I’ve been mulling over what to say about Man of Steel since myself and Kervyn attended the press screening last week. This might strike you as a bad omen for what I am going to say in this review but I can assure you, that is not the case. Let’s then just get the easy part out of the way: I really like Man of Steel. There, feel better?
Good. Now, admitting my feelings regarding Man of Steel is the easy part – explaining how I feel about the film is the more difficult part, so sit back and relax while I detail,hopefully without too many spoilers, my thoughts regarding this film. Let me just note that standard Superman canon I will not be regarding as spoilers – pretty much, anything already revealed in the trailers.
Man of Steel is, at its core, a retelling of Superman’s origin story. This is definitely not a bad thing, as from the get-go Snyder, Goyer and Nolan establish that this is not a Superman than any of us have seen before. This becomes quite evident once the film starts, as we are treated to quite a few scenes that take place on a Krypton as alien as it is amazing, brought to life with the unique visual flair that only Zack Snyder could conjure up. That can be said for the entire film though, as it really is quite breathtaking. The world-building done, especially for Krypton, is quite incredible and otherworldly sequences really set the bar very high for any other superhero films set to be heading our way.
At the film’s start we meet Jor-El (Russell Crowe), as well as General Zod (Michael Shannon). The planet Krypton is dying and while both strong-willed men are fighting for the continuation of their species, both have completely opposite views on how this will be accomplished and this is where Superman takes off…literally, as we then meet Clark Kent who, after being found in a crashed ship, was raised my the Kent family just outside of Smallville.
It soon becomes very clear that this is definitely Goyer, Nolan and Snyder’s Superman – not a superman that most audiences have ever seen before, and while this is one of the aspects that many (including myself) praise the filmmakers for, you can bet your red capes that loads of fanboys are going to throw their toys out of the cot but I honestly feel that this is one of the best incarnations of the character we have seen to date…and most definitely the best we have seen in film. Gone are the pesky anachronisms that get in the way of many people not taking Superman seriously as a superhero, and I feel he is all the better for it.
Henry Cavill is also perfectly cast as the Man of Steel. While he manages to capture the more emotional aspects of the character quite well, he also manages (with a little help from Zack Snyder) to do something that nobody has been able to really do before … to make Superman look badass. Kiss your relationships goodbye, gentleman, as we are undoubtably the more inferior specimens. I also loved Amy Adams as Lois Lane…while she makes a few questionable decisions through the film, she was believeable as our favourite sassy Daily Planet reported. Unfortunately, the relationship between Lois and Clarke is severely underwritten and is one of the weaker aspects of the film and definitely feels either rushed or forced…I have yet to decide which.
As for the rest of the (quite extensive) cast, I really enjoyed Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent. They are the human Ying to Jor-El an Cara’s Kryptonian Yang, perfectly capturing Superman’s struggle with find where he belongs, which is a big theme throughout the entire film. Man of Steel is also a first contact story, with humankind still completely oblivious to the fact that there are extraterrestrials…let alone one living among them.
All that said, I know what you guys are all really here for. You want to see Superman kick some ass and I assure you, he does. Impressively. I can quite comfortably state that the action scenes in Man of Steel manages to pale the action from The Avengers, which I did not believe possible. There is more shockwave-causing punches and laser eyes than any growing boy can ask for, but that is ironically leads to one of the film’s other criticisms…which is the same discussion we had after The Avengers.
The level of destruction caused throughout the film makes The Avengers looks like a lovely stroll through the park and many have criticised that more people were killed as collatoral damage than by direct attacks from the film’s villians. As Kervyn mentioned, this could have been rectified by a quick reference to Metropolis being abandonded, but whether this is an oversight by the filmmakers it really can easily be brushed off as one can also assume that Metropolis is mostly deserted…since neither of these facts are confirmed.
With regards to the 3D aspect of the film, once again I will try and keep my hatred for watching films in 3D to a minumum and state that the 3D in Man of Steel was relatively well done, up to a point where it didn’t really bother me at all…but this might also be because there is hardly and 3D in play for large portions of the film, which does feel like a waste to me. When it is put to use, though, it does so quite well but I am still extremely excited to see the film in glorious, 2D Blu-Ray in a few months. One thing I regret is that John Williams’ classic Superman score did not make it into the film, but Hans Zimmer does a adequate if a tad forgettable job with the new one.
Let me end of my review similarly to how I started it…by stating that I really like Man of Steel. A few complaints aside, it is no more flawed than The Avengers was (the only film that really can compare to Man of Steel in scope), but it is a hell of a good time and one thing that I feel I have to mention is that I strongly approve of the liberties takes with Superman as a character. As someone that has never shown much love for Clark Kent’s tales, I was excited to see a film that allows me to like Superman as a character and this film did precisely that. This film should be the new standard of what it means to reboot a character – not to completely re-establish canon or re-do what has been done before, but to give us a fresh take on a franchise that might not have aged as well as its counterparts.
Man of Steel is DC’s answer the Marvel’s cinematic universe, and it delivers a very strong message: DC is finally on the table…Marvel better bring its A-game.
Last Updated: June 25, 2013