I recently rented the movie “The Man of Steel” and couldn’t have been more disappointed. I liked the reimagining of the reason Superman made it to Earth and the challenges he faced growing up and dealing with us humans. The problem I ran into began with the arrival of General Zod. Pretty much the last third of the movie was non-stop fighting. I’m the first in line at the video store (well, now it’s more likely the Redbox) for action flicks that are heavy on digital special effects, (I can zone out with the best); however, something about this particular movie removed me from the film at that point.
Do me a favor and find a sledgehammer, go to a nearby construction site and slam the sledgehammer against a steel beam (hopefully, there’s one around). I’m betting you won’t find much damage to either one. [Please don’t blame me if some burly foreman yells at you and maybe calls the police. This suggestion was not meant to be taken literally.]
Superman and Zod spend a lot of their time near the end of “The Man of Steel” fighting each other, more specifically, punching each other. It took me a few minutes before I realized that this was going absolutely nowhere. Punch, punch, roll, hurl through a building, punch some more. Like the sledgehammer and the steel beam, no one can get hurt. They’d spend five minutes in a fight sequence when everyone knows that in the end, they’ll be the same as in the beginning.
What really ruined it for me was the final scene’s struggle. Superman and Zod, fighting to the death. Ho hum. Again, given the rules they’d established, no one could get hurt. Then suddenly, Superman does the old neck twist gag and Zod dies from a broken neck. How could this be? He’d been hurled through buildings, fallen hundreds of feet slamming into the earth, missiles exploded on and/or around him, and from it all, he gets not a scratch. Then how could his neck be snapped like that? (Did he have “brittle neck syndrome”?)
Do yourself a favor when writing characters who are powerful (or have superpowers for that matter). Give them a weakness that will come into play in the end. Zod’s weakness was apparently breathing Earth’s atmosphere, but that never played a part in his demise. (Did you notice that the little plastic-looking gizmo over his face survived so many horrific crashes?) It was all about the punching and throwing which, yeah, we’re used to in regular movies, but didn’t bear fruit in this one. It was like a kissing contest. There are no losers.
And speaking of kissing, what’s with the tender kiss at the end. With Superman’s physiology, to withstand all he had, Lois might as well have been kissing the steel beam I mentioned earlier (and that hopefully you haven’t gone and done something crazy over). I mean, he’s the man of steel, right? Am I missing something? Or does Lois know something I don’t? But I suppose that’s a rant for another day.
Fortunately, I rented the DVD for half off. No harm, no foul.
Next time, Iron Man and let’s find out why he’s not jelly after those hard landings.
Until next week, Don’t Look Down
by W. Darrah Whitaker