Last night, my husband and I went to the movies, something very rare indeed, but the cinema not far from us has a deal of $6 tickets on Tuesdays — great deal. We decided to see Man of Steel, primarily because we both loved the Christopher Reeve movie Superman (1978) and we both liked Henry Cavill in Stardust.
Sadly, I was exceedingly disappointed. Cavill does a good job, as does Amy Adams as Lois Lane, but the whole movie lacked a sense of humanity. It missed the opportunity to demonstrate how we are all called upon to work for the greater good — a conversation that seems to be in desperate need of life support in the 21st Century.
Man of Steel made me quite nostalgic for the Superman movie with Christopher Reeve. The 1978 version presents a picture of humanity and develops characters that I feel invested in and want to watch. The movie also had a richness of pathos and wit. Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor was nothing less than brilliant, and Ned Beatty just adds to that brilliance. I would also argue that the 1978 version is very family friendly — there is not a lot of gratuitous violence. Finally, I’m just not convinced that anyone but our Terrence Stamp (Bernadette from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) can play General Zod.
Henry Cavill does a good job of playing Superman and he is certainly easy on the eyes, but his character lacks the humanity that Superman had with Christopher Reeve. Amy Adams starts off as a wonderfully strong and independent woman, but the character loses all credibility as a strong independent woman with the awful awful line: “What if I have to tinkle?” Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Jor-El is a bit over the top and certainly lacks all of the humanity that Marlon Brando delivered. Alas, I think the worst crime of this movie was the 35 minutes of non-stop gratuitous violence that does nothing to move the story along, nor does it make us feel more invested in any of the characters. Rather than watching a movie about the plight and hope for humanity, I felt as though I was watching a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.
When I watch the 1978 version of Superman, I leave the movie inspired and hopeful that humans are capable of a transformative experience and that we are dedicated to the greater good for the greater cause. I left Man of Steel feeling grateful I only paid $10 for my husband and me to see an enormous amount of violence and a rather nasty nationalistic, almost jingoistic message of patriotism.