July 02, 2013

Film review. An analysis of the cinematography of Man of Steel by Zack Snyder

Watching Man of Steel wasn't in my to-watch list: I kind of felt that the reboot of Superman by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch) would not be comparable to the remembrances I have of the original saga which I saw when child; anyway I couldn't find any interesting première this week, so I gave it a go. I definitely should have followed my instinct.

The plot. The life and battles of Superman since the destruction of Krypton till he saved the earth from the first time fighting against General Zod (a mix of Superman I and Superman II).

Cinematography: Amir Mokri
Camera: Arriflex 235, Arriflex 435 ES, Panavision Panaflex Millenium XL2, Red Epic
Lenses: Panavision C Series,  E-series
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Format: 35mm
Film Stock: Kodak Vision

Even if Man of Steel is a film with plenty of special effects (the normal choice would have been to shoot on digital format), the cinematographer Amir Mokri (Fast and Furious, Transformer: Dark of the Moon, Vantage Point, National Treasure) decided to shoot it in film. I am not sure if the choice was his or it was a director or production´s demand, the fact is that after all the post-production the negative has gone trough, there is nothing left of the film feel and look. Instead, Man of Steel has a modern, contemporary look, far away from the original saga. The image is clean  and sharp, the contrast is quite high and the shadows are deep; there´s a cold and bluish tone throughout the film, apart from the flash-backs of Superman childhood, and everything is just darker: even his traditional blue custom and red cape turn swarthy. It looks like Superman has started to become the Dark Knight... Christopher Nolan, the man behind Batman´s reboot is Man of Steel's writer and producer: is this change his call?

Camera never stays still or, I should say, camera moves too much. Camera is often hand-held, and shaking is evident: it is used this way to express how Clark Kent/Superman feels, lost, out of place, unwanted and looked as different by his school mates. But the shakings are exaggerated, the shots are short and close, and the editing quite quick, creating a sense of giddiness that, if it's ok for the fight scenes, it doesn't work at all for the rest of the movie.

Man of Steel doesn't really have a cinematography: everything is just there for being spectacularly visual rather than having a meaning, like for example, the abuse of the typical flares anamorphic lenses produce and the repetitiveness of the fast zooms in the first part of the film. I suppose Amir Mokri just tried to light in the best way possible in order to achieve an image that would have made easy the post-production work.

Finally, Man of steel is a film which is audio and visually loud, made to impress, full of too long fights, with an empty story and flat characters. I might be a conservative or a nostalgic but I prefer more content and less special effects, like the original Superman.


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  4. bullshit...his visuals are full of meaning

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