Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Serious But Hunky Superman

Why So Serious Supe?

By Skip Sheffield
Henry Cavill is easily the hunkiest, most buff Superman there has ever been. He is also the gravest, most humorless Man of Steel since Richard Donner brought the series to the big screen in 1978, with the late Christopher Reeve as a friendly, wisecracking Superman and Margot Kidder as his sexy, sardonic reporter-girlfriend Lois Lane.
British actor Cavill is the star of the massively expensive reboot “Man of Steel,” directed by Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchman”).
The movie, with screenplay by David S. Goyer and executive producer Christopher Nolan (“Dark Knight Rises”) begins promisingly on the distant planet Krypton with the birth of the baby who will be come to known as Superman on planet Earth.
The baby’s father Jor-El (Australian actor Russell Crowe) has big plans for his son, called Kal-El. Planet Krypton is doomed and rebellious General Zod (a glowering Michael Shannon) is organizing a coup to seize power.
Jor-El recovers a codex that contains all of Krypton’s knowledge and packs it in a space ship with his infant son, bound for Earth. Gen. Zod is banished to a Phantom Zone, which is the equivalent of a black hole.
So far, so good, but only about 20 minutes have elapsed in a 148-minute film.
Suddenly we splash down to the present with a bearded, glistening Kal-El (Cavill) working as a deckhand on a fishing vessel. When an oil rig catches fire and an explosion seems inevitable, Kal springs into action, propping up the rig, enabling the workers to escape.
Then we flash back to Kal’s childhood somewhere in the heartland in the town of Smallville. The baby has been adopted by Jonathan (well-played by Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (always reliable Diane Lane).
Little Clark Kent is different. His father acknowledges this and tells him he has a great responsibility to use his special powers for the good of mankind. We see Clark confront then befriend a bully, Pete Ross, who recurs in the story. Clark is played at age 9 by Cooper Timberline and age 13 by Dylan Sprayberry. Ditto Pete by Joseph Crawford and Jack Foley.
This is all well and good, providing needed back story and demonstrating Clark’s great reluctance to use his super powers.
When we jump into the present again it is up in the Arctic and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is investigating mysterious goings-on at a NORAD base. Conveniently, Clark is there working. He discovers a spaceship frozen in the ice. Wouldn’t you know it’s from Krypton, and there is a hologram there with further instructions from Jor-El.
When Lois files a report on a suspected UFO frozen in the ice, her skeptical Daily Planet editor Perry White (Laurence Fishbourne) refuses to print it. In a nod to the modern media, Lois goes to an Internet geek who starts blabbing the story all over.
This is where all heck proceeds to break loose as Clark Kent’s cover is in danger of being blown and as Gen. Zod, out for vengeance, comes to Earth with a 24-hour doomsday ultimatum. Instead of flirty fun between Lois and Clark, who is not yet a mild-mannered newspaperman, we have fight after fight between Zod and Superman, who is only called that name behind his back.
“It’s not an S,” Kal insists of the symbol on his manly chest. “It’s a symbol of hope.”
“Man of Steel” is one of those movies you think is over, only to be confounded when the combatants pick up and start fighting all over again. The CG destruction of vehicles and high-rise after high-rise becomes numbing, even boring.
Another installment in this never-ending story is already in the works. Let’s hope it becomes more involving as Clark Kent becomes a reporter and Lois warms to his as yet unleashed charms.

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