Five Ways MAN OF STEEL Stinks to High Heaven

I wrote this review for my daughter, who is my favorite movie-going companion but who, alas, lives a hundred miles away.

Five Ways MAN OF STEEL Stinks To High Heaven

1) Some of the casting is awful. Diane Lane as Martha Kent?! The little girl-woman of A LITTLE ROMANCE as the adoptive mother of Kal, son of El? That’s going to make Baby Boomers feel about a hundred years old. (Sidebar: sure, farm people got leathery-skinned–fifty years ago–but now there’s sunscreen. It looks like the makeup crew put Lane and Kevin Costner in a toaster oven.) –Amy Adams as Lois Lane?! Lois Lane needs to be greasepaint, not watercolor with too much water and not enough color. If only they’d used Rachel McAdams. She’s got the kind of sass and feist that Margot Kidder had. –Laurence FISHBURNE as Perry White?! Perry White is supposed to say stuff like “Great Caesar’s Ghost!” and “Don’t call me Chief!” Morpheus would never say stuff like that.

2) There are so many cringeworthy moments. a) When Lois and Kal-El kiss, it’s got ZERO chemistry. b) When Kal-El and Zod beat the Super-Crap out of each other, they tear up streets and make buildings collapse. The collateral damage would make 9/11 look like a fender bender. Any hero with an ounce of Super-Sense would have moved the fight to the Moon, or Mars, or, if it had to be Earth, Siberia or the Sahara. But collapsing buildings are what the late, great Roger Ebert called “Blowing up stuff real good.” c) That Kansas tornado? “Go to the…underpass!” shouted Pa Kent, much like Optimus Prime shouted “Go to…the Building!” Let’s see: 15mph running speed vs. 150mph tornado. Rigghhht. d) The lesson Pa tried to teach Clark about not revealing his power, even to save lives? Then Clark goes and skewers a 40-foot semi on some phone poles, just to give payback to a jerk. Figure the damage at at least $50K, plus use of city/county/state resources to get the truck down from where it’s recklessly endangering everyone. Tsk tsk.

3) Ripoffs galore. Anyone notice that the sounds of Zod’s crew’s energy weapons are identical to the sounds of the Star Wars Empire’s energy weapons? Anyone notice the parallels to the Jesus Christ story? Anyone notice the similarity of the Kryptonian flying beasts to those of AVATAR? Or the bullying Clark Kent as a kid got to Flash Thompson’s of Peter Parker in the first Tobey Maguire SPIDER-MAN? Or the “uploaded” Jor-El to the mousebrained captain in Cordwainer Smith’s “Think Blue, Count Two?” –Okay, maybe not so many noticed that one.

4) Sensory Overload. The first time Zod made a skidmark using Kal-El it was exciting. The sixth or seventh time, not so much. Ditto with collapsing buildings, head-on Kryptonian collisions, face-punches, and all the other much-repeated mayhem.

5) Rampant Senselessness. The Kryptonian civilization is over a hundred thousand years old, we’re told. So why is there a General Zod at all? How could they have survived if they didn’t evolve beyond warmongering? And–use of their planet’s core as an energy source, when they could hyperdrive their way to yellow-starred planets? And–putting convicted murderers in the Phantom Zone, rather than leaving them on the dying planet and hustling the GOOD people into the Phantom Zone, where they’d be safe; wouldn’t that be a no-brainer? And–Lois Lane going out in the forty-below without anything covering her face?  And–Pa Kent not teaching Clark to use his powers more discreetly, so he COULD save lives without being caught? (Example: when the bus went into the drink, why didn’t young Clark just hook his super-feet under the seat in front of him, and levitate the bus to safety? –Okay, maybe he didn’t know how at the time. But then, why didn’t he get UNDER the bus, where he wouldn’t be seen, get the bus safe, then emerge gasping, as if he’d almost drowned?)

And–what are the odds of two human-sized combatants, hurtling into space, hitting an orbiting satellite? Excuse the pun: astronomical.

I could go on and on–why wasn’t Lara uploadably there for Kal, as Jor-El was, for instance?–but my head hurts, reliving it.

I’m not sorry I saw the movie. I liked some of the ideas that seemed taken from the MAN OF STEEL limited-series comic book by John Byrne done in the mid-80s. (Anyone notice the LexCorp truck?) I liked that Kal-El looked like he’d been penciled by George Pérez and inked by Romeo Tanghal. I liked that his symbol meant “Hope” and not “S.” And some of the special effects, like the platinummy 3D projections, were eye candy of the highest magnitude. But MAN OF STEEL suffers to the extent that it insults the viewer’s intelligence–and that’s a planet-sized extent.


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