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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

MAN OF STEEL (2013)

The prologue to Zack Synder’s SUPERMAN Re-Reboot is positively Shakespearean: ‘Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing.’ It’s the last days on an imploding Planet Krypton where villains are ironically saved via exile and an infant gets blasted to Earth. His Dad (Russell Crowe) may be doomed to die, but don’t worry, he’s available on Flash Drive. Once that’s out of the way, things improve quickly as Superman/Kal-El (Henry Cavill) lives out a few non-linear highlights from his itinerant life, earning hard-won maturity on a MidWest farm before displaying his hairy chest & a killer bod working at sea, then meeting-cute (and dangerous) with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in the frozen North. (Wait! Back-up! A hirsute super-hero? Positively revolutionary!*) This central section, before the exiled villains, led by a constipated Michael Shannon, make their return, is the best part of the film. Helmer Synder goes for an overcooked serious tone, with handheld camera and a drab palette, but it also takes good advantage of some effective moves from producer/co-scripter Christopher Nolan, revamping his DARK KNIGHT/’08 voodoo to good effect. But then that final battle goes on for a mind-numbing (and ear-numbing) 45 minutes. Even divided into three waves of action, it’s pure fanboy palaver, an Extended Director’s Cut for everyone.

DOUBLE-BILL: No one has topped the sheer visual ‘rightness’ of those early Fleischer Bros SUPERMAN animated shorts made for Paramount in the early ‘40s. Alas, no proper restoration, but a BOSCO/Image DVD gives a decent idea of their visual flair.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Oh for a transcript of the conference calls on whether or not to shave Henry Cavill’s chest. (They could have tattooed another egregious Product Placement on the extra blank space.)

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