Film review: Man of Steel

posted at 11:01 am on June 23, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Note: Some mild spoilers included.

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! If that sounds a little old-fashioned and cheesy, then the reboot of the Superman series is for you.  Unlike its film and television predecessors, Man of Steel dispenses with the cheese in favor of grit, and exchanges familiar character profiles for something more modern and realistic.

In this version of the DC Comics classic, Krypton is rent both literally and figuratively.  Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara (Ayalet Zurer) produce the first natural birth in centuries on Krypton, which takes on a very Brave New World-meets-The Matrix tone in the opening sequences.  As the planet reels toward destruction, General Zod (Michael Shannon) attempts a coup while Jor-El sends the newborn Kal rocketing toward Earth along with the “codex” that can restart Kryptonian reproduction.  Zod swears to track down the child, who then lands on Earth.

Up to that point, the Superman canon is relatively recognizable, if significantly appended with more baggage.  When we get to Smallville, Man of Steel makes major changes to the Clark Kent/Superman storyline.  The circumstances of Jonathan Kent’s death change completely, and Clark/Superman’s introduction to Lois Lane gets turned on its head.  The changes, though, integrate well into the storyline and make it a lot easier to dispense with the cheesiness that comes from having a Perfect Being Without Character Flaws at the center of a story, also ridding the story of its central deception in the alter-ego storyline that pretty much casts Lois Lane as an idiot in other incarnations.

The problems with Man of Steel are the way in which the narrative unfolds, and the cinematography. Instead of a linear approach, the film starts jumping around in time when the action moves to Earth.  We go from Krypton’s destruction to an adult Clark going walkabout trying to find himself, in a manner reminiscent of Kung Fu or The Fugitive. It reminded me of Jules’ intention in Pulp Fiction to “walk the Earth,” and in this case the search seems to put Clark on the path to his destiny only accidentally.  The plus side to this is that it gives us a much more believable Kal-El and a Lois Lane with real credibility, but it’s a disjointed journey until that point.

The cinematography and direction is even more problematic.  Not the special effects, which Peter Jackson’s Weta delivers in first-rate fashion, but the supposedly normal cinematography.  Director Zach Snyder makes sure we notice him as we get the now-cliched out-of-focus ultra-close-ups, the shaky cameras, the grainy film effects, the blue-wash, and all of the “LOOK AT ME, MA, I’M DIRECTING!” tricks.  In space (and on Krpyton), we get the establish-then-rapid-double-zoom-in/out shot Joss Whedon used in Serenity — nearly every time.  It’s both distracting and annoying.  At times, though, Man of Steel is a visual feast almost on par with Thor, even if a bit overwhelming in its chaos.

With that said, the film is more than worth the flaws.  The action sequences are terrific, and the characters more three-dimensional than in previous Superman outings.  Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) goes from a yellow-journalism dinosaur to a responsible modern editor, for instance, and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) become slightly less saintly and more significant.  Costner is especially good, but his key emotional sequence and resolution are practically stolen from Spiderman’s film incarnations.

The real strengths in this film are Henry Cavill as Clark/Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and Shannon as Zod.  All three come across as much more than the Superman archetypes to which we became accustomed. Cavill, who was one of the best things about the Showtime series The Tudors, puts aside the aw-shucks approach for one of genuine care. Adams doesn’t rely on reporter cliches for her portrayal of Lois, opting for a much more natural approach.  And while Terence Stamp’s psychotic and megalomaniacal Zod will always be memorable, Shannon makes Zod a little more understandable — and therefore a lot more consequential, especially in his zeal to protect and propagate the Krypton race even at the cost of genocide.

And there is one other improvement.  In past Superman versions, the humans always seem ridiculous, needy, and craven, and not just in comparison to Superman.  Man of Steel allows the humans in the story to demonstrate their own strength, even against overwhelming odds, and to demonstrate their own heroism.  All of this manages to sneak past the annoying cinematography and direction to redeem Man of Steel, and in some sense the comic-book film genre, too.

On the 5-point Hot Air scale, I give this a 5:

  • 5 – Full price ticket
  • 4 – Matinee only
  • 3 – Wait for Blu-Ray/DVD/PPV rental or purchase
  • 2 – Watch it when it hits Netflix/cable
  • 1 – Avoid at all costs

It’s not Batman Begins, because Superman just isn’t ever going to be as complex as Bruce Wayne, but it’s still the best we’ve seen of Superman on the big screen — by far.  However, the scope and scale of the action on Earth makes it very possible that any sequels will end up being a big letdown, not to mention the fact that they may have to explain what happens to Metropolis after this battle.

Man of Steel is rated PG-13, mostly for violence and destruction, which is quite realistic and widespread.  It’s too intense for young children, but I think my 11-year-old granddaughter could probably handle it, and most young teens would have no problem dealing with it.

Update: My friend John Hanlon liked it a lot less than I did. Also, earlier today he noted that I’m in a film, too:

I had no idea that I was in it — apparently, it was from my coverage of the Iowa caucus debate in January of last year.  I’ll have to track down Caucus and take a look at it.

Update II: Commenter Libfreeordie wonders why I didn’t mention the sledgehammer allusions to Christ throughout the film; he gives a good rundown in his comment below.  I probably should have, but thought that they were ultimately silly and almost a non-sequitur.  They would have mattered if Kal-El actually ended up sacrificing himself for the sake of humanity; then Man of Steel would be an allegory to the Gospel, albeit a really weird one. Of course, Superman doesn’t sacrifice himself, because then there would be no sequels.  At best, one can say that this film treats religion a little better than most Hollywood films do.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Trolls get HT’d while ALT gets banned. This is f’d.

CW on June 23, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Next complaint from libfreeordie: Superman not being gay and black and being seen in a church will cause minority teenagers to kill themselves.

northdallasthirty on June 23, 2013 at 1:42 PM

You’re far more obsessed with my racial and sexual identity than I could ever be….

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 3:54 PM

As to the Christ analogy. It was deliberate. In fact the producers hired a theologian/media consultant whose Ph.D. is from Fuller Seminary to write sermon helps for pastors who wished to preach on “Jesus as the first Super Hero”. BTW this is not a new concept, but Hollywood often comes late to the party. The movie was screened for pastors before its release. There was purposeful marketing to the Christian community that was different than the general audience marketing.

IdrilofGondolin on June 23, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Is that so? Well, I feel validated :)

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM

“Superman” doesn’t exist.

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Except that Superman does exist. He was created by Siegel and Shuster, is owned by DC Comics, and he stands for something very particular. Notice how even though he’s been written by hundreds of different writers, his core character remains basically the same? You think that’s a coincidence? You think if he falls into the hands of the wrong writer he’s suddenly going to become a cold-blooded murderer?

Superman, as imagined by his actual creators, is the embodiment of the perfect American immigrant. If he’s a religious figure at all, he’s much more Moses than Jesus.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM

He was created by Siegel and Shuster, is owned by DC Comics, and he stands for something very particular

Superman as an intellectual property is one thing. But what he “stands for,” that’s something else entire. Remember, there are alternative universe Supermans who are evil, how do we know which one is the “real” one? A friend of mine who owns the opera blog parterre box had these really smart things to say in response to the Great Gatsby film by Baz Luhrman.

Essentially there are two valid attitudes to the process of “translation” from one medium to the other, which for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to call “reverence” and “respect.”

The “reverent” approach essentially cedes control to the “creator,” that is, the author of the source material. If there’s a stage direction or an indication of historical era in the original, that must be followed without question. Introduction of additional details or themes not explicitly present in the source material is generally frowned upon.

As you might guess, La Cieca is more disposed to the “respectful” method; that is, the director treats the “creator” as a collaborator rather than a god. The ideas and details presented in the original are to be observed and judged with respect, that is, not dismissed willy-nilly, but, by the same token, not followed slavishly. The director’s job is to try to discover and to understand broader ideas behind the words on the page (or the notes of the score) and then find a way to express those ideas to the public.

I happen to agree with La Cieca. Reverence doesn’t actually require a new Superman movie. We can watch the old one. But respect opens the possibility for the Superman character to do different things. Whether you agree with them or not. I think there are many flaws in the film, the metaphor as Ed says is clunky and produces an inert Kal/Clark character. But there’s nothing invalid about translating Clark/Kal into a Christ or Moses figure.

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Superman as a character is boring. The DC UNIVERSE as a whole is pretty boring as well. It’s the characters that inhabit it that make it so. One dimensional with the most unrealistic personalities and backstories.

The only exception is Batman and he should probably be in the Marvel Universe anyway.

What Joss Whedon has done thus far with choreographing the Marvel films has been genius. You can do that with characters that are so layered and multidimensional.

Excelsior!

creatocon on June 23, 2013 at 4:20 PM

I haven’t read the comments yet, but I would rate it a five too, worth the full matinee price. I was entertained the whole time, and no one preached to me. Gee, just looking at Henry Cavill for a couple of hours was worth the ticket.

jazzuscounty on June 23, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Alternate worlds/universes/”Elseworlds” stories exist for the explicit reason of letting writers exercise their creative muscle without diluting the Superman/Kal-El brand. When a Kal-El Superman goes bad (as in the excellent “Red Son” miniseries), it is purposefully done outside of the canon (in this case, as an “Elseworlds” story).

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Okay, I give up. Something I’m saying keeps setting off the ridiculous moderation queue. It might be the name of the evil Superman from the old Earth-2 who runs his own evil Justice League. I have no idea why that would be a moderated word. Whatever.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 4:34 PM

It might be the name of the evil Superman from the old Earth-2 who runs his own evil Justice League.

You know, we probably have a lot in common :)

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 4:36 PM

I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve heard about the Christ allusions as well as a spoiler for the ending of the movie.

Superman was created as a Messiah type figure and the discussion on how Superman compares or is like Christ has gone on in the comic book world for decades.

But, someone has noted that Superman, like many superheroes, is not actually like Christ, but like our dads. Not to mention, that according to a spoiler for what Superman does at the end of this new movie, he most certainly is NOT Christlike and instead very humanlike.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/06/20/superman-isnt-jesus-hes-your-dad/

Logus on June 23, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Actually Bruce Wayne/Batman is the better allegory for Christ, in the case of Nolan’s movies. He sacrificed his health, wealth, perhaps even his life to save Gotham. Not to spoil it even though it’s been almost a year since The Dark Knight Rises was in theaters, but ending can be viewed one of two way, either he escaped death, or he didn’t. Even in first case, it’s likely he has sacrificed his identity as Bruce Wayne, mot to mention a good chunk, perhaps all, of his family’s wealth.

It’s almost as if Nolan reversed the two, in that Superman in Man of Steel is more morally questionable than Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy.

Jurisprudence on June 23, 2013 at 4:44 PM

You know, we probably have a lot in common :)

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Who, you and Owlman’s teammate? Or me and you?

If you’re claiming to know your DC Comics/Superman history, then you should know that I’m right about Kal-El being kept on a short leash and all the “evil” incarnations being set apart in some way. I mean, the entire “Death and Return” arc just seemed like an excuse to do crazy things with Superman without it actually *being* Superman.

You’ve got Hank Henshaw, Cyborg Supes, what Supes would be like if he were under the control of a villain. Kon-El, Superboy, is what Supes would be like if he were younger and more petulant and didn’t have his nice Midwestern childhood with the Kents. Eradicator, what Supes would be like if he were more of an “avenging” Last Son of Krypton. And of course, who can forget Steel, before he was played by Shaq, representing Kal-El with all of his moral grounding but none of his extraordinary powers.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 4:46 PM

it is purposefully done outside of the canon (in this case, as an “Elseworlds” story).

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 4:27 PM

So why can’t we understand Man of Steel as outside of canon….

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 4:51 PM

I will say that DC has always had more Judeo-Christian elements, at least on the Cosmic level, than Marvel.

DC Comics actually has the Judeo-Christian God (“The Presence”), you’ve got some angelic characters like Zauriel from the late 90′s JLA run, you’ve got a character that is the embodiment of the Old Testament God’s wrath (“The Spectre”), whereas Marvel has always had more abstract cosmic characters like The Living Tribunal and Eternity and so forth.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 4:51 PM

So why can’t we understand Man of Steel as outside of canon….

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 4:51 PM

You can. I think you misunderstood me. I didn’t say that the Superman from “Man of Steel” isn’t a Christ figure. I haven’t seen the movie yet.

I was saying that Superman, Kal-El, as he’s been written in official DC Comics canon for 80 years, as he was created by Siegel and Shuster, wasn’t meant to be a Jesus allegory.

The movies usually *are* seen as outside of the official canon (though a lot of elements eventually end up in the comics, as Zod and co. eventually did), so your take is perfectly reasonable.

I just disagree with your later points about translation. Whether reverent or respectful or however you’d like to categorize it, I think the weight of existing canon always has more cachet than whatever new approach is being used by the “translator”/”redactor.” Especially a canon as relatively consistent as Superman’s, where Kal-El has been a “big blue boyscout”, with a few exceptions, for nearly a century.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Meh. I wouldn’t pay to go see the Big Blue One-Dimensional Boy Scout on the big screen. Or any screen for that matter.

Dunedainn on June 23, 2013 at 5:03 PM

I’d also disagree about Superman not “existing” and his characterization being purely at the whim of his current writer(s). I think that Supes as intellectual property matters not because of corporatism, or because of profits, but because DC Comics realizes what an enduring, important icon Superman is, so they work pretty hard to exercise editorial control over the exploits of the actual in-canon Superman, to make sure he doesn’t stray too far from his core concept.

Supes is probably one of the most recognizable and well-known fictional characters in the world, so I think in that sense he does exist.

All that being said, I’m not the world’s biggest Supes fan. I agree with others that his rigid moralism can be grating and at times boring. I think he makes a great match with Batman, though, and I’ve always enjoyed the “World’s Finest” series where they have their team-ups.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Ok.

So the movie is supposed to be Christian allegory with:

1. Parents who conceive the “old fashioned way” when everyone else is doing the immaculate thing.

2. Superman sacrifices himself, knowing full well he will fight his way out

2a. Spends lots of time discovering, AND ENJOYING, his new found powers. (further Louis)

3. Blows most of metropolis to hell, because there was no other way really.

4. Kills off any chance of Krypton’s rebirth by destroying the last genesis chamber. (Christ figure?)

5. Is smug. Kudos to him.

But then I don’t begrudge the motto “In god we trust” on our coinage.

Fantastic movie! Except you wont be taught anything politically correct.

WryTrvllr on June 23, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Zod was a better Christ figure really

WryTrvllr on June 23, 2013 at 5:14 PM

I thought this was one of the best movies I’ve seen. The sound track is wonderful as well!

JellyToast on June 23, 2013 at 5:28 PM

In the comics, sometime in the late 90′s/early 00′s IIRC, Superman used kryptonite to kill Zod and his minions in the Negative Zone to stop them from potentially killing millions. It’s the only time he’s ever broken his code against killing sentient, human-like beings.

So I agree, Kal would do whatever it takes to make sure innocents weren’t hurt. But he might have to break his code to do it.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 3:40 PM

It was the late 80′s to be exact (Superman v2. #22) and that was a Zod from a pocket universe. ( A low point from the John Byrne Superman run for me.) The Zod that was from Superman’s Krypton pre Nu52 reboot escaped and was thrown back into the Phantom Zone.

If Superman has to break his moral code to save people, whats he going to do when he goes up against ruthless villains like Mongul, Brainiac, or Darkseid in future movies? That makes him more Wolverine than Superman.

RedRobin145 on June 23, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Some minor spoilers here, but not about the ending.

I expected to be bored watching “Man of Steel,” but I wasn’t. This was a campy, goofy film–all completely deadpan, and probably better than something Tim Burton could have pulled off. There was a host of improbable absurdities that filled the film, and as each came along, I found myself laughing harder.

Probably the weirdest, most surreal moment was when Kevin Costner as Clark’s dad had been lecturing his son not to let anyone know about his super powers. As if to demonstrate his point, Mr. Kent stands in quiet, casual poise (as only Costner can do with his laid-back S. California composure), looking a little stern, though, like “You better not rescue me, son” as a tornado rushes in and whisks him off. Surreal.

Another strange moment was when Perry White finally figures out that Superman really does exist and is an alien from another planet with super powers. At this point, Lois says she’s not interested in pursuing the story anymore and White agrees, saying, “Yeah, he probably just wants you to leave him alone.” Really? That’s the response of the editor of the Daily Planet? How…understanding of him.

Then there was the knife fight between the soldier and alien from Krypton …not much of a fight since she can move at blinding speed and a knife can’t penetrate her skin, but she goes into a warrior stance with grim determination on her face.

There were about forty of these weird incidents, more than enough to lighten the long viewing time. Anyone who enjoys Zack Snyder as I do will probably agree that he’s a first-rate director with a fine visual sense–but also that he knows very little about how human beings really act. Joss Whedon he is not.

Burke on June 23, 2013 at 5:46 PM

It was the late 80′s to be exact (Superman v2. #22) and that was a Zod from a pocket universe. ( A low point from the John Byrne Superman run for me.) The Zod that was from Superman’s Krypton pre Nu52 reboot escaped and was thrown back into the Phantom Zone.

If Superman has to break his moral code to save people, whats he going to do when he goes up against ruthless villains like Mongul, Brainiac, or Darkseid in future movies? That makes him more Wolverine than Superman.

RedRobin145 on June 23, 2013 at 5:45 PM

I’ll admit I haven’t kept up with New 52, so I’m not aware of the retcons. Though you found it a low point, I think I’m a bit disappointed that moment got retconned, since it was one of the few real demons Kal-El had, along with the Bottle City of Kandor (hopefully that’s still around in New 52).

I’d like to see Brainiac in a future Supes movie, though I’ve heard that Luthor is telegraphed as the likely villain in the sequel. Darkseid seems more likely to show up in a JLA movie as a counter to Thanos being the baddie in Avengers 2.

I agree that Superman and Batman are defined by their codes, and I wouldn’t want either to become like the Punisher or another merchant of death, but I think stretching the code at times is what makes them interesting heroes.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 5:57 PM

I’m a super girly-girl with a penchant for super-hero action flicks.

Try to square THAT circle, Air-heads. :-)

Anywho, hubby and I had tix to see it yesterday. Happy accident: technical difficulties, so we got upgraded to IMAX 3D. I generally do not like 3D movies. For a movie this grand, SPEND THE MONEY for IMAX 3D. It’s worth wearing the dorky glasses!

I loved this movie, loved it. Halfway through, I said to hubby, “I’m gonna see this again”. Excellent. Highly recommended.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 23, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Anyone notice the Wayne Enterprises satellite that Superman and Zod destroy? Pretty cool geek moment for me.

Jack_Burton on June 23, 2013 at 6:24 PM

I enjoyed the Movie. I thought it was a good start to what should be a good series of films. I wish to be entertained. I was.

I think Cavill has it nailed. I have some three hundred comic books in my basement (no not mom’s basement)and a bunch of action figures my wife calls dolls.

Superman himself is a lot more complex than the past movies. This was a good start. I liked it and would recommend it.

Final fight scenes intense….but so are the animated Superman Justice league on shelf movies, the comics and the video games. Lot’s of things get blowd up.

This…was a good start. Except the suit needs to be a tad brighter…and the Zimmer soundtrack a bit more memorable.

Scoreboard44 on June 23, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Of course, the Christ imagery was rampant in 1978′s “Superman: The Movie.” Jor-El, the presiding judge, sends his only son to earth. We even have Brando talking about sending his “only son.” The boy’s earthly father is out of the picture while he is still young and before he embarks on his “ministry,” and so forth. I wonder why everyone is speaking as if this is all new with “Man of Steel?”

Pilgrimsarbour on June 23, 2013 at 6:38 PM

Not to mention, that according to a spoiler for what Superman does at the end of this new movie, he most certainly is NOT Christlike and instead very humanlike.

I disagree. I thought in the ending he was very Christlike (admittedly after thinking about it hours after leaving the theater). It seemed like Kal/Clark was admitting that he understood that those he came to save would not understand him or embrace his mission. Those who did understand would be redeemed, those who couldn’t would find themselves in a futile battle against a superior being.

InTheBellyoftheBeast on June 23, 2013 at 6:38 PM

I was looking forward to this, but my brother went to see it and he rarely dislikes a movie and wasn’t a big fan of this one. He said the special effects were terrible during the fight sequences just like in The Hulk where it’s just computer animation going all gumball on the screen like cartoon figures. I absolutely hate it when they do that. They did in the second and third Matrix as well. My brother also said that the character wasn’t as good natured as he’s supposed to be in canon.

Op said it was still worth seeing despite all this. I don’t know.

MrX on June 23, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Two people at work saw this last week.. they both said awesome.

My friends and I went to see Star Trek last night. I tried to get them to switch to SuperMan… But Noooo… I was out voted.

On the way out of the theater I said… kind’a loud, in my best Fat Bast*rd voice… “This movie was crap”… Not because it was, but it was a 3 at best, and it damaged a key component of S T history. Just bustin on the gang cause I could.

May SuperMan next time, if it’s still playing.

RalphyBoy on June 23, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Director Zach Snyder makes sure we notice him as we get the now-cliched out-of-focus ultra-close-ups, the shaky cameras, the grainy film effects, the blue-wash, and all of the “LOOK AT ME, MA, I’M DIRECTING!” tricks.

This stuff kills any movie for me. I will not be watching this one.

James on June 23, 2013 at 7:21 PM

You’re far more obsessed with my racial and sexual identity than I could ever be….
libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Not really. We’re just pointing out how you demand to be judged on them rather than your character.

northdallasthirty on June 23, 2013 at 7:25 PM

There is no truth, justice, and the American Way in this movie. That’s just kill it for me.

Oil Can on June 23, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Zod being a illegal alien went about his invasion all wrong. He should have just put on a mexican accent, told them that he would be graduating as valedictorian and told them the world engine was a gift to prevent climate change. They would have granted him full citizenship and superman couldn’t do a dang thing about it.

Anyway, most of the women I knew said superman looked gay when shaven/with the tan. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I would say this reboot was merely okay and rarely is any movie worth the ticket price nowadays. The bad guys had like 10 people and a ship and they couldn’t squish one guy, come on! Lois is just as worthless as before, if your going to rewrite let him make out with Kate Upton. There was no KNEEL BEFORE ZOD and that kind of just spoiled it for me. I gotta say I liked the Star Trek film better even though Khan Singh was a somehow a pasty white guy that could never say Corinthian Leather with any style!

Africanus on June 23, 2013 at 9:10 PM

No one saw this stuff?

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 11:33 AM

I did. In fact, I think that is why the Hollywood critic intelligentsia is putting out a bad vibe on the film. Most, not all, have a real problem with anything remotely Christian based.

I don’t think its coincidence that the same Hollywood intelligentsia is lauding WWZ. Why? Because the “hero” is a UN worker played by the prominent Democrat Brad Pitt.

Mass audiences don’t have the first clue that a UN worker who can save the world is far more fictional than zombies…..just ask the Tutsis in Rwanda they will tell you just how far fetched Brad Pitt’s hero is.

BTW, don’t listen to Ed regarding the way the film unfolds. It was a stroke of brilliance that it wasn’t told chronologically and anyone who gets confused by the story not being told linearly shouldn’t be driving to a movie theatre in the first place.

“Man of Steel” is a superb film, watched it for a second time this weekend and it was even better the second time. There isn’t a better cast film, everyone was perfect in their role. Especially Henry Cavill.

Where Reeve’s was cartoonish and corny, Cavill’s portrayal is earnest, sincere and complex making the MOS accessible for those of us who like our heroes more adult & not a set up for a video game.

sheryl on June 23, 2013 at 10:31 PM

I liked it. A lot. Some mild spoiler talk follows.

This is not to say that it didn’t have problems, but as a whole, my gripes with it weren’t enough to shake an angry fist at Warner Brothers, DC, etc. and scream like Astronaut Taylor did at the end conclusion of the original Planet of the Apes.

The Christ analogies were a bit over the top (Kal’s age happens to be 33 when he confronts Zod), but Superman’s upbringing makes him a practicing Christian who isn’t afraid to show his faith.

Part of the problem for some folks, IMHO, is that they can’t stop making the comparisons with the classic Donner-verse / Christopher Reeve version of Superman. Fair enough, but I find that if I ignore what was on screen before, and focus on what is presented as part of the reboot, I am good with the majority of the changes.

The Metropolis battle could have been scaled back a bit (Superman should have lured Zod and the fight away from the population center to keep the body count down), and maybe we could have seen an on screen moment where the Man of Steel assists in the reconstruction of the areas he helped trashed.

The Krypton sequences that dominate the first third of the movie worked out beyond my greatest expectations. I could have visited that world for a far longer period of time without complaint. Anyone familiar with the John Byrne led reboot in the comics could see the influence all over the place (whereas Byrne took a bit of license from the Donner-verse vision).

Strangely enough, one of the BIGGEST things that bugged me was the idiocy of the general at movie’s end to not figure who Superman really is. The Kryptonians beeline it to Kent’s house and assault a woman on site. Couldn’t the NSA put two and two together? ;-)

I am looking forward to seeing what happens next for the franchise, but I would prefer a World Finest Team Up (Superman/Batman) over a Justice League one. I also would love to see a cinematic Lex Luthor done right, or better yet, a true Brainiac offered up as a suitable nemesis.

I agree with Ed on his rating. Looking forward to buying it on Blu-Ray when it comes out.

itzWicks on June 24, 2013 at 12:04 AM

I liked it. It was a fun action movie. I did see the allusions to Jesus, but seriously, it was good. It was so different from Batman movies of late with Superman being not dark or borderline psychotic. And the acting was just lovely.

On a completely superficial note, the actor who played Superman was beautiful. A total joy to look at.

mjk on June 24, 2013 at 12:06 AM

Zod being a illegal alien went about his invasion all wrong. He should have just put on a mexican accent, told them that he would be graduating as valedictorian and told them the world engine was a gift to prevent climate change. They would have granted him full citizenship and superman couldn’t do a dang thing about it.

Anyway, most of the women I knew said superman looked gay when shaven/with the tan. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I would say this reboot was merely okay and rarely is any movie worth the ticket price nowadays. The bad guys had like 10 people and a ship and they couldn’t squish one guy, come on! Lois is just as worthless as before, if your going to rewrite let him make out with Kate Upton. There was no KNEEL BEFORE ZOD and that kind of just spoiled it for me. I gotta say I liked the Star Trek film better even though Khan Singh was a somehow a pasty white guy that could never say Corinthian Leather with any style!

Africanus on June 23, 2013 at 9:10 PM

YES! Thank you. +5

WryTrvllr on June 24, 2013 at 12:29 AM

I fell asleep at the 105 minute mark, which is when the first action sequence began.

This is the first Michael Shannon movie I’ve seen where he wasn’t intimidating. Amy Adams was blank as a fart. Henry Cavill had virtually no dialogue and spent 2-1/2 hours preening for the camera. This was film making at its worst.

CrustyB on June 24, 2013 at 8:55 AM

I’ll say this much: I liked Faora. She was as cute as she was ruthless.

ZK on June 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM

I haven’t seen this movie yet, but the last Superman movie (“Superman Returns”) was also loaded with Christian symbolism and allegory – so much so that we showed it to our church Youth Group last year and had a very lively discussion about it. In fact, Superman in that movie is actually killed and then is resurrected. He even falls from space in a cross position. I can’t imagine this movie could get any more obvious than that.

rockmom on June 24, 2013 at 9:46 AM

At best, one can say that this film treats religion a little better than most Hollywood films do.

Which is to say, it treats it at all.

Anyone remember how much trouble it was for Robert Duvall to produce and release The Apostle? And that was a film that took an honest look at southern “apostolic” evangelism, warts and all.

The Schaef on June 24, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Ever since MST3K, movies have never been the same for me. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that old show, but it was laugh riot how they shredded films. Many of the jokes were lame, but the hobby of it became a bad habit of mine.

Liam on June 23, 2013 at 11:53 AM

I agree, MST3K was hysterical, especially the Kathy Ireland send-up.

By the way, what happened to AnnoyingLittleTwerp to get her banned? I never saw an inapproprate post.

Maddie on June 24, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Recommend seeing the standard 2D version and skipping the 3D version altogether. Most of the bad reviews came from those who saw the 3D version.

Egfrow on June 24, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Let’s not see it…and say we did didn’t.

Christien on June 24, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Superman actually broke his code against taking another life in the first “Death of Superman” comic, which was, IIRC, back in the late ’80s (prior to the John Byrne reboot).

In that comic, Superman has to kill Mxyzptlk after the fifth-dimensional imp decides to turn evil and has all of Superman’s friends killed (and some of his enemies, too, like Braniac and Lex Luthor). As Mxyzptlk is saying his name backwards to send himself back to the fifth dimension, Supes hits the button on the Phantom Zone projector and tears him between dimensions.

Based on the reviews I’ve seen, it may be worth renting on DVD when it comes out in, say, August. Not sure I’d pay good money to see it in a theater, though. I made that mistake with “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

falcon on June 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Superman as a character is boring. The DC UNIVERSE as a whole is pretty boring as well. It’s the characters that inhabit it that make it so. One dimensional with the most unrealistic personalities and backstories.

The only exception is Batman and he should probably be in the Marvel Universe anyway.

What Joss Whedon has done thus far with choreographing the Marvel films has been genius. You can do that with characters that are so layered and multidimensional.

Excelsior!

creatocon on June 23, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Haven’t seen “Man of Steel” yet, but most of the old Batman comics (and the animated renditions of them) were extremely one-dimensional and kitschy, with all the “Bang!” and “Pow!” bubbles appearing on the screen.

The latest Batman trilogy made Batman into a more complex and human character, tormented by his own fears and weakness, dealing with the corruption in the politics of the city he serves, as well as having to deal with extremely smart villains, who are also complex characters (especially the Joker). The latest trilogy of Batman movies was a HUGE improvement on the comics.

I had seen one recent Superman movie a few years ago where Superman was weakened by Kryptonite and thrown into the sea, and had to be rescued by helicopter by Lois Lane’s husband. Now THAT was a chance for the humans in a Superman story to be heroic in their own right!

Steve Z on June 24, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Ever since MST3K, movies have never been the same for me. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that old show, but it was laugh riot how they shredded films. Many of the jokes were lame, but the hobby of it became a bad habit of mine.

Liam on June 23, 2013 at 11:53 AM

You’ll be pleased (or chagrined) to know that MST3K lives on, in the form of Rifftrax.

Basically the same dudes harnessed the power of the Internet to produce and sell audio tracks to be played in sync with movies from your own collection. Plus they branched out from horrible B-movie classics to riff on modern films, both horrible (Battlefield Earth) and beloved (Inception).

The Schaef on June 24, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Haven’t seen “Man of Steel” yet, but most of the old Batman comics (and the animated renditions of them) were extremely one-dimensional and kitschy, with all the “Bang!” and “Pow!” bubbles appearing on the screen.

The latest Batman trilogy made Batman into a more complex and human character, tormented by his own fears and weakness, dealing with the corruption in the politics of the city he serves, as well as having to deal with extremely smart villains, who are also complex characters (especially the Joker). The latest trilogy of Batman movies was a HUGE improvement on the comics.

Steve Z on June 24, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Nolan’s Batman trilogy took a lot from the comics from the late eighties and nineties. ‘Batman Begins’ (Batman: Year One), ‘The Dark Knight’ (from the excellent Batman: The Killing Joke graphic novel), and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ ( The Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall, and No Man’s Land). These comics along with the outstanding Batman: The Animated Series cartoon deserve the most credit for elevating the Batman character.

RedRobin145 on June 24, 2013 at 2:48 PM

I can’t believe I forgot to mention that it wasn’t just my daughter who did not like this movie, my 22 yo son, and my husband didn’t either. She’s just the one who it more vocal in her thoughts about movies in general. :-)

TeaTrekkie on June 24, 2013 at 3:06 PM

I am a movie lover, film buff, connoisseur of cinema, etc… but one thing I am apparently not is extremely discriminating. Or, to use the term that I actually want to – I am not a Flick Snob.

I thoroughly enjoyed Star Trek: Into Darkness. But I see a lot of commenters here did not so much like it.

Saw Man of Steel on Friday Night and really, really enjoyed it.

Both of those titles are great movies. Period.

I’ll stick to MoS since that is most germane to the OP…

I had read a review prior to my viewing which suggested the Christ-references were a bit over the top. So, I went in to the movie expecting Clark to be Jesus in a Cape. After actually watching the movie, however, I was kind of left wondering: what Christ references? So they were either too clumsy that they didn’t even register…. Or, the story was engaging enough for me that the references just didn’t stick out. It was probably a mixture of those two.

The only thing that initially made me think of Jesus was when he said his age was 33. But then afterwards, the more I thought about it, the more that fact became a big nothingburger. True, Christ was crucified at age 33… but he began his ministry at the age of 30. Kal-El began, in earnest, his official super-heroing at the age of 33… and was certainly not crucified of sacrificed in this movie. The more I think about it, the more and more I dismiss being 33 as a conscious Christ-reference. 33 is just a stinking cool number (it’s my favorite, so maybe I am biased.)

As far as him supposedly having his arms splayed out, all-cross like when he was being bullied – I did not even notice it. I was more drawn in by the clearly conflicted emotions playing in the young actor’s eyes.

The shaky cam was terribly annoying… especially in the opening Krypton fight sequences…. And I thought I might not be able to enjoy the rest of the movie…. But I either got used to it, of Snyder ramped it way down for the rest.

As far as character development, this is a movie that actually cares about its characters. It is Nolan-esque in that sense. I was invested in what happened to all the main characters (and most of the supporting).

MoS was an origin story done well – - start in the middle, and then flash back to key moments. That’s just a more mature and clever way to tell a story like this.

Let me wrap up with a brief note about the MST3K-ization of movies. I loved MST3K when it was on while I was a teenager. It was fun and clever and mostly good-natured.

But, I think it has now come to pass that it is more ‘cool’ to negatively criticize movies than it is to simply enjoy them. It’s hip and in to make fun of anything and everything. Perhaps this is just the main defense mechanism in modern society. Detachment is safe. You mix that with the comfortableness of groupthink and you get this strange hybrid of personality. The FanBoy hates a movie because everyone else liked it… but is comforted by the fact that he is not alone. We humans are strange, inconsistent people, are we not?

In any case… if you can’t enjoy a movie like The Dark Knight Rises or Star Trek: Into Darkness or Man of Steel despite their flaws, I truly pity you.

I don’t see how you can enjoy any movie if you watch it with an attitude of “how many things can I find to complain about?”.

RightWay79 on June 24, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Superman’s callous disregard for human life in this movie was just stunning.

lorien1973 on June 24, 2013 at 8:19 PM

His disregard for life all throughout the film made the ending nonsensical really.

lorien1973 on June 24, 2013 at 8:24 PM

No one saw this stuff?

libfreeordie on June 23, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Good catch, libfreeordie.

Cleombrotus on June 24, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Supes is probably one of the most recognizable and well-known fictional characters in the world, so I think in that sense he does exist.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 23, 2013 at 5:04 PM

“Always there have been the heroes.

Achilles single-handedly drove the army of Troy back behind their walls under a sun that was carried across the sky in Apollo`s chariot.

Young David killed the giant Goliath with the spin of a smooth rock in a land where walls fell at the sound of trumpets and the Creator of Heaven and Earth spoke through the mouths of men in rags whose eyes burned with the lights of Eternity.

John Henry laid hundreds of miles of railroad tracks over trails blazed by Davy Crockett, who could wring the tail off a comet by smiling at it.

John Kennedy, with intellect and force of will, averted the annihilation of a civilization whose athletes could run a mile in less than four minutes, whose pilots could orbit the planet in less than an hour and a half and whose humblest born could grow up to be president.

And Superman . . .

Real or imagined, the heroes lived; they lived in the world not as it was, but as it should have been. Real or imagined, the heroes lived under the responsibility that came with the good wishes of those who aspired to what they stood for; lived in a realm decorated with fancies not available to mortal men and women; lived with conceptions of reality more idealistic than those that were practical for their contemporaries; lived by values far beyond the reach of those who walked with feet and lines of sight against the ground.”

- Elliot S! Maggin
“Superman: Miracle Monday”

Alberta_Patriot on June 25, 2013 at 12:26 AM

His disregard for life all throughout the film made the ending nonsensical really.

lorien1973 on June 24, 2013 at 8:24 PM

I’m not sure that we watched the same movie.

The entire first 2/3 of the movie (prior to Zod’s arrival on Earth) was about Kal-El’s greatest internal conflict – He wanted to save people, but was torn by Jonathan Kent’s (correct) concerns about how the world would react if Clark revealed his powers.

Kal-El showed his great regard for humanity by skirting Jonathan’s admontions on a number of occasions: the school bus, the oil rig, heck – even saving Lois from the scout ship sentry-thing (which, as it turns out, becomes one of the direct causes for Kal-El eventually revealing his powers to the world).

There were other, less overt ways in which he ‘saved’ people as well: protecting the diner waitress from Mr. Grabby, several instances of self-restraint, etc.

Clearly, Zod’s arrival and the formidable destruction he brought with him were more than Kal-El knew how to handle. During the destruction of Smallville, he at least admonished folks to stay inside. That was about all he could do. With two against one, it wasn’t Kal-El who was dictating where that fight would take place. I’m willing to give Supes a break for not immediately thinking about trying to take fight with Zod away from (the already destroyed) Metropolis. He had never faced a situation even remotely similar. However, I am willing to grant that some might hold the ensuing desctruction against Superman.

However, to suggest that he showed a disregard towards humanity throughout the whole film is way off base, in my humble opinion.

;-)

RightWay79 on June 25, 2013 at 9:54 AM

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