Review: Superman ‘Man of Steel’ – but not Imagination

Yesterday took the eldest to see the Superman prequel ‘Man of Steel’, which was showing at on of the lovely new Barbican cinemas. The theatre didn’t disappoint but the movie did. Such talent and hard work applied to such an ill-thought-out and inconsequential storyline. The only two interesting elements of the story were the idea that an alien might live among us and not be our enemy, and the reaction of humanity as the run-of-the-mill hostile aliens took over every screen on the planet to broadcast their oddly poor visual quality threats (though delivered in perfect, and perfectly audible, English, Uzbeki, etc).

That said, there was no reflection on how humanity, other than a few military types, some journos, and Lois Lane, dealt with this rather grave threat. There is so much to take up with this movie – from its unimaginative Avatar-meets-The Hobbit visualisation of Krypton to its ridiculous model of physics to the lack of engineers making its nevertheless high-tech technology actually work – but what struck me most was the lack of thought about the motivation of the Kryptonites (is that how they are known). Their entire race had been wiped out as they had exhausted all their natural resources (Oh, that’s like us then [clunk]) and they need another planet to repopulate with replicants from their Codex.

Historically civilisations that have colonised others have been growing – in population, wealth, technology – and are driven by the needs and demands of their people, particularly their ruling class. But the Kryptonites have no people and seem to be acting in the interests of generations yet unborn, who carry no social weight. Yes, I know we argue in terms of future generations but this is usually a cypher for the interests of groups in the present.

Of course alien civilisations could operate according to social laws very different from our, and the most interesting science fiction investigates this and doesn’t narcissistically presume ‘they’ are just like ‘us’. But I don’t feel this screenplay was attempting anything as interesting, and if I learned anything about ‘us’ from its study of ‘them’ it was almost unintentional on their part.


Silk St, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DS, UK

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