Man of Steel – Review

 

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I have a confession to make – I’ve never really liked Superman.  He’s a morally simplistic, invincible alien who always does the right thing and is never in any real danger.  So imagine my surprise when I was blown away by the trailer. This looked amazing.  I’ve already written that the movie could never live up to the trailer.  So was I right?  Is this more Man of Shit than Man of Steel? (Sorry, I can do better than that)

Man of Steel is director Zack Snyder’s version of the familiar origin story of Superman (Henry Cavill) but with a few embellishments.  The Planet Krypton is about to go boom so Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sends his son Jesus, um I mean, Kal to Earth in a spaceship where he is found and raised by a couple in Kansas USA.  The boy becomes Superman.  When he begins to learn more about his past, a bad Kryptonian called General Zod (Michael Shannon) comes to earth looking for him.

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First impressions are good with the writers wisely choosing to show Clark growing up in intermittent flashbacks meaning the first half isn’t a chore.  So far, so good.  But things begin to unravel when the bad guys show up.  Where the film should soar it becomes bogged down in exposition and messy action involving super powered demi-gods.

For all the massive smackdowns and over the top battles the action at times resembles a fight between two rubbery action figures. This might have been acceptable during Matrix Reloaded days but it’s disappointing in 2013.

Add to this the problem that it’s difficult to see what’s going on in these action scenes.  Snyder has received flak in the past for using too much slow motion in fight scenes in his films but MoS could do with some of it.  Fights basically consist of characters flying at each other through buildings with presumably a civilian body count in the thousands which doesn’t seem right in a Superman film and there are too many painfully 9/11-esque collapsing skyscrapers.

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He’s behind you!! Clark wasn’t a pantomime fan

Cavill is great as Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman even if he does have more names than a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. He’s a charming, nice guy and displays good chemistry with Lois Lane (Amy Adams). This brings up a problem for those of us who aren’t Superman fans – Superman is quite boring.  He starts the movie as a nice guy who does good things and he spends the rest of it as a nice guy who does good things.  There’s nothing wrong with this but post Dark Knight it seems a bit dull.

Shannon is suitably evil as Zod and sports an even more evil haircut. You get the sense that he is a very angry, easily frustrated guy. You can say a lot of things about him but you can’t say he isn’t patriotic.  The movie picks up when he’s on-screen but he gets relegated to standing on a ship shouting and not getting involved in enough action which is a huge waste of his talent

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Other good performances come from Kevin Costner as Clark’s adoptive dad and Russell Crowe as his real one (Crowe is in it a hell of a lot more than Brando in the original).  But when the only memorable thing about a bombastic superhero film is the acting then something has gone wrong.

The one word I would use to describe Man of Steel is ‘disappointing’.  For all the good performances there’s nothing interesting or exciting for the characters to do.  The plot is overly complicated, the film’s internal logic doesn’t make sense and the reliance on explosions and noise to cover up poor choreography is unforgivable.  We never get to understand the Superman character or what he learns from the events of the film.  Even for huge fans of Superman this just isn’t good enough.  Man of Steel?  More like Man of Stale! Ah that’s better.

6/10

Have you seen Man of Steel?  Can you let me know what Superman fans thought of it?  Maybe I’m missing something.  Let me know in the comments below.

23 comments

  1. Nice review dude, even though I’d have to disagree with quite a bit of it. I too thought there were weaknesses with it — and this is certainly not the taste of utter perfection that all the trailers made it out to be, so on some level I was disappointed as well. The weaknesses I found were not so much with the action (even though I would have to agree with there being a bit of a lack of truly interesting choreography, there’s only so many times we can see Superman/Zod tangle up together through falling buildings), but more with some of the reactions and dialogue. Barring the main cast, there was still wayyy too much of a cheese factor present here which bothered the hell out of me. I’m sure a lot of people are willing to overlook the dumb reactions or stunned looks on people’s faces, but I was hoping we wouldn’t get any of that whatsoever. It’s even present in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and it bothered me there as well. All in all though, I thought this was an incredibly thorough engagement with a virtually indestructible and well-loved character that really tested the limits of what he can and cannot do. My review should be posted later if ya wanna swing on by. Cheers.

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    • Thanks Nick. I thought a lot of the dialogue was cheesy too. There were a few awful lines. Its still an enjoyable film and a good way to spend two hours but I thought it could have been so much more. I think they should have kept it simple and then expanded things in a sequel. I’ll definitely read your review when it’s up

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      • Lol, who’s this “Nick” you are referring to? Have I changed names?? a-ha!!! I have, haven’t I?? I’ll start going by nick from now on. 😉

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  2. First hour was a tear jerker…..second hour was a skull breaker. Synder couldn’t hold himself back. I feared this would happen. Nolan should have kept him on a tighter leash. Agree with you bro. Disappointed. Gavin.

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  3. I liked it more than you did, but it sure did have problems that are pretty hard to overlook. Still, I had fun and for me, it’s a welcome break from the formula that Marvel has been using over and over. There’s also still a lot of potential for the sequel being great, since the cast was good and (spoiler) Clark doesn’t even get settled into Metropolis until the very end. The best change that they could make is bring in a better director to supervise.

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    • Thanks Garrett, I agree completely. With a different director and the same cast I think a sequel could be amazing. I’d like to see a bad guy from the Superman comics that hasn’t been used yet

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  4. There were a lot of problems; script, character interactions, emotion, flashbacks, story flow. But in the end it was truly entertaining so I kind of ignored all the negatives and just had fun with it.

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  5. Awesome review. Totally spot on. And the exact right rating – 6/10. That’s what I gave it but Tim The Film Guy yelled at me. 😉 Overall, this movie really pissed me off. It was all going so well until that shit at the end, which lasted an eternity. Funny you mentioned The Matrix – I was annoyed that a Superman movie looked more like the damn Matrix at times. And “more names than a member of the Wu-Tang Clan”. Ha! You’re funny. And your dad looks like Bowie. Cool. 🙂

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  6. Hey, obviously a bit late to this one, but I love your review – glad to see there are other people out there who feel about the same as I do on this one! I just have a quick question, now that the film’s been and gone; what did you think of Pa Kent’s death scene?

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    • I thought it Pa Kent’s death was totally pointless. If you’re an indestructible alien you don’t let your dad die rescuing a dog. I’m not sure what the lesson was here?

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      • I’ve no idea. The whole scene was awful. As weird as this sounds, I’m a firm believer in Pa Kent dying of a heart attack as it’s the only thing Clark can’t control. When Pa Kent was like, “No, you take care of your mother my nearly indestructible son, whilst I get the dog. Also, don’t try to save me, even though you’re faster than a speeding bullet, so no-one would probably even see you, because the world isn’t ready for you.”
        But the worst thing for me is the fact that after Clark saved all those school kids in the bus, and he asks Kent if he should have let them die, and Kent replies, “Maybe.” I was like, WHAT?
        It’s nice to have a rant, so thanks.

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