Friday, July 12, 2013

Man of Steel (Movie Review)

Friday, July 12, 2013 9:12 AM with 8 comments

Man of Steel Movie Poster

Man of Steel

Writer: (screenplay)
Starring: , ,
, , and Kevin Costner
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language

Synopsis from IMDB: 

 A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind. Written by Warner Bros. Pictures


Whenever I think of Superman I think of the speech that Bill gives to Beatrice in the last showdown of Kill Bill Part 2. In the speech, Bill explains that Superman is different from all other superheroes because he really is Superman. While other superheroes are really their alter egos (Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, for example and Spiderman is Peter Parker), Superman is really Superman. Superman's real clothes are his cape and leotard with symbolic S. To blend into society he has to become Clark Kent, but that isn't who he really is. Clark's glasses and his bumbling ways are, in fact, the way Superman views society. His depiction of the human race is the weak reporter who he is forced to become. Viewed in this light, Superman is an intriguing figure, but it is also what kind of makes him the most boring. He's too perfect and unrelatable. Which certainly is what the men behind Man of Steel, namely Zach Synder (300, Watchmen) the director, and producer, Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception), were trying to fix.

(Kill Bill's Superman monologue)

Man of Steel is an origin story (of what I'm sure is a planned trilogy-at least) that takes us all the way back to Superman's birth. Starting on the planet Krypton (heavily CGI'd, barren, yet chock-full of techy looking ships and buildings), the film introduces us to Jor-El (Russell Crowe) who is trying to both reason with General Zod, who is trying to take over the planet during its last gasps, and get his newborn son, Kal-El, off the dying planet. After General Zod kills Superman's dad (this seriously happens in the first few minutes), he and his crew are captured, frozen, and shipped off the planet in a black-hole making ship (or something). Krypton is then no more and the only ones who've escaped are Kal-El and the baddies. 

The early montages of the film are told in flash-backs and try to depict Superman as a young man struggling to find his place in the world. He knows he is different and has always been told by his adopted father (Kevin Costner) not to reveal himself as what he really is, but Kal-El, now going by Clark, cannot help but to save the people around him when they get themselves in trouble. This means he moves around a lot because after people see him, say, hold up a billion pound oil-rig that's on fire in order to save a bunch of oil-rig workers and fisherman, he has to move on or answer a bunch of questions about how he can do the things he can do.  

Eventually, he saves the wrong girl--or the right one, I guess--when he saves Lois Lane and she starts to piece his past together. Frankly, this is when the movie started to go a bit downhill for me. While I enjoyed the flash-backs and Clark trying to figure out his place in the world, once he meets Lois and General Zod makes his way to Earth, it started to become like every other superhero movie that has come out lately.

The motivations behind Lois and Zod were confusing to me. Lois literally met Clark once before she is willing to put him and is secret ahead of literally everybody else on the planet. Sure the dude saved her, but what? It was just so unrealistic. In this adaptation, Lois is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and she all of a sudden stops trying to sniff out the biggest story ever AND refuses to give Superman up when General Zod lands on Earth and demands for the planet to give him up or they will destroy the human race. I mean: Really, Lois, really?!?

General Zod was a little bit more understandable since Kal-El has the DNA imprint of all Kyptonians and that's important for, you know, making more Kyrptonians or whatever, but I still would have liked for his motivations-even just for his uprising in the very beginning before his planet was destroyed-to be explored in a little more depth.

I have no complaints about the acting. Henry Cavill (from the Showtime show The Tudors) does a fine job as Superman. He certainly did better than Brandon Routh did in the 2006 reboot of the comic who had about as much personality and charm as dry toast (and the script for that was horrible--I'm not placing all the blame on him). I love Amy Adams and have been a huge fan of hers since the hilarious Drop Dead Gorgeous (I really need to do a review for that movie. It's one of my favorites). I can't help but think Lois Lane should be a brunette and Henry and Amy had, like, no chemistry, but she's a fine actress and she did alright in this role. Diane Lane was great as his Earth mom. And both of his dads: Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe were great. I liked Russell Crowe back in his Gladiator days before he started trying to fight everyone. I can't help but think of an old South Park episode whenever I see him in which he "fights around the world" with his tugboat. ("Oh my God, It's Russell Crowe!") So funny. But I actually liked him here.

(South Park--this is 30 seconds and hilarious.)

My biggest complaints about this movie are this: there is very little humor in the film and the fighting scenes are seriously same old, same old. This version of Superman is definitely darker than the candy-colored films starring Christopher Reeves that came out in the late 70s/early 80s. Nolan's mark definitely "shines" through here in that the colors are muted and our hero is moodier. It does help make our hero more relatable, but the joy is also absent. There is very little levity and what "funny lines" there are fell flat for me. A captain in the army bats her eyes and sighs that he's cute--bleh. And, again, once the fighting starts I lost what interest the movie was still holding for me. Like the Avengers' film last year (and really most superhero movies) Metropolis and a small town in Kansas are all but completely demolished. It's hard not to imagine the literally hundreds of people who would have gotten hurt or died in this type of mass destruction (buildings falling down left and right, etc.) The fighting went on for way too long and it was all but pointless as you can't really hurt people from Krypton apparently.

Overall, I was definitely underwhelmed by the film. I'm sure I'll see the next installment because I do like the actors, director, and producer, and I'm just a sucker for superheroes, but I'm definitely hoping for something more in the next installment.  


  1. "The fighting went on for way too long and it was all but pointless as you can't really hurt people from Krypton apparently".

    I couldn't agree more Natalie. The fight scenes were so tedious, they could of cut about 20 mins of fighting and they would of still been more than enough.

    Like you I was underwhelmed by Superman. It was ok but should of been better. I felt General Zod was the strongest part of the film - actor did a great job IMHO

    1. Michael Shannon was awesome, but I just wanted to know more about him and his motivations. I'm bummed that I didn't enjoy this more. I was really excited about it for months before it came out, but really felt pretty meh about it when the credits rolled. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I agree with several things in the review, though I think because of my deep, deep love for all the flashbacks in the film I overall liked it more than you did. I have heard of a lot of complaints (that I completely agree with) about how old the fighting gets in the movie as well as stinkin' destructive it is. It's really ridiculous. Good review!

    1. Thanks! Honestly, the flashback part was by far my favorite and I was definitely involved during that part of the film. It was when all the fighting started that I dis-connected. It was just too over-the-top and all the destruction was just too much. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I was really disappointed by this movie, as well! The "romance" between Clark and Lois was just... weird. Like you said, there was no chemistry, and it didn't even really make sense that Lois fell for him after meeting him once, even if he did save her life. *sigh* I was really looking forward to Amy Adams and Henry Cavill, too. Disappointing for such a great cast.

    1. Yeah, the romance was definitely under-developed (but I'm sure it will be a major focus in the next film). I am a fan of both actors, so I was disappointed by their lack of chemistry. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Bleh, this seems to be the general consensus but it kind of bums me out because I was hoping for more...a lot more. I still haven't seen it yet and I think I'm holding off for this very reason. I had high hopes with Christopher Nolan's involvement and the caliber of the actors involved but the love story and action bits falling flat like that, well that's just the thing that puts a damper in the overall enjoyment of a movie right? I remember that speech from Kill Bill Vol.2 and I tend to agree with you that the way Superman is essentially, makes him a less compelling character than say Batman (for me at least) Brilliant review though, thanks so much for the insight! :)

    1. Thanks, Micheline. I was bummed, too. I was definitely hoping for something more. I love that speech from Kill Bill and it is always what I think of when I think of Superman. I still think Christopher Nolan is brilliant, but unfortunately it just wasn't enough. Thank for stopping by.


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