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Tom Tangney

‘Man of Steel’ not your grandfather’s Superman

FILE - In this May 12, 2015, file photo, Singapore teen blogger Amos Yee speaks to a reporter while leaving the Subordinate Courts after being released on bail, in Singapore. Yee whose online posts blasting his government landed in him jail was granted asylum to remain in the United States, an immigration judge in Chicago ruled Friday, March 24, 2017. Yee has been detained by federal immigration authorities since December when he was taken into custody at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Attorneys said the 18-year-old could be released from a Wisconsin detention center as early as Monday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

“Man of Steel” is the latest re-boot of the Superman story, and it’s definitely a lot different than those that came before.

It’s all a matter of tone. And the tone of this Superman is serious business, deadly serious. This Superman doesn’t wear those funny red trunks and there’s no curl of hair on his forehead. There’s no hint of camp or pop culture winks. There’s barely a sense of fun.

Instead, “Man of Steel” is a relentlessly serious, robust, testosterone-fueled battle with so much at stake at every moment, that it’s exhausting. Bombast has never had a better platform.

Case in point, the launch of baby Superman off the planet Krypton. In most versions, his Krypton Dad and Mom kiss the babe goodbye and off he goes into the wild blue yonder. It takes about five minutes. It’s a good half hour in “Man of Steel.” We get an extended and spectacular look at life on Krypton and lots of philosophical arguments between Superman’s Dad and the military leader Zod.

The great Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon square off on Krypton, and resume their battle on Planet Earth again and again and again. The first time they square off at the Kent family farm in Kansas, Superman flies full-speed at Zod and proceeds to pound him over and over as they crash through massive silos, over acres and acres of cornfields, into a convenience store, and smack into a gas station before they finally stumble to the ground.

By the time we get to the final of three all-out battles between the armies of Zod and Superman, so many skyscrapers have crashed and burned that Metropolis must be the size of a dozen Manhattans to be able to encompass all that destruction.

Early on in the movie, it’s explained that Superman is so powerful on Earth because he’s used to Krypton’s gravity which is so much stronger. In the end, “Man of Steel” feels too weighed down by a Kryptonian “gravitas.”

Tom Tangney on KIRO Radio

About the Author

Tom Tangney

Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.


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