Does Superman’s grand return to the big screen live up to the hype, as well as his namesake? (Spoiler Free Review)
No to the first, yes to the second.
Man of Steel is an epic, spectacle of a movie. It is riddled with grand, dramatic set pieces and frenetic special effects. There are a lot of good things I can say about this movie, but it is plagued by one, crucial element: its screenplay.
Well that, and some of the camera styles. The writing during the second and third act was extremely weak, jerking us from one scene to the other with little explanation or insight into what the characters were thinking during large plot moments.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie as a whole, but there was just too much disconnect between the buildup and the payoff. Yes, the finale is intense and full of all of the aerial combat and city destruction us action fans want, but it is muddled by shaky cameras and little-to-no dialogue.
The dialogue throughout the movie seemed a little off, actually. There were great moments throughout, especially at the hands of Super’s parents, Robin Hood and Robin Hood. But there were also some weak attempts at humor and brevity that would have broken things up a little better.
That said, casting was still right on. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams fit their roles both in appearance and delivery, especially Cavill. Unfortunately, the screenplay was a bit of a mess, and I think they over-corrected while editing.
You could tell entire scenes (and important ones at that) were left out, which is crazy considering the movie is 2 and a half hours long. A shorter movie with a clearer focus would have done wonders, though I appreciate the big story they wanted to send across.
I think a lot of people are disappointed with this film, not because it isn’t good or even great (because it is), but because it has all of the pieces to becoming a masterpiece yet falls short. I still haven’t completely figured out why this is.
I can point to so many great elements of this film, however, especially the antagonist. Michael Shannon’s “General Zod” was a fantastic villain with a compelling reason for why he was evil. The themes of goodness and heroism were full throttle as always in a Superman story, complete with subtle nods to comparisons between Superman and Jesus (Superman is 33 during this movie, the same age as Jesus when he was crucified).
The movie worked best when it was simple. My favorite scenes ranged from the early Krypton prologue and Clark Kent’s quiet journey to finding out who he was. Seriously, we could have used a little more Clark Kent and a touch less Superman, which is absurd coming from me.
I won’t say I disliked how they handled the mythology and how the characters are brought about. The movie is fairly faithful to the comics in some ways but deviates big time in others. I was never jarred by this, but I know many people were shaking their heads.
Finally, the score is perfect. Hans Zimmer didn’t a fantastic job and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I suppose it’s not as iconic as the original John Williams score, but how could it be? I’m glad they went with something different for a new generation, and I love every minute of the soundtrack.
So…is Man of Steel worth watching?
I say yes if you were really looking forward to this movie. It is definitely worth your money unless you are turned off to action adventure movies in general. It’s not the masterpiece we wanted it to be, but it is still great in its own right.
I liken this film’s approach to Batman Begins, which was only a prelude to the Batman movie that changed everything. I am optimistic that Superman can pull the same thing off, especially with a brilliantly casted Lex Luthor.