Man of Steel Review (WARNING: Spoilage Ahead!!)
I am a comic book movie fan. I am that person who enjoyed certain aspects of films like Daredevil and Hulk. I even find Green Lantern tolerable. I love the hell outta the Marvel Studios films, and have had my frustrations with the movies that DC has been putting out. Let’s take a quick look at what films DC has put out over the past 10 years or so. Early attempts to take advantage of the horror craze, DC and WB put out Constantine, a film that received very mixed reviews, but I generally liked it. Surprisingly, I’m not really sold on The Dark Knight Trilogy, though they are good movies, they are not Batman films. So in competition with Marvel, DC has had its Batman “success”, and its Green Lantern “failure”. Both heroes who are rumored to have a reboot coming within the Man of Steel universe. I’m still convinced that Nolan’s Batman will end up being part of this cannon, but who knows… a fresh take on the character after the Dark Knight trilogy is more or less needed…I lean more towards the needed. So how did the Christopher Nolan produced and Zack Snyder directed Superman reboot score? How does Man of Steel measure up to the competition?
I watched the film earlier today and I am still thinking about how I feel about the movie. As a Superman movie, Man of Steel is unlike anything we have seen before. For those out there harping for a more action packed flick, here’s the answer. But I am hesitant to say I liked the film, on the other hand I’m not saying that I didn’t. You see, Superman was of course ingrained into my childhood, as were other iconic heroes, but I still remember a record I had of a story about Supes and Mr. Mxyzptlk, very old school. Superman PJ’s w/ cape, under-roos, you get the picture. Of course growing up watching the Christopher Reeves quartet of films, yes I vividly remember where I watched Richard Pryor team-up with Superman. Action Comics is in my permanent pull-list! So what is my problem with Superman? He’s boring, and unfortunately this translates well into Man of Steel. Zack Snyder sets a darker tone, as is in sync with the Nolan trilogy, right away we know we aren’t in Christopher Reeve’s Kansas any more! At least it erases Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns from our memories!
Man of Steel is a film that had a lot of weight on its shoulders, you can see it on Cavill’s face every-time he is on screen, I kid. Warner Bros and DC standing firm that they would only move forward with a united DC movie-verse if Man of Steel was a success! With a huge opening of $128 Million on opening weekend, Man of Steel smashed box office records and news of a sequel in 2014 and the green-light of Justice League hit the web! Scribe of MOS, David S. Goyer, told sources that he would not only be writing the sequel to the hit-movie but Justice League as well. Boom, just like that. So does Man of Steel stand as the rock for which everything will be built? I’m not too sure. The shock and awe value of Man of Steel is enough to entice any action movie-goer, and I agree that much of it is impressive. So they have that on lock down, good. A strong script by Goyer and a beautiful score by Hans Zimmer is enough to touch the hearts of audiences worldwide. But can a universe grow from this movie, it’s tough to say. Importantly enough, Snyder has done a wonderful job of transforming Henry Cavill into Superman. Like I said the story touches your heart. The death of Pa Kent is one of the best comic book movie scenes ever, and that’s why Kevin Costner’s representation of the character is one of my favorites. Superman’s back story on Earth is treated perfectly, Snyder chooses to use flashbacks to tell us Clark’s adventures growing up, evolving into the Man of Steel. The pacing of the first act is interesting, as you’re awed by a science fiction movie spectacle at the beginning of the film as Jor-El battles Zod’s forces in order to send young Kal-El into space! A definite warm welcome to this sequence of events, its the most in-depth look at Supe’s homeworld, Krypton, we have ever seen on the screen.
So after a “repressed”, protected childhood on Earth, Clark spends most of his early adulthood on the road, leaving a path of random good deeds. This eventually leads to maverick, Pulitzer award-winning journalist Lois Lane being able to put two and two together and trace the path of Clark. What amazes me here is the totally shocking, re-telling of the development of this classic relationship. I am a big fan of the classic Lois and Clark mystery and reveal, and it has always compelled me. Goyer makes an interesting choice to have Lois have better detective skills than Christian Bale’s Batman! Amy Adams portrays Lane well, and I am excited to see how the relationship between the two at the Daily Planet will play out down the road. But the story behind the Superman is what carries this movie. When Cavill is on screen his performance sells the part. When he is not, Kevin Costner and Russel Crowe rock as Clark’s two dads! Even Diane Lane give us a good Ma Kent. Best scene? Supes learning to fly.
So what of the antagonist? Michael Shannon’s Zod, is a tough sell to me, he is definitely emotionally driven, and I do enjoy the aspect of “trying to save your people”, but Superman ain’t got no time for megalomaniacs! Unfortunately for Earth, well mostly Metropolis, it suffers. Zod has brought friends and they all have “super” powers, so you know things are about to get roughed up, and trust me I think the destruction of Metropolis may be one of the aspects of this film that really blew my mind. So as Superman battles Zod and his minions, the second act is underway, and let me tell you its pretty intense. This is the part of the movie that if you have been looking for a Superman film with over the top action, this one’s for you! Anywho, for me it seemed like alot of the same thing, throwing Kryptonians through buildings, smashing, punching….you see, this is kinda boring, There’s no real danger for Supes or the other Kryptonians, the only ones in danger are the humans. Which I get is the premise of the film and how Clark decides that he is more invested in Earth than his own people, but I mean come on! I cringed every time a building fell down, yet sat there wondering why we weren’t seeing Superman trying to catch the building, you know being Superman…instead it’s punch after punch, and wall after wall. Graphically amazing, yet un-captivating. Right up to the end when Superman must kill Zod to save a family from getting cooked by heat-vision, a power that is not used enough in the film, and where is the cold breath!!! Sorry ranting again, like I was saying, Superman snaps Zod’s neck. Right away I am turned off, as you know I hate it when villains get dispatched. This is something that DC approved of and Nolan was hesitant on. They couldn’t banish him to the Phantom Zone?! Choices is the theme explored here and I hate it, I’m not even sure its possible, but now we know that Kryptonians can snap each others necks, dead. We now live in a world where Superman makes those hard choices and doesn’t hesitate to dispatch his enemies if need be, this perhaps being the most grim change in his personality, but Cavill radiates it well.
So with so many negative things to say about the film, why is it that I like it? It’s a brave movie, and its what had to be done to get the DC movie train going. Like I said, I love comic book movies, even if they mess with classic story lines and test boundries. DC deserves its time in the sun, and they have been doing a bang-up job on the shelves, with interesting new books, which coincidentally have been rebooted to tell new “fresh” takes on our favorite heroes. As movies goers we have to be more patient with these films, I’m guilty of it with the Dark Knight trilogy as I walk the fence about wanting it to be incorporated into the MOS universe. Why not? It was an uber-popular franchise with movie going audiences and generally accepted by the public. So why would you not, especially when Nolan is involved with producing MOS?! What Snyder does with MOS is something that failed in the Dark Knight though, he improved on the character, and this is why this movie succeeds. Man of Steel gets 3.5 outta 5 stars. Man of Steel is no Iron Man, but MOS succeeds in being an entertaining tour de force and is the best silver-screen representation of the character in my book, and I am excited to see where the DC movie-verse evolves to after this movie. Oh, and I wonder what else escaped from the Phantom Zone after Krypton’s destruction? I have a lot of speculations of how things could work out in the next film and even Justice League, but I’ll keep my theories to myself for now. I’m just patiently waiting for my favorite Superman character to show up, Lex Luthor.
Stay tooned 😛
Yes interwebbers, Amy Adams is hot.