Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Clunk--Man of Steel

Amy, Hannah, and I took in a summer movie last Saturday night as we drove up to East Bethel to see “Man of Steel.”  By moving worship to Wednesday evenings, Saturday evenings are much more relaxed and free for my family.
The movie started with a long scene on the planet Krypton.  The planet is about to explode due to its unstable core which happened because of years of exploitation of the planet’s natural resources.  Scientist Jor-El  and his wife Lara save their son Kal-El by sending him on a spacecraft to earth.  Kal-El’s cells were infused with a genetic codex to preserve the Kryptonian race.  The rebel, General Zod murders Jor-El, but Zod and his followers are captured and banished to the phantom zone.  Kal-El is found on earth—in Kansas, no less—and raised by a farm couple who name him Clark and who we know as Superman.  His Kryptonian physiology gives him superhuman skills.   General Zod escaped the phantom zone and found Clark on earth.  He wants to extract the codex from Clark so Zod can develop the Kryptonian race on earth.  Zod tries to turn earth into Krypton; Clark—Man of Steel, I can’t help but call him Superman—tries to stop him.  The U.S. army helps Superman.  Huge battles ensue with lots of computer-generated destruction.  Superman wins, earth is saved, humanity will live!
Superman is a wonderful story, but the story got lost in Man of Steel.  The movie was much more about big destruction and computer-generated violence than continuing the traditions of Superman.  I felt assaulted as I watched the movie.  We were forced to endure these long scenes of people battling each other.  What’s compelling about that?  When I left the theatre I checked my clothes to see if I had any bits of the movie on me.  I felt like some rock from some destroyed building would fly from the screen and land on me.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to watch Man of Steel in 3-D. 
The best moments of the movie were when Clark and his dad, skillfully played by Kevin Costner, talked about Clark’s identity.  Important questions were pondered about whether Clark should reveal his superhuman, physical skills and whether Clark could trust humans.  These scenes worked because the scene was prompting the viewers to reflect on important and even eternal questions.  The producers didn’t stay with these scenes for long—there was too much destruction to share!
I particularly questioned the destruction of New York City that the movie seemed to want to show.  If I had been in Manhattan on September 11, 2001 I wouldn’t watch this movie.  These long and violent scenes would have brought back too many memories. 
The movie deserved an “R” rating for the violence.  My pre-teenage daughter hated the film and was frightened by the destruction.  If an equivalent amount of sex was shared in this movie, the film would have never reached the screen.  I guess over-the-top destruction is accepted in the movie industry.
Give me a story, tell it well, use your flashy computers if you want to generate some fun stuff, don’t assault me with destruction.  Man of Steel failed on all of these elements.

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