Movie Review: Man of Steel


Release Date: November 12, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 143 min
Director:Zack Snyder
Studio:Warner Bros. Pictures
Genre:Action, Adventure
Stars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Russell Crowe, Michael Kelly, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff

Amidst a crumbling world headed for imminent destruction, hope is born. The origin story of Superman, the alien who became mankind’s greatest defender, has been told a million times over. The super speed, strength, flight, heat and x-ray vision all made possible by the yellow sun that circles Earth. It’s all there in the new film, Man of Steel from Zack Snyder. After much hype because of the involvement of Producer Christopher Nolan, (whom is responsible for setting the gold standard for comic inspired movies with his Dark Knight trilogy of films) did Man of Steel come off looking heroic or like a crazy hobo wearing his underwear outside his pants?

The story is a revisiting of the plot from 1981 Superman 2 film of sorts. General Zod comes from the Phantom Zone to invade Earth and Superman has to fight off his own people in an epic battle. They add in a more detailed version of Superman’s beginnings, and the motivations behind Zod invading earth. They even touch on the Kryptonian infrastructure and way of life. The details actually make Zod seem a little less evil and more of a misguided hero of sorts. There are quite a few flash back portions that chronicle the early days of adolescent Clark Kent going through an even more confusing version of puberty, as his comes with extra complications. The need for him to keep his abilities a secret brings up some of the most poignant and thought provoking dialogue in the film. At one point his adopted father, Jonathan Kent, suggest that maybe he should’ve let a bus load of his classmates drown in an accident in order to keep his secret. Things like that I don’t think have been put out in the open in Superman stories. It helps to show why Clark / Superman has the outlook on life and sense of justice he is known for.

I’ve always believed that Superman is a boring character as he has infinite powers and it’s hard to believe he’s ever really in peril. But, the handling of his background and interactions with the human race in Man of Steel make his story more enticing than ever before. It’s no doubt that Nolan gave Snyder a few pointers on how to make the film touch a little closer to reality than any other film about Supes before. The acting is pretty much A+, as Henry Cavil pulls off Superman easily. Zod comes off as a cold, angry, hell-bent on accomplishing his goal individual as only Michael Shannon can portray. If you’re familiar with his work on Boardwalk Empire you know what I mean. The effects are top notch on the visual side. The fight between Superman and his Kryptonian brethren and even the many acts of destruction shown throughout the movie are very good. Maybe I’m over it or whatever but, I just didn’t see the reason for 3-D on this film or many films since Avatar made it a trend again.

My biggest complaint was the pacing of the film. It was by no means a boring movie at any point. It’s just that there was a lot of talking, character establishment, and backstory early on with little action. Then when the fighting began it felt like it was a 45 minute action scene. This even when done well is still a bit overwhelming and a bit Michael Bay-ish. It just went on a little too long. So, the tone kind of goes from a drama to an action movie quickly.

All in all, Man of Steel hits all the right notes. The story is solid and the acting as well. The visual effects are spectacular. This movie has breathed new life in to the Superman movie franchise that was seemingly killed by the Doomsday that was Superman Returns. I’m letting this film fly away with 4 out of 5 mainly due to the pacing and exhausting ending. But, I see the sequel you know is to follow, being a better offering as they will perfect an already good formula.