Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

June 18, 2013

CALLERI: New Superman movie tries out a new reality

Niagara Gazette — The original Superman character, a fighter for “truth, justice, and the American way,” became a cultural icon. He was an out-growth of the Great Depression, a colorful character of hope and promise.

Purists will surely balk, but although Superman hasn’t been neutered, he’s certainly been altered in “Man Of Steel,” the bleak new movie featuring the formerly red, yellow, and blue-costumed pop art hero. His outfit is now darker and made of strange material, telling you right away that this is not your grandparents’ Superman.

I liked some of it, but after while, it began to really waver. At 144-minutes, the film is too long for what it delivers. Much of it takes place in outer space, the kind of dreary outer space we've seen in many other nihilistic offerings. While watching it, "Dune" came to mind, as did a mess called "Event Horizon," as well as the work of the Swiss surrealist Hans Giger. The sets and costumes are right out of his design fantasies. Warner Brothers should pay Giger royalties.

Most of "Man Of Steel" is a re-working of the Krypton and youthful phases of Superman's life and the vital importance of fathers and son: Jor-El to Kal-El and Jonathan Kent to Clark. On Krypton, the nefarious plans of the villainous General Zod play too large a part in the movie, which lacks emotion. It's "cold" and the colors used are drab, mostly black and gray. The dull visuals lack vibrancy. Russell Crowe as Jor-El is his usual mordant bore. There's too much of Michael Shannon as Zod.

I didn't mind at all that it alters and downplays some aspects of the Superman mythology, but there's really not much of a story. Henry Cavill looks like what Superman should look like, but he's bland and boring. Cavill's from Showtime's "The Tudors," but his best work is in Woody Allen's "Whatever Works," in which he plays a handsome stranger without much personality.

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