You’re a film maker and you have an extra 200 million or so to burn. What to do? How about making a sequel of a sequel of a sequel of a Superman movie? The script shouldn’t be too hard to write, since the story has been written before. A lot.
My main beef with “Man of Steel,” the new Superman movie that I had the misfortune of seeing, is in its cavalier depiction of destruction. But before we get to that, if I was a movie critic, which I’m not, but if I was, I would point out that the movie is nauseating and unpleasant. It is two big “thumbs down” in every category, with loud raspberries and rotten tomatoes thrown in. The story is not told linearly, but bounces back and forth in time. Maybe this was a nod by the production team to financers to show that they could do something different with that hoary old Superman plot. Different, yes, coherent, no. Just about every moment of the movie is noisy and exploding. To advance the plot, the characters tell you what they are about to do. This is 3rd grade level script writing. Fortunately the characters don’t talk much about feelings or the human experience, because there isn’t any of that during the on-screen carnage. It’s hard to believe that a creative team this inept could be put in charge of the huge resources, staff and time it took to make the horrendous film. But then again, maybe they are not so inept. The movie appears to be somewhat successful at the box office.
What is really egregious, in addition to the loss of two hours of your life should you stay in the theater, is the movie’s gleeful depiction of destruction. Not one, but six skyscrapers in Metropolis are wasted as the superheroes and villains engage in super fist fights, or General Zod deploys an evil gravity beam, or someone from Krypton spits fire, or whatever. The visualization of destruction is lovingly detailed and almost pornographic. No one is shown bloodied by the devastation, but the implosions would certainly lead to 10s of thousands of deaths. A think tank group actually estimated impacts and concluded that 129,000 people would have been slaughtered in the mauling of the city, with another 250,000 missing and presumed dead.
This is provided for us as entertainment. Enjoy your popcorn as thousands die in agony.
Just in case we don’t get the point by the ham-handed film makers, we get some onscreen, up close and personal viewpoints. Some of the Daily Planet newspaper editors are trapped on the streets in the remains of Metropolis, covered in ash, as one building after another is obliterated by projectiles and tumbles down in a heap. This is a pointless reference to 9-11. It has no context or redeeming value in its depiction, and so it is a disrespectful monstrosity.
It takes a long time, a lot of resources, and a dedicated team of professionals to build infrastructure. Many of us are privileged to contribute in our professional lives as builders. All of us depend on the successful results. None of us wish to experience wanton destruction in real life. There is no good reason for the desensitizing infrastructure violence shown in Man of Steel. Instead, take the movie’s 225 million dollar budget and build some housing or a bridge. Or solve world hunger and cure most forms of cancer.
OK, so perhaps I’m not up for summer blow-them-up-zero-brain-power movies with superheroes and zombies. It’s time for an art house flick. Maybe something with subtitles.