Man of Steel review

I saw Man of Steel last week and I promised to do a review. I’ve been slacking on it because I’m not sure what I think of the movie. Major spoilers ahead.

On one hand, I thought it was really good and well done. It was Superman but without being the super campy boring Superman. It’s hard to make a movie interesting when your protagonist is essentially invincible. The Christopher Reeves movies were pretty good but they are a product of their time. Superman Returns fell kind of flat.

I liked the idea of the approach they took with Man of Steel. They showed more of Krypton then we’ve ever seen in a movie. You got a much better sense of where he comes from. It was also nice that they jumped from arriving on Earth to being an adult, and then filled in some of his origin growing up here as flash backs. I think that worked a lot better then going through it chronologically.

The actors were all well cast. Henry Cavill came off as Superman. Amy Adams did a good Lois Lane. The side characters also contained a lot of good (and geek related) actors. One nice scene with Tahmoh Penikett and Alessandro Juliani from Battlestar Galactica. Richard Schiff made a good scientist.

While some purists would complain about Lois Lane knowing his secret identity, I actually liked that Lois tracked him down before he was even Superman. She actually did some investigative journalism and then let the story go at Clark’s request. She was able to show competence at her job and humanity all at the same time.

I actually kind of liked the whole bit about the “S” being a Kryptonian symbol and the enlisted personnel starting to call him Superman, rather then Clark calling himself Superman. Lois’ “well here its an S” line was a little conceited but far less so in the movie than it appeared in the trailer.

Even Zod came off as more of a believable bad guy. He was fighting to return his people to existence. Sure, he was kind of Nazish with the pure blood line business. And definitely a bad guy since he was willing to wipe us out to bring about his end (I mean really, there’s lots of other worlds out there). But, his people were gone and he had the means to restore them. That’s a believable reason to go to extraordinary lengths.

Where the movie fell apart was the end battle. I liked the idea of it. Superman races to one side of the world to destroy a device that might kill him while some regular humans try and take out the Kryptonians ship. It wasn’t just Superman saving everyone, humans played a crucial role. A little sad that it was just Americans and not, you know, the rest of the world helping out, but that’s par for the course in these kind of movies.

I even liked the idea of Superman having to fight Zod at the end and facing the choice between letting innocents die and taking a life himself. That is a classic Superman dilemma. He doesn’t kill, but what if the bad guy is as strong, or stronger, than he is and its that or let others die. It’s a good dilemma.

Where it failed though is the set up.  Throughout the movie you see Superman saving people. But only when its convenient. During all of the big fight scenes, he doesn’t make any effort to protect the people around him and his godlike challengers. Smallville is decimated, the military raining down missiles on it, while the entire population sits just behind locked doors.

Then, during the entire Zod fight, lots of opportunity to show Superman struggling to protect people while fighting Zod and to having him losing. That final scene needed that set up. The people at the end just came out of nowhere. After all of that destruction, now Superman cares about protecting people? It just didn’t feel meaningful that he had a tough choice to make.

Add on top of that the over the top destruction. The movie suffered the equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off in downtown New York. Millions of people had to be dead. Yet this is just kind of glazed over. The Avengers dealt with an alien invasion over a major city. But the destruction was far, far less. Thousands of people were probably injured or killed.

At the end of the movie, they all just go to work at the Daily Planet, which looked like it had been destroyed a few scenes earlier, as if everything were normal. Granted, they didn’t have a lot of time to go into the details of the aftermath but it just felt ignored.

Overall, I’d say the movie worth a viewing and for the special effects its not unreasonable to go see it in a theater. It’s a pretty good attempt at bringing Superman into the modern age without completely destroying who he is. But, its not going to make it onto my list of top superhero movies and I probably won’t buy it.

Contest Entry: In Aristeia, there is a Superman reference made. Events and/or characters in this particular movie are relevant. What was the reference?



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One Response to Man of Steel review

  1. Sienn'lyn says:

    I have to agree with you on the set up part. It certainly made for good effects in the fight scenes with all the explosions and buildings collapsing, but it really seemed as the death toll should have been through the roof.