Seen: At the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square.
This Independence Day, it was HOT. So the boyfriend and I made it a movie theater day primarily for some cherished air conditioning and ample servings of beer/cider. First up was Man of Steel, a movie neither of us particularly wanted to see but it was 143 minutes of cool indoors and it has Michael Shannon, so we had to show some support. Zach Snyder's re-vamping of the classic superhero stars Henry Cavill as the legendary alien baby who is shipped away from his crumbling home planet of Krypton just before it collapses in on itself, landing on earth in rural Kansas. He grows up stronger, faster, and with super-natural abilities, but his father (Kevin Costner) convinces him to hide his powers for fear of how humankind will react when his origins are discovered. When rogue Kryptonian general Zod (Michael Shannon) and his squad of soldiers suddenly show up demanding Clark's surrender, he begins to learn about his own history and finally decides to reveal himself as... SUPERMAN.
The thing is, I've never been much of a Superman fan. I don't find him very interesting, and I don't think we need so many movies about him. I could see what Snyder/Nolan/Goyer were trying to do with this version, trying to be more dramatic with the storytelling and really building up this complex backstory, and I can respect a more serious version of the character since there are a lot of ramifications to be explored- his alien origins, his god-like powers, his place between two worlds, etc. But after this long, slow, kinda boring build-up that sort of touches upon these issues, it just switches to an overblown action movie that also happens to be long and kinda boring. A big part of the problem is that I just didn't care, like AT ALL, about any of these characters. Everyone feels bland and unoriginal, perhaps just because I've seen so many of them before, but they all read like stock types or caricatures. Even Michael Shannon as Zod, try as he might, isn't much to write home about. There's only so much scenery to chew here. Antje Traue can get it though, I was way into Faora, though her screen time is somewhat limited.
I know a lot of people have Feelings about Superman and Opinions about how this reboot has treated his story, but I find I don't have strong leanings one way or the other. It's competently made, the actors are all capable, the visuals are interesting, and I liked the backstory about Krypton since a lot of that information was new to me. Lois Lane is an active character who rarely functions as a damsel in distress (though the female Jimmy Olsen does, and that is in fact her only role in the film), and I enjoyed Amy Adams' take on the part. Her romance with Clark is completely unfounded, though, and it just felt rushed and out of place, and I'm sure they could have put off the actual lovey dovey stuff for another movie, since it's not like a secret they're gonna get together eventually. Henry Cavill is indistinctly handsome and unassuming, a good fit for the role but, as I've made clear, a bit dull just given the nature of Superman in my eyes. The fights weren't great, which was too bad, since if they're going to forfeit some of the "Big Questions" subplots in favor of huge action set pieces, there could at least be more compelling fight scenes. Like, stop just hurling everyone in sight through a wall and maybe choreograph something!
Anyway. I can't believe I've talked this much about Man of Steel. It's just like this movie, it's there, it happened, ok. It's way way way too long and I never need to see it again, but it's not like I hated it. I'll just probably forget it in a few minutes.
Pair This Movie With: I don't know, man. Whatever.
PS WTF MICHAEL SHANNON'S GOATEE THOUGH.