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An obvious problem with the Superman character is that he’s too darn strong, physically. He can fly, smash himself through buildings, defy alien gravity thingies, throw the guy from Bug around…RoboCop wasn’t perfect. We got to watch him spaz out when he got (physically) close to Dick Jones, and he got pretty messed up by the Detroit Police. He had to use baby food to fix his aim. Damn. While RC was really strong, he wasn’t totally invincible. Man of Steel never had me worried for the main character. It’s an old issue with the Superman character, so I guess the task writers are left with is to flesh out his humanity, and the pitfalls of his sympathy for mankind.

Well, Man of Steel has no humanity. When it’s not being soaked in boring CGI, it’s being melodramatic. Right from the jump, we’re treated to this overacted Shakespearean plot on Krypton…which somehow ends up being the most interesting part of the movie.Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon and others try really hard to look serious in a flat set of scenes. They deliver lines like, “…in time, they will join you in the sun.” What’s odd is that this kind of prelude actually worked in Thor. Maybe it was due to the better cast, or maybe the world of Asgard was more interesting. That movie also became less interesting as the focus turned to humans on Earth. You only had one Earthen city in RoboCop, but somehow it was enough!

Computer-generated effects can be great, but they need to be crystal clear. Too much of the time they obscure parts of the action sequences, relying on sound effects and smart editing, so the audience has to use their imagination to figure it all out. There used to be good choreography in action scenes; scenes with real explosives destroying miniatures (see: Bob Morton’s house) and super gory squibs popping on someone’s chest (see: that poor schmuck who got perforated by ED-209). Even when that stuff doesn’t look totally convincing, at least you could follow the objects from point A to point B.

Basically, Man of Steel is mediocre. It does a lot of what you’d expect from big blockbusters these days. It wants to be over-the-top entertaining, but it also desperately wants to evoke emotion. It fails at being interesting. I already had a Man of Steel. A steel man. A robot man. A robot…cop. ROBOCOP

NOT-ROBOCOP

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