Pretty Good Man

I strongly expected to hate Man of Steel. It was obviously going to be a one damn thing after the other kind of flick, and I'm jet lagged after a 2nd trip to Rome in 6 weeks, and I think we've established that I cannot enjoy a movie when I'm tired. Plus I'd read this to see if I could take the kids. And PLUS, a Brit plays an American icon....even playing Superman is now a job Americans won't do.

But one must celebrate the end of the school year with one's kids and I guess I was in a merciful mood or else was sufficiently braced for the worst that I kind of liked it. It has the typical summer blockbuster deficiencies, and there are battles that just go on, especially at the end where the story comes to an end and then there's one more lengthy fight scene just so we can watch two men from Krypton punch each other through 6-7 skyscrapers at a time. (At one point Girl Weed quipped, "Oh, man. We just finished rebuilding Metropolis from the Avengers movie.")

But I just didn't care.  The flick has the following strengths, which wooed me.
  • Henry Cavill (Superman) is yummy.
  • General Zod is an excellent straight-up bad guy. I'm tired of villains who possibly are merely misunderstood or suffering from bad childhoods or are crazy. Zod is plain mean -- and yet not a mad-man or merely sadistic. He has a mission which has a certain rationale and is ruthless in accomplishing it. An enemy to respect. Maybe there's a wee bit of Coriolanus in him. Nah, that's too much.
  • Critics are saying there's too much sensitive back-story, but I liked seeing some of Clark Kent's hidden life with his adoptive parents and some of the challenges posed by their son's being better than everyone else and needing to hide it. I didn't find it maudlin; it was good story-telling.
  • You can't miss the christological references -- there's an Agony in the Garden, a visit to Church to discern his Father's will, a voluntary surrender to the forces of Evil to intercede for mankind. We even learn Clark is 33 years old.... Maybe a little much, actually, but on the whole positive. I don't mind filling my young men's heads with such things.
  • And  --who am I kidding? this is what really sold me, empowering me to overlook almost anything-- Planned Parenthood is the cause of all the misery! (This would take spoilers to explain, but trust me.)
Parental advisory? There's intense violence (though no gore beyond one face scrape) and no profanity or taking the Lord's name in vain. There are a couple instances I recall of coarse language, all out of the way pretty early (mostly kids bullying young Clark Kent with nasty insults -- and they are nasty. I'm sure my youngest hadn't heard such things before).

Here's what the Weedlets had to say, interviewed in isolation from one another.

Youngest Weed, 9: A-. I liked watching it but it was really kind of depressing. (Pressed, he explained that in the end there's a LOT of destruction and while mankind has won, there's not really a happy ending.)
Middle Weed, 12: B. I liked it a lot, but it got really draggy at the end.
Girl Weed, 14: B+ Very good, but C'mon, that last fight scene was ridiculous
Eldest Weed, 16. B+ or maybe A-. It could have been 30 minutes shorter, but I thought it was well done overall and I liked the fact that the incitement to action was a legitimate moral problem. 

Update: Peter Lawler, whom I gather didn't like the film much, did like Man of Steel's meditation on fatherhood (and the flick was released on American Father's Day). He argues here, plausibly, that the movie is Plato's Republic acted out -- with Krypton's culture as the "city in speech" embodied.