Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer, with some help from Christopher Nolan, team up to bring their vision of a modern Superman tale, and what may possibly be the start of a DC cinematic universe. The trio all have experience in making great movies starring cape donning protagonists, so this outing should be no different. Find out if they repeat success with the big, blue boy scout after the jump! (Spoilers below).

SUMMARY

Pros
The action and special effects are beautiful, Snyder is at the top of his game, and the acting is all solid.
Cons

The story is very problematic, weighted down by MacGuffins and coincidences.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

READER RATING!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (16 votes, average: 4.19 out of 5)
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man_of_steel_poster_3_-625MAN OF STEEL

Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: David S. Goyer
Story by: David S. Goyer & Christopher Nolan

Clark Kent / Kal-El – Henry Cavill
Lois Lane – Amy Adams
General Zod – Michael Shannon
Jor-El – Russel Crow
Martha Kent – Diane Lane
Jonathan Kent – Kevin Costner

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6DJcgm3wNY]

I suspect all of you faithful Spoilerites know the basic story of Superman by now. The planet of Krypton is at its end and Jor-El, Krypton’s top scientist, sends his new born baby away to Earth in an experimental rocket ship so that he may live on.

Man of Steel keeps this same opening, but tacks a lot onto it. No only is Krypton about to implode due to over harvesting of resources, but there is also a rebellion, led by General Zod, happening. Jor-El also steals a codex that is responsible for the genetic engineering of the Kryptonians, which he encodes into the cells of his son, just to really re-enforce the Jesus metaphor of Superman.

If this all sounds a bit convoluted, messy and drenched in exposition then congratulations, you know how the first third of the film felt. Its not terrible, but its a sign of a somewhat lazy script that needed at least one more good re-write. Everything else about the movie is pretty great though, and once everything has been more or less set up it really hits it’s stride.

NOT A SCRIPT OF STEEL

Goyer’s script is, unfortunately, the weakest part of this movie. Its full of exposition, that weights the first part of the movie, and relies on coincidence and Kryptonian technology MacGuffins way too much to get the plot going. There is also a lot of heavy handed visual imagery throughout that I found to be very distracting. For example, in the very beginning, Jor-El is shown to take a stance against genetic engineering of Kryptonians in favor of natural birthing. To hammer this dichotomy of ideologies home, Jor-El flies on the back of a winged beast while the rest of Krypton is shown to use normal space ships/hover crafts.The Lois Lane and Superman romance feels incredibly unnatural, forced in there because they have to be a couple. They barely speak to each other, and when they do its almost entirely plot related. Perry White is seemingly useless in this movie, serving no purpose other than to look scared at the destruction of Metropolis, which is a waste of a character.

Its not all bad. There is a lot the script gets right. The important moments are handled well, and are made to feel important. All of the flash backs (which are numerous) in Kansas are touching and really well done. Its these moments that really start to delve into who Clark Kent is as a person, which I wish we had more of. Most importantly Goyer, especially near the end, was able to really capture that Superman essence. That feeling of grandeur and Olympian might that belongs in a story about The Man of Tomorrow.

MEN AND WOMEN OF TOMORROW

Snyder is at the top of his game with Man of Steel. The action is crisp and fast, a departure from the usual slow motion that has become Snyder’s trademark. It also feels powerful, the Kryptonians really feel like super beings from another planet duking it out. It utilized all of the Kryptonian power set to keep the fight scenes varied and exciting, and made it all look real too, like these god-like beings could actually exist. The cinematography in conjunction with the special effects made for some incredibly iconic images that will forever be burned into my memory. The editing and pacing were a bit off and awkward at times (especially in that first third I keep mentioning), but they did some really cool things with incorporating flash backs throughout the whole movie, a choice that was risky to say the least. Snyder also did a fantastic job drawing the best out of his actors.

All of actors and actresses in this movie really worked for me. Michael Shanon played a much more desperate Zod than other depictions; a different take on the character that really worked for me. Henry Cavill is an overall somewhat reserved Superman that sold the big emotional moments when they came. Amy Adams does an appropriately spunky Lois Lane, a direction the comics have pushed her character in for the past decade or so and one I am glad the movie copied. Russel Crow was a fine re-invention of Jor-El as a more of an action hero. For me, though, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner stole the show as the ever loving Kents. They were both the perfect blend of acting like real parents who were lost in trying to raise a super being while at the same time knowing exactly what they needed to do.

BOTTOM LINE: SEE IT AND BELIEVE A MAN CAN FLY

The movie is definitely worth seeing. There are a few story problems that may be more problematic for some viewers than others, but the visuals and action make it worth the price of admission. It will not redefine your expectations for a super hero movie in any narrative sense, but it might just in world of visual candy. Most importantly it captures the feeling of what it would be like to inhabit a world with Superman, and that is more than enough for me.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

Elijah Williams

Elijah Williams

As a young boy my parents showed me a movie. This movie involved dinosaurs, in a park, on an island. I was so awestruck by the fantastical idea. "Dinosaurs? Interacting with HUMANS?!?" From that moment on I was a bona fide geek. I loved it all, cartoons, movies, video games, everything. Unfortunately comics eluded my radar until middle school, when my father handed me a trade paper back of Marvels. The rest is history.

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10 Comments

  1. Lapis
    June 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm — Reply

    I went to see it with my mother and she loved while I hated it. Im baffled by people liking this horrible movie, its like theyer just not willing to actually think about the movie. For me it reminds me of Prometheus, which is to say the more I think about it the worse it becomes and I wanted to like both movies. I was willing to forgive all the things I didnt like about it right up to the point that he kills Zod. At that point I wanted my money back. And dont tell me he had no choice, that scene is endemic of the lazy writing throughout the movie. Hes superman oh course he had a choice. He couldve let go of zod moved at superspeed and protected the people. He could have flown him into space. He could have flung him to the moon, where by the way they couldve fought without hurting anyone. Anyway I could write a book about whats wrong with this movie but Waid already did it for me LOL. Ill just have to try and forget this abortion of a movie.

    • June 22, 2013 at 2:58 am — Reply

      This was delicious to read. Fanboy rage fuels me like caffeine

  2. Dan Hunter
    June 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm — Reply

    you obviously missed the line of dialog where Zod says that he will never stop….and Kal – El’s reaction to his own actions at the end of the film that defines the character.

    A stunning movie, that finally moves on from the Superman movies of the 70’s and 80’s and brings something different to Superman on the silver screen.
    I enjoyed this much more than The Dark Knight Rises

  3. Arcee
    June 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm — Reply

    In the comics Byrne’s Superman executed 3 powerless (after exposure to Gold -K) Kryptonians that murdered an entire parallel Earth population (they had Silver-Age power levels). No big whoop. We’re talking about a hero (in this movie) who never faced an opponent before, let alone 3+ of his own kind.

    The heart of the character is the same but the world surronding him is much harder/more complicated. This may be the key reason why Singer’s Superman didn’t connect with people and why this one, though a much harder pill to swallow, is really connecting.

  4. Oldcomicfan
    June 15, 2013 at 9:51 pm — Reply

    I liked this movie. It’s the best Superman ever, leaving all the previous Superman movies in the dust. I didn’t like the bit where Superman killed Zod, but this was Superman’s first time out of the box (in this incarnation) and perhaps the killing of Zod is what will give him the impetus to swear an oath not to take lives. It would certainly make more sense than in the golden age comics where he doesn’t kill just because he’s so darned good. The Richard Donner Krypton was the only really good part of those earlier movies, and this Zack Snyder Krypton is even better.

    Of course, there’s no movie that will satisfy every Superman fan, and I suspect nothing anybody could have done would have made Lapis, above, happy. I know a Superman fan who hated Miller’s Dark Knight Returns for the simple reason that Bruce Wayne defeated Superman. He let one sticking point ruin a great tale for him. Lapis’ comments reminds me of all the people who hated the Star Wars prequels – but when you look at them with unclouded eyes and compare them to the original trilogy they were just as good if not better than the original movies. That’s not to say they weren’t flawed in some way or other, but who or what isn’t? Man of Steel is the best Superman movie that’s ever been filmed. That’s good enough for me. And I’ve been reading Superman comics since the early 1960s, so I suspect that I am qualified to make such a statement.

  5. June 15, 2013 at 10:01 pm — Reply

    Nice review Elijah.

    Agreed with Arcee & Dan. When he killed Zod, it pulled me out of the movie for a second. My first thought was of the Byrne story on the alternate earth. I felt like between the threat to never stop, and the flat out choice of stopping Zod or letting the family die it was as well done as you could pull off for something of that nature. what would the alternative be? Zod flies off and takes over a country to set himself up as dictator? And Superman just lets him go. Think they did this as well as they could.

    I felt like some of the cut scene were choppy. One second they are in the holding room, the next they are all standing in the desert yet the dialog kept going as if only a second had passed.

    I enjoyed how they expanded on the history and world that is Krypton. It was a refreshing take on the character to see Jor-EL kicking a little @$$.

    I liked Amy Adams as Lois, enjoy how they put her in on the secret by the time Clark shows up at the Daily Planet. That fits a lot better than “Oh you put on glasses and now I don’t recognize you”. Really like how she tracked Clark down, and how she supported him. the romance did feel forced and not quite natural. by the end though it felt a little smoother than it started out.

    Loved Laurence Fishburne as Perry. Enjoyed seeing a Lex corp logo, and yet no Lex Luthor.

    Found it weird that you could demolish around 20 high rise office buildings, reducing blocks to nothing but powder, and not have anyone report on the thousands if not millions of people that may have been killed or mention of a memorial for them. Or how a city just re opens after that kind of devastation.

    Henry Cavill did a fantastic job as Superman. Looking forward to more movies (hopefully) with him wearing the suit.

    Kevin Costner and Diane Lane did an amazing job as the Kents. Some of the best scenes where with whoever was playing Clark and Kevin Costner.

    Action was pure incredible. I felt like we FINALLY got a Superman movie that displayed what Superman could actually do.

    I liked seeing Kryptonian Tech and the history of their civilization. These are things normally left out of Superman Movies, regardless of how they have been covered in comics. Really glad to see it in there.

    All in all the movie wasn’t perfect, but It was the Best DC movie I’ve seen since the Dark Knight. Didn’t beat the Dark Knight, but it was really good. Looking forward to seeing it again and seeing if the things that bugged me the first time around really were that bad, or if I was just being hyper critical.

  6. Rob
    June 16, 2013 at 3:55 am — Reply

    It was a good movie except for giant plot holes. (Spoilers) A plane crashes and everyone dies or gets sucked into a certain zone we all know but then Lois is the only one that just falls out. Those are the kinds of things that scream lazy writing.

    In my mind, decent Superman movie. A little too heavy on the weird alien science for most. LAZY writing. Above all, it wasn’t fun.

    I would have loved to see a lot more of Lois (Amy Adams was great btw) investigating her story. In fact, I almost wish the audience wouldn’t “meet” Superman until after she finds him. Start the movie with half an hour of her investigating and I would enjoy edit thoroughly.

    One last thing: Please Lord don’t let this same writer handle any kind if Flash movie. I want that one to be, you know, actually fun to watch.

  7. Dan Hunter
    June 16, 2013 at 10:18 am — Reply

    Rob: I loved the scene you described. Ursula attacks the plane and pretty much kills all the threats on board. Lois fell out of the plane then the plane crashes. The phantom zone opened inside the Zod’s ship (Lois wasn’t in the ship) and Supes flew in and caught Lois .
    The shot of Kal flying away from the Singularity was an over the shoulder view focusing on Lois’ scared witless face as they struggled to get away.

    I’ve heard people complain about the lack of humour, I believe they got it spot on, they were a few ‘funny’ lines but I guess those complaining that it wasn’t laugh out loud are miffed that Man Of Steel wasn’t The Avengers. I don’t recall hearing the same complaint leveled at the Nolan Batfilms.

  8. theoncomingstorm
    June 18, 2013 at 8:42 am — Reply

    A couple of minor quibbles. In the span of 6 minutes, a couple of scens & a flashback, swear words “Asshole” from the bully truck driver. Some derogatory word from fat Pete Ross bullying Clark. Lois telling the 2 greeters at the base to stop measuring their dicks? Or something along those lines. Really?
    Superman’s indent in his chin…NO! It reminds of the Superman:Man of Steel art by Bogdanove when he had the flowing curly hair & the Roger Ramjet jutting chin…Big NO!

    Nice nod to Lexcorp & Wayne Industries.

    Jor-El did indeed kick ass!

    Good movie. A lot better than Superman Returns.

    Here’s to the reboot of the Superman Movies!

  9. June 19, 2013 at 9:08 am — Reply

    With all the expositing that the movie did about hope and choice, I was kind of expecting Superman to make good choices and leave me hopeful.
    Silly me.
    With half of Metropolis and Smallville leveled, tens of thousands likely dead, and the best solution Superman can think of is killing Zod, I left the theater wishing Jor-El had shot his kid at some other planet.

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