Man of Steel (2013) PG-13 143 Mins


UK Release Date: 6/14/2013
US Release Date: 6/14/2013

Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon

Let me get something straight from the very beginning: I like Zack Snyder. He’s one of the most visually interesting directors working today. He’s a filmmaker who embraces technology and not only loves doing what he does, but loves to share in detail why he does it. (his Maximum Movie Experiences on the Watchmen and Sucker Punch Bluray’s are mind blowing) Here’s the rub. Every movie he’s made to date is eye candy of the highest order and … very little else. I’ll admit it. Watchman was lost on me. It’s stylish and well constructed but…. Ummm? Ummm? Yeah. I need to watch it again. Sucker Punch I wanted to love. I really, really wanted to, but… Ummm? Ummm? Now, you remember I said I liked Zack, right? I stand by that. I just never really connect with his films on a level other than the visual. A good film though, is made up of story and character. (Yes, disgruntled Watchmen fans I’ve said I’ll watch it again) If only Zack could find some material to apply his visuals to.

When Warner Bothers decided it was time to reboot the Superman franchise, two things excited me. First, Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas were on board as producers. They could reinvigorate the Man of Steel from the ground up just as they had with the Caped Crusader. Second, they chose Zack Snyder to direct. If you’d put those cards down at a Black Jack table, I’d be the first to scream “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” Over the next few months the other players fell into place. Amy Adams as Louis Lane. Russell Crowe as Jor-El. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Ma & Pa Kent. Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White and Michel Shannon as General Zod. Oh, and before I forget, British actor Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel. Cor, blimey Gov! Winner, winner, chicken dinner, matey! After seeing the first teaser on July 22nd 2012, June 14th 2013 could not come fast enough.

The planet Krypton is dying. Chief scientist Jor-El knows that all hope is lost. Jor-El sends a craft carrying his only son, Kal-El to Earth as he knows it is the only way to save his race. General Zod has other ideas, and murders Joel-El just as the craft leaves. For the crime, Zod and his followers are sent to the Phantom Zone but, as Krypton dies they manage to escape, heading in the same direction as Kal-El. When exposed to Earth’s sun, it gives Kal-El superhuman powers. He doesn’t know how or why, but he knows he is not one of us. Kal-El always seems to be at the scene of danger, saving lives in ways that a human could not possibly do. Daily Planet reporter Louis Lane is on to the story.  Kal-El’s adoptive parents reveal to him  that he was found in a craft that fell to earth, and urge him to keep this superhuman side a secret as the world might not be ready to accept him. When Zod arrives on Earth threatening to destroy the planet unless Kal-El surrenders` within 24 hours, there’s only one thing to do.

This month, I’ll turn 35. On December 15th, Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie will also turn 35. You know you’re getting old when they’re remaking movies that were released when you were a kid. It also makes any critique of a newer version of a film that was a big part of your childhood unfair. Snyder has big shoes to fill, and it’s not his fault. It was the same 6 years ago when Bryan Singer had big shoes to fill with Superman Returns. As much as I try not to compare, Donner’s movie was always in the back of my head. It’s a classic, but we can talk about that another time. When Man of Steel gets it right, it does so with flare and lots of it. When it doesn’t, oh dear, it really doesn’t.

First, the good. Everybody from Cavill, right through to the supporting cast is pitch perfect. No one is trying to be a replica of something from a previous version. That’s the way it should be. There are also a lot of nice touches in the way that Snyder show’s young Kal-El’s point of view. The struggle of dealing with ultra sharp senses is great, and exploring the limits of his power set a great tone.  The chronology is interesting too. It’s not linear, and it mixes things up in an interesting way, as we go back and forth between child Kal-El and Kal-El the young man.

Here’s the bad, or to be fair, the not so good. If you remember that this is an origin the not so good may pass you by. With Nolan’s involvement, it’s easy to see it as a Superman Begins. Still, the key to making superheroes human has always been being able to relate, in some way at least. Although Clark Kent is certainly part of the story, he’s not used as a device to keep the characters wondering who Superman is. If you loose that, you loose the connection to Louis Lane. There is a love interest between the two but its not as electric as it needs to be.  There are also some questionable plot choices.  No spoilers here, you’ll see them.

For me, the biggest issue is Snyder’s urge to go for the throat every single time in every single way. Every action sequence lasts 20 minutes, to the point where I tuned out each time. These sequences, if tightened, could have left room for much needed plot and character development. Instead, we get dizzying images that are so crammed with visual effects that there is no room to breathe.  I remember when a 2 and a half hour movie meant that something was going to happen. Now it just feels like they bloat movies to choking point.

Simply put, all the individual pieces seemed right, but all in the same place amounted to a bland experience. Of course, with the weight of the hype machine in full swing, it  will be the summer’s biggest movie. There will be a sequel, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. Here’s the thing about Man of Steel. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not a good one either. It’s just there.

Is this lime worth your time? Meh. 5/10


7 Responses to “Man of Steel (2013) PG-13 143 Mins”

  • Jeff says:

    Woah, you dropped it another point! I thoroughly enjoyed the film. There are some different plot choices, but to me that kept the movie fresh, and not just a rehash of Superman: The Movie. The action sequences are long, but each of them were impressive. It was very fun, and what surprised and impressed me the most was how well General Zod and his villainous crew were portrayed. They were relatable, and not just mad.

    For me, I’d give it a surprising (because i wasn’t expecting it to be that good) 8/10. This is a perfect flick for a summer blockbuster.

    • The Limey says:

      I know Jeff. I’m probably being harsh. It’s not about rehashing Superman: The Movie. I just had higher hopes for character and plot. We know it can be done. Nolan and Goyer managed it in the Dark Knight Trilogy. Not so much here. It was fun, but I wanted more of something.

      • Jeff says:

        After a second viewing, I’d have to agree with most of your review. I’m not sure what was going on with my 8/10 rating … perhaps I was caught up in the excitement of an opening weekend and large crowd complete with costumes. The character development was definitely lacking, and the pacing left a lot lacking.

  • Kedar says:

    I definitely agree with Jeff’s point about the villanous crew being more relatable — that was brilliant. The whole bit about, “No matter how violent, every action I take is for the greater good of my people” from General Zod made the audience (at least me) sympathize with him.

    The downfall: Clark and Louis’s relationship was very undeveloped, so when they held hands for the first time I thought, “WHOA, whoa, whoa…back up!” I think they could, and should have, cut down some of the action scenes between the villains and Superman. Most of the action scenes were just over-the-top “DESTROY ALL THE BUILDINGS” and pointless tumbling around. But I suppose that’s what we do with most American films. We’re known for that, people buy it.

    I thought the most interesting and compelling points of the movie were when Superman was young and trying to decide what to do with his powers, how to invest them, when to save human lives and when not to. The detail in those scenes was beautiful. I think more detail should have been put in the rest of the movie. When Superman met his dad for the first time he wasn’t even startled (I’m almost sure he would have cried at the very least!); it was a very emotionless moment considering he’d been wondering who his parents were for his ENTIRE life up to this point.

    I feel like the heart and the emotion in the trailer that made me excited to see the movie in the first place, was lacking in the movie as a whole.

    • The Limey says:

      Yes. It was great how good and evil, right or wrong can depend on a point of view. Shannon certainly got that right!

  • Micheal says:

    Personally Michael Shannon had me very excited to see this movie. I am a huge fan of his work (Bug in particular) and thought this was a big mainstream coming out opportunity. However, I found his character two dimensional with a lot of yelling and screaming. Perhaps I need to see it again to find more quiet moments and honesty from him – I wasn’t buying it.

    Plot wise, I wish more time was spent on his childhood, coming of age with his Earth family and discovery of powers. Instead of being used as a flashback touchstone, I would have favored a plot that showed Superman more in relation to human beings rather than the exposition of his pre-story. For this reason, I hope to be more satisfied with the next story.

    • The Limey says:

      I agree Michael. Again, I’m going to upset people by harping back to the original Richard Donner movie, but it had a perfect three piece structure. Krypton, Smallville & Metropolis. Here’s hoping the sequel does a better job at exploring that side of Superman.

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