I've been asked to hand out my critique of Man of Steel since I made a post saying that the critics of the movie are often being portrayed as nostalgic fanboys who are finnicky about even the smallest changes to the character. I said that this was not the case and that the movie did have some legitimate flaws that were separate from Superman not being a sunny boy-scout. Someone asked me to elaborate, so here we are.
Just a heads up, this will not be a MoS bashing blog, it will be an honest review of pros and cons (because no one wants to see a whiny nitpick post). Also since this movie has been reviewed to death, I ask that if you are tired of talk about the movie, just exit, don't post complaining about me complaining because it really is a waste of time, just pretend this post never existed. Without further ado, here we go, pros and cons of MoS as well as my overall thoughts on the movie and what could be done better.
- The way in which the writers explored his childhood - With the exception of one scene, my favorite parts of the movie were when Clark was a kid and how his abilities when first discovered wasn't portrayed as a momentous occasion, but rather as a crisis for the Kent family as they didn't know whether it was a blessing or a curse (just that he is special). The movie made it clear that Clark is an alien adjusting to living with people who are different than him.
- Acting - Pretty much everyone who was in this movie either excelled in their roles (Amy Adams as Lois Lane) or was OK but not enough screen time or character development (Laurence Fishburne - Perry White), there was really only one weak link with regards to performances.
- Action...for like the first 10 minutes of it happening - For a least a little while, the action scenes gave the movie the jolt that it desperately needed (wait until my cons), the CGI was great and it was awesome to experience what it would be like if superbeings really fought each other....or at least it was awesome for the first 10 minutes of it happening.....
- Not a rehash of the Donner Superman - This is more of a con against Superman Returns but I do give the film credit for trying a different take on the iconic character. If I want to see a Donner/Reeve style Superman, I'll watch those movies. Do your own thing!
- Dull Superman - I don't mind that the writers were trying to go for a more grounded, darker, grittier Superman, but I thought that David Goyer tried too hard to make him grounded and as a result the Superman that we saw was really empty, and without personality. Seriously, can anyone name some character traits of Superman in this movie, besides wanting to help people (which is like a trait of almost every single comic book hero). IMO Clark had more personality as a kid than he did as an adult. The movie spent the first hour trying to build him up but it seemed more like plot devices to move the story forward rather than character development as very little of the events that happened in the first half end up shaping Clark Kent when he becomes Superman. Henry Cavill didn't help matters much, if you've seen him in other films/shows (Immortals, The Tudors), you know that he can be stale.
- Excessive Action - Like I said, for the first 10 minutes of the Superman/Kryptonians encounter on earth, I was genuinely entertained, but it literally dragged on and on and on like a Dragonball Z fight (not in a good way). I don't mind 40 minutes of titanic clashes but they should be spaced out, not all at once. For a movie that tried to convince us that it wasn't like all those other summer blockbuster movies that had all brawn and no brains, the 2nd half of this movie seemed to share a lot more with Transformers than it did the Dark Knight. We've come to expect more from Superhero films, especially one that thinks it's more important than it really is.
- Collateral Damage - Yeah I went there, it's pretty much one of the few unifying critiques that all critics had with this film. I don't mind so much that it happened, because it happens in every blockbuster action film...but not to this extent and not to the characters overall apathy towards the destruction. Seriously, Metropolis is in ruins, it looks like a post-apocalyptic hell-hole and no one says a word about the hundreds of thousands of people that potentially died. Even Avengers, which is not trying to be realistic and grounded like MoS was, even THEY acknowledged the collateral damage at the end and it wasn't close to the level of destruction in this film. The thing is that when you have two super-powered beings with similar abilities fighting and it's hard for the combatants to hurt each other, what creates tension is the thought that innocent civilians will get hurt as a result of this fight and half of the conflict the protagonist has is NOT just beating the crap out of his opponent but making sure that there is as little loss of civilian life as possible. If the protagonist doesn't seem to care about civilian deaths, then where is the tension? For a movie that was striving for realism, the movie swung and missed on that key element. He didn't have to save everybody, because that's just not possible, but an attempt here and there would have been nice.
- Boring - When you combine events that end up having no meaning to the overall character of Superman with dull Superman with a dull setting(I initially didn't mind the latter if that was the only dull part of the movie) with an overly-long battle, it's hard to get invested.
- Score- It has a decent Superman theme but Hans Zimmer IMO is to action movie soundtracks what Michael Bay is to action movie direction. A lot of noise and no substance. He reportedly turned down writing the soundtrack three times and it's abundantly clear that he was phoning it in, in slow scenes he used the same piano strokes and in action scenes the same f@*&ing percussive blasts over and over that completely overpowered the movie, it was cool the first time I heard it...but after the 19th time, I was like Hans...do you have anything else? The musical score of a movie exists to help tell the story, in here though, it was like an antagonist wanting to take over the whole picture. Hans Zimmer when he really puts his heart to it, can make some great scores, but this is some of the most cookie-cutter soundtracks I've heard in quite some time.
This is a movie that had a lot to offer but ultimately fell flat on creating an interesting protagonist despite the first hour trying to do exactly that. A grounded Superman does not mean that you have to suck the soul right out of him, he doesn't have to be Christopher Reeve's Sups, but there is a happy medium between the Reeve Superman and the blank dry-erase board that we got in this movie. The most disappointing aspect of the film IMO is that the first half of this film tried really hard to convince us that this WASN'T like all the other blockbusters and that it would be a deep character study on Superman, like the Nolan films were for Batman. Then the second half comes and it just like every Michael Bay film I've seen the past 20 years, two action figures smashing against each other with mindless destruction. The events in the first half, had every little affect on Clark when he became Superman. If the film followed the tone of the first half, actually establishing the character of Superman with natural character development, instead of just putting him in situations to move the plot forward (disguising itself as character development) with shorter fights that actually meant something, this would have been my favorite Superman movie of all time, instead it an OK summer film but nothing more.
2 stars out of 4.
I'm not the best at writing blogs, so if it comes across as a difficult read, I am sorry....