Review: ‘Man of Steel’

man-of-steel-posterWhen ‘Seasons’ by Chris Cornell plays over a scene in the beginning of Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel, you know that we’re in the era of a new Superman.

An era where he’s not kinder or gentler. And that’s a good thing.

I did have some problems with the film overall but Man of Steel is a welcome start to what is hopefully a slew of DC Superhero films.

Man of Steel could almost be classified as a sci-fi film. It opens in a Krypton that we’ve never seen before. It has strange Kryptonian animals, spaceships flying around and odd penis-like pods that transport criminals to the Phantom Zone.

Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is imploring the council about what we already know, Krypton is a goner. The once noble General Zod (Michael Shannon) agrees, but instead of a peaceful way to help their citizens, he wants an all-out coup. He’s banished to the Phantom Zone… and he’s pissed.

You know the next part of the story. Kal-El is sent to Earth where he grows up to be…. Well, you know.

A good portion of the beginning deals with Clark’s childhood in Smallville and his time in Alaska where he’s trying to find himself. The Smallville bits with young Clark are a bit hokey at times and the mediocre dialogue doesn’t help it. Thankfully, it gets better as soon as he puts on the cape.

Snyder’s Clark/Superman has a temper. You would too if you were treated as an outcast and made fun of in school. He’s tormented… the guy can’t fight back. One flick of his pinky could destroy a person. He’s got to suck it up and eat all that pain. We haven’t seen this guy before and it feels pretty great. We can identify with him and his inner-pain.

The film though is just… ok. I didn’t leave the theater feeling that jolt of energy I wanted to feel. Don’t get me wrong, I think Henry Caville is a fine Superman/Clark but the screenwriters didn’t have him do a lot if that makes sense. I can’t honestly remember any lines of dialogue he had in the film except for the final couple of moments of battle which were the best part of the film. Most of the film he’s walking around looking heroic… I wanted to actually get to know him ala Christopher Reeve‘s Superman.

Mostly, I think my main problem was the third act. The action was so fast and filmed in such a video-game(y) way that I could barely keep up. The fights scenes between Zod and Superman were so frenetic, I didn’t know who was hitting who or how did got to one location or another. They’re at the top of a building now? Ok. I just couldn’t keep a handle on everything because it was so damn hectic.

Another thing that bothered me was the flying scenes. Say what you will about Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns but to this day, I can still see Brandon Routh‘s Superman flying though Metropolis and over the water to save the day. Snyder’s Superman seems like it’s all green-screened and I just didn’t get that sense of a man flying.

There were some other things I didn’t like (Perry White wears an earring? Lois Lane say’s she has to “tinkle”??) but that’s just me being a nitpick.

Amy Adams, who I love but was afraid was miscast as Lois Lane, definitely proved me wrong and adding Laurence Fishburne into the mix as Perry White was a bit of casting genius.

Overall, I’d say it’s a good way to spend almost 2 1/2 hours. Don’t expect to be blown away and you’ll enjoy it plenty. And the ending will just whet your appetite for the sequel.

Oh, and stay away from the 3D version. It adds nothing to the experience. Save that money for the popcorn.

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