MOVIE REVIEW: Man of Steel
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).
The action and special effects are beautiful, Snyder is at the top of his game, and the acting is all solid.
The story is very problematic, weighted down by MacGuffins and coincidences.
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
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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.