The Last Son of Krypton: Man of Steel‘s jumping off point

Man of Steel

I’ve had my doubts about Man of Steel, if I’m honest, even as I sat in the theater this morning waiting for the lights to go down, I was wondering if I hadn’t just made a big mistake. Maybe I should have gone to see This is The End instead. Last night my friends Mouse and Sumona said that it was awesome.

I made the right decision. Man of Steel doesn’t unseat The Dark Knight as the greatest comic book movie of all time, and it certainly can’t touch the MCU for fun factor. But it’s good. It’s very good, in fact. It’s interesting and complicated and heavy and very long. It isn’t perfect, but it’s very good.

In that way Man of Steel is very like the portrait of Clark Kent that it paints. I said once that Batman Begins was Bruce Wayne’s movie and The Dark Knight was Batman’s. (I apologize now for all of the comparisons, it’s very difficult to not make them.) This movie is Clark’s, whatever comes next, whether it’s a straight sequel to Man of Steel or a Justice League movie, it will be Superman’s.

Henry Cavill does a remarkable job with Clark, managing to balance the confusion over his origins, the mastering of his powers and the predictability of this guy. Clark’s “mild mannered” personality  is not exactly a show, but it doesn’t come quite naturally to him either.  The way that Cavill taps in to it is ingenious, you can almost see him counting to ten as he resists a bar fight in an early scene. He’s a man at odds with himself, wanting to disappear and blend in, but wanting to help people too. He wants to be Clark Kent, but he also wants to be Kal-El, even before he knows who Kal-El is.

Like any good superhero movie, the guy in the suit is the most important, but if you screw up the people around him, it doesn’t matter how good he is. (Superman Returns proved this. Brandon Routh was a wonderful choice. The world surrounding him was what wasn’t quite right.) and Man of Steel gets them right.

I was so excited to see Amy Adams play Lois Lane I could barely think straight. I knew even if the rest of the movie was a big turd, this was going to be something worth seeing. She didn’t disappoint. This version of Lois is a little less manic than her predecessors, but no less driven or confident. She makes her first appearance while chasing down a story about a military discovery of a mysterious mass in the arctic. When a Colonel (played by the awesome Christopher Meloni!) challengers her she takes him down, with her words, as she’s Lois Lane, and then says plainly, “Now that we’ve had our dick measuring contest, shall we proceed?” It’s an amazing moment, and one of the many clues that Christopher Nolan and Zach Snyder know exactly what they’re doing here. The rest of the Planet staff performs well. I love Lawrence Fishburn’s Perry White, playing the editor as a patient father type, tired of dealing with his “problem child” Lois. The gender switched Jenny Olsen is cute and fun, if a little bit useless, so actually, quite accurate and true to the original character.

Diane Lane does a beautiful job as Martha Kent, and the script an even better one. This is an important character but like most mothers in stories like this one she takes a back seat, but does it forcefully. The same goes for Ayelet Zurer as Lara. Whatever the adaptation, it’s always heartbreaking when Lara places baby Kal-El in his space ship for his long journey to Earth, but Zurer actually brought me to tears as she let the infant go.

Which brings me to the movie’s twin pillars: Superman’s two dads. Kevin Costner kills in his role as Jonathan Kent. Of course, we all know how at home he is in a cornfield. But he does an amazing job of another character that could just be a cardboard cut out, and is instead here, a conflicted father, terrified of losing his son, whether it’s because if people find out his secret or because he alienates the boy on his own. It’s a lovely contrast, and it becomes very clear at one point that Clark’s drive to be a hero comes from his father.

But this is nothing compared to Kal-El’s genetic legacy. Russell Crowe devours this movie in his portrayal of Jor-El. His worry over his planet’s destruction is palpable and his battle with General Zod amazing. How they handle his “consciousness” on Earth is neat and very original. Crowe and Cavill together make a great team.

Speaking of General Zod, Michael Shannon is well placed as the villain. He usually is.

The plot concerns more of Krypton than I expect, which I liked, Lois being the one to track Clark down halfway through the movie, which I loved, and Genesis Pods, which I couldn’t believe, (then again, it was produced by the man who found a way to make The Lazarus Pit viable without fantasy elements, so I don’t know why I was surprised.) and Lexcorp splashed all over every vehicle in Metropolis, which was absolutely fantastic.

The movie is very heavy, as I said before. Not just in tone, or approach, it’s a dense movie. There are a million ways to come at it. The moment where young Clark first discovers his powers and is overwhelmed by them, to the point where he runs out of his classroom and hides in a closet, where only his mother’s soothing voice and advice can coax him out is surely going to be relateable for children with special needs and their parents. Comparisons to Jesus Christ have always abounded in Superman stories, but this one takes it to the next level, Clark is 33 when he becomes Superman, sits with a priest trying to decide if he should turn himself over to Zod, in front of a picture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. You could observe it through the eyes of the three women who love Superman, his two mothers and Lois, all of whom are stronger here than ever. (Lana Lang also appears for half a minute during one of the school flashbacks, but I hate her character so much, I don’t even care that she’s outright neglected.)

I quibble with the title not because it doesn’t include “Superman” but because if you’re going to choose one of his “titles” for the movie The Last Son of Krypton would have been far more appropriate than Man of Steel. Either way, it’s a very good movie, and I suggest checking it out. It’s going to be a hell of a franchise if they make the right moves.

Trailers:

Nothing new, but every time I see the Thor: The Dark World trailer I get more excited for it.

Rankings:

  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. Man of Steel
  3. Iron Man: 3
  4. Star Trek Into Darkness
  5. After Earth

 

“The City is Everything”

“The City is Everything” – Joan Holloway, Mad Men Season 1, Episode 10 “Long Weekend”

I wrote most of this on Thursday night. It’s more reflective and personal than anything else I’ve ever posted here and the only thing I’m fangirling over is the city that I love. Please indulge me in this.

I watched this episode of Mad Men today as I rode the train home after work. I smiled, so happy to hear that line. I love thinking that, because I agree so whole heartedly with the statement. To me the city is everything. I love New York more than any place in the world.

Yup. Even more than there.

Yup. Even more than there.

A few months ago Chrissy and I were having one of those awesome late night talks that you can only have with your closest friends after midnight and a few drinks. We were talking very seriously about our lives so far and the lives that we wanted to build for ourselves in the next few years. At that point I didn’t know where my life was headed, I’m still not positive, but I was and am sure of one thing, the city will play a huge role in it.

The times in my life when I’ve felt wholely myself and at peace were when the city was an integral part of my life. My summer internship at a department store when I was twenty. I didn’t love the job, but I loved sitting out in Greeley Square and reading Twilight and Gossip Girl. I read The Sun Also Rises and The Bell Jar too that summer but for some reason they didn’t leave quite the same impression. Then about a year and a half later, when I took a semester off from school and worked customer service for an eCommerce site. Then living and working in Brooklyn. Now at my current job, saving to move back in to the city. I never want to be anywhere else.

I see this when I get off the subway every day, and it's amazing.

I see this when I get off the subway every day, and it’s amazing.

I know that there are people who don’t like the city. I understand, at least logically how this can be. New York is loud and crowded and moves at a strange hurry up and wait kind of pace. It smells a little funky and everything is really expensive. But I love it. I feel like in that crowd there’s so much room to be yourself, but not in a free form hippy “We are each of us a special snowflake” kind of way. More like, in a very Woody Allen, perfect, “there are so many people here, at least one of them must be like me,” kind of way. I like who I am in the city.

But then there are nights like tonight. Nights when I get off of the train in the rain and I see the street lights reflecting off of puddles on the main street in my hometown, and I realize how amazing the little place I grew up in is. I read a comment that the guy who owns our local Bar and Grill left on my mom’s facebook thanking her for all of the hard work she does at our church. And I love it here too. Often times when people ask me about living in a tiny town like this one, I simply say, “It was a great place to grow up.” And it really was.

My childhood was marked by playing outside well past dark with my brother and sister, swimming in my friend’s pools, snow days, rec sports (that I was terrible at) and walking to school every day. I still see many of the people I grew up with on a regular basis, because they’re all living at home and we only have one bar in town. (Same one who’s owner likes my mom so much.)

This place. It's awesome and so are the people that own it!

This place. It’s awesome and so are the people that own it!

I’d miss this place so much if I went elsewhere. I missed it so much in college that I came home almost every weekend. But I’ve out grown it, at least for the time being. I’m ready to be in my city every night again.

And I’ll get there soon. I know it. It’s just a matter of hanging on long enough.

Fear is A Choice: An After Earth  Review

Just got in from checking out After Earth, which despite seeming like it was going to be a huge deal, was actually a totally small movie.

I did pee my pants a little in excitement when I saw this poster for the first time.

I did pee my pants a little in excitement when I saw this poster for the first time.

The premise of the movie is almost ridiculously simple. In the distant future after the earth is used up, human kind leaves and settles new worlds. It’s like Firefly, but with fewer hand guns. The aliens of one of said world bred monsters to defend themselves/kill all humans. Those monsters are called Ursas and don’t have eyes or ears, just glands that allow them to smell the pheromone that causes fear. Because of this the elite human police force known as Rangers develop a technique called ghosting where they suppress fear. The greatest ghoster of all time is General Cypher Raige. (That is a killer symbolic Sci Fi name right there.) His son Kitai dreams of becoming a ranger and a ghost himself.

I was excited to see this movie not because of it’s borderline idiotic premise. I was really excited to see Will Smith and his son Jaden fight aliens together.

That’s not exactly what I saw, but it was still good. Basically it was Jaden running through a jungle while Will gave him orders. It was fun. The CGI animals that he runs from looked a little cheesy and the script is very bare.

The movie’s biggest problem is that while Jaden Smith is very talented and totally adorable, he lacks his father’s unbelievable charm and charisma on camera. So when they shared screen time Jaden was completely overshadowed. This worked for the first half of the movie, when Kitai is terrified of his father, but once he comes in his own in the second half that goes away.

Summer Movie Season Rankings:

  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. Iron Man 3
  3. After Earth
  4. Star Trek Into Darkness

Trailers! Oh there were some good ones today.

The Mortal Instruments should be incredible. Everything looks vibrant and fun and amazing. Not to mention Rachel Weisz is playing Jocelyn. I love the decision to have Jace and Jocelyn have British accents (since they were raised in Alicante) and Clary and The Lightwoods have American. (Raised in New York) Also I love that Magnus Bane is only barely hinted at in the trailer. He’s such an important character but he sneaks up on you.

Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters: It’s like they knew I was coming! Anyway, I didn’t much care for The Lightening Thief but I loved the casting and it looks like they nailed it again, casting Nathan Fillion as Hermes. In Olympians Hermes is mostly a light character until the final installment where he kind of unravels. Fillion will be great at that as it’s his specialty.

I want Pacific Rim to be good because I really want both Charlie Day and Charlie Hunnam to be absurdly famous. It will probably be really stupid though.