MAN OF STEEL Review; "This Feels Like A Solid Opening Chapter From Zack Snyder"
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 check out our spoiler-free verdict of Superman's long overdue big screen return...
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.
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 effects. These sequences also blend seamlessly with Hans Zimmer's incredible 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 often does not.
The screenplay is the biggest issue, though, as it constantly oversimplifies and explains everything to the audience. Without tearing Man of Steel to 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.
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.
It may not have lived up to the hype, but Man of Steel is still the best modern Superman movie, and well worth checking out even if the screenplay delivers its fair share of disappointments. Still, this feels like a solid opening chapter from Zack Snyder.
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