Man of Steel Review (4/3/2/2) **¾
- Technical: 4
A lot of money was spent making this film look good and it does. The overall aesthetics worked and way superhuman action was portrayed made visual sense. Everything about the film looked correct, although the heavy use of CG for the 3rd act started to wear out its welcome. The flashback structure worked in remixing the otherwise familiar back story.
- Performances: 3
Man of Steel assembles a very skilled cast and they do well with what they’re given. Amy Adams is particularly good as Lois Lane in the first half but gets reduced to a cliched damsel for the final act.
Cavil is believable as the new Kal-El, but spends too much of the film brooding to be sympathetic.Too much effort is spent portraying the burden of being Superman. The character comes across as morose and generally uninterested in his powers. His casual usage is a missed opportunity as it doesn’t properly convey their significance.
- Story: 2
This is probably the most controversial aspect of the film as the story makes some very notable changes to familiar Superman lore and characterizations. The worst offender in this regard was Pa Kent. Costner performs it well, but he is written as the antithesis to how the character is traditionally used.
Too many plot points felt overly contrived for the sake of convenience and the Kryptonian codex subplot felt out of place. There’s a lot of good things going on in this film but it doesn’t quite come together into a satisfying whole. The dark tone of the film doesn’t relent until the final scenes which might have been the most enjoyable.
- Impact: 2
What you think of this movie will depend a lot on your understanding of the Superman character. Man of Steel attempts to be a dramatic character study and generally succeeds at that. However it is very different from what you may expect from a Superman title. This film could stand on its own without attachment to the Superman mythos, but unfortunately those connections drag down the overall experience.
- Additional Thoughts (Spoiler Territory)
Man of Steel flirts with greatness but misses lots of opportunities that I feel need to be pointed out. Firstly, if they were going to use flashbacks to show his youth more time should have been spent showing the growth of his powers, his struggles to control them, and the excitement of using them. The temptation must be real and with great power comes great blah blah blah.
Secondly, if they wanted Clark to be hidden until Zod’s arrival Zod should have arrived on Earth claiming to be an authority and portraying Kal-El as a hidden fugitive. This would give Clark an additional burden to prove himself to humanity.
Now about that final battle… 40 minutes of disaster porn, and that final kill. Ultimately that kill was a cop out and a bad cliche, I won’t debate if it was in character or not but it didn’t have any emotional ties to the rest of the film. Great endings are hard and this one just lacked imagination.
Purely in my opinion the true ending should have been after turning back the Kryptonian threat. After they had been stopped Superman should have been rescuing the people of Metropolis from falling buildings, fires, floods, and the aftermath destruction. Split second rescues create dramatic tension. This would have been the perfect opportunity to flesh out characters like Lois and the Daily Planet crew throughout the rest of the film.
Superman rescuing people would have fit thematically and could have provided an uplifting and positive conclusion instead of his brief moment of angst. Can he rescue them all? Would he have to choose the good of the many over the few? Can he push the limits of his powers to do the impossible. It would at least have showed that the destruction mattered and that he cared a bit. These might be minor complaints but its the details that elevate a generic action movie to something of a Dark Knight caliber.
Finally, this last part is just speculative but if they had a plans to bring in Wonder Woman given their current relationship in the comics then what if he couldn’t save Lois a la ASM2? Give that one some thought.