Posted by: ckckred | June 18, 2013

Man of Steel

Meet the new "Iron Man"

Meet the new “Iron Man”

Out of all the comic book heroes, Superman remains the most iconic.  You could argue in the case of Batman, Spider-Man, or plenty of the characters, but almost everyone recognizes Superman’s image, with his flowing red cape and iconic S-symbol.  Superman is a symbol of hope and dreams.  He debuted back in the Great Depression and, in even more ways than Captain America, represented the United States and was a beacon of peace.

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, the newest reboot of Superman, attempts to bring the legendary heroes’ mythology into the modern world.  On Snyder’s side is producer Christopher Nolan, who managed to redeem the Batman series from the very lows of Batman and RobinMan of Steel wants to be a lot of things: an action picture, a crowd pleaser, but it really tries to conjure the original morale of Superman.

DC Comics has really struggled in today’s film market.  With the exception of Nolan’s Batman series, they have fallen far behind their competitor Marvel in the film business.  2006’s Superman Returns underperformed at the box office, but I was one of the few who enjoyed it.  It was flawed, but it recognized itself.  Man of Steel doesn’t and while there are some well-made scenes the movie falls apart by its final act.

Man of Steel serves as an introduction to Superman.  Planet Krypton is dying due to overproduction, and General Zod (Michael Shannon) attempts to rebel against the Kyrptonian government.  Sensing his planet’s doom, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sends his son Kal-El to Earth, hoping that he one day rebuild his race.  On Earth, Kal is discovered by Jon and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), who raise him and name him Clark.  When he grows up, Clark (Henry Cavill) wanders the Earth, hiding from others as he has enhanced powers that threaten others.  Reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) tracks down Clark after seeing him at an iceberg and attempts to discover his identity.

Man of Steel really deals with the idea of Clark becoming Superman.  Snyder deals with the idea of heroism and patriotism in his movie; the title alone evokes the industrial age.  This is Man of Steel’s greatest flaw.  Synder has never been a subtle director and hammers the moral in the head, making the movie feeling so corny and artificial.  In one scene, Superman literally goes to a priest asking him what to do, which brings up the comparison of Superman to God.  All of these were dealt in the comic book series, but the writers didn’t try to make it so painfully obvious.

Synder also over-makes the film just like he did for Watchmen.  Most scenes are loaded with CGI and as straining to the eyes as the recent The Great Gatsby.  The sound effects are so loud that after I walked out of the movie, my eardrums were still rumbling.  The final act features so many large explosions that it rivals Michael Bay levels.

The cast does their best with their material.  Cavill makes a noteworthy Superman, and Adams, Crowe, and Costner do well in their roles.  However, Shannon is misused as General Zod.  Shannon is perhaps today’s best actor (with the other candidates being Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Fassbender, and Philip Seymour Hoffman), but Zod is a poorly written character designed really to only be a villainous figure.

If Man of Steel is a hit (which it already is), a Justice League movie will be made to rival The Avengers.  While I am not a big fan of the Marvel film series, their movies at least boast the same genre: an action picture with comedy and product placement.  Man of Steel boasts the latter but never fully defines what DC Comics wants for the series.  Is it meant to be serious or have the lightness and humor the original Superman had?  Man of Steel has some great scenes, but it never fully comes together.  It’s a large disappointment for those who are fans of the genre.

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Responses

  1. Very nicely done. I probably liked it more than you (my review will be up soon), although I ultimately shared your reservations. There are bits I really liked about it, but at the same time there’s enough I didn’t like.

    • Thanks! I’ll check out your review soon. I really enjoyed a few parts, but I still had many complaints about the film’s visual style and Snyder overdoing the heroism of Superman.

  2. I expect not to love it either, but am still guardedly hopeful for when I see it…

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s worth seeing at home where you could adjust the volume. I saw it in theaters and I had a massive headache after the movie ended.

  3. Good review. I’m with you in that I’m not sure this movie is even certain of what it wants to be, whereas the Marvel flicks, and even Nolan’s Batman films were all clearly defined. That’s really my biggest gripe with the movie, though I did still enjoy it. It does leave me wondering about the future of a DC movie universe to rival Marvel’s, however. I just hope they address these issues moving forward.

    • Thanks! Yeah, Man of Steel really didn’t define what DC Comics was looking for in their series. I can’t imagine them taking a serious route for all their films.

  4. Good review. I’m with you in that I’m not sure this movie is even certain of what it wants to be, whereas the Marvel flicks, and even Nolan’s Batman films were all clearly defined. That’s really my biggest gripe with the movie, though I did still enjoy it. It does leave me wondering about the future of a DC movie universe to rival Marvel’s, however. I just hope they address these issues moving forward.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I don’t know what direction DC Comics wants to go in. Will their movies be dark and serious like this one or be more light-hearted like Marvel?

  5. Great review. I quite liked the film and I found it to be unique in its seriousness. I like that it gave us something much different than all of the other Superman films. I also really liked Shannon as Zod. Some of my favorite scenes featured him.

    I liked a lot of Singer’s Superman movie but in the end he really blew it. His treatment of Superman was frustrating where hear it felt more in line with who he is (at least for me).

    Anyway, great discussion. You’re certainly not alone when it comes to being disappointed by this flick.

    • Thanks! I enjoyed Superman Returns, even if the end was somewhat messy. I was hoping for more of a lighthearted Superman movie like the original, but despite my complaints I liked parts of the movie.

  6. I like your assessment. Snyder, if contained, can be a force to reckon with. Costner and Lane add warmth. Nice review, Chris.

    • Thanks! Costner and Lane were good in the roles and I liked some parts of the movie but I was ultimately disappointed.

  7. I agree, General Zod was a little one dimensional. I thought all the characters were though aside from Ma and Pa Kent. Hopefully there will be a little more emotional connections between the characters.

    • Thanks for the comment! I agree, there needs to be more emotional impact in the movie and hopefully the sequel will have more of that.

      • I think it will, now that the back story is taken care of we can move on and he can save some cats from trees.

  8. Nice review. Did you give it a rating?

    • Thanks! I don’t give ratings on my site, but if I did, I’d probably give it two out of four stars. It was very disappointing for me.

      • Oh ok. I wasn’t sure where you stood since you said some some pretty positive things too. I guess I was even more disappointed.

  9. It’s a good movie, just not a great one. That will probably change once the sequels begin to come out and show their faces. Good review.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I’m hoping that the sequels are better defined.

  10. “Is it meant to be serious or have the lightness and humor the original Superman had?” Well, obviously they’re hoping to take this movie very, very seriously. There was almost no lightness or humor in it whatsoever. 😦

    I had complaints too, but I still had to grade it out pretty highly. I don’t think it will be a “large disappointment” for fans of the genre, but it might be a disappointment, for sure.

    • Thanks for the comment. I was hoping that the film would take the direction of the 1978 original, but it felt overly serious to me. I was expecting something better.

  11. Good review, I loved the film so obviously a more positive one from me. The only part i’d disagree with is Zod or should I say Michael Shannon who I loved in this film, delivered some brilliant scene 😀

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m a huge fan of Shannon, but I wish he was given more, though he was great in a few scenes.

  12. Yup. Agree with a lot of your points–this film had me straight down the middle–I liked and disliked things (my review explains in more detail 🙂 )–but it does have enough good to build a solid foundation for the future.

    My biggest problem was the lack of humans in this story–a running theme was “How would the world react to having an alien living among us?” “They are not ready…etc, etc.” And yet, not a single solitary reaction to him is shown. One of Superman’s biggest traits is his role as protector of this planet and they do not do enough to show that with interactions with the humans in it. Shame. There were some great opportunities that were missed. Oh! And yeah…lighten up guys–laughter is needed in these films to help balance the intensity of the action–otherwise (like this time) you come out exhausted!

    Nice write-up! Later! 😀

    • Thanks! Great point about the lack of human interaction, I would like to see more of that. I’ll check out your review right now.

  13. Let the hate flow through you.

    I actually digging this film for the first 3rd, For a Snyder film this is perhaps his most subtle.

    I hated all the punching, the lack of chemistry between Lane and Clark, the explosions, and the ditching of all semblance of a narrative after Zod arrived.

    Also agree about Shannon wasting his talents in this one. You could of gotten anyone to scowl and yell a lot in this role.

    • Thanks for the comment. Yeah, the first part was good but the movie falls afterward. I was expecting a great performance by Shannon, but he didn’t really add much to his character.

      • i liked his small role in Mud a lot more than this performance.

      • Yeah, Shannon was better in Mud. I heard he’s working with Jeff Nichols on a new project.

      • Are they gonna be the new Depp and Burton? 😉

  14. Nice review. Saw it last week but haven’t written anything yet. I agree there are some good points to it (most of the performances were decent, for example) but for me it really lacked any of the iconic ‘Superman’ moments that made the original Christopher Reeve series. I disliked the seriousness of it. I want y-fronts and a camp Lex Luthor!!!

    • Thanks! Yeah, it was far too serious, and I was hoping the movie would have a lightness like the original. That ending was far too over-the-top.

  15. I didn’t find the visuals and sound to be as abrasive as you did. I also don’t mind Zod being entirely villainous. Sometimes having a flat character as the villain works as long as his personality works on screen, and I felt it did in this case.

    • Thanks for the comment. I thought Zod could have better used like he was in the comics but I felt he didn’t have a strong presence on the screen.

  16. Good review; I agree w/ a lot of your points. I also agree with you about DC not having an overall plan/approach for their superhero films.

    • Thanks! Yeah, DC needs a better plan for their superhero movies.

  17. And again I agree with you almost completely. I’m glad I found your blog. 😉


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