you can’t be a hero anymore without having daddy issues. It’s just so weird. Maybe we have a whole generation of writers who have issues with their fathers?
There were logical dissonances, moments that made me go “wait, what?”, and “turning points” that were just lame, lame, lame. All I can say is that many of the supporting cast members strike me as stupid.
Tell me, if you were the Kryptonian Council, would you:
- Kill the people who tried to kill you? Or
- Send the people who tried to kill you someplace else, knowing full well that your planet is dying and you’re actually giving them a chance to survive?
If you took option number 2, then CONGRATULATIONS! You’re a Kryptonian and you totally deserve to die for over-mining your own world’s core.
Don’t even get me started on the people of Smallville. Every single one of them, who knew what Clark can do; and especially Martha, who TOTALLY looked towards the barn when she shouldn’t have.
It wasn’t all bad, of course. The fight scenes were stunning and overwhelming – as a truly good fight scene should be. I found little details, like the fact that Kal El is an aberration even in Krypton, intriguing. I rather like the way they handled Lois Lane – driven, but with a decent sense of integrity (I probably feel this way because the other fictional journalist I’ve been seeing, the one in Hannibal, makes me want to shoot female columnists on principle).
And Zod was AMAZING. If I could hug Michael Shannon right now, I would. The way he played the alien general brings to mind the wild abandon the late Raoul Julia devoted to roles like Gomez Adams and M. Bison. He absolutely embraced the role of a man driven to fulfill his single purpose to the point of mania, and I’m of the opinion that he was worth the money I spent on the movie.
This character would have been the perfect counterpoint to Clark Kent’s if they had only made it clearer that, as the first natural-born Kryptonian in a long time, Clark had no real purpose laid out for him. Zod spends much of his screen time trying to fulfill a purpose, whereas our dear protagonist tries to understand his (except, you know, he kind of knew what his purpose was all along – as evidenced by his need to be the Big Damn Hero all the time). Weirdly enough, any lack of conviction Superman has can be attributed to Jonathan Kent’s overprotectiveness, which rivals that of Marlin in Finding Nemo. Oh, sure; he’s manly and salt of the earth and all that crap. But if you tilt your head you’ll see Kevin Costner in this movie as the unholy bastard child of Uncle Ben and a neurotic clown fish.
All in all, I think this film was right on the money when it comes to addressing certain themes and emotions. But the sheer number of plateaus the plot hit (which made me feel like I was watching almost three hours of Great Swampy Middle) and the unclear narrative focus pushes it to the brink of being tedious.