This ain’t no Richard Donner’s Superman
Zack Snyder, David S. Goyer, and Christopher Nolan all team up to help reboot Superman. Yes, Man of Steel is almost here and everyone here on earth seems to be excited about the film, thanks to an awesome marketing campaign by Warner Brothers. I was lucky enough to get an early screening for the film and can safely say that there will be people who will love this film and others that will bitch, moan, and complain that Man of Steel is no Superman movie.
Man of Steel is the origin story of Kal-El/Clark Kent. The film opens with the story of Kal’s birth and how Kal is the 1st naturally born child on Krypton in decades. It isn’t long before we learn that Kal’s birth serves as a threat to General Zod’s (Michael Shannon) master plan. With no other choice but to send their child to earth or let him die on Krypton, his father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and mother Lara (Ayelet Zurer) send Kal to earth. From there, the film progresses to show Kal growing up on earth and ultimately leading up to the grand return of General Zod, who comes to earth looking to find a codec in order to rebuild Krypton.
Without going into too much detail, Man of Steel is definitely a film that dives into the world of Kal/Clark prior to him becoming Superman. This film gives the viewer a lot of background on not only Kal/Clark, but also both his adoptive parents Martha (Diana Lane) and Jonathan (Kevin Costner) on Earth, as well as his mother and father on Krypton. Man of Steel is the most in-depth look that any of these characters have ever gotten on the big screen. With that being said, I think people will either really appreciate this element of the film or complain that there is too much going on with this element of the story or deem it unnecessary for those who already know this iconic character.
For me personally, I felt that this type of character development really worked for these characters and gave me a new level of appreciation for the hero known to the world as Superman. While I do like the film as a whole, I do have to admit that there was a lot going on and a lot of characters to follow and care about, so I can understand why some people would whine a bit about it. I just really enjoyed how they showed Kal/Clark throughout his entire life; from an infant, to being bullied as a elementary student, to being an adult who is just trying to keep a low profile. I thought that this element of the story worked best for those audience members, who weren’t Superman fans prior to this film and it allowed them to really get to really know and understand this character. I also thought that who ever decided to cast Henry Cavill as the lead has a good eye for talent and knew exactly what this character should not only look like, but act like based on the original series and comics.
Besides Cavill, this film really does offer up a full all star cast, all of whom that give some pretty great performances all around. Russell Crowe is wonderful as Jor-El and I loved how the film used this character throughout the entire film making him a critical character to how the film played out. I honestly thought in the beginning of the film that he was going to be underused, kind of like how Anthony Hopkins was underused in Thor, but honestly the film used his character well and it works well within the story itself.
Alongside these two, there are about two other key players that need to be mentioned. First is Amy Adams, again the casting decision for Adam Adams as Lois Lane was spot on, not only because she looks the part, but because of her chemistry with Cavill. I can only hope that the sequel will feature a lot more of her character since I really felt that this time around her character wasn’t used enough, especially since she is a core character in the comic books. As for Michael Shannon as General Zod, I thought he was a good pick and felt that Shannon did a great job overall with the role. I can see, however, how some people might call his performance a little over the top at times, but as a whole, I think he did a really solid job as the primary villain in the film.
Besides the four major leads, there were also a lot of great supporting cast members including Kevin Costner, Diana Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni as well as several others. While I could go on about each of them, I will attempt to keep this review from going on for another few paragraphs, I will simply say they all do a great job, even though the film doesn’t use them as much as I would have liked it to. That last statement brings me to my problems that I had with the film.
My main yet minor complaint is that Man of Steel seems to attempt to tackle way too much in just one film. I personally felt that Man of Steel could have been two movies instead of one, because it simply covered so many story-lines and characters in its 2hr and 30 minute runtime. I felt that while certain story lines were well developed and fleshed out, others felt rushed and undeveloped. I can certainly admire Synder and Goyer for trying to balance the action and story, but some of the sub-stories could have been easily cut from this film in order to make the final cut stronger. This would have made the sequel even easier to craft since they could have simply moved some of the other stories into the sequel, but as I said it didn’t bother me a lot but I did feel a bit overwhelmed at points with all that was going on.
As for my other complaint, I think I should mention that Man of Steel is pretty much a non-stop action ride, which I liked for the most part, but towards the end I felt like it went on a bit too long. If you remember the final battle scene in The Matrix Revolutions, well that’s how the final battle between Superman and Zod felt to me. It just felt like it kept going and going and while visually impressive to the eye, I found myself bored watching Superman and Zod punch one another and destroy buildings in the process. The ending of the fight also came off as anti-climatic due to how long it went on. I feel if you are going to have a 30 to 45 minute fight scene, you need to have a killer ending to it.
But in all fairness, it must be said that I really loved what Zack Snyder did with this film. I loved the style of it, the visual appeal, and the overall direction and tone that he brought to the film. It felt unique as a superhero movie (nothing like Batman Begins, sorry folks) yet it managed at times to remind me of other beloved comic book films such as Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. I personally think Snyder is a great visual storyteller and with Goyer and a little help from Nolan, he proves that he has what it takes to handle a huge franchise such as Superman.
All in all, while many will bitch and moan that this isn’t anything like Richard Donner’s Superman, I would argue that I am glad that the film didn’t go that route. This is a new era for Superman and with a new era comes new fans. I think Snyder and Goyer should be proud of this film, even if others are nitpicking at it. I think for a character that has went through films such as Superman Returns, this is the fresh start Superman needs in order to start a new trilogy. Please just don’t go into this film thinking of it as Superman Begins, because I will tell you right now that Batman Begins and Man of Steel have very little in common with one another and are two completely different origin stories entirely.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Man of Steel is a solid 8 out of 10. If you go into this with an open mind, I will almost guarantee you will have one hell of a time at the movies.