Man of Steel Review
by Mike Holtz, WeWatchedAMovie
Leave your expectations at the door. That may be the only way to truly enjoy Zach Snyder’s version of Man of Steel the way it deserves to be enjoyed. Most of us expected to see a slam dunk from the amazing trailers and roster involved in the latest Superman film. From the negative reactions from most critics and a smaller percentage of fans it seems as though many perceived the aforementioned slam dunk to mean Snyder was making the exact movie they expected it to be. Man of Steel may not be exactly what many envisioned in their own minds eye…….he may have made something even better.
Produced by Christopher Nolan of The Dark Knight trilogy and boasting ultra serious trailers with a more realistic, underwear free Superman outfit, Man of Steel looked to be the Superman version of Nolan’s Batman. An in-depth, dark and brooding take on the campy and fun 1978 Superman film starring Christopher Reeves with a serious and down to earth (as much as possible at least) origin story at pinpoint pace. Man of Steel however takes a different route to tell Superman’s origins using flashbacks and non linear story telling to fast track through the parts of Superman we already know. Instead MOS decides to carve us out an hour and a half of its film to showcase the awe-inspiring power of Superman and his battle with Krypton’s Ex-Military leader Zod (Michael Shannon) who comes to earth looking to rebuild Krypton by destroying us.
Thank you, Mr. Snyder.
Now I know what it would actually look like if Superman took on an almost equally powerful foe and fought him toe to toe in the middle of a big city. We may not have the real life version of the deeply seeded drama that comes with being a real Superhero but haven’t we seen that done and done well before already? Most of us excited about this movie know everything there is to know about Superman’s beginnings. What we didn’t know before MOS was just how amazing his powers and enemies would look like in the real world were they to exist…….and it’s amazing. Don’t compare this non-stop action or the endless battle in MOS to the Michael Bay version of a movie because it’s not. In Man of Steel there is still a well crafted story underneath the amazing effects (of which I believe are really the greatest I have ever seen) Snyder just chooses not to harp on it or lend the films running time to over explain things. He instead focuses on showing us just how super Superman really is.
The acting in MOS leaves nothing to be desired with its excellent casting choices of Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner (Especially) and Michael Shannon. Henry Cavill was a wildcard for me personally not being impressed by any of his previous efforts however that issue was put to rest almost immediately as his look and demeanor perfectly embody what you would imagine Superman to be. Almost to the extent of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man it just seems as though he was meant to play this role. One of the unfair criticisms of MOS was his lack of speaking in the movie but in a film where the personal side of the clumsy Clark Kent is nearly non-existent there wasn’t much dialogue necessary from him. The pure emotion shown at several points in the movie whether it be screaming in anger or agony conveyed what it needed to: Superman is pissed. His motives and good-natured actions and personality conveyed what they needed to: Superman is a genuinely good guy.
The relationship with Louis Lane was also panned for being too brisk but again I ask you….. what did we need to really know? It was conveyed well that the two had a natural attraction and due to meeting under extraordinary circumstances gained a fast admiration and respect for each other. Call me crazy but I didn’t find it necessary to watch Superman take her out to dinner and a movie to believe the two found someone they cared about. Not only this but it is widely accepted that this movie will have several sequels. There will be time for their story to grow into something more and personally I’m just glad we didn’t waste half of the movie on it or like most other superhero movies; spend amazing amounts of time on him hiding his identity from her. We have seen all this before so many times why re-hash it yet again?
When Man of Steel kicks off it tells the story of Krypton’s end much like the Donner version before it only this time forgoing the cheesiness for epic action. As it continues we learn briefly how Superman becomes the man he is before going right into the dangerous villain threatening earth and Superman protecting us at all costs. The film stops to smell the roses here and really focuses on the epic battle between Zod and Superman in great detail. While this is happening Cavill is able to show passionately through his actions rather than words what we all mean to Superman, what both of his families mean to him and the struggles he is facing dealing with who he is. Yes he does all this by conveying emotion in an epic fight scene making it all the more enthralling. To me that is impressive and commendably original meaning it wasn’t what everyone expected……it was better. If you can leave your expectations at the door and be willing to let go of Donner’s version of Superman and Nolan’s version of Batman and let Snyder tell his story? Be prepared to be entertained.