Man of Steel Review


Comic book movies are a money making machine nowadays and DC/Warner Bros latest incarnation of everyone's favourite Kryptonian is no different. With an estimated budget of USD $225 million, the film has already surpassed $400 million worldwide but does financial success a quality movie make?

Man of Steel is the great hope for DC and Warner Bros to cash in on the superhero craze and hopefully make enough coin to finally float that Justice League film that we've heard so much whispering about. However as a character, Superman is a surprisingly hard sell. Even when talking to my wife she said "Superman is boring. He's never really going to be in danger so where's the story in that?". Frankly, this statement is genius. The highest hurdle over which this super-alien needs to leap is giving the audience a sense of impending doom or at least some semblance of threat but instead falls short and leaves us with what is essentially a disaster movie in a cape.

Before reading this review any further, please understand that I thoroughly enjoyed the film and left the cinema with a great smile on my face. The action was incredible, the performances were great (for the most part) and it gave me everything that I lusted for after the disappointing Superman Returns. That said, this is in no way a great movie and it wasn't until I began writing this review that I realised how many issues I had with it. Honestly, I really did enjoy the film and would happily return for more.

We've seen Superman before, you know, the guy in red and blue, bum chin and jocks on the outside. Frankly, this is very much the Superman that we get in Man of Steel (sans jocks). We're introduced to a conflicted hero who is searching for his identity, only to find it right before his father's arch nemesis finds him. Frankly, Henry Cavill is perfect as Superman. Not only is he the perfect embodiment of Superman, almost in the proportion of an Ed McGuiness illustration, but he also manages to exude the classic "boy scout" ethos that Supes is renowned for. Michael Shannon as Zod is thoroughly menacing and while not as austere as Terrence Stamp, he utilises his penchant for psychologically unbalanced characters well, so much so that empathy is built for the man who wants nothing more than to rebuild his civilisation. The two leading ladies in the film, Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Antje Traue as Faora-Ul both perform admirably, the latter of which kicks some serious butt. Speaking of which, Russell Crowe isn't getting any younger but he certainly looks like he can still throw them fists!

Man of Steel is a spectacle and one that deserves to be witnessed on the big screen. Director Zack Snyder isn't exactly known for being subtle but Man of Steel is something else entirely, this film is two and a half hours of utter indulgence and excess. My complaints about the lack of action in Superman Returns were apparently heard and led Snyder to create a film in which entire city blocks are completely levelled. While a Superman film deserves epic action, I found myself feeling sorry for what would have been thousands left dead in levelled buildings. Further to this, I found a number of allusions to Christianity jarring with multiple references to the "son" and his ability to save the people from themselves. In one scene, Superman all but falls back onto a non-existent crucifix. Also jarring was a Krypton that appeared to be the love child of H.R. Giger and Disney's John Carter, complete with phallic Iron Maiden's of the cosmic variety - giant penis shaped space prisons. 

While we don't get to see the emotional development that was seen in the Nolan's Batman trilogy, we are given a look at the motivations behind Superman's restraint in what could almost be seen as a borrowing from the Spider-Man mythos. "With great power comes great responsibility" - Jonathan Kent. A character with godlike powers such as Superman is a hard character to develop purely for the lack of conflict available to them. Being a loner, Superman/Clark Kent never really connected with anyone beyond his parents which therefore leads to a lack of consequence to his actions. While it was great to see him smack down against worthy adversaries, there was no consideration for the death and destruction left in his wake. He acts like neither a vengeful god nor a compassionate one eventually settling for apathetic.

As I said, I enjoyed the film and it's a great one to see at the cinema but this is definitely an example of "style over substance" filmmaking.

Man of Steel is in cinemas now.

6 comments :

Good review. A good superhero movie, but not the best in recent memory.

28 June 2013 at 15:59 comment-delete

Thanks Dan! It had many an issue but, yeah, I actually did enjoy it. Sadly it just came across as very Michael Bay-ish.

28 June 2013 at 16:09 comment-delete

Ok well now I have to do this -

"I miss you more than Michael Bay missed the mark,
When he made Pearl Harbor.
I miss you more than that movie missed the point,
And that’s an awful lot .
And now, now you've gone away,
And all I'm trying to say,
Is Pearl Harbor sucked and I miss you"

28 June 2013 at 20:25 comment-delete

Ah, Trey Parker. So right yet so, so wrong.

29 June 2013 at 00:03 comment-delete

Supes is a brand and with it comes expectations. Did not feel they lived up to its core. Yes, plenty of biffo and smacking around Zod and all that rubble rousing. A lot of action. But it just left with no heart.

And damn if Jor-El didn't appear way too much for a dad who wasn't supposed to be there any more. Way to nudge out Pa Kent.

30 June 2013 at 13:37 comment-delete

Though fans might miss the levity that made Richard Donner's classic 1978 film Superman: The Movie such a game-changing joy, the thing that really sells this respectful reboot is the dramatic conviction underlying all the mega-scale mayhem.

17 July 2013 at 16:30 comment-delete

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