WARNING! This review contains some spoilers.
Growing up, I was never a fan of Superman. To me he was always a reminder of the one friend we all had growing up. You know the one that you would play superhero’s with and they would be the one who has to have all the powers and is unbeatable in every way.
That’s Superman to me in a nutshell, a boring superhero that can do everything and can’t be defeated.
I will admit this has made me bias towards the previous Superman movies. I had never watched the original 1978 film or its sequels(I know, their on my “to watch” list). I’ve fallen asleep through “Superman Returns” and only have watched part 4 (Quest For Peace) in its entirety because it is considered to be one of the worst films of all time and I’m a sucker for bad movies.
So again, I’m not a fan of the guy. However, as a movie fan I have a voice and with that voice I’m going to share my two cents on what I consider to be the most perplexing superhero films I’ve ever seen.
I say perplexing because I really have no clue how to feel about this movie. At one point I nearly fell asleep I was so bored by the story. Yet, my jaw was dropped at the sight I was seeing by the film’s climax. The characters, while some were horrendous, others were captivating.
The story, a bit confusing due to pacing, but still delivered when it counted. Finally, the casting, I got nothing. The casting in this film was incredible and nearly every person on screen seemed to have brought their “A” game.
The pacing of the story as well as some of the dialogue were the two contributors that brought this movie down for me. At times the pacing got way too into itself. We would get the backstory of Krypton and Superman in the first act. Followed by Clark discovering who he is and more flashbacks. Then Zod arrives and more flashbacks of Clark’s mid teen years.
Then nothing more but the battle between Zod’s army and Superman, followed by more flashbacks. The pacing was a wreck in my opinion. I’m all for having flashbacks whenever a specific point needs to be reached, but when the flashback is a result of some chump that works in an IHOP (which by the way seems have a huge commercial plug in this film, by the end you may be craving pancakes) that was saved as a kid by Superman.
Come on, was that really necessary?
Especially when 10 minutes ago you show Superman saving a bunch of oil tankers from a burning platform. The dialogue as well gets really monotonous at times. You can honestly make a drinking game out of every time a “people are afraid of what they don’t understand” or “I must save Krypton!” phrase is stated.
Henry Cavill(The Tudors, Immortals) gets his turn this time around as Clark Kent/Jor-El. Shockingly enough, the film barely acknowledges him as “Superman”, giving it more of a nickname feel to it rather than a title to a character. Cavill plays Jor-El as a person that is trying to find where he came from due to his otherworldly powers but in his journeys does good deeds for people that are in need.
Cavill’s Superman character isn’t looking to stop evil at every corner, he’s just doing the right thing at where ever he is. That’s the pro and con of the character. On one end, it’s what a lot of us strive to do, just be good to one another. It sets the example we all can try to become one day and thus gives us something to relate to Superman with.
On the other end, it’s extremely boring. There is very little edge when it comes to Cavill’s character. It’s too boy scout/predictable/”oh my God will you do something unexpected!” type of character.
Which is fine, but at times can make Cavill really boring and even annoying when he’s on screen. In comparisons to previous Superman’s. The guy is no Christopher Reeve now, but given time he could be considered just as good.
His foe “General Zod” Michael Shannon(Boardwalk Empire) is both extremely annoying and extremely bad ass at the same time. It’s hard to explain, the majority of his dialogue consists of the phrase, “I must save Krypton!” or some reasonable facsimile there of. However, his actions in this film… Look, the guy and his army destroy cities like they were made of paper.
If that isn’t badass I don’t know what is. The fight he and Superman have in the film’s climax is one for the ages. The Kryptionian throw down in Metropolis is one of the best fights I have seen in a movie. I don’t know much about Superman villains, but I do know when you have hero as powerful as Superman, if you have someone that’s going to fight him, he/she need to be as strong, and General Zod does that perfectly.
Unfortunately there is are zero instances where he asks someone to kneel before Zod which is a shame for fans of the original Superman II film.
Amy Adams(The Muppets, Enchanted) as Lois Lane, all I can say is wow. She manages to give Lois some backbone in this film, making her way more active (girl gets her own battle sequence against some Kryptonian guards), and yet maintaining the inquisitive reporter Lane always seems to be. However, by the end of the film as sad as it sounds she falls back into her damsel in distress motif and needs to be saved.
I couldn’t get behind the story between Adams and Cavill, it seems forced and rushed in this movie.
Rounding out the rest of the cast is Laurence Fishburne as Perry White (Fishburne is played for comedic relief, and is very effective, is like a toned down version of J.K.Simmons J.Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman series). Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Martha and Johnathan Kent (they’re both as American as apple pie, and to be honest it felt like Costner was channeling Ray Kinsella at times.
By the end of the movie I was expecting a flashback of him making a baseball field). Finally there’s Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) as Jor-El. To be honest, I really didn’t care for him much. I thought the character was forced at times (any time in the second half of the film), and was only given that large amount of screen time because it’s such a big named actor playing the role.
All in all, “Man of Steel” is a very interesting film. It’s completely unlike any other superhero movie I have seen before. If you can get past the multiple flashbacks that take you out of the story and the corny dialogue you’ll find a pretty good film underneath.
Cavill’s interesting take on Superman, combined with Zack Snyder’s(300) unique way of shooting action, and Shannon’s General Zod are more than enough reasons to see this movie. It’s for any fan of the Man of Steel. I kneel before this movie 2.5 times out of 4.