Saturday, June 15, 2013

"Man of Steel": Well, maybe that's Anderson Cooper. Does a Kal-El really exist?

There is a critical line in the personal showdown, near the end of  "Man of Steel”, between Krypton’s General Zod (Michael Shannon) and a late-20s-something Clark Kent aka Kal-El (Henry Cavill) , when Zod says, “I have no people”.  That’s all that makes Zod tick.  The whole genome of his people was synthetically stored (digitally) somehow into Kal-El’s body after he was born and his dad Kor-El (Russell Crowe) shot him off to Earth on a hyperdrive spaceship. That sounds rather silly, but it makes a point.
   
Kpryton’s crumbling "reich", shown in impressive opening scenes, seemed to be a non-constitutional monrarchy with a feudal court, but all the babies were conceived artificially, with genes deigned to make them fit into the hive.  Ordinary people had become ants, social insects.  In fact, the court is accompanied by “people” who inhabit vertical pods, and show up inside the bulbs as holograms.  “People” had given up on normal marriage and sex, and the end result was the ultimate planning of a master race.  George Gilder (in “Men and Marriage”) had warned about this in 1986 he referred to Aldous Huxley and “Brave New World”.  Or perhaps this reminds us of the movie “Children of Men”.  The setup seems like a perfect paraphrase of Nazism, and Zod was a caricature of Adolf Hitler.
   
The movie tries to pull ten years of “Smallville”  (or two complete "Superman" franchises) together into 140 minutes.  Missing is Lex Luthor, as well as all the forms of kryptonite.. The story is stitched together with a lot of flashbacks to Clark’s adoptive boyhood.  In this movie, hus adoptive dad (Kevin Costner) dies in a Kansas tornado, and Clark has to let it happen to keep his secret.  (The twister is quite well done, and replicates what really happens in a mile-wide F5 tornado, much more so than the 1996 film :”Twister”.)   The scenes where Clark learns of his origins and has to keep his gifts secret are quite touching (after he saves all the kids on a school bus that has crashed into a river). 

The political confrontation happens when Zod comes to Earth from the Phantom Zone and hacks the Earth’s power grid and Internet and displays to everyone “You Are Not Alone”.  This is not your typical EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack, as the normal power and Internet come right back on.  Zod demands that the US turn Clark in to him.  Clark turns himself in and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is allowed to go with him.
Needless to say, Clark and Lois talk themselves out of immediate peril on the space station.  That leads to the ultimate battle back on Earth, at the Kent Farm in Kansas, and then Metropolis.  Now, instead of KCMO, the film uses Chicago as Metropolis, and Hollywood gets a chance to destroy Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, just as it did to San Francisco in Iron Man III. 

In the end, Clark gets to blend in as a typical geek with glasses, and Lois gets him his job at the Daily Planet as a “journalist” where he can jet around the world, become omnipresent, get paid for it, and have a cover.  Isn’t that Anderson Cooper does?

The film takes itself very seriously.  It’s not a lot of “fun”, the way “Now You  See Me” is.  The music score by Hans Zimmer aspires with a theme based on upward-jumping intervals. In the closing credits, Zimmer lets the music die away (after quoting “Inception” once), rather than providing the triumph that would have been appropriate. 
  
Cavill presents a different look than did Christopher Reeve and Tom Welling.  The scene where he (having become a journeyman laborer) rescues workers from a burning oil rig (BP in the Gulf?) befits DC Comics, all right, but it present shim with a big barrel hairy chest, impervious to fire. 
   
The official site is here. The film, though produced by Christopher Nolan (largely speaking) is directed by Zack Snyder. 

  
I've met one of two people (late teen to young adult) who can do things that seem like magic -- or else, evidence of extraterrestrial origin.  Maybe we aren't alone.  


I saw the film in 3-D (but not Imax) at the Angeika Mosaic in Merrifield VA.  Angelika is not sticking to indie films all the time.  Major spectacles get booked.  
   

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