Monday, June 17, 2013

Up, up, and oh shit: The curious “logic” of “Man of Steel”

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 1:56 PM

click to enlarge "Well, that's just nitpicking."
  • "Well, that's just nitpicking."

"Well, that's just nitpicking."

In the Richard Donner Superman (1978), Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane declares her interest in writing a series of articles to be titled “Making Sense of Senseless Violence.” She could earn a Pulitzer making sense of Man of Steel, which, despite having several enjoyable elements, exhibits about as much capacity for logic and reasoning as the Zimmerman jury pool. Team Snyder/Goyer/Nolan should have spent less time slathering on the Christ symbolism and CGI mayhem, and more spackling over the copious holes in their plot. To wit (NOTHIN’ BUT SPOILERS FROM HERE ON IN):

  1. Kryptonian society so disdains individuality and privacy that natural, biological childbirth has been outlawed for centuries. But instructions for conceiving and delivering a baby the old-fashioned way are apparently still so readily available that a married couple can complete the process all by their lonesome, on a whim, without detection. (As my own spouse pointed out, nobody seems to have noticed that the wife of a high-profile Kryptonian was pregnant. And she gets her figure back immediately!)
  2. Pa Kent delivers an alien artifact to a metallurgist, who confirms that it is indeed made of material not found on this Earth. Yet nobody reports this or deems it worthy of further of investigation. Because it’s not like it could make somebody famous or anything.
  3. Another one courtesy of my wife: Lois Lane is told that venturing out of her barracks into the Arctic night would mean certain death. Mere hours later, she does exactly this, to no ill effects whatsoever. She even removes her gloves when they become inconvenient, suffering no apparent loss of motion in her digits. (By way of a real-world contrast, Mrs. Schneider once nearly caught frostbite by leaving her own gloves behind when she went out to walk our dog on a winter morning – in Florida.)
  4. The battle between Superman and the Kryptonian villains appears to lay waste to much of Metropolis, leaving it looking like a burned-out ghost town. Seemingly overnight, the staff of The Daily Planet is happily back at work, without so much as an “Out of Order” sign on the coffee maker. Meanwhile, over in Gotham City, it took a billionaire several years and two movies to rebuild one house after a simple fire. I know where I’d rather live!
  5. Also, nobody at the Planet appears particularly interested in the big story that the Earth is now uninhabitable thanks to General Zod’s terraforming project – which, as we’ve already seen, penetrated the planet’s surface, ran right through its core and came out the other side, like a toothpick spearing an olive.
  6. Finally, when Clark Kent shows up for work at the Planet, Lois recognizes him immediately as Kal-El with glasses on. But all of the other crack journalists working at this great metropolitan newspaper – who have likewise just witnessed Superman up close and in action – are completely fooled. By implication, so will the rest of the world be – even though Superman was seen (and doubtlessly photographed) at multiple locations during the most significant event in the recorded history of mankind. We were actually better off back in the George Reeves/Christopher Reeve days, when the glasses simply fooled everybody. If you’re going to be silly, at least be consistent about it. Or, as Linus van Pelt once so sagely admitted, “I’m never so stupid as when I’m being smart.”

Read our reviewer Jeff Meyers' full review of Man of Steel here.

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