Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel Poster

It’s probably no surprise that I rushed out to see Man of Steel, DC’s newest superhero film, the day it opened. Given the wild success of Marvel films like The Avengers and Iron Man 3, there’s a lot riding on this movie. Rumors of a Justice League film have swirled since the announcement of this new Superman movie a few years back, but if this movie doesn’t succeed, it may never materialize. Also, given the failures of both Superman Returns in 2006 and Green Lantern in 2011, some have wondered if Warner Brothers can have any hope of a superhero success outside of Batman.

As a big fan of Superman myself, I had high expectations for this film. How did it turn out overall?

Man of Steel begins on the doomed planet Krypton, where we witness the birth of Kal-El and meet his parents, Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. Jor-El informs the ruling council of his planet that there is no hope for their world, before the malicious General Zod attempts a coup. Ultimately, Jor-El and Lara manage to place Kal in a rocket and send him on a course for Earth, ensuring at least one member of their race will survive. Meanwhile, Zod and his underlings are captured and sent into exile in the Phantom Zone.

Flash forward to years later, when Kal, having been raised under the name Clark Kent, finds a lost relic of Krypton and begins to learn more about his heritage. Interspersed with flashbacks to his youth, we learn of the difficulties Clark faced trying to find the balance between hiding his gifts and saving those around him. Ultimately, a modern Clark embraces his destiny to defend the people of Earth, just in time for an old enemy to appear.

Michael Shannon as General Zod, the main antagonist in the film.

Michael Shannon as General Zod, the main antagonist in the film.

The plot for Man of Steel is fairly straight forward, and contains everything a good Superman story should possess. We see Superman in various stages from his life, from his birth, to his childhood, to his heroic exploits. I like that Superman questions his past and how, or even if, he should use his powers. This choice felt realistic and, while such a deliberation could easily have dragged on, the movie never feels slow. Furthermore, while the movie is long, it is told in an effective manner, giving ample time to not only character development and dialogue, but also amazing action sequences. Some people dislike Zach Snyder’s work, but it’s undeniable that he knows how to direct great moments of action, and this movie is his best work to date in that regard. I do admit that the beginning of the movie is a tad slow, but things get quickly underway. I honestly wondered during several scenes how the movie could get any better, and then ten minutes later I’d watch as an even more exciting scene unfolded.

Man of Steel’s cast is great, with each character portraying their role effectively and exceptionally. Henry Cavill portrays both the strength and doubt of a young Superman with skill. Michael Shannon, as the villainous General Zod, was the high point of the film; the emotions he portrayed through both his line delivery and body language drew me in, and I felt his character was well developed. Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, and Diane Lane as Martha Kent were also notable members of the cast, portraying their characters in manners that reflected their comic book origins yet breathed new life into the classic characters. I actually have to commend one actress in particular: Antje Trau as Faora, Zod’s Second-in-Command. While she did not receive a ton of dialogue or character development I loved her stone-cold military commander character, a fact she communicated especially well through he nonchalant style of fighting.

Antje Trau as Faora Ul. To call her a total badass is a gross understatement.

Antje Trau as Faora Ul. To call her a total badass is a gross understatement.

Man of Steel’s soundtrack is another remarkable aspect of the film. Composer Hans Zimmer, known for notable work on films such as The Dark Knight and Inception hits the high mark once again with a powerful series of songs. The music of the film flows along with every scene, completing Zach Snyder’s directorial work to a wonderful degree.

Though not necessary for overall enjoyment of the film, I like that there were references to the Superman mythos in Man of Steel. We see brief appearances from the likes of Lana Lang and Pete Ross, while trucks from LexCorp show up in the background of several scenes. I also like that Warner Bros. allowed this movie to stand on its own; before release, rumors swirled that DC would put hints towards a Justice League film into Man of Steel, but this was not the case. It’s nice that this film allows Superman to have his day in the Sun, acting heroic without the need to add unnecessary bridges to future installments.

Overall, Man of Steel is the must-see action movie of the year so far. With an exciting plot and a great cast it’d be hard to find someone who didn’t find at least one thing to enjoy from this film. While watching it, I admit a child-like joy filled at certain moments, especially in the scene where Superman first takes flight. This is the Superman movie, giving everything a good Superman story should have and more. I honestly cannot recommend this movie enough. If a Justice League movie is in the cards, this is an excellent way to initiate the route to such a feature. To take a line from earlier Superman film promotions: when you see this movie, you will believe a man can fly.

Pros:

-great cast who excellently portray their characters

-awesome action sequences

-enjoyable story that gives the audience everything they could want in a Superman story

Cons:

-beginning of the film is a little slow

Rating: 5/5

rating50

 

Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He’s glad Kryptonite didn’t show up in this film.

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Silverwolf

Moar Powah's very own Clark Kent.

9 Comments:

  1. While I don't mind factoring in personal entertainment in determining a rating for a review, this is by far one of your works that drips with more bias than usual. That's not a bad thing per se, but in this case I think it overly blinds you to the point where it's kinda a put-off while reading. Maybe because I know you personally. Reviews are all subjective, but it's important to try to be objective in regards to film making technique and coherency. This is what's lacking in this review.

    For example, I gave Highschool of the Dead a 4/5. I mentioned it got that rating for its personal entertainment value, yet I clearly stated all the glaring flaws and that it was by no means a good anime. Just like with your view on TDKR, I think you don't take into enough consideration how bad the pacing is in this film. Among other things, the narrative structure is jarring, and the plot is generic and at times a mess. There was not enough dialogue (the romance between Clark and Lois was incredibly forced) and character development (Clark "finds" himself in a span of 10 minutes merely by talking to Jor-el in a ship and putting on a suit). There's more, but it can be saved for an "Objection."

    On a side, its funny that TDKR received so much praise from critics despite it being an equally bad mess (bad pacing, glaring plot holes, poor development, logical fallacies) while MOS has been slammed. I think that's because of the "Nolan effect." He can do no wrong. Both MOS and TDKR get a solid 3/5 for me (6/10). Good movies, definitely far from great. Both were enjoyable, but from a film making standpoint, they aren't up to snuff. Alas, looks like Spider-Man 2, Iron Man, and The Dark Knight will continue to remain the only great comic book films.

    • You make some good points here, I do admit I am a hardcore Superman fan which means, among other things, that I probably liked the movie more than someone who isn't as interested in the character as I am (or those who have different interpretations of the character, such as Mark Waid who hated the film). Honestly, I didn't even notice a lot of these problems that others had. I actually meant to include a line about the Clark/Lois romance coming seemingly out of nowhere, but I'm not big on going back and adding things like that in.

      I honestly believe, given the source material and what the audience seemed to think of the failure Superman Returns, that Warner Bros did the best they could, and ultimately succeeded in making an interesting, enjoyable film.

  2. And this is why I will continue blogging independently till my eventual retirement.

    Anyway, I haven't gone to the movies since Oz: The Great and Powerful. Hopefully I'll get to see Superman soon. Maybe tomorrow.

    • Uhh why will you continue blogging independently? I didn't see you reason. If it's to avoid knowing someone personally, I don't think that's a bad thing. Silverwolf does great work, but even if I didn't know him, this review isn't as good as some of his others. It's easy to pick up hints of bias once you've read a lot of someone's work. You pretty much know what each editor of IGN likes and dislikes if you've read about 10 of their reviews.

      • Long story short, too many unnecessary responsibilities.

        BTW, IGN and their opinions have been irrelevant to me since 2009. They lost all credibility in my eyes.

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