So the Tech Monkey and I went to see the Sunday matinee of Man of Steel yesterday. With all the bloggity-blogging I’ve been doing about story structure, I thought I might take this opportunity to use Superman as an object lesson for something other than how to tie on a towel-cape so it stays on and flutters dramatically. (Come on. We all did it.)
First, the Big Question: Did I like it?
Yes, yes I did.
Well enough to buy the DVD when it becomes available?
Um, no. Sorry. It got my Theater money, but I didn’t like it enough pay for it again. If it ends up on Netflix Instant Play, however, I’d give it another viewing. Some movies hit me better the second time around, on a smaller screen. It was like that for me with The Hunger Games–I enjoyed it on the big screen, sure, but I liked it better the second time ’round on the ‘Flix.
This isn’t really a review, just some observations about what worked for me, and what didn’t, because that’s how Word Wranglers learn. That being said, there are very few movies I can watch without viewing them with a critical eye–not critical as in “You’re Fat, And Your Momma Dresses You Funny”, but critical as in keeping a beady little Infernal Editor eye on “How It’s Done.” Then again, I suppose my Infernal Editor can be equally critical in both areas, which is why I’m so well-armed. Well, that and the Zombie Apocalypse.
BRING IT ON.
Do not fear, there are no Spoilery Bits Afoot.
The Good (What Worked)
- The changes to Clark/Superman’s character. It is so much more believable to think he was hiding off the grid than working as a news reporter with the Magical Cloaking Device Glasses. I can understand the average citizen not knowing, but Lois? A Pulitzer Prize winning reporter? Wouldn’t that make her, yanno, observant or something? Also, love that this Clark was raised as a pacifist because of the consquences his later actions cost him. Love the dark stuff here, and the impact it has on him. Anyone looking to beef up their character development technique and how to execute it needs to at least rent this movie or catch it on the ‘Flix for that reason alone.
- Amy Adams as Lois. FINALLY, a likable Lois. Strong, heavy-hitting reporter who supports her man because it’s his damned movie and is not in any way annoying. She was the perfect foil for Henry Cavill. Also–The Kiss was well-timed, well-executed, and verily awesome.
- Henry Cavill in the title role. He’s one of those quiet, nuanced actors I like who saves the Big Emotions for when he needs it. He does the broody-but-not-a-jerk so well, and it takes an actor with craft who can convey whole layers of of subtext without saying a word.
- The direction they took with Zod. Instead of Evil Bad Guy wearing black and doing Evil Stuff simply because we’ve got nothing else to do that day, we get an Antagonist with Motivation, and a sympathetic one at that–something that can be difficult to pull off. The Antogonist with Sympathetic Motivation is something I’m driving for in leveling up in my own craft.
The Bad (What Didn’t Work)
- THE NOISE. LOUD. OMG LOUD. SO VERY VERY LOUD. OW OW OW. Serious sound editing issues on this one. I know it was sound editing and not the theater because a) we always go to this theater, and have never had issues before–say, withIron Man 3; and b) if the theatre had dropped the audio down a level we would have missed half the dialogue, especially since Henry Cavill is so soft-spoken. This isn’t a structural or story-telling thing, I know, but it SO needs to be said, because it completely ripped me from the story. So a word to the wise–if you’re writing action, less is more. DO NOT overwhelm your audience with sensory overload–give them something to focus on that keeps them anchored during all the Big Bada-Boom.
- OMG the Big Bada-Boom. For someone looking to save the entire human race, Superman sure did destroy an awful lot of it in the process, what with the collateral damage and all. I know this expected for a comic book movie, but there is such a thing as complete overkill. It got way over the top–had I been Superman with the red swirly cape and all, I’d have drawn the enemy into space for the fight, closer to the sun where I’m stronger (an aspect of the established conflict) and less likely to cause the Explosion Apocalypse. Raised as a pacifist, remember?
The Ugly (Epic Fail)
- Pacing, or lack thereof. There was no structure to this thing, as far as I can tell. In fact, it looked like two related but separate movies told by different storytellers. Seriously, you cannot have your Inciting Incident 30-40% through the movie. OMG, the extended Setup. Really, REALLY extended. It draaaaaaaaaaaaged. If I hadn’t had Henry Cavill to ogglify I might have fallen asleep after awhile. This was made worse by the fact once the movie FINALLY started the POV kept bouncing into to flashback in the midst of some really exciting bit. Highly distracting.
- What resulted from the extended setup is that once the movie did start (seriously, I cannot over-hammer home the point about the Longest Prologue Evar), it was jarring. It went from a quiet montage of character development and backstory to a starting pistol firing off all the action–which consisted of most of the rest of the movie–and all the sensory overload mentioned above. It was as if they hired the guy who did The Hours (Stephen Daldry) for one movie, Michael Bay for his version, stuffed all their film into a turbo-boosted salad shooter and aimed it at the screen. Both were equally valid, and vaguely related, but still two separate movies.
So there you have it–my Word-Wrangling observations on Man of Steel. Have you guys seen it yet? What did you think? If you haven’t seen it, are you planning to?