‘Man of Steel’ Movie Review – Super Something
As an artist (speaker, writer, musician, and even filmmaker), audience is very, very important. While it doesn’t dictate 100% of your strategy, it’s one of the top factors. I suspect that a lot Man of Steel’s audience want a Superman film full of action, visuals, and well, Superman. Not this guy. While action is certainly going to happen and Superman should be a huge part of the story, there’s got to be something in the plot that takes the movie a step further. With equal parts irritating plot and character difficulties (which I’ll explain more later), Zack Snyder’s latest film unfortunately misses the mark.
As a complete reboot, Man of Steel is restricted to going over an origin story we already know. For those that want the quick skinny, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) from Krypton has a son, named Kal-El, that later becomes Superman (Henry Cavill). As Krypton is becoming extinct, Kal-El gets sent to Earth to preserve his life and the memory of Krypton.
However, due to unlikely circumstances, General Zod (Michael Shannon) makes it out of Krypton alive and well. Vowing revenge on Jor-El, while also trying to recover the genetic make-up of the Krypton race, Zod hunts down Superman. Meanwhile, Superman (going by Clark Kent now) is making a life of his own on Earth with a pretty reporter (Amy Adams) in the mix.
“Unlikely circumstances” is a key phrase for the entire movie. I know it is dumb to argue the believability of Superman, both in past and present films. However, that doesn’t justify the lack of plot direction. Anything and everything has some ridiculous tie to an “overall plot.” Whether this is the genetic codex, Jor-El’s holograph, or the “world engine,” it all seems really lazy. The plot just isn’t organized very well, making it seem like they just kept adding plot devices to continue the story.
Part of the plot issues have to do with Superman himself. I alluded to it in my franchise review, but there are inherent roadblocks when trying to bring Superman to the big screen. Unlike other heroes, Superman isn’t an underdog. Not only can he fly, but he can withstand fire, bullets, or pretty much anything but Kryptonite. He’s super fast, super strong, and super everything.
What can defeat him? Or who can defeat him?
This really starts to wear on the action sequences because while they may look great, it’s really exhausting to see Superman fly around, pummel and throw people (as well as be pummeled and thrown) across a cityscape and come out unharmed. I get that it’s all part of the gag, but that’s not good enough. He’s got to be put on a level playing field (of sorts), and with General Zod that just doesn’t happen. They are similar physically but even that’s a stretch.
Man of Steel is almost all physical action, but it severely lacks emotional action. There are glimmers of hope throughout. Hope is used on purpose because that’s what Superman stands for – he is supposed to be the guiding light for the human race. Part of this origin story is dedicated to him embodying this hope and becoming a force for good while trying to control his powers. Superman doesn’t want the burden of being Superman, but since he’s got this power, it becomes his duty. This is a fascinating idea and it’s not something fully explored in previous Superman films.
It’s completely dropped, though, as the action picks up. Snyder and screenwriter David Goyer (The Dark Knight Rises) apparently cared more about Superman vs. General Zod in downtown Metropolis. When it’s all said and done, it speaks more to his physical prowess than emotional.
I talked about audience at the beginning, and there’s no doubt this will still be a financial success. For fanboys, it probably was at least adequate. However, as a film, it doesn’t transcend the genre in the least. It’s not groundbreaking…or even really surface-scratching. Instead, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is a sci-fi heavy piece with lots of action sequences (and CGI) but no coherent plot to legitimize it.
Man of Steel is open nationwide now. Let us know what you think!
Follow me on Twitter @jmacle