When this reboot was announced a couple of years back, many fans were excited that big name Christopher Nolan was attached to the project with Watchmen director Zack Snyder at the helm. Particularly because many fans were still sorely bitter towards Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns back in 2006 for leaving a bad taste in their mouth. Namely due to not enough action, Superman vs Lex Luthor again, and Superman becoming a father as the main complaints. To digress, I found it to be a poignant Superman tale and a nice nod to the original Reeve films, but that’s beside the point.
After attending the midnight premiere with the large swarm of fan boys and girls all buzzing with their red and blue spandex attires, I left the theater with one core thought about the film as a whole. This was a feature-length short film about the Superman film that was advertised. Though, the audience walked away knowing this is not the end of Superman and not because they already announced the sequel, but because it shows that there is potential to make a solid film for the last son of Krypton.
The film opens up with Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Superman’s/Kal-El father, saving his son not only from the annihilation of their home world but also from some instances of questionable acting. With that said, I really enjoyed the amount of time that was spent on Krypton and really enjoyed seeing more of its culture. Here we have our first big taste of Snyder’s signature action which never seems to disappoint.
From there the film is told out of chronological order. Which could have been an interesting and fairly rewarding way to tell the story, if executed properly. That’s not what the end result amounted to unfortunately. The film from then on often feels disjointed. There is something there, there is a full story but whose parts are scattered among itself.
Which, if there is one thing that I am most disappointed about, it is that the theme and tone presented by the excellent marketing was not fully realized. Which was, “What does “Superman” even mean”? What is this ideal of humanity and how does one live up to it? I guess I expected a lot with The Dark Knight Trilogy team helping craft the story?
The film simply tiptoes about the theme without walking with it. They keep telling us he is this big ideal without actually showing us how he is. However, the reason for this could have been to simply get to the action. Which, I will not complain about because as I said Snyder’s visual action is what he is known for. This film delivers the true Superman action many were waiting for. It’s visceral and explosive. Seeing Superman fight against and punch other Kryptonians and especially the film’s antagonist, General Zod (Michael Shannon), through buildings is nothing short of spectacular.
Granted, action can only take you so far and it would have been fine as long as the emotional connection and development between characters was genuinely executed and attended to. The problem was a lot of it feels artificial. Subsequently subverting any and all peril. I no longer cared what happened or what was going to happen to who and if he or she would make it out alive. There were only one or two scenes where I felt there was a genuine connection between characters, thus allowing me to connect to them as well. There simply needs to be more.
Given the flaws however, this is still a solid and fun Superman film and I look forward to seeing the sequel. I just hope that the next time we fly off with the man of steel we get to see more of why in today’s world, where there is so much real evil that can’t be distinguished in black and white terms, we truly need a Superman.