PeckNT: Man of Steel Review

Posted: June 15, 2013 by pecknt in the american86's Movie Reviews

Man-of-Steel-poster2-610x904

Release Date: 14 June 2013

Running Time: 2 hours and 23 minutes

Written By: David S Goyer

Directed By: Zack Snyder

Budget: $225 million

Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner

Christopher Nolan and David Goyer set out in 2005 to re-establish a character ruined by horrible casting, directing and writing decisions. This character of course being Batman, went on to be a multi-billion dollar franchise.  So, the two were obvious choices to take over the mess that is the Superman franchise.  A franchise that once soared with Christopher Reeve, had now become marred by horrible decisions, budget failures and terrible proposals.  Thankfully, Zack Snyder and David Goyer (with some over sight by Mr. Nolan) were able to craft a Superman film that I believe Superman himself, Christopher Reeve and Superman fans alike would be proud of.

Whereas David Goyer and Chris Nolan set out to make Batman a crime noire drama first, with Man of Steel its clear they set out to make a Sci Fi film before a superhero film. They succeed in telling a Sci-Fi story with a fantastic exploration of Krypton, from a perspective we have never really seen (except maybe for the animation films/series).  Man of Steel starts out following Jor-El(Russell Crowe)a famous scientist on the dying planet, Krypton. Krypton, has burned through their resources, and expanded too quickly, causing their planet’s core to fluctuate to the point of implosion.  The poor management of government causes the planet’s military leader, General Zod to start a coup.  Jor-El, aware of the dying planet, and coup, sends off his child, Kal-El, the first natural birth Kryptonian in generations, to our planet. General Zod ends up getting captured, promising that he would hunt down Kal-El and punish the house of El.  Going forward in the story, Kal El (who goes by his Earth name, Clark Kent) is a bullied outsider who never quite fits in.  The film, more so than any other Superman story, really hits home on him not being one of us and constantly dealing with the emotional struggle.  I found this personal story to be really interesting to watch, and made for the journey to him being Superman that much more interesting.

Henry Cavill’s Superman is an ambitious and confident approach to the role.  He not only nails the look, but the attitude as well.  He is fully aware of his capabilities, and yet has room to grow in the role.  Cavill put an emotional connection to the character, so much so that his journey was natural, albeit slightly rushed. The presence and allure that Superman has in this film is the right amount, possessing an incredible God like atmosphere that demands attention from the moment he walks out.  I loved seeing the connection he had with his fathers, Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) who really did a great job, but the real player here is Jor-El (Russell Crowe), who surprisingly was in the film for a good 45 minutes.  Their pivotal roles had weight to them, more so than any other adaptation I have seen of the characters.

The other supporting roles are solid, with the real stand out being Amy Adams and her aggressive, ambitious and fun take of the Lois Lane role.  I initially was not fond of her taking the role, but her she had a great demeanor throughout, and it’s a shame you never really get to see the relationship between Clark Kent and her really flourish until the end.  Michael Shannon’s creepy General Zod is fun to watch, but he is out shadowed by Antje Traue’s Faora, who was fun to watch from the first moment she appeared on screen.  Both Zod and Faora are notable villains, so much so that they make the action in the film more entertaining because we are invested in them, even if Zod’s unwielding lust to revive Krypton is sometimes overcooked.

This brings me to the next point, the film’s action.  Zack Snyder is known for his comic book like take on action sequences, using interesting camera work, slow motion and a diverse palate of colors that are visually stimulating but lack emotional substance.  In Man of Steel, we see a more reserved Snyder, who illustrates insane action set pieces that are easy to follow, breathtaking and emotionally relevant.  The final third of the film is a rather extensive 45 minutes of action, needs room to breathe, elevating at a suffocating pace.  Regardless, the action is impressive in scope, and in this aspect; this is a Superman film you have never seen. I only wish the film would have spared ten minutes or so of action and used it to better develop some of the supporting cast.

The film’s first 45 minutes is not a slave to the source material, like Batman Begins was, but whereas Batman Begins felt more natural in development, Man of Steel feels almost like a montage of clips.  We never really have time to establish settings, or additional characters beyond Clark Kent, and almost plays out like a summary, rather than a film itself.  However, the story of Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El is a story told a million times, so maybe Goyer’s screenwriting approach was to summarize the important parts and give the audience what they want to see.  Goyer puts extensive detail in developing a father-son relationship between Clark and his Fathers. Like Snyder, he has been inconsistent with his screenwriting, writing fascinating films like Batman Begins, Dark City and even the first Blade but then writing failures like Blade Trinity, Jumper and The Unborn.  It is safe to say he is is much better here, if not generic in development at times. Regardless, he does a solid job of exploring a symbolic message of Superman, as well as an emotional side we rarely see.

Man of Steel is an exhilarating Blockbuster epic, with action sequences that are of quality, if not better quality than those of The Avengers.  Cavill is a good Superman (much more diverse and natural than Brandon Routh), but he is no Christopher Reeve (who is?).  The film’s symbolic elements play out in a traditional manner, but that does not stop it from being exciting when Clark’s path to Superman is complete.  If you are looking for Superman porn, then Snyder’s approach will make fan boys happy but at the same time leave some groaning near the end. Regardless, Man of Steel is the Superman movie we wanted, but maybe not the Superman movie we needed (yep, I just did that). However, it is still a solid Summer Blockbuster worthy of admission.

B

Comments
  1. interesting. i will definitely check this out. really glad to hear there is an emotional connection.

  2. pecknt says:

    It makes several attempts to emotionally tie in the audience, whether it be with Kal El’s journey to find himself, his relationship with his Father(s), Zod and his connection with Krypton, the list goes on and on. Even if it doesn’t work for you on some level, I still feel like it is worthy of appreciating the attempt, especially when most Summer Blockbusters skip emotional elements.

  3. I never thought another film could top the New York battle in The Avengers but this just blew it away haha :D Amazing!

    Good review, looking forward to the sequel?

    • pecknt says:

      I completely agree. I felt like The Avengers using minions to fight the battle, made the battle less meaningless. The end act for Man of Steel felt more weighted because Zod was developed, hell even Faora was further developed than really any villain featured in The Avengers.

      I am definitely looking forward to the sequel, and hopefully it is MORE refined down. God knows, this one got out of hand in action and lack of character development. Rumor is on the street that Man of Steel 2 might be out late 2014!?

      • Late 2014 would be impossible for a film of this scale, they started this mid 2011. And that’s just the shooting let alone writing the script before hand. They shouldn’t rush it too much, early 2015 max :D

        I just love that fight scene and the film in general, DC always have better villains :D

  4. Sana Askari says:

    The entire world should have got together and created an indestructible, flying robo body for Christopher Reeve. The cost would not have been important. We, the right minded general public believe that ‘something’ should have been done to save the ‘real’ superman…..and then we wouldn’t be in this mess now precious would we?

  5. Still this is a pleasant and civilized way as I can think of to idly pass the time whilst I cook Sunday dinner for my wife , but for the record I absolutely loved the Avengers, (and Thor for my money being perhaps the hardest one of them all to pull off convincingly,) except for Samuel Jackson miscast as Nick Fury, and I loved Inception and I thoroughly enjoyed the sheer unremitting cleverness of Memento as well.

    But even Alan Moore has more or less admitted that of all the comic book characters he’s written over the years , the one he always found the most difficult to work with with, most difficult to take entirely seriously was the millionaire playboy who went out fighting crime at night dressed up as as a bat.

    • pecknt says:

      I completely agree. I liked The Avengers a lot, for mindless entertainment. I think The Dark Knight Rises, while lacking overall polish did more for me than The Avengers did. Regardless, it is super fun to watch. Man of Steel is an interesting combination of both, but whatever. I enjoyed it, a lot. I hope everyone does as well.

  6. Good review! I quite enjoyed this one. I liked how the emphasized the sci-fi elements of the story.

  7. […] This is the second review for Man of Steel on this site. The first can be found here. […]

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