Man of Steel (2013)
The planet of Krypton is dying and the superior race that lives there is to blame. Kind-hearted Jor-El (Russell Crowe) still has hope for his species, and that hope is lying within his newborn son Kal-El (Henry Cavill). However, not everyone on Krypton is looking for a peaceful way out. Stern and angry General Zod (Michael Shannon) is hell bent on blaming the High Council for the collapse of the planet and needs the “codex” (a device that stores all genetic information for the Krytonians) in order to start anew on another planet. Before Zod can claim the codex, Jor-El sends it, along with his new born son, to the far off planet of Earth where he knows hope can flourish. Zod is banished for his destructive actions, but he vows that he will hunt and find Kal-El, and after spending 33 years on Earth, Zod keeps his promise.
Directed by Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300, Sucker Punch), this new “Superman” movie is far from your father’s version. In the comic book versions, Superman was seen saving helpless people from falling off a building and over waterfalls. He did what Policemen and Firemen do in real life – he protects and is there when you need him. In the first huge movie adaptation of Superman in 1978, Christopher Reeves portrayed a kind-hearted servant of the people who kept his identity a secret as nerdy Daily Planet journalist Clark Kent. The original series was campy, light-hearted and gave fans something to cheer about. I won’t even touch on 2006’s Superman Returns because it was just a blip on the screen and forgotten. If you are familiar with Zack Snyder’s work, he makes movies that are dark, grungy, destructive and sci-fi in nature. Not sure if there are people out there who wanted to see a Superman movie turn out that way, but Man of Steel is just that. With a script written by Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins Trilogy, Inception, Memento), I was looking forward to a movie with a great story and plenty of thinking… boy was I let down… thanks Chris! I mean he did a superb job with the Batman reboot, what was the issue here?
As far as the actual movie goes, Man of Steel starts off GREAT! I mean it’s thrilling with wondrous special effects and a story that has direction. My 2 favorite things about this movie are Shannon’s Zod and Crowe’s Jor-El and they are on screen most of this time. It is a glorious start to what I hoped would continue. WRONG! After the opening 30 minutes, the movie flashes to Clark as a young adult. I’m guessing Snyder wanted to get away from the normal formula of watching Clark grow up on a farm and seeing his father die, but the story’s direction of back and forth from Clark as a rugged loner (looking much like Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine) to events from his childhood made it worse. From here, nothing seemed like the Superman we know. Clark doesn’t become the awkward reporter we all know him to become and, he allows Lois Lane (Amy Adams) knows his identity. He is referred to as “alien” and when Zod returns, he brings ships that remind me of something out of War of the Worlds or Independence Day. Since when does the human race look at Superman as an alien?!?!?! Zod’s arrival to Earth just brings with it plenty of mass destruct and pointless warfare. I never understood why fist fights and body collisions were apart of Superman seeing as these people are invincible and feel nothing. They fall to the ground as though they are made of lead and push up concrete like it is paper! Yeah ok! I was glad to see Michael Shannon return to the screen and Russell Crowe continues to pop up here and there to add some decency to the film, but every time it went back to “Superman Action” I was bored and unimpressed. I was equally disappointed with the movies climax to the 2 main subject matters, Zod and the destruction of Earth. Both endings are lack-luster in nature and the resolution to Zod’s story makes me wonder about all the body collisions with Superman into random buildings. Why didn’t these events have any impact on Zod’s indestructible frame, but (SPOILER) his neck could be snapped in two. (END SPOILER) When the movie is all said and done, Man of Steel feels like a combination of the original movies, Superman and Superman 2 with War of the Worlds mixed in. It leaves fans with nothing to cheer for and we feel as empty as the cities that are torn apart. I feel that surrounding a no name actor with A-list names like Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Amy Adams just made us care even less about Superman. If someone like James Marsden had donned the suit (or a familiar face like the guy from Smallville), than we may have cared a little more like we do for Ironman, Spider-man and Batman. Man of Steel might be a summer blockbuster indeed, but it’s not one that will make you cheer, or even smile for that matter. Looks like there will be a sequel so here to hoping!
7/10 Stars – Shannon, Crowe and the excellent beginning saved it from a 6… but it sure is not what you expect at all.
Man of Steel does a smash job, literally and figuratively leaving you woozy and disoriented as to what exactly just happened…kind of like the random bystanders on Earth in the movie. I can’t say I had expectations going into Man of Steel. I am not exactly a big follower of the Superman franchise. The closest I come is my obsession with the TV show Lois and Clark which was so bad and yet so good at the same time. Anyway, I digress…this film is a blatant reboot of the series. That reboot mentality is part of its downfall. They spend so much time giving you back story, details etc that it lacks the things that would really draw you in. The only truly moving part of the story comes at the beginning and from there it was kind of all down hill for me. There is just a lack of intelligence here which is ironic since its a film essentially about intelligent life in the universe besides on earth. I expected more from a script overseen by Christopher Nolan whose films have overall provided both the action and the thinking aspect. Not here. As for the action it is there but honestly it gave me a headache. It is literally all smashing and since it is happening at superman speed you just see random buildings exploding as they are crashed into. Not much fun in that. Honestly the best part of the whole movie was toward the beginning when our super hero is just a baby on Krypton. In this part you had great story, lots of emotion and nice action to boot. If only the rest of the movie had kept this pace it could have been great. Aside from the part I just mentioned the only positive elements to keep you interested are the performances of Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon. Sadly Crowe’s role is limited as father to Kal-El. Shannon however we get plenty of and he is brilliant. Down right scary in fact. He makes one mean bad guy and gives you someone to root against since Superman doesn’t really give you anyone to root for. All in all what you have is a start to a new franchise but not a promising one just mediocre at best. Maybe they were leaving room for improvement, who knows!
7/10 Stars – DC still hasn’t learned from Marvel how to make a great super hero movie…
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