Analyzing 2013 CBMs - MAN OF STEEL

The second of five editorials looking back at the CBMs of 2013. Wonder Woman and The Flash now appear to be joining Batman and Lex in the sequel to Man Of Steel, but how good was the original?

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By Minty - 12/4/2013
Hey guys, Minty here. After last week’s editorial seemed to have gone down pretty well with you guys, I’ve decided to continue with my plan to review all five big CBMs of 2013 (Translation: thanks guys for not all ignoring/hating me). Thanks to all of your comments as well – reading through them all was really encouraging.

Anyway, now I’ve stopped the ass-kissing I can move onto this week’s film – one that is probably even more divisive than last week’s: Man Of Steel. Once again I’ll try to focus my editorial on this film individually, and will aim to avoid making endless comparisons against other films. Once again, there will be SPOILERS. Please read/skim and comment!

Man Of Steel

Studio: DC/Warner Bros
Release Date (US): June 14, 2013
Director: Zack Snyder
Box Office (Global): $662 million

The Good



- The Human Element: In my opinion, this film’s greatest strengths lie in its attempts to ‘humanise’ Kal-El, through his emotional back story with his adoptive parents and his struggle to fit in with society. Snyder’s usage of flashbacks throughout the movie gave Superman some much needed character development, and added a deeper, more introspective angle to the film. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner’s performances as Martha and Jonathon Kent were the movie’s best parts, while Henry Cavill was at his best when he was portraying the lost and confused Clark Kent. I even enjoyed Superman’s conversation with the priest (despite its religious overtones), as it still showed Clark as a man, conflicted and in need of guidance, despite his immense power. The movie succeeds where Superman Returns failed in making the dramatic side relevant, and does not overdo it. This makes Man Of Steel undoubtedly the most dramatic comic book movie of the year - whether that’s for better or for worse is up to the individual viewer, but for my part I really enjoyed it.

- Clark's Abilities: Linked to Clark’s growth as a human and hero is his development of powers, explored really well here (as opposed to just breezing over it like in the original movie). Clark’s abilities play an integral part in making him feel alienated from his peers, and Jonathon and Martha Kent do an excellent job of supporting and guiding him (“You are my son”). I also like that they held back a few powers for sequels, avoiding an overload and making him seem too much like a god.

- (Some) Supporting Characters: One of the film’s breakout characters was Antje Traue’s Faora, whose formidable onscreen presence was a joy to watch. Equally impressive was Laurence Fisburne as Perry White, who thoroughly justified his bold casting in the movie. Additionally, Richard Schiff (best known as the amazing Toby on ‘The West Wing’) was great as Emil Hamilton. My one criticism of these characters is their lack of screen time – particularly Perry White, who was left to just run around with the rest of Metropolis’s headless chicken population for the last third of the movie.

- The Cinematography & Score: Visually, Zack Snyder is one of the best directors in the business – a trait he continued with this movie. Cinematographer Amir Mokri created a very real but powerful setting for Supes’ latest adventure, while Hans Zimmer’s intimate yet sometimes thunderous score gave the film its emotional weight. The imagery was a large part of the success of Clark’s emotional back story, with that last scene featuring a young Clark and his ‘cape’ feeling truly iconic. Additionally, their (unfairly criticised) work in the impressive flying scenes captured the raw power of Superman’s most famous ability, and made for a very climatic final fight with Zod. Zimmer’s departure from the iconic original Williams’ theme was much needed, and reflected the change in tone of this particular Superman movie.

- Continuity: Though this is also in light of more recent revelations following the movie, the work Man Of Steel has done in kick-starting a new DCU franchise is great. Through various Easter Eggs and hints, the creative team has teased the creation of a shared universe without giving too much away (though the latter part could be that WB don’t actually know what they want to do…). Additionally, the one positive thing that has come out of the utter massacre of Metropolis is the way it could set up Lex Luthor as a villain in the sequel with a very real reason to hate Superman (and of course we all know which other billionaire will be joining him). For the first time in a while, I am once again excited for DC’s cinematic future.

The Mixed



- Jor-El & Lois Lane: Russell Crowe and Amy Adams are two of the finest actors around. Together they rack up no less than seven Oscar nominations through countless great performances, yet in this movie it felt like their presences were wasted by poor writing and plot holes. Both benefited from great introductions, with Crowe impressing greatly in the opening montage, and Adams shining as the Planet’s feisty reporter, but from then on began to pop up in the most ridiculous of locations – the worst of which was on Zod’s ship, where Jor-El’s ‘ghost’ was running (phasing) around of his own free accord, while Lois was invited aboard because she was… wait why was she on the ship in the first place?! After this it became clear that Lois was only really there to magically appear whenever anything important happened. She also had very little chemistry with Superman, so by the time that kiss (yep, the one with that joke) came around, it felt out of place. Lazy writing hampered two potentially great roles, even when both the actors’ performances were sound.

- Zod: Michael Shannon’s Zod has had a mixed response in general, with many proclaiming him the year’s best villain (and he does beat Killian quite easily…), but others finding him annoying. I sit somewhere in between, and feel that he is a good villain, but doesn’t quite hit the heights he could have. At his best, Zod was dangerous and vengeful, but never truly memorable. I feel his personal back story with Jor-El could have been expanded upon a bit more, and been the real motivation for his vendetta against Kal (as opposed to the boring and confusing Codex plotline). Also: Supes… y u no kneel? Oh yeah… Zod never told you to…

- "Oh Snap!": One thing that sure did piss a lot of people off was Zod’s death… at the hands of Superman. I was quite impressed with the decision, and appreciated the weight of the action on Superman’s character – showcasing how difficult the decisions he must make can be. Unfortunately, the act was compromised a little by two things: the fact that the people in danger could have escaped (and weren’t made to look completely trapped), and the fact that five minutes earlier Supes had basically killed another million people. Suddenly this act carries a little less meaning... One criticism I don’t like is ‘why didn’t Superman just turn Zod’s neck away’ – they’re both super powered beings, you try carefully moving a rage-driven, heat-firing Kryptonian’s neck. He had very little control in the matter.

- The Military: While I initially enjoyed the inclusion of the military for the way it tied this version of Superman to the real world, I soon got a little bored by them. I found the characters of Swanwick and Hardy generic (and Farris just plain annoying). Had they used a character like Sam Lane or maybe John Corben I may have been more invested. Hardy’s rivalry with Faora was a plus point though.

The Bad



- The Finale: The source of the most debate, and in my opinion, the part that stopped this becoming a truly great film. Overly long and incredibly destructive, I feel that had they shortened these sequences by half, many critics would start to appreciate them for their good elements, such as the sheer ferocity of Faora and Superman’s fight. That whole middle section of the three part finale could have easily been removed, and left the movie feeling a lot less bloated. At times, it feels like WB went too epic, too soon with this movie, when this incredible level of destruction should have been saved for a Justice League movie or a sequel with Doomsday – or maybe just like… the Apocalypse…

- Machines: One thing the ‘Transformers’ series seems to have made clear is that machines are required for every big budget movie. These are super-powered Kryptonians, if you really want them to decimate a city, just set them loose like Faora and ‘the big one’ in the battle of Smallville. The world engine was just loud and annoying, while its other half’s fight with Superman in the Indian Ocean proved nothing other than the fact that Supes can fly around the world really, really fast. Remove the emphasis on machinery, and you remove the somewhat justified ‘Transformers’ comparisons.

- Original Plot Devices: While I do applaud Nolan and Goyer from trying to avoid retelling a Superman story that has been seen before, their overly philosophical ‘Codex’ MacGuffin and strange attention to detail with Earth’s atmosphere just made the plot strained and confusing for audiences. The Codex is core to the parts I like least about the film – from the world engine to Zod’s strange motivation. The atmosphere’s relationship to Kryptonian abilities, while sensible in principle, was made irrelevant by Zod’s rapid adaptation to his powers and Superman’s ability to fly in space. In the end it seemed responsible for creating more plot holes than it avoided.

- Superman's Callousness: In each of the multiple fight scenes, Superman seems as responsible for the death and destruction as Zod’s people. An example would be telling the citizens of Smallville to stay in their buildings, before making the town the battleground for his fight with Faora. Not once did Superman try to take the fight away from the populated areas, and he often threw his enemy into various buildings and vehicles. While Snyder was right in humanising the ‘too-good-for-this-world’ nature of Superman, he was wrong in removing his sense of concern for other people not named Lois Lane.

- (Other) Supporting Characters: Simply put, Jenny ‘I’m not Jimmy’ Olsen and Carrie ‘How is she a Captain?’ Farris really annoyed me. If Goyer wanted a female sidekick to Lois, why not use an actual character like Cat Grant, and not something that sounds so similar to Superman’s iconic pal? It seems like Goyer put these two in the script in order to solve the lack of female characters. It doesn’t. It’s a shame because Faora and Martha Kent were written so well.

- 'Humour': David S. Goyer should never attempt to write comedy… ever. Many have criticised the film for being too dark, and the cringe-inducing lines of rare comic relief only highlighted this problem. “Hehehe… kissing… hehehe… its funny cause I’m not a human”.

Overall

Although my negative section may suggest otherwise (sorry – I try to stay balanced, but it is easier to point out the flaws in movies!), I still did really enjoy Man Of Steel. At its best moments, it was not only the best CBM, but possibly the best film I have seen all year. However, the overemphasis on action towards the end, and poor use of a character like Lois, does let the movie down. It does appeal to those looking for epic thrills and adventure (and why not? It’s why we watch superhero movies!), but may Some of the criticism this movie has garnered from certain pretentious critics seems unjustified, and I feel Zack Snyder has done a solid job in reintroducing Superman to a new generation.

Overall, I would rate the movie 3.5 out of 5 stars - classing it as a CBM with a lot of emotional depth, but sometimes fails in balancing its action with its plot.

Stray Observations...

- Between the titanic levels of destruction and all the shameless advertising, I reckon Zack Snyder was trying to send a message to old Michael Bay. “Two can play at this game mate!”

- In retrospect, Lois being invited on Zod’s ship makes total sense. I mean, who wouldn’t want to meet a “Pulitzer Prize winning journalist”?

- Don’t mind if I’m on my own, but I teared up just a little when Jonathon Kent tells Clark to talk to the hand… um I mean not save him to protect his secret

- Why did Emil have to die? You can’t kill Toby. Superman’s biggest failing here is that he didn’t save Toby. Screw Lois, I would have saved Toby…

- Gotta hand it to Henry Cavill, all that time in the gym he spent in preparation for the role has really paid off. He looks great in that oil rig scene - you might say he’s ‘on fire’… (Sorry!)

- “I just think he’s kinda hot” – Carrie Farris, appealing to the Twilight crowd since 2013.

- Zod should become a central part of the next ‘Where’s Waldo’ book. He will find him…

- One ally Lex Luthor should call upon in the sequel is Pete ‘The (Not So Much Of A) Boss’ Ross, whose gotta be pissed his old pal messed up the IHOP

- Say what you like about Christopher Reeve’s more charming Superman, at least Henry Cavill figured out how to wear his underwear

- Yes! Went through an entire Superman editorial without once mentioning Batman! Oh Crap.


Anyway, thanks for reading again! I feel I may get some slack for my highly (and slightly generous) rating of Iron Man 3 in comparison to this. My reason is I had more fun while watching Iron Man 3. In general, I enjoyed both, and found them good (albeit occasionally flawed) additions to the ‘Golden Age’ of CBMs. Also thanks to SauronsBANE1 for the tips on formatting! So yeah, what did you guys think? Please comment and review!
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30 Comments
EdgyOutsider - 12/4/2013, 4:35 PM
Agree to disagree. Man of Steel is the worst out of the main four comicbook movies this year.
Poolio - 12/4/2013, 4:54 PM
Never cared for Superman until this movie, I liked it better Than Iron Man 3.
SauronsBANE1 - 12/4/2013, 4:57 PM
Whoa thanks for the shout-out, almost didn't catch that!

Once again, excellently-written article! Thank you for being one of the few people here who doesn't have to resort to saying a movie has to be either the most epic, amazing movie on the face of the earth or the worst movie ever made. Some movies fall in between, and I personally believe MoS is the epitome of that kind of movie. On to the actual content of your article:

Eh, I have to disagree with the "human element" part. The movie may have made everyone seem more 'relatable' and 'human' and 'flawed,' but that was only on a very surface-level. Just because Clark walks around saying that he's conflicted and confused, doesn't mean he actually is. I mean, what is he conflicted about? Whether to save people or not? From what I saw, he never hesitated to save anyone. The only time he didn't was with his father. But besides that very terribly-written scene, he never actually acts conflicted. He says that one thing, but then does another thing completely.

And the flashbacks could've been much more effective, but it's like the writers just tossed those scenes in a hat and picked them out at random and threw them into the movie. Watch them again, they literally had nothing to do with the scenes that occur before and after it. Nothing. They just seemed so haphazard, it was ridiculously distracting. Compare these flashbacks to the ones used in Batman Begins, and one can really tell the difference.

But I especially agree with you with the characters of Jor-el and Lois Lane and the magical teleporting abilities of both. No chemistry, no good reason for Lois to actually be so shoehorned in to Kal-el's storyline...symptoms of extremely lazy writing. The under-written characters of Perry White, Jenny Olsen and that other Daily Planet worker are evidence of this as well. It was ridiculous that the movie kept cutting to their predicament in the finale, seeing how we barely ever got to know them. Why are we supposed to care about them?

The finale got really boring, really fast. One can only stomach so much senseless punching and tossing into buildings before you realize...none of these punches are hurting the characters in the least. There's no consequences to their actions, except for the poor helpless humans left in their wake.

I'm trying to write a comment that's actually smaller than you're article haha, so I'll end with: the bad in the movie definitely outweighs the good. I'd put it at somewhere around 5, maybe 6 out of 10. Another good article though, and I personally love the "Stray Observations" part! Keep it up and keep these articles coming!
Pending - 12/4/2013, 5:17 PM
I think this is the least human Superman has ever been. Mainly for a lot of the same reasons stated up there^ Most of the movie it's just everyone talking about how ALIEN he is as if Kal-El is more important than Clark.

Almost every scene with his parents has to do with his alien heritage. They really go their way to dehumanize Clark in this version that it gets depressing.
bazinga85 - 12/4/2013, 5:29 PM
Easily the CBM of the year
Lhornbk - 12/4/2013, 5:53 PM
Ok, first, no, Superman did NOT kill a million people 5 minutes earlier. There is no evidence in any of the fight scenes that the buildings were occupied. More than likely, they had been evacuated, so he didn't kill anyone.

2nd, they brought Lois on board to find out more about Kal, hoping she knew where the ship was with the codex. And, since they probably knew that Kal had only surrendered after getting a promise of her freedom, they may have thought they could use her as leverage if needed against him.

As far as his callouness, he does save the whole entire planet, destroying the Genesis chamber with all the potential/unborn Kryptonians to make sure Krypton doesn't come back and wipe out the planet. And he did save several soldiers.

MoS was the best cbm of the year.
BatManiac - 12/4/2013, 5:58 PM
You give well thought out reasons for what you did or didn't like and your stray observations are hilarious! I may not agree with everything, but this editorial is excellent. Nice work Minty.
Pending - 12/4/2013, 6:01 PM
*slow clap* Congratulations Jor-El thousands of people died but at least your son got to play superhero, your plan worked out so [frick]ing well.
Minty - 12/4/2013, 6:15 PM
Thanks for all the comments guys – I appreciate you all have your different viewpoints, like I said, it’s a very divisive movie.

@Pending – You make a good point, and in many ways I agree that the finale undoes all of the work earlier in the film to humanise Superman. On the human vs alien stuff, I feel like the writers tried to play both angles, so that they can say that he's somewhere in between, but unfortunately it doesn’t come across as well as they hoped in the actual movie.

@Lhornbk – I was kinda joking with the one million figure, but I do still feel Superman was responsible for at least some of the destruction. I know it’s just a movie, but you can’t really expect they evacuated an entire city so quickly. The battle between Zod and Superman spread city wide, there were always going to be casualties. On Lois, I feel like the never made it clear enough why she was there, but I do see your point.

@Batmaniac – Thanks very much man! I appreciate that just because we may differ in opinion on the film doesn’t change your opinion on the editorial. And I’m glad you like the stray observations, they're always my favourite part to write.
Minty - 12/4/2013, 6:16 PM
@SauronsBANE1 - No worries bud, and yeah should have put it in bold - your tips really did help a lot. Thanks again for commenting too, you make some great points. I guess like @EdgyOutsider said we sometimes have to agree to disagree with our views on CBMs (guess I’m just a sucker for a flashback haha!).

You’re reasons for disliking the movie are very sound, and we even agree on certain points. I feel for me here I’m the opposite, and I’ve let the good parts outweigh the bad (although it is sometimes hard to justify it). Also I also hated the Daily Planet workers’ scenes during the finale as well, it just made the film more bloated.

Anyway as ever thanks for your support, and your comment was a great read in itself, don’t worry about the length!
GliderMan - 12/4/2013, 6:23 PM
It was a good movie, but dare I say there wasn't enough humor. There's nothing I can say when I'm with my friends "Hey, remember that part..?"
IMO, there just wasn't much special about the movie.

That said I'm going to buy it.
Pending - 12/4/2013, 6:35 PM
The last scene drives the point home at how much of an after thought "Clark" really is.

He just decides to work at the Daily Planet for almost no reason. Originally Clark went to school for that it was his passion in MOS it's nothing but a joke.

At no point did Clark ever show interest is reporting or is even shown to have the experience to even be considered for the job. It's almost an insult to people who work as reporters, It's like someone saying "Pssh anyone can do that job!" *smug face*
pesmerga44 - 12/4/2013, 7:25 PM
Good editorial well written and I agree with a number of points you made. My biggest gripe with the movie and you partly hit on it was the lack of utter common sense in a number of key scenes one of which being why Lois Lane was brought aboard Zod's ship. Goyer had to completely throw out logic with no real explanation in order for that scene and the whole Priest scene to make any sense. Why Superman goes to some random Priest when he has full access to Jor-El. Jor is pretty much alive the entire movie Kal can have conversations with him with Jor giving his thoughts and ideas upon problems. You mentioned how the codex was a macguffin well Jor was a Deus Ex Machina how he magically pops up and does the majority of the saving. HISHE video on Man of Steel is right on and Goyer gave no answer for that at all and it was just bad writing. People talk about the Eagles in LOTR but that is nothing to Jor-El ghost and Kal just being to stupid not to use it.

Last thing I am kinda over Superman killing Zod I get that it is a different take with a new to his powers Superman. My issue which has been brought up before is that Goyer did nothing to give us any idea how Superman is against killing that his reaction made no sense. Especially when 20 mins before he destroyed the last fetus ship which was Krypton's last chance for rebirth maybe Superman is just really Pro-Choice. Beyond comic book fans or fans of Superman those unfamiliar with Superman have no idea that Superman does not kill and how this affects him. Personally the way Goyer wrote the script I don't see why Superman is against killing I am surprised Superman doesn't go all Justice Lords Superman since both his dads keep telling him how he is basically a god and he must lead humanity. Surprised he didn't go to the U.N. and call for the surrender of all nations to bow to his will.
pesmerga44 - 12/4/2013, 7:30 PM
@Pending

I laugh at how Clark gets a job with the Daily Planet beyond mail room boy or coffee boy for Perry since he has no schooling in journalism. Unless of course in MOS 2/Batman and Superman/JL ,don't know what it is anymore, we magically learn Clark actually has a masters in Journalism because that is the only way he becomes a reporter for a world accredited newspaper with a Pulitzer prize winning reporter amongst it's numbers.
Pending - 12/4/2013, 8:56 PM
@Pesmerga44

Yeah. Maybe if it was small newspaper I could probably buy into it maaaaybe but It's the most prestigious news paper in the country and he's also working alongside (as the movie states) pulitzer prize winning reporters wtf??

They would stick his ass in janitorial.
Pending - 12/4/2013, 9:08 PM
@Pesmerga44

I would say that my biggest gripe with Lois taken on board Zod's ship was not her being brought on for vague reasons but why nobody even questions it, not even Superman. The only person who even has some sense to question their motives is the Colonel while Supes just stands there like an idiot.

Then Lois just volunteers to go because things were starting not to make sense.
Tainted87 - 12/4/2013, 10:35 PM
Just gonna point out that this is a REVIEW, brotato.
pesmerga44 - 12/4/2013, 10:40 PM
@Pending

Like I said it is just the exclusion of common sense from these two scenes because that is how Goyer wrote them. There was no reason for Lois to go on the ship I get they probed her mind but really how do they know that she knows anything or that they can't get all the info from Kal. The reason she was really brought on board was because Goyer needed to get Deus Ex Machina Jor onto the ship to fix everything. Also the only reason Kal went to the priest was because if Kal had any brains he would have gone to his father and the movie ends with no loss of human life. Also while I am not sure if the wrecking ball that was the Jesus metaphor was Goyer, possibly could have been Snyder, it makes sense for Kal to go to the priest so THEY COULD Subtly TELL THE AUDIENCE HOW SUPERMAN IS A METAPHOR FOR JESUS.
MightyZeus - 12/5/2013, 4:21 AM
Great editorial but i actually love Man of Steel. I've watched this film five times and only once i've tried to watch it to point out flaws and things which bothered me. There is only a few problems i had with the movie which was the way the flashback scenes where shown/told it didn't seem to flow cohesively.

The fight scenes where amazing but the only fight scene that dragged on for way too long was Superman taking out the terraforming ship in the pacific. Also the references and easter eggs go un noticed when Superman is fighting Zod in Metopolis. Superman did not cause any casualties it was mostly from the Terraforming machines and Zod's forces. Remember he's only one man against an army. Apart from that everything else made sense. I had no problem with Superman killing Zod it was the only logical thing to do since he was not going to stop and there was no way Superman could reason with him.

The Avengers, Terminator 2 and The Dark Knight are my favorite films of all time but even they have flaws and plot holes which can be over looked.
Prime - 12/5/2013, 4:30 AM
Zod would have fitted better in a JL movie.
Prime - 12/5/2013, 4:33 AM
Nice write up. I still like it, but I won't ignore the flaws.
Prime - 12/5/2013, 4:39 AM
@Pending wow dude, you really hate this movie huh?
Minty - 12/5/2013, 5:00 AM
@Pesmerga44 – Thanks man, I totally agree that Jor-El’s large presence in this movie brings up a whole host of new issues with the rest of the plot. I try to avoid being to nitpicky with movies, but certain elements of Goyer’s script are very hard to defend.

@BlackJack10 – Cheers man, and thanks for the warning about the ‘ogre shit’ hitting the wall haha! :)

@Tainted87 – While of course it is in part a review, I’ve tried to put in my own ideas and opinions on how the film could have improved etc, so I feel it also doubles as an editorial. Plus the editorial section is a great place for debate, while sadly less people (myself included) tend to read the review section. Hope that’s cool with you Brotahto - see what I did there… potato, potahto, brotato, brotahto…? Sorry I’ll leave. :P

@MightyZeus – Cheers man, and I like how you chose not to let the negatives drag down some of the good parts of the film. I completely agree with you on the Pacific fight – it was unnecessary and detracted from the good fight scenes with Faora and Zod etc. And yeah Zod’s forces were responsible for more of the carnage.

@Prime – Thanks bud, I see it as a flawed (but still entertaining) movie too. And yeah I can’t help but wonder if Zod would have fitted a JLA film better – good point
Tainted87 - 12/5/2013, 9:40 AM
@Minty
Nah it's ok, I'm just thinking if everyone put up their reviews in the editorial section... well, you know.
RobGrizzly - 12/5/2013, 10:43 AM
The negatives weren't enough to bring the movie down for me. I thought it was the strongest superhero movie of the year

1. Man of Steel
2. The Wolverine
3. Iron Man 3
4. Thor 2
5. Kick-Ass 2

Minty - 12/5/2013, 12:17 PM
@Tainted87 - Cheers mate and no worries that does make sense. I'll add a little more editorial tone to my next three articles so they fit better, and will put any future outright reviews or fan-fics I may do in the right sections :)
Prime - 12/5/2013, 7:16 PM
@ Minty yeah man, I was thinking about this the other day, and Zod should have been the reason why the JL forms. He pretty much tries to turn Superman against the human race.
ChrisEl - 12/6/2013, 7:23 AM
Man of Steel
Thor
The wolverine
...

And waaaaaaaaaaaaay at the bottom of the list: IM3
acheronmagnuz - 12/9/2013, 10:18 PM
Very good review/editorial bro.. I still think this is one of the well made CBM this year, although flawed, but then again, if we wanted too much logic there is always a good documentary film we could all watch. Hehe.. (kidding)

In any case, I share some of your views, some I don't, but I think you rated the movie fairly at 3.5

And you have written this article in a very good manner, a balanced and fair review.


kalelvis - 12/22/2013, 6:02 PM
Some insightful views but one that is just flat wrong. Superman does try to take the fight away from downtown Smallville. After he smacks the Nam-ek with Faora he tries to fly her out of town but Nam-ek knocks him back down to the street. He also knocks Nam-ek away from down town and into the train (which was awesome) just in time to save Hardy from Faora.

The fact is that far too many people who talk about Superman's callousness just don't seem to mention that Superman never gets a chance to take the fight away from downtown (Smallville or Metropolis). He is barely holding his own in what is essentially the first fights he has ever had. He pretty much loses in Smallville.

In Metropolis he punches Zod away from buildings and is (to me) clearly trying to drive him away from the epicenter of the attack, but just as in Smallville, he for the most part gets his ass kicked by a far more experienced warrior.

Superman saves every life he has a chance to save and on top of that....the world.

Now, could all of the above have been shown a bit more clearly, yes. The movie is so fast paced that I think many people just flat miss those moments, but then again, a lot of people didn't.

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