I feel sorry for haters - it takes so much energy to be grumpy – but after Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel I’m afraid I’m becoming one of them.
Spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel after the image.
Shall we begin, indeed. The thing I dreaded about the new Star Trek movie came true – Benedict Cumberbatch wasn’t John Harrison, he was Khan. Lest people yell at me for just hating all Star things that are not Wars, let me back up for a moment. I enjoyed The Wrath of Khan; the 2009 Star Trek was fantastic. I have room for love in my heart. I thought Into Darkness was a lazy story punctuated by cool “hey, this effect would look awesome” moments.
The whole time I was sitting in the movie theater trying to focus one thing kept running through my head: you rebooted the freaking timeline so you could tell new stories with beloved characters, free of the restraints of the established universe and you essentially re-tell a movie that’s already been done? Seriously.
I understand that Khan is important and his presence is intrinsic enough to Star Trek lore to earn him a fixed place in any timeline. I’d expect him to show up or be referenced and be okay with it. The obvious parallels and role reversals and poor facsimiles of classic moments were too much. Leonard Nimoy as older Spock making an appearance? Yes, please do that. Older Spock giving away all the secrets? Too forced and convenient.
Even though ships were crashing and stuff was being destroyed left and right, I felt bored and restless. Besides my issue with the Khan re-telling, too many points didn’t make sense to me. Bones and Chekov didn’t get to do much other than deliver funny lines. And why the heck does Bones have a dead tribble with him?!! Does he just keep it in his pocket? Finally, you have a great ensemble cast. Let them be ensemble-y instead of keeping them apart for most of the film.
I couldn’t wait for the movie to be over. I exited the theater and felt broken. Like a bad geek. There were parts I did dig. Cumberbatch was a wonderful Khan; he hit the right tone of imposing arrogance to sell it for me. I liked seeing Uhura show off her brains on Kronos. Simon Pegg’s portrayal of Scotty made me grin from ear to ear. Some of Kirk and Spock’s interactions were wonderful. But overall? It tried to shove its cleverness in my face, and it didn’t work. I don’t need to see it again.
But it's just one movie? We all dislike stuff from time to time.
Then I saw Man of Steel.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders." Jor-El, Man of Steel
Superman is my favorite DC Comics character. When I finally started diving into cape-centric stories, I found myself firmly in the Marvel camp in no time. On the big scale, I like their stories better. Period. But Superman grabbed me. I like good guys. Captain America is my favorite superhero. Even among the winning team, there are those who are golden and Superman is in that camp. “Dark and gritty” is my least favorite type of comic book story, and Superman doesn’t go there. I’ve hit some highlights – Birthright, All Star Superman, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Kingdom Come, etc – and I’m always floored by how much Superman cares for our ridiculous race. I wept when he baked a giant cake for Smallville.
That’s the Superman I’ve gotten to know.
Times change and modern events shape modern stories. I get that. However, I didn’t find much to enjoy about Man of Steel. This was a Superman who distrusted humanity (can’t blame him) for 33 years. He’s been hiding his powers for 33 YEARS! Bejeezus. This Superman let Pa Kent tell him to let him die. What. This Superman didn’t take the fight off the streets in Smallville to one of many surrounding empty and void of humans cornfields. This Superman fought every which way through Metropolis. And this Superman killed and it didn’t seem to throw him off his game.
I can’t get over that. Even when you think he should kill to take out an enemy, he finds another way. It’s the smart and compassionate thing to do and Superman is a living, breathing example of compassion.
The level of disaster porn slayed me. Yes, the Avengers damaged New York City. I feel like Man of Steel tried to exponentially out-destroy that movie. The number of wrecked buildings and lost lives was insane. Even if the Avengers did it as much, it didn’t seem as blatant. Something was different because Man of Steel felt like a charred, ruin-filled slap in the face.
The more I think about it, the less I like about the movie. Lois Lane showed up conveniently and not in ways that made sense. I cared absolutely nothing about Perry White and company yet I felt like we were supposed to be relieved when they were spared. Superman’s actions and struggles lost impact because of the flashbacks, and both his fathers had moments of being real tools.
With all those criticisms said, I did like Russell Crowe as Jor-El. There was way too much of him in the movie for my taste, but he fit the role. The Kryptonian designs were gorgeous. I’d be cool with a whole movie focusing on Krypton. Michael Shannon nailed it as Zod, and I loved his line to Superman about how he was just doing what he’d been born to do and has now lost his soul. Brilliant. As was any line and moment shown in the trailer. I cried at the trailer when Pa Kent told Clark he was still his son. I didn’t shed a tear while watching the movie.
Being negative is easy. Is the world truly a dark and gritty place? Sometimes and some places – sure, I won’t deny it. But how much of it is that way because of our perspective? If you have become a person who complains about every trivial thing, you’ve crossed to the Dark side. Being optimistic is the harder path. It can be exhausting to constantly look for the good in people, to always believe even when it’s perhaps time to give up. That’s what I love about Superman and his bright beacon of hope was lost in the rock’em sock’em building destruction that was Man of Steel.
I left the theater feeling less broken but definitely confused. Was I becoming one of those people? I don't want to be one.
Perhaps I haven’t become a hater yet. I’ve seen three other movies since May and enjoyed them. I loved Iron Man 3 so much I saw it twice, I was enchanted by Much Ado About Nothing, and I felt like Monsters University was a nice and comforting hug. Three out of five isn’t so bad.
If you comment, please remember we all have different opinions and that is okay. I will not judge your feelings and ask that you don’t judge mine.