Man of Steel

Man of Steel ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

An acolyte at the temple of Prometheus (2012), I could pull out twenty different sequences that I think are elementally perfect microcosms of theme and relationship. I think the relationship between John and Clark is really special here, so clearly the core at the heart for Clark the Nomad, so well performed in moments like John waving Clark off or young Clark spitting out how badly he wanted to hit his ignorant bullies. Their conflict is built on the nature of sacrifice and compassion, and they are both right and both horribly wrong.

Like Prometheus, I hate to say that I think those who knock this film for its “truth to the superman character” or call it meanspirited instead reject its purpose. The hypocrisy of Superman only being apparent to Clark in certain moments is intentional, but, no, this film does not pass judgment on this. But there is a purpose to Clark’s scream being at two moments where he, firsthand, perceived his inability to prevent loss of life, and not at the way he ignores “casualties” up until those points. But it shows those casualties, and, beyond that, it puts us in Perry’s shoes observing the nightmare of this fight. When Superman crashes into the train station fighting Zod, there is a reason people immediately scream and flee.

The title, Man of Steel, for a film about the terror of being perceived and the pain of being attacked, about the neverending panopticon of offering to act for good without omnipotence, about what it means to save a bus. That scene with the bus - it goes to great lengths to highlight the echoes of that choice through the Pete Ross character, who never forgets.

No, it’s not a thrill ride, though I think the sequences of Superman flying are exciting in their speed and scale, and it doesn’t belong in The Criterion Collection. For a film that uses Snyder’s talent for repulsive imagery to create unsettling alien technology and horrific disaster violence, I’m impressed that my main takeaway is still to consider it a smart and sensitive film with lots of beauty in the cinematography and score. I...really didn’t expect it, no matter how strange and interesting I found Batman vs Superman.

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