Man of Steel
I went into Man of Steel with pretty high expectations. I tried not to, but lets face it , I did. The trailers looked really good, the casting seemed solid, and the team behind it was very respectable. I confess that I really hoped that this would be another outstanding superhero flick. But after seeing it, I’m not sure if I even liked it.
There’s a lot to admire about this movie. The score for one. Its very rousing and understated at the same time. I also liked a lot of the imagery, such as seeing the back of superman against an arctic backdrop, or watching him circle around the earth in space. There is also a final one on one fight at the end which is pretty impressive in its scope and grandeur.
There were also some very good performances, particularly by Kevin Costner s Jonathon Kent and Amy Adams as Lois Lane (so no, I guess she wasn’t just hired for her initial alliteration). Michael Shannon’s Zod was also an excellent and charismatic villain, which is important for movies in this vein to have. As for Henry Cavill as Supes, well, we didn’t do a bad job to be sure and he wasn’t a stand out either. And the fact that he was only middle-of-the-road may have played a part in the problem I’m about to bring up.
I just want to say before I get into my real problem with the movie, that I really did not like the design of Krypton. I did not find the grey, metallic aesthetic at all. I know that this is a more subjective argument, but I think its worth mentioning.
Alright, looking at of the character of Superman, lets get into the big flaw of this movie, which I found leads into a lot of different areas. The big problem with Man of Steel is that we as an audience aren’t given enough of a chance to connect with the character early on in the film. This proved to be quite problematic and made the film a less moving experience than it should have been.
One reason for this was probably the pacing and editing in the first half. Before we even really meet Clark, he’s already saving people and pulling off amazing feats as he travels around the country. The editing transitions seem really quick and move things along fairly fast so we never have a chance to just settle down with this character. Zach Snyder made the choice to show the significant moments in his childhood through flashbacks spread throughout the film, most likely to avoid the first act from dragging and rehashing the origin story. But I can’t help but wonder if this was a mistake and if by showing his childhood at the beginning we would have been more grounded in the character of Clark Kent.
So why is this such a problem? Yes, by the third act of the film we have developed a relationship with the Superman character, but there is a lot of wasted potential early on. There are some scenes and moments which lose their power simply because that connection is not fully formed, such as the scene where he is learning to fly in the arctic.
It also would have added a lot more weight to the moments when his fathers both tell him that he has a chance to change the world and too be an inspiration to the human race. These would have been more deeply felt had we been more intimate with the character. However at this point we weren’t, and these big moments which should really be speaking to the heart of the Superman mythology itself, fell flat.
Along these same lines, a big problem with the narrative is that the human race encounters Zod and the other Kryptonians before they encounter Superman. This is a huge mistake in my opinion. I think it is very important for the people of Earth to have their first otherworldly encounter be with Clark. He should be the one who amazes them first, because this would deepen their connection to him as well as ours.
So did I like it? I can’t say I loved it, I know that much. There were things I really liked about it, but a few poor decisions and fatal flaws which bring it down, mostly with the character itself. It did stretch on too long, especially the final climax and a particular fight scene in the middle. Some good visuals (on Earth anyway, not so much Krypton) and some really rousing moments, but there could have been many more moments which could have been more rousing.
Sorry the review’s so long.