Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Image courtesy of LA Times

I’ve appreciated Superman all of my life, but he was never my favorite superhero. The George Reeves version was really enjoyable and Lois and Clark was my jam. It was a fantastic show. I did like Smallville, but I admit that I didn't watch past the first couple of seasons. I confess that I’ve never actually never seen the 2006 venture. It never actually appealed to me and I’m glad to understand that I’m not missing anything. When they announced that they were doing a new Superman movie, Man of Steel, and it was going to be produced by Christopher Nolan and directed by Zack Snyder I thought it should be good. I’d been following it and Henry Cavill seemed like a good actor. I was excited for the addition of (Kentuckian!) Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, and Diane Lane. I hadn’t planned on seeing it opening weekend. Now, I’ve seen it twice, first on opening night in 2D, and even with all of the action, I felt that it was very flat. It made the CGI look way over done. Seeing it in 3D, the CGI looked very well done, and it did look very realistic, with debris, flying things. I would definitely suggest to go see it in 3D.

Image courtesy of LA Times
I’m not wild about the relationship between Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman in this particular film. I like
that she happens upon him and she’s very inquisitive. When he ends up saving her, they seem to form this instant bond. But why? How does she figure out his identity right off the bat? How does she know where to start asking questions? You can definitely tell that they are very intrigued with one another, but I felt that the romance was forced. The movie didn’t need the kiss. They had already taken hands and what not, but I don’t think that the kiss was necessary, especially with the way the movie ended with Clark joining the staff of the Daily Planet. We saw all of these flashbacks of Clark as a young boy with him acclimatizing himself to lie on earth and how difficult it was for him to adjust to being different. There was an allegory here about being an outcast and overcoming it. I’m really glad that he didn’t join the staff of the Daily Planet until the very end. It wasn’t, Here’s mild-mannered Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet. Oop, he just ducked into a phone booth and out comes this strapping hero. Just not having to worry about it until the very end of the movie was very good.

Henry Cavill did a fantastic job as Clark Kent/Superman. Just the way he reacted in certain scenes especially in the bar when the guy throws beer in face. The way he portrayed Superman’s reaction to that, the restraint that he enacted was excellent. The one problem that I had with the movie was the script. I wasn’t wild about a lot of the dialogue. I know that he’s awkward farm boy and he’s not very smooth and homey and everything, but I thought a lot of the things that he said. “I think that only applies to humans.” I usually like corny, but that was a little out of place. I also didn't care for a lot of Lois' dialogue with other characters, especially when Lane tells Perry White that she will walk away from the Daily Planet unless he runs her story.

It almost seems like the bulk
Image courtesy of LA Times
of the dialogue happens in the flashbacks, where there was a lot of really good writing for Pa and Ma Kent. Toward the end it gets very action focused. I felt like there was a little too much. Superman didn’t have to focus Zod’s henchmen as much as he did. Destroying half of Smallville wasn’t necessary in my opinion.  Him battling the henchmen wasn’t quite as necessary as the interplay with Zod. Even with the action toward the end I feel was fairly overdone. The military was too much, whipping out their guns. I just would have thought that we were at a place where we could move beyond, "Shoot first, ask questions late." And I just don’t know why Superman would have allowed a lot of the buildings to get destroyed at his own hand, he’s the one flying Zod into them after all. Also, once Zod removes his armor, I thought, Okay they’re going to fly, we’ll get air battles instead of so much building destroying.  “I just saved your city, except for most of the skyline.” Too much destruction, almost unwanton destruction. Some of the sequences could have been cut down. They could have filled it with a bit more dialogue or something.

Image courtesy of LA Times
I was very pleased with Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, though I was sad they used his death as a plot device. In Lois and Clark he’s alive so to have him die in the manner that he did was very sad. It furthered Clark’s story and showed that he couldn't protect everyone around him. I almost feel bad for Martha because when Clark goes to the scout ship and he meets the "not hologram" of Jor-El and he finds out where he’s from and that the symbol means hope. I feel bad for her because they found him and raised him and instilled good morals in him. All of a sudden he knows all about his birth family and I feel bad for her in a lot of respects. I really emjoyed her performance. I didn’t care exactly for the way they aged her. I thought it was a little overdone. They were trying to stress she was older.

Henry Cavill was fantastic. He had the look down, the mannerisms, everything was well done on his end. He deserves accolades for his portrayal of Superman. Snyder was a good director. Maybe there were a few editing issues, but in the second viewing it didn’t seem quite as disjointed. I was confused at first with the continuity. I didn’t realize that Clark went from the rig to the town with the bar. I thought that they were just instances of him being heroic and that it was all out of order. I then realized it was sequential. There maybe some sort of editing issue there. I like the idea of that though. Maybe it was me.

Image courtesy of LA Times
Amy Adams wasn't terribly convincing as Lois Lane to me, but I could see that it was perhaps a different take on the character. I really liked Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. Michael Shannon did wonderful things with the character of Zod. One of the shining stars of the movie was Antje Traue as Faora-Ul was such a badass and absolutely menacing in her role. In my opinion, though the script lacked, I thought that all of the actors did great things with the material that they were given.

I really enjoyed the way they made Krypton look. As for scenes on Krypton, the actress that played Lara-El, Kal-El's mother was superb. The pain that she was feeling with the emotion of giving up her son was heart-breaking. Russell Crowe is a terrible actor. Granted, he was a lot better in this than he was in Les Miserables, but even still I kept expecting him to break out into song. I just thought he over-acted in a lot of places. And maybe I'm not knowledgeable enough about Krypton, but if everyone is bred to fit a certain mold, how did Jor know all of those fighting moves and could hold his own with Zod?

I did definitely enjoy this movie a lot more the second time around. The first time I thought things were fairly disjointed, the second time around in 3D allowed for a lot more fluidity. Like I said previously. I definitely recommend seeing the film in 3D. If you enjoy Superman, you should go see it. If you know nothing about Superman, you might not come away knowing much more than you did going in.

Though not as horrendous as Green Lantern, I think that one major flaw with Man of Steel befell the 2011 DC film as well: great cast with a terrible script. I know that there are a lot of mixed reviews surrounding Man of Steel. I know that I'm not the authority on the subject, I'm just sharing my thoughts. In the end, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and no one is more correct that anyone els.


  1. Agreed, I wouldn't let Goyer/Nolan write a children's book.

    On the other hand, Snyder's visual style was aces when it came to Superman.

    1. I totally agree. His visuals are fantastic.

  2. I agree. I think most of the problems were in the script. The way Jonathan Kent died, completely took me out of the movie. He would never let anyone die, especially his "father."

  3. Can’t say I’m really happy the way the movie turned out, but at least I was pleased. Good review Natasha.

  4. I personally liked it. Probably works better when you go in without expectations. But with names like Nolan and Snyder in the credits, its probably not wrong to feel a little dissatisfied. Great review.