Josh Wilding Reviews: MAN OF STEEL (IMAX 2D)
If you're hoping to read a glowing 5* review for Man of Steel, you may want to turn away now! While Zack Snyder's reboot is a very good movie, it sadly fails to live up to the hype in more ways than one. Hit the jump to read my spoiler-free verdict!
Man of Steel is not a bad movie. It's just unfortunate that the trailers made it appear as if it would rival the likes of The Dark Knight and The Avengers, because it most certainly does not. It's not even close. You can blame David Goyer's screenplay on that, as the decision to show pivotal moments from Superman's early years in a series of random and sporadic flashbacks kills the momentum in the first two thirds of the movie. There's nothing wrong with what they contain - one of them arguably features THE most powerful scene - and you can't fault them for wanting to just show a handful of important moments rather than spending too much time with a young Clark Kent. However, a more linear approach to this would have made a lot more sense than showing him mooching around the country in bars and oil rigs.
That's far from the only problem with the screenplay though. Very much like how it constantly oversimplifies and explains everything to the audience, this is a Clark Kent who also needs to be put on the right path by a hologram of his father who seems to exist simply as a story device. Without tearing Man of Steel to be pieces (that would not be fair, especially as you could do the same with something as good as The Avengers and most other movies) the fact is, it just doesn't have the necessary character development or powerful story to truly make it soar. Not enough time is spent on Clark deciding to take up the mantle of Superman (he's 33 when a hologram of Jor-El tells him to, and that's about it) and the fact that the momentum never lets up means that even the stellar action sequences are ultimately a little forgettable.
Regardless, one of the many things that Man of Steel does do well is action. These are fight scenes as you imagined them when playing with action figures as a kid or reading comic books now. They're fast paced, exciting, perhaps a little too similar here and there, but still the kind of scenes you will want to watch over and over and over. There are only a few moments when you can tell that the live-action actors have been replaced with CG models, but other than that, this is a very good looking movie in terms of special effect. These sequences also blend seamlessly with Hans Zimmer's score, although this is most certainly not his best or most memorable work. Man of Steel is arguably not as strong visually as 300 or Watchmen, but it is still a great achievement for Zack Snyder. The decision to shoot the majority on hand held shaky cam was not a wise one however. Part of what makes Christopher Nolan's Batman movies stand out from the rest is how cinematic they look. This does not.
Henry Cavill is superb as Superman. He never fails to convince and easily conveys the power of the character and the conflicted side of the character before he's put on track to becoming the hero we all know and love. Michael Shannon is an effective villain as General Zod, and while his plan may be rather generic, his performance at least saves the character even if it isn't up there with his work in the likes of Boardwalk Empire and The Iceman. Amy Adams also has all the necessary ingredients to be a great Lois Lane, and while it's hard to fault her performance, we only get glimpses of that; the rest of the time, she seems to be conveniently involved in everything and anything. The supporting cast are all very good for the most part (although there are still some notably weak performances from some), with Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe proving to be stand-out's. Unfortunately, the latter outstays his welcome as a plot device.
Similar to The Amazing Spider-Man, Man of Steel omits some of the most well-known aspects of Superman in a bid to offer a fresh take on the character. In this case it works, but like that other film, it's hard to escape the feeling that the sequel will be considerably better. It may not have lived up to the hype, but Man of Steel is still the best Superman movie yet and well worth checking out even if it does ultimately leave you feeling a little disappointed. More than one scene - especially the last - will give you chills, and those glimpses of greatness are enough for me to want to see more of Snyder's Supes.
In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time. Clark Kent/Kal-El (Henry Cavill) is a young twenty-something journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond his imagination. Transported years ago to Earth from Krypton, a highly advanced, distant planet, Clark struggles with the ultimate question 'Why am I here?' Shaped by the values of his adoptive parents Martha (Diane Lane) and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner), Clark discovers having extraordinary abilities means making difficult decisions. When the world is in dire need of stability, an even greater threat emerges. Clark must become a Man of Steel, to protect the people he loves and shine as the world’s beacon of hope – Superman.
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Michael Shannon as Zod
RELEASE DATE: June 14th, 2013.
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