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'Man of Steel' is a tough nut to crack

Published on -6/18/2013, 10:32 AM

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Not every story and not every character is meant to grace every entertainment medium. Mario, for example, is perhaps the world's most recognizable video game character but his big-screen adaptation "Super Mario Bros." in 1993 was simply not worth jumping for.  

Superman, on the other hand, is a character who absolutely soars off the comic book page. That said, Superman might well be the most difficult superhero to adapt for the big screen.

Director Zack Snyder is the latest filmmaker to attempt to find cinematic success with the "Man of Steel."

Snyder is best know for his dynamic visual style that often borders on surrealism in films such as "300" and "Watchmen."

From a purely visual standpoint, "Man of Steel" is breathtaking. There are super punches and destruction galore -- to the point of overstimulation.

Furthermore, Snyder captures some stirring images that are instantly iconic.  

Once you start to get past the visual icing, the cake itself is a tad dry. Writer David Goyer has some solid writing credits, including the absolute masterpiece "The Dark Knight," but he also has some complete tanks -- "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" and the abominably written "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" video game.

That inconsistency is prevalent in both the story and the screenplay for "Man of Steel."

When Goyer was on form, there are some genuinely intriguing scenes. However, there was also more than a fair share of nonsense.  

Superman is just plain difficult to convey cinematically.

He's a hero with nearly unlimited power with a single weakness that is exploited to the point of exhaustion.

"Man of Steel" takes an admirable crack at turning Superman into a viable franchise for the first time in 30 years. Despite mixed critical reviews, the film's box office success no doubt will produce a sequel.  

Given the basic outline of how drama functions, the second installment in any trilogy typically has the potential to be the greatest part. "Man of Steel" was enjoyable and was perhaps the Superman film that we needed but not the Superman film we deserved.

However, there is the real possibility this film will serve as the launching pad for a masterpiece down the line, and that is something worth keeping an eye on the sky for.

4 of 6 stars

James Gerstner works at the Fort Hays State University Foundation and is the founder and editor of Six Horizons Media at sixhorizons.com. Contact James at james@sixhorizons.com, @sixhorizons on Twitter, Facebook.com/sixhorizons.

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