PaulRom Reviews: MAN OF STEEL (2D)
Despite earning a box office record-breaking opening weekend, Man Of Steel has been met with a somewhat mixed response from both fans and critics. Does Superman's latest big screen outing soar or not? Check out my take after the jump. [Warning: Very Mild Spoilers Ahead]
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Russell Crowe
Director: Zack Snyder
Running Time: 2 hrs. 23 min.
Release Date: June 14th, 2013 (Theatrical)
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.
Inarguably one of the most anticipated films of 2013 was Man Of Steel, Warner Bros.’ attempt to not only relaunch the Superman franchise, but to also potentially kick off a new string of DC Comics adaptations sharing the same tone and universe (ala Marvel’s Cinematic Universe). Christopher Nolan, acclaimed director of The Dark Knight Trilogy, is on board as a producer and also shares story credit with screenwriter David S. Goyer. Combine those two facts with phenomenal marketing, a very impressive cast and more, and it would be impossible to not be psyched about this film. However, upon release, Man Of Steel has been received with a far more mixed response than expected. There are those who thought that the film was one of the best in the genre, and there are those who said that it was a generic blockbuster. Which is it?
I’ll be the first to admit it: I never was crazy about Superman. I’ve always enjoyed watching him in the DC Animated Universe shows, and I still had a certain amount of respect for the most recognizable superhero in the world. However, I couldn’t get into him like I would with the likes of Batman and Spider-Man (especially with the lack of a great modern big screen adaptation for the Last Son of Krypton). However, I was practically sold on Man Of Steel the day I heard that Chris Nolan was on board, and even more so as more news came out. The trailers raised my expectations through the roof, and now that the movie is here, it’s safe to say that (in my opinion) the future of the DC Universe on film is in good hands.
The depiction of Krypton’s destruction in the first 20 minutes or so was done wonderfully, offering an entirely new take on the planet not seen on film before. It also contained some of the film's most emotional moments. In fact, Man Of Steel is much more of a sci-fi epic than what has been seen in the trailers. Star Wars/Star Trek comparisons are inevitable, but MOS certainly stands out on its own in terms of originality. The film’s cinematography was nearly flawless; the scenes where Superman takes off for the first time is truly a sight to behold. Zack Snyder does an excellent job directing (especially the action sequences), but the camera is occasionally shaky and not as focused as it could be. Shooting with a hand-held camera wasn’t the best option for a production like this. Hans Zimmer’s intense score, as expected, is fantastic. I don’t know if I would say that it's his best work so far, but some of the tracks are just genius (especially the main theme).
As for the action, Man Of Steel definitely breaks new ground. The scale is by far the largest ever seen in a Superman film, and the battles are breathtaking at times. The fighting scenes are some of the best ever seen in comic book movie, and the choreography is top-notch. However, a common complaint about the movie is that, by the end of its final act, the sequences tend to feel rather exhausting and redundant. I have to agree to a point. The destruction in particular was excessive, with building upon building upon building demolished. I definitely would’ve toned down on that, as it occasionally places action scenes above character development.
Besides the action, the acting is the department that Man Of Steel excels in. Henry Cavill is literally perfect as the titular character, and proves that he was easily the best choice to portray Superman. He brings a human take to the iconic character unlike anyone before him, and does a wonderful job with it. Michael Shannon delivers a solid and intense performance as the villainous General Zod. Thankfully not a one-dimensional foe, he is the ideal villain to use in this story, but Shannon wasn’t quite the stand-out that I expected. That would go to Kevin Costner, who does a phenomenal job as Pa Kent. One scene in particular was the most emotionally fueled in the entire film, and Costner delivers one of his best performances here. Russell Crowe is perfect as Jor-El, despite the character’s role being a little too unnecessary at one point. As some have said before, his hologram form is used merely as a plot device in a handful of scenes. Amy Adams is good as Lois Lane, delivering a tougher take on the Daily Planet reporter. However, I also felt like she was used too much. She was in more scenes than she needed to be (specifically when she's taken onto Zod's ship alongside Superman; was she really needed there?), making the development of her relationship with Clark Kent/Kal-El feel a bit forced. Diane Lane is great as Ma Kent, while Laurence Fishburne does a good job as Daily Planet boss Perry White. But Antje Traue’s Faora is a real scene stealer. The brutal villainess becomes rather terrifying at one point, as she dispatches some soldiers in mere seconds with her remarkable speed. Everyone else does a fine job with what they’re given.
One significant complaint about the film is that it isn’t a good take on Superman at all. I respectfully disagree. As this is a full-on origin story, it was expected that Man Of Steel would be a deeper, more serious take on the character. He isn’t quite the symbol of “Truth, Justice and the American Way” yet. There is a certain scene that has garnered controversy, but I thought that it was handled well (especially with Superman’s reaction after the matter). I also don’t get the complaints about the movie being “joyless”. Yes, the film is serious, but Superman himself is lighthearted and likable throughout (for the most part). The character himself is a reinvention of sorts, yet still true to the source material.
While I wouldn’t say it’s as strong as Batman Begins, Man Of Steel is an excellent reboot that does a brilliant job re-adapting Superman for a new and modern generation (unlike The Amazing Spider-Man, which could’ve been better in retelling its origin story). Story-wise, it’s very good, but didn’t flow as easily as it could have (more on that later). Goyer does a rather solid job on this script, and the dialogue is fine (except for a handful of lines). However, I’m not sure if he’s the best choice to write the Justice League movie at Warner Bros. It would probably be better if another writer (such as Jonathan Nolan) joined him on the superhero ensemble.
As for the flaws, there are certainly a few. Other than the overwhelming amount of destruction and Lois and Jor-El’s roles, Man Of Steel’s key flaw (at least in the first half, as it improved after Clark becomes Superman) is editing. Kal-El’s crater landing on Earth is immediately followed by Clark Kent on a boat, and it then cuts straight to his being on a burning oil rig without showing how he got into the predicament. This is then followed by flashbacks of when Clark was a child. The arrangement of the scenes could’ve been better, as the final cut didn’t flow as well as it should at first. Also, many have said that Man Of Steel acted like a generic blockbuster at times, which I also (for the most part) disagree with. However, I would've liked to see a little more character development (specifically in developing Clark's relationship with Lois), and the action tends to outweigh that from time to time (especially the final act).
I’d also like to point out that Snyder, Nolan and Goyer do such a great job making this story feel real. Yes, this is a fantasy/sci-fi heavy movie chronicling an advanced civilization with superhuman powers, but overall, Man Of Steel surprisingly feels very natural. Subtly including commonly seen things such as an iHop and polar bears. Other than the fantasy elements from Krypton and the like, the world itself feels very much like our own. It’s almost like The Dark Knight Trilogy, but with the more blatant comic book and fantasy roots.
In conclusion, Man Of Steel doesn’t quite live up to its massive hype. It isn’t the masterpiece that it could’ve been, but it’s an excellent film and arguably the best Superman movie to date. It brilliantly explores the mythology of Krypton, and offers a deeper and more human approach to the extremely iconic character wrapped up in a massive blockbuster. It also does a great job kicking off a DC Cinematic Universe without feeling bogged down with Easter eggs (there are a few subtle ones sprinkled throughout). If the film’s financial success so far is any indication, we’ll be seeing this Superman around for a while, as a sequel is already being fast-tracked with a Justice League film in the works. At times emotional, at times explosive and at times both, Man Of Steel is an epic blockbuster that should easily satisfy comic book fans and action movie fans alike.
: This article was submitted by a volunteer contributor who has agreed to our code of conduct
. ComicBookMovie.com is protected from liability under "safe harbor" provisions and will disable users who knowingly commit plagiarism, piracy, trademark or copyright infringement. For expeditious removal, contact us HERE