I don’t normally give reviews with spoilers until something is out on dvd or at least out of the theater, but I think Man of Steel needs it. And with so many people already blogging about their disappointment or unexpected enjoyment of the movie, what’s one more, right?
That said, I’m going to give some spoiler space here so that no one can say I just blurted everything out where anyone could see and get accidentally spoiled.
SPOILERS ABOUND HEREIN!!!
Okay, so, I was really looking forward to this movie and have been for months now. I’m a huge Superman fan and have seen every incarnation of him (yes, even the original b&w one back in the day) despite only having read some of the comics. (shut up that doesn’t make me a bad fan, just a time-limited/poor one)
Directly after the movie,while my friend was picking apart everything that was wrong with the story, I was surprised to discover that I had to figure out if I even liked it or not. That doesn’t usually happen with me. I either love a movie, can’t stand a movie, or like its inherent cheesiness, depending on what I saw. I’m pretty instinctive when it comes to likes/dislikes in movies. And yet, it’s a full two days after having seen it and I still can’t decide.
Let me start with what went right:
Henry Cavill. He was just awesome as Superman and I felt really good about his performance all around. He made me believe that he was Superman on a lot of levels and he made a very cute Clark.
The new Krypton mythos. Yeah, I know, don’t mess with the classics, but in a reboot all’s fair in love and history. I think this particular background paid homage to the original while twisting it just enough to bring a fairly fresh take. Jor-El, Zod, Lara, were all included and fleshed out more than in other incarnations.
The acting. Everyone in this film brought their A game to the role and it showed.
The production value and directing was truly outstanding. This is an exceptionally well made film and visually quite stunning in places. I didn’t see the 3D version of it, but even the ‘regular’ version was just so well done.
What went wrong in my humble opinion…
It boils down to the story – the fact that this was two films smooshed into one – and the writers’ take on who Superman is at heart. Basically, there was so much backstory for the Krypton mythos and Clark’s personal background (lots of flashbacks) that there wasn’t any actual main story to drive things along. Sure, Zod shows up and wipes the floor with Superman, half-destroying Metropolis in the process, but that’s a direct result from what happened between Zod and Jor-El back in the day. It didn’t really have anything to do with Superman except, oh, he’s in Zod’s way. I mean really, Zod and Jor-El were still arguing when Jor-El was just a computer program/hologram/brain imprint thirty years later.
Also, this is not an action film. Much like The Dark Knight Rises, this film is marketed as an action tentpole, but it’s really a drama with quite a bit of action. This is, no mistake about it, an origins story. Unlike TDKR, Man of Steel doesn’t quite pull everything together the way it needs to do because they went with one movie instead of the two or three it really needed… just like TDK.
For someone way more eloquent as to why I was so very disappointed in this version of who Superman intrinsically is shown to be in this incarnation, you really need to read this post: http://badassdigest.com/2013/06/15/why-the-destruction-in-man-of-steel-matters/. Because they totally nailed it. Superman’s reason for being has always been, and should continue to be, saving people. In this film he pretty much wipes out Smallville and takes out a good portion of Metropolis battling Zod without even an attempt at saving the civilians. That bothers me. A Lot. No matter what kind of reboot you’re doing, to take away a character’s soul is just wrong.
Everything else is really just nit-picking.
Like casting Amy Adams as Lois Lane. You know, I love Amy Adams. I think she’s a lovely person (not that I know her personally) and a wonderful actress, but I just don’t believe her as Lois. She’s not nearly enough of a ball buster, just way too maternal. And I say ball buster as a term of endearment. Seriously. I love kickass women who can stand up for themselves and put men on the defensive for being weenies. She didn’t talk back or argue with a man and/or authority figure even once. And even discounting that particular aspect of Lois’ personality (which, really, you can’t), when I say maternal? Yikes. At the pivotal end scene, she’s literally cradling Superman’s head to her stomach in the most maternal, caring, sweet way possible. Ewwwww!! Lois and Superman are supposed to be sparks and fire and passion and, yes, caring too but not like that, not in a maternal way. That’s what Martha Kent is for.
And speaking of Lois and Superman, I really hate that they’ve taken away the suspense between them. Lois knows right from the beginning who Superman is because she investigates his work history and goes backwards finding all his good deeds until she ends up in Smallville on the Kents’ front porch. Whyyyyy? Why would you take away one of the basic tenets of the Superman world? Giving her that knowledge from the get-go takes away all the mystery and romance and, yup, gives her a protective, maternal aspect that Lois just shouldn’t have. There’s no conflict between them now. Clark has no secrets from her and Lois has no leg to stand on when he dashes off to save the world. She has to be the understanding girlfriend because she’s in on it. Worse than that, everyone knows that she’s in on it. For cryin’ out loud, the FBI shows up on her doorstep to question her about it!!
So I guess there’s more here that I didn’t like, than I did. It’s not that this is a bad movie, because it isn’t, it’s just… not what it should be/could have been given the talent pool involved. Disappointing, is what describes it best for me.
Ah well. Not even Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder can hit a homer every time, right?