Escape Plan

escape planTwo action heavyweights compete to speak the most intelligibly attempt to escape the ultimate high-security prison in Escape Plan, another 1990s-like relic action picture popping up in 2013.  The film pairs Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger as co-leads, and unfortunately, the teaming feels less exciting than it should, partly because the stars have shared a frame before in both cheeseball Expendables movies, and also because the prison thriller fails to drive outside of its outdated B-movie parameters.  Somehow, though, the buddy-flick still passes as mindless nostalgic entertainment.

If you think you’re getting an updated version of these two icons in a more modern movie, think again.  Escape Plan is just about as silly as The Expendables entries or any of the action films the stars participated in during the 1980s.  Stallone plays a prison-escape expert, Ray Breslin, who takes a job essentially off the books, under the radar, and behind the veil.  He agrees to be planted in a secret prison facility that his regular outside team members (Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson and Amy Ryan) can not know about.  Ray is abducted in a van, drugged, and awakens in a glass cell. Once introduced to the serpent warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), Ray realizes he literally can’t escape this prison, as someone set him up to ‘be buried here.’  Ray doesn’t know why, and only with the help of a new trusted inmate, Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), might Ray be able to find a way out for them both.

ArnoldEscapeThe premise of the film, while silly and always rather nonsensical, deserves better execution, as do Stallone and Schwarzenegger.  Director Mikael Håfström adds very little flavor or interest to liven up what turns out to be an occasionally violent straightforward drama.  The action comes in marginal doses and Håfström has no idea what do with these two men or how to film a scene in truly exciting fashion.  The script also needed to smarter as it fails to fully delve into the idea of high-tech prison know-how.  Stallone’s character attempts seemingly simple, logical methods of escape, but the film never allows the character to pull off an imaginative trick in order to advance his evasion.

At the very least, the film should have been rewritten to better accommodate Schwarzenegger and Stallone’s personalities.  Rarely even does the dialogue poke fun at the aging stars (outside of a few token cheesy one-liners), nor do the filmmakers ever take any of the scenes particularly seriously by ratcheting up the intensity levels.  Instead, Sly and Arnold carry the entire movie on their backs, and the hope is that their mere presence is enough to make Escape Plan enjoyable.

Escape Plan 10Luckily, Arnold and Sly are pros in this sort of game and they seem to be enjoying each other’s company  even when the actual ‘escape plan’ and intelligence of Stallone’s character rarely give the film any depth or believability.  The plan is never actually all that exciting in and of itself.  Instead the confrontations set up by the two lead characters keep us watching and holding out.  Stallone is far more watchable here than he has been in his recent efforts.  Schwarzenegger adds a refreshing air to the movie as he hams up nearly every scene he can.

The excitement builds quite a bit more toward the climax which gives us fans a taste of the blow-em-up action the stars typically warrant.  It’s not enough to earn action-classic status, and Escape Plan certainly never lives up to its potential, but there’s just enough from Stallone and Schwarzenegger to enjoy it purely as a mild guilty pleasure that manages to escape callow direction and a lacking script.  If you’re a fan of these two icons, then you should at least enjoy it.  If not, there is admittedly little to love here.

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Captain Phillips

captain-phillips-international-posterWhen four Somali pirates board an American distribution vessel at sea, Captain Rich Phillips (Tom Hanks) must outsmart the armed gunmen in order to keep his crew safe from harm.  While the pirates look to steer the ship back to Somalia for a hefty payday, Phillips attempts to keep the villains squarely under his thumb while his men hidden below deck conjure up a plan to eliminate the threat.

Paul Greengrass generates great suspense as he has done with his previous efforts in the Bourne series and United 93.  He slowly turns the screws and allows Hanks and his generous gifts as an actor to pull the audience into a terrifying hostage situation.  It all feels authentic and true to the moment. It’s a desperate situation for a group of union laborers treading dangerous waters and we identify with the struggle and Hanks’ character caught in the middle.

Hanks hasn’t had a movie this good in a while, and in fact, the movie pulls him out of his usual comfort range, and plants him firmly into an intense thriller environment.  His character displays strong leadership, intuition, and fear.  But Greengrass also allows the Somalis some human dimension as well and in many ways he illuminates their do-or-die attempt to claim the ship, because if they don’t, their ‘elders’ will likely kill them.

Based on a true story, the movie dismisses the usual impulses to turn into an outlandish action picture.  I’m sure there’s the occasional spottiness for theatrics, but I consistently felt a pulsing reality to the film’s events.  Captain Phillips is a very thrilling drama and comes highly recommended.

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Gravity

gravity-bullockposter-fullGravity is the thrilling adventure to beat this year, and by my forecast, I think the skies are clear for this thriller from Alfonso Cuaron.  Known for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men, Cuaron has spent the last few years piecing Gravity together, a film that features only two actors and a whole lot of outer space.

Sandra Bullock, in what will likely turn out to be the performance of the year and possibly her career, tackles the challenge of portraying astronaut Ryan Stone who attempts to make adjustments to a satellite alongside fellow spaceman, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney).   Soon enough a whirlwind storm of debris dices through their ship and sends Stone spinning wildly out of control into space.  Her only communication with NASA will soon dissipate once she floats too far out and her oxygen tank levels are already low.

This is about where the theatrical trailer for the movie leaves you hanging. The synopsis and trailer both left me wondering, what story could be left to tell?  Where can the movie possibly go after that point?

Cuaron is no dummy and he quickly turns Gravity into an eye-popping 3D adventure that not only fails to overstay its welcome at a quick 90 minutes, but gives us a taste of what space may actually be like.  How will Stone survive her impossible situation?  That is the question.  The movie takes us through her journey which essentially amounts to a one woman show that Bullock handles unflinchingly.

But let’s not forget Clooney who actually pours a great deal of humor into an extremely tense film and gives the weightlessness some grounding when it can really use it.  Make no mistake, this is Bullock’s ‘Cast Away’ and she nails it.  So does Cuaron who keeps the events, which had the potential to come off as repetitive, in check and moving at all times.  This is a theatrical experience if ever there was one, and the amount of time and effort that had to go into a visual movie like this is staggering.  It’s so technically precise from top to bottom.  The 3D is especially utilized well and enhances the film.

But at the core of this odyssey, and beyond all of the production values and whiz-bang “I’ve never quite seen this before” marveling, is a story of survival and a very strong actress that carries the entire movie.  Look for all this year’s award accolades to fall to Gravity, and watch Miss Bullock accept her second Oscar in a few months time.  Gravity is a movie to experience (in the theater, in 3D).

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Prisoners

prisoners-posterReligious symbolism clashes with the harsh brutalities of a world bent in two by purely evil forces in the drama Prisoners which seeks to frighten, disturb, and wring us out emotionally. The redeeming qualities, however, unleash some terrific acting performances and unsettling suspense throughout a 2 1/2 hour runtime that manages to fly.

Two missing six-year-old girls from two different suburban families (Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello) – (Terrence Howard, Viola Davis) are the center of an investigation led by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal).  There is only one clear suspect to Keller Dover (Jackman), and that is a mentally challenged, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), whom Keller believes abducted the girls in his RV.  Loki, however, can’t find any substantial evidence to support Jones as his man.

A spiraling investigation leads Loki and Keller to desperation in their own ways.  As each day passes, the girls are certainly closer to death if they aren’t already.

Directed with a great deal of feeling by Denis Villeneuve, Prisoners resists the route of typical revenge actioners and actually heads up the drama in very realistic, albeit overwrought, fashion.  The premise manages to carry the film for quite a while leading to a satisfying and physically draining conclusion that answers nearly every question the audience can throw at it.  While the film lends itself to being picked apart due to the nature of an unfolding mystery, the picture is held together so well by alarmingly good performances for thinly drawn characters that have little range on paper, yet bloom onscreen.

Jackman is the angry autocratic father.  Gyllenhaal is the determined investigator.  Bello is the weeping wife.  None of the characters have lives outside of their predicament.  Yet the acting is so very good that I failed to notice it much until further reflection.

This is obviously the kind of film gunning for awards attention, and for the most part it deserves it.  Jackman and Gyllenhaal especially deliver strong performances worthy of consideration.  The film as a whole could be a little tighter, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was glued to the screen the entire time, even when I wanted to look away.  Prisoners is a mostly fascinating drama that delivers a strong hit to the gut.

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Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim I remember when I first saw Independence Day.  It was the weekend of July 4, 1996, and my friends and I were packed into the Stuart Theater in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska.  the place was crowded, the floor was sticky, and the excitement was palpable.  This was in the days before the internet went mainstream, and movie trailers could only be seen on TV.  Nevertheless, in the weeks leading up to ID4’s release my school was buzzing with all kinds of talk about what would surely be one of the coolest movies we had ever see.  Spaceships. Aliens. Explosions. Jeff Goldblum.  Will Smith.  Brent Spiner!  Could this movie be any cooler? And there we sat, riveted to our seats as the massive alien spaceships began settling over earth cities causing pandemonium in the streets below.  We cheered when Smith punched an alien, took out a cigar, and said with cocky John Wayne-confidence, “Welcome to earth.”  We gaped as enormous fireballs engulfed buildings, streets, and entire metropolises.  We jumped when an alien popped out of its biosuit inside the Area 51 laboratory.  And when the movie was over, we clapped, cheered, and rose to our feet in exuberant jubilation.  Independence Day not only lived up to the hype, but blew my mind into the stratosphere.  No, it didn’t have the most compelling storyline or complex characters.  The dialog was cheesy.  The aliens weren’t all that scary, and the comic relief was a bit too corny.  But none of that mattered, because the movie was just so much fun.  It gave me and my friends exactly what we were hoping for:  good guys, bad guys, aliens, and tons of explosions. And it was awesome.

So why bring all this up in a review of Pacific Rim? Because the two are so similar in tone and substance they might well have been cut from the very same cloth.  This story, about robots called Jagers fighting monsters called Kaiju, is one that has been rehashed innumerable times on the big screen.  The characters are about as one-dimensional as can be, and any description of them requires no more than three words each (including the article): The reluctant hero. The grizzled leader. The plucky scientist. The plucky jock. The wise father. Any standard action movie character checklist would be full of marks, but these cliches are part of what makes Pacific Rim such a fine achievement.  Director Guillermo del Toro, whose previous films include Hellboy 1 and 2, Mimic, and the freakishly outstanding Pan’s Labyrinth, foregoes deep, layered plots and complex subtexts for a straight-out, full-on action flick that caters to the little kid in all of us. Just like Independence Day and countless others before it, Pacific Rim knows exactly what it is and delivers on that promise in spades. Audience members are treated to some of the most gargantuan battles to ever grace a movie screen, with clearly delineated bad guys to jeer and good guys to cheer.  It’s summer popcorn fare at its finest, and a joy to behold on as massive of a screen as possible.

Aliens, 2. Robots, 1. Let's do this.

Aliens, 2. Robots, 1. Let’s do this.

Charlie Hunnam plays Raleigh Becket, the reluctant hero with a past that haunts him and a future that looms as bleak as his haircut. A former superstar Jager pilot, he’s recruited for one last-ditch attempt at stopping the Kaiju invasion (something about a rift in spacetime that opens a portal between dimensions…but it’s really not that important) by the no-nonsense tough-as-nails director of the Jager program named…wait for it…Stacker Pentecost played by Idris Elba, who will soon no doubt be showing up in an Old Spice commercial near you.  (If there’s a hierarchy of manly names out there, Stacker Pentecost would rank one notch above John St. John and right below Bigg McLarge Huge.)  Together they and their team of international, interracial, and intergenerational Jager pilots must take down the Kaiju or else risk the end of humanity as we know it.  Toss in a dash of Ron Perlman as the shady but hilarious Hannibal Chau, mix in two parts awesome CGI and one healthy dose of ear-busting digital sonic punishment and you’ve got a recipe for one of the coolest movies I have seen on a big screen in a very long time.

What makes Pacific Rim so enjoyable isn’t necessarily what it contains, but what it lacks.  There are no scatalogical one-liners, no apocryphal political maneuverings, and no complicated explanations trying to shoehorn real-life physics into a sci-fi story.  The female gender is, sadly, woefully underrepresented, but Becket’s co-pilot Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) is a tough, capable woman who easily holds her own in a fight and remains 100% clothed the entire movie–just as a PG-13 action flick marketed towards kids should be.  In fact, there’s no romantic subplot at all which may or may not be a boon to the wives and girlfriends who will undoubtedly be dragged to Pacific Rim.  Though I daresay they might enjoy the movie for what it is just as much as their male counterparts. The special effects on display here are as good as it gets, and the camera wisely lets many of the Jager/Kaiju bouts play out like violent watery ballets instead of a mishmash of quick cuts and closeups that render all the action well-nigh incomprehensible.

Del Toro has crafted a fantastic love letter to Godzilla movies of yesteryear, while exchanging their men in rubber monster suits for blisteringly realized CGI and intricate miniature work.  Pacific Rim is a movie that reminded me what it felt like to be a kid, wide-eyed and full of wonder, marveling at what I was seeing unfold before me.  And sometimes that’s all I want from a movie.

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Hansel & Gretal: Witch Hunters

H&G PosterWhen last we met, we covered the evolution of various supernatural critters from detestable to desirable. Vampires are a particularly striking example of an archetype that began as walking, rotting corpses, and rose to be portrayed as superior to humans in almost every way. And now, with Warm Bodies, zombies have begun to travel the same road. But as this happens, producers of fiction lose a useful tool in the form of a creature that can be killed without remorse. This leaves writers searching for a new archetype to fill the role of humanity’s enemy. Sometimes what they come up with is surprising.

Writer/director Tommy Wirkola has found an unlikely replacement:

witches. His latest work, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, starts out with an abridged retelling of the classic children’s tale of two kids who are apparently abandoned in the woods, find a house made of candy, and are captured by a hideous, cannibalistic crone, until they knock her into her own oven. This refresher is graphic, brutal, and not for children. Hansel and Gretel then vow to spend their lives hunting down and killing witches, and we are treated to a montage of newspaper clippings and wood-cut drawings, showing their exploits over the next fifteen years.

We don’t have to think much for this movie. Hansel (Jeremy Renner) narrates “We learned two important things that day (when they escaped the witch as children). One, never walk into a house made of candy. And two, if you’re going to kill a witch, set her ass on fire.” Good advice.

Gemma Arterton, up to her usual awesomeness.

Gemma Arterton, up to her usual awesomeness.

The main story deals with the twins working a case in Augsburg, investigating the disappearances of 11 children. The witches in this movie display many of the traits we’ve seen in vampires and werewolves in recent years: super human strength (why? Because it’s cool), animal-like movements (why? Because it’s cool), and an apparent black belt in jujitsu (why? … must you ask?). Hansel and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) save a beautiful young woman named Mina (Pihla Viitala) from being wrongfully executed as a witch. Hansel announces to the obligatory mob of villagers that when a woman engages in the black arts, a nasty rot sets in. That’s right, the witches in this movie are essentially walking, rotting corpses. Sound familiar?

Jean Grey gone bad. Or did she already do that?

Jean Grey gone bad. Or did she already do that?

Is it a good movie? No. But the real questions is how well do the witches satisfy that part of us that just wants to weild a shotgun, as zombies used to do for us? The best thing about this movie is that it’s not afraid to be politically incorrect. The witches are plentiful. They’re ugly. And they’re decidedly unsympathetic. They’re a bit harder to kill than zombies, but the writers always find a way. All this movie really is is a big, silly bonanza of over-the-top stunts, awesome weapons that could never exist and dazzling fireballs. (It’s even sillier than Van Helsing, if you can believe that). It’s the kind of movie where people get knocked through walls, jump up and keep fighting.  It doesn’t need to be good; it’s a blast.

But are the witches really all subhuman monsters? Are there none we can identify with? Are all those female

Bad witch.

Bad witch.

movie goers who spent their teen years fantasizing about being witches and making love potions going to be left out in the cold?

Well, we eventually learn that, in fact, Mina is a witch, a “white witch” who uses her powers for “good.” Good witches don’t have the rot set in. So how do we tell a good witch from a bad? We look at their outward appearance. How delightfully shallow. Of course, even Mina admits that there are not many good witches, so the good news is most of the witches are just going to be fodder for the awesome fight scenes.

To be fair, there are some clever ideas in this movie, such as the glass milk bottles that bear pictures of the missing children, or the subplot in which Hansel has to take an insulin shot every day, due to all the candy the witch made him eat as a child to fatten him up. There is also a fresh take on the reason the twins’ parents abandoned them in the forest that fateful night. But this is also one of the nastiest movies I have ever seen. Not only is it excessively gory, but the subject matter is pretty intense. There are graphic scenes of children being starved and terrorized by the witches (I understand there were some scenes cut out that were even worse) and one of a witch magically forcing a teen boy to shoot his own mother. Rape is also hinted at. After all, the original “children’s tale” is pretty nasty when you think about it. The Brothers Grimm tended to live up to their name.

Good witch. See the difference?

Good witch. See the difference?

I expect witches’ time on popular fiction’s crap list will be briefer than that of some other creatures, if only because we’re so accustomed to seeing pretty witches save the day. So what’s going to come next? Maybe vampires will cycle around for another run. Personally, I think I’ll stick with my old standby: zombies.

 

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World War Z

World-War-Z-posterFurther global annihilation awaits audiences this weekend in the form of World War Z, a massively expensive summer tentpole picture geared toward action-seekers and zombie fanatics, though it’s likely to please one of those crowds more than the other.  The film is based on a novel by Max Brooks of which I conquered a mountainous six pages.  That’s not to the novel’s detriment.  I merely put it down and never picked it back up.

No matter.  The screenplay divided up by three writers apparently ditched the source material and instead journeys with Gerry Lane played capably by superstar Brad Pitt.  Gerry has one of those professions never fully explained, but he is recruited out of retirement by the United Nations on a global quest to track down the origins of a zombie virus that has catapulted the planet into chaos.

The film opens with Gerry and his family—wife and two young daughters—traveling in the car when the outbreak hits.  Cars slam into each other.  Crowds flee in the streets.  Hordes of rabid human undead attack civilians on the run and spread the pandemic.  Within seconds, humans are fed on and turned to monstrous, speedy, lethal cannibals.

Gerry is offered a secure naval base shelter for his family in exchange for his efforts to track the down the spread of the virus.  He joins a military strike force and globe-trots from the U.S. to South Korea to Jerusalem in search for answers that might allow him to find a cure for the spreading contagion.

Unfortunately for World War Z, the film has arrived following a wave of negative buzz after its production budget ballooned to unfathomable proportions for this type of zombie apocalypse thriller.  A third act rewrite and reshoot didn’t help matters especially when rumors spread that Brad Pitt quit talking to the director, Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Machine Gun Preacher), and threatened to walk out on the film.  Consider all the rumors hearsay.  What we finally have onscreen is pure unrelenting entertainment from start to finish, a film that easily outguns and KO’s all alien superheroes and fast car lovers.

world-war-z-brad-pittWorld War Z is a superb suspense-thriller and manages to succeed against all odds even for a PG-13 zombie film.  Whether Forster, his editors, or his writers pulled off the magic required or blind luck intervened, this was not the choppy moviegoing experience I was expecting.  The computer-generated mounds of zombies featured in the trailers raised I Am Legend-sized visual doubts, but actually turn out to be quite freaky physical specimens, which are (in individual cases) actually human actors sporting incredible makeup and prosthetic enhancements sans much of the gore fans have become accustomed to.

Believe me when I say the lack of blood never once hinders the film from its storytelling ambitions, nor from rampant intensity and scares.  There are plenty of jump-out-of-your-seat moments.  Several sequences mount tingling suspense.  The filmmakers have flat-out created a well-structured thriller that flows neatly across continents from start to finish atop Brad Pitt’s shoulders.  Its his show and he does create a genuine character that the audience can root for as he struggles to return to his family and save the world.

At a tight 2 hour running time, World War Z delivers the goods and winds up a fine summer blockbuster filled with big action, big thrills, and the kind of suspense this season has been lacking.  Despite the lack of blood, the movie has plenty of guts, and it knows how to turn up the intensity to eleven.  Skip the 3D conversion and forget about a faithful adaptation to novel.  If you can do so I’m betting you’ll eat it up.

 

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Man of Steel

man-of-steel-poster-600x886Warner Bros. really wants Superman to turn into the next Dark Knight franchise and Zack Snyder’s mega opus Man of Steel makes a serious run for your money.  It’s a gargantuan exercise in Transformer-sized destruction masquerading as a modernized take on the most popular superhero of all time.  Can the caped do-gooder savior survive a dead-on serious interpretation courtesy of the 300, Watchmen-helmer with the guiding hand of producer Christopher Nolan?

As a matter of fact—he can, but not without a few scars and lacerations.  Man of Steel is admittedly somewhat of a choppy mess missing much of the beating heart a Superman film desperately needs more than an alien super-punch.  Snyder attempts to restructure Kal-El and his battle against the alienation of being, well, an alien.  The film lifts off immediately in a big way—Superman’s father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his mother are introduced on planet Krypton (very Avatar-esque) in the middle of a planetary Armageddon.  Krptonians haven’t been able to deliver a natural born child for many years until Jor-El’s wife delivers a baby that is immediately shuttled off to Earth in the hopes of giving him a chance to survive before military leader/lunatic Zod (Michael Shannon) can find the child and turn him to mush.

Fast forward.  Kal-El (renamed Clark Kent on Earth) is a 33-year-old man-alien in hiding as a savior-to-be.  Through flashbacks, Snyder introduces Clark’s restrained hostility and his heroic efforts to save others in need despite his father’s disapproval.  Kevin Costner, superb yet limited in the film as Pa Kent, instructs Clark that the world isn’t ready for the unveiling of Clark’s identity and incredible abilities.  The film bounces around important highlights from Clark’s life before plunging into the efforts of Lois Lane (Amy Adams), the willful reporter who stumbles upon Kent in the Fortress of Solitude.  Kent discovers his past.  Lane discovers the story of her career.  Bring out the cape and the romance.

Kent dons the infamous suit just in time to do battle with Zod who manages to find Earth with his evil cohorts in an attempt to reclaim that last artifact of Krypton following its destruction: Clark/Kal-El.  In the process, Zod wants to also level all of Earth and rebuild Krypton.  With no earthly measures able to stop Zod and his troops, Superman locks fists with beings just as powerful as he in the hopes of saving the third rock from the sun before it is wiped out.

I have to give Snyder credit for taking a full bludgeoning swing at the infamous DC universe character and despite a few strikes, he manages a base hit—one that nearly shatters the ball.  You couldn’t pack any more action and mayhem into the final hour of this movie.  If there is anyone left alive in the massive destruction of Metropolis by the time the film is over, consider Superman back for another go-around as the world’s alien savior.  Fans looking for action will feast on this film.  Fans looking for a little more character development will find a lot to be desired with Snyder’s film.

Granted, another origin story for Superman in 2013 wasn’t going to be an easy task.  Most viewers know the story, the beats, and what must be included.  To retread so much information already committed to film over the course of five previous feature Superman films *not to mention ten seasons of Smallville and however many seasons of Lois and Clark), would have the blind taste of Novocaine.  After a while the filmmakers wouldn’t have realized they were chewing off their own tongues.

ManofSteel-ZodWith flashback sequences utilized for Man of Steel, the required information regarding Kent’s past makes it to audiences, albeit in disjointed fashion that hinders the narrative from ever finding the proper fluidity.  The romance spark between Lois and Clark never fully develops, and everything that must occur feels like a falling gavel.  The filmmakers have sentenced the film ‘that this must take place!’  However, Snyder still captures the parallels of Christ and Kent’s battle against vengeful (sinful) temptation when ultimately he must be the burdened savior of the world that his father sent him to be.

The battle of give-and-take for audience expectation hits the film hard in the gut without bringing it to its knees.  When the film isn’t showcasing the highlight reel, some great moments and performances sneak through.  Most notably of course is Henry Cavill as the latest actor to adorn the costume.  He fits it well.  The actor comes across as charming, powerful, and certainly human.  For my money he is a great Superman in a not-so-great movie.  Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Russell Crowe are also especially good here.  Even when they all have less to do, they provide the necessary supporting talent the film really needs.

The film’s greatest disappointment arrives in the form of Michael Shannon whose one-note expression gives the villain Zod little to do.  Perhaps the script shortchanged him, but for whatever reason I found Shannon lacking in terms of a death-blow adversary.  Was he too serious that the performance came off campy?  I don’t know.  A second viewing might sort that out for me.

Another critical factor in lessening the film’s impact has to be enormous action that meanders more in silliness than importance.  The fighting feels ongoing, but never immediate.  Honestly.  The destruction in the film morphs into the Octomom-love-children of Roland Emmerich, Michael Bay, and well, Zack Snyder.  Visually, yes, this is a mammoth spectacle to behold and I have to say that the special effects will likely drown out any other film this year.  Or next year.  But Snyder’s movie endeavor, at 2 1/2 hours, had no limits in the action department.

Yet Man of Steel still manages to fly.  I walked away satisfied, but without the butterflies.  The film is flawed for sure, but this team can take flight with a clear-cut adventure  for the sequel now that the dust has settled on the choppy origin story.  I’m guessing the film will take place ten years in the future when the rebuilding of Metropolis has a chance to finish.

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