Man of Steel

SupermanMy partner and I succumbed to the hype surrounding the latest foray in to the Superman genre, and went to see the film on opening night. We also elected to see this via a new concept for us: an American style drive-in cinema – more of that later.

The movie essentially re-hashes the elements of the original Superman film: his expulsion from the planet Krypton to save the race from extinction; his adoption by human parents; the development of, and secrecy surrounding his extraordinary strength and powers; his battle with General Zod; his dalliance with Lois Lane, and the creation of his alter ego, Clark Kent. Nothing new there, then.

So what can I say about this film that differs from previous ones in this category? It’s glossy with fantastic special effects; it updates the genre for a 2013 audience by introducing up-to-date references: mobile phones, latest model of cars, internet, etc.; the music is atmospheric and suitably superhero-esque in its tone; the actor Henry Cavill is perfectly cast as our hero with a body that would appear to defy nature, and only be fit for a superhero; Russell Crowe steals every scene with his delectably dulcet tones, and the entire film is packed with enough action to feed the most testosterone-fuelled male for a decade.

Unfortunately, thrill-seeking action seems to be the pervading force in this enterprise with plot development trailing in its wake. Whereas in the past Superman tried to cause minimal damage saving humankind with his superhero shenanigans, he now leaves an aftermath of destruction that would put the fiercest hurricane to shame.

I realise that the audience expects a prerequisite amount of frisson from these blockbuster type movies, but not at the expense of the story. Any development of relationships: Superman and his adopted father, his biological father, Lois Lane – were skimmed over in the briefest of scenes, leaving the viewer without any sense of connection with the protagonist because of a distinct lack of, or depth of emotion.

It’s still worth seeing though, for all the reasons I mentioned earlier, as I’m sure opinion will be divided on this particular one.

And what about the drive-in experience? The venue we visited is called Route 66 and based in a heavily industrialised, trading area of Manchester – you can view their website here. The screen is a white wall on the side of a huge building, and the projector is housed in a container that you would usually find on a ship bringing goods in and out of the country. A designated frequency allows you to tune in, via your car radio, and enjoy the cinematic experience.

Advantages: freedom to talk, eat, drink, smoke, or whatever you fancy doing in your car whilst watching the film; onsite pizza ordering service that is delivered directly to your car; one fixed fee payable irrespective of however many passengers; unique experience; no disturbance from an audience crackling sweets wrappers, crunching nachos, or slurping drinks… except for those in the car with you.

Disadvantages: chaotic queuing before entering the site; total darkness required for optimum viewing otherwise reduced visibility; viewing through windscreen wipers in the rain; portaloo toilets available, which involves trekking across a dark and wet car park; uncomfortable positioning in car seats if a long film; reduced visibility if more than two people in the car; cannot leave until the film ends, to then fight through a mass of cars all trying to leave at once.

As you can see the cons just about outweigh the pros, but we are glad we tried it, and wouldn’t rule it out as an option again. I would recommend everybody who enjoys the cinema experience to try it at least once, and make up their own mind.

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