Man of Spandex—– Zach Snyder’s Superman

Zach Snyder, the man who brought graphic novels like Watchman, and also works like 300 to the silver screen, has now turned the philosophy ‘nothing succeeds like excess’ to the Superman franchise. Let’s talk positives first. This move has some excellent actors in it—- Russell Crowe plays Jor-el, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Pa and Ma Kent, Amy Adams plays Loise Lane, Lawrence Fishburne plays Perry White (o.k… a little humor in that choice), Toby from West Wing shows up as a Einstein like scientist, and then they found a hunk from the island of Jersey, Mr. Henry Cavill to play Superman. Never has anyone looked so ripped in spandex as this guy. Holy Smokes Batman. And the suit is awesome in itself.

Secondly, the cinematography is grand, especially in the pastoral scenes, and during the scenes with close ups and interesting camera angles. The movie is two hours and twenty eight minutes long, and for about 100 or so of those minutes, the film is fine. We saw it in real 3D, and honestly, the CG didn’t look much better that way than seeing it without special glasses. The problem with this movie comes in the fight scenes….. which go on, and on, and on, and on…. and on……. and frankly it is just way too much, especially in the last third of the film. One leaves this film feeling like one has been run over by a 16 wheeler, about 30 times. Contributing to this feeling of having been taken out to the whipping shed and beaten to a pulp is the loud pounding relentless sound track by Hans Zimmer. More Zizzle, less Zimmer next time. And finally there is the issue of the alien space crafts— they look like giant molars with four prominent roots!!
Come on guys, you can do better.

This film has been marketed by Grace Hill Media, with special showings for Christian ministers, to churches. Supposedly, we are supposed to see the parallels between Superman and Christ. This of course is a stretch since Jesus saves the world by dying for it, whereas Superman saves the world by violence and mayhem and flying around. But there has been, and is a certain innocence, even naivete to the character of Superman which gives him some charm, compared to the always very flawed, very fraught, very damaged super-heroes in the Marvel epics.

In the movie’s best scenes, for instance the encounters between Clark and his earthly parents, there is a simplicity and beauty to the story. Likewise in the scenes with Lois and Superman, there is once more a likeable electricity that doesn’t involve endless violence. We could have used more of these scenes, and less of the rest. We could also have used more clarity…. for example, how exactly does Superman finally beat the bad guys. Even with all the graphic pictures, this is unclear.

If there is a sequel, after all those bad reviews but great box office, one hopes that something is learned along the way… namely it’s not always excess which leads to success in a movie.

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