Published on June 21st, 2013 | by The Editor0
Man of Steel
Zack Snyder tackles the Superman legend (produced by Christopher Nolan), with a Hans Zimmer score that recalls The Dark Knight trilogy. We’re stuck with yet another comic book origin story, though at least they do something interesting with Krypton and Superman’s formative years. From Krypton’s final days and flashes of Clark’s childhood we move to the arrival of General Zod, who wants to turn Earth into a New Krypton, which as it happens, will wipe out us puny humans. Superman must earn the trust of the Earthlings and try to stop Zod’s nefarious plan.
The film is getting split reviews, but the fact is, it’s not a great movie or a terrible movie — the truth lies somewhere in between. There are a lot of things I’d change, drop, or beef up, but it never made me throw my hands up in utter despair.
The story plods along in some points, one of the best examples being an expository scene that takes a few minutes to describe the fate of Krypton, which we just finished watching. But it also flies confidently in other moments, namely, the scenes where they get to Clark’s emotional core and the questions Jonathan Kent poses: “How will the world react when you reveal yourself?” “What kind of example will you set for humanity?” Without giving anything away, the best scene in the movie is the one where the Kents run afoul of a tornado.
Relative unknown Henry Cavill is decent as Supes, though not given much to do (in fact, many of Clark’s more emotional scenes are played by younger actors in flashback). Michael Shannon, as usual, is the second coming of awesome and it’s good that Zod himself is given character motivation as to why he’s so ‘evil.’ In fact, he’s not evil — he is born and bred to continue the survival of Krypton. The best bad guys always have this kind of depth, rather than just being a bad guy because the writer said so. Amy Adams gets a resounding ‘meh.’ She doesn’t strike much of a chord as Lois Lane, but she doesn’t make me cringe like Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns.
The action scenes veer wildly from incredible spectacle to ho-hum generic CGI summer blockbuster destruction porn. As a side note, the Superman I know would take his fights away from areas with people when he can. In fact, it’s a plot point of this exact same conflict in Superman II. How many people die needlessly in Man of Steel? Thousands?
Man of Steel feels like it’s trying to update Superman for the 21st century, and it succeeds in some ways, but fails in others. Historically, Superman’s Boy Scout rep plays well against a character like Batman’s more brooding aspects, and while I like the story of Clark trying to figure out who he is, I also miss the goody-two-shoes Superman. Perhaps they’ll explore that in later films. It’s also worth mentioning how humourless this makes the film.
At the core, Superman should fill you with wonder, romanticism, and hope. I’m a fairly cynical person, and Superman should be the antithesis of that cynicism, a thing that makes me forget my pessimism, a thing that gives me goose bumps — a thing that makes me believe a man can fly. This movie doesn’t hit those notes, which leaves the first two Chris Reeves films to remain as the cinematic Superman films that capture that spirit best. I enjoyed Man of Steel, but I’m not rushing home to tie a bed sheet cape to my back.
3 and a Half Dorks out of 5 on the Geek-o-Meter.