Saturday, June 15, 2013

Man of Steel Review

Man of Steel is a movie that I have been looking forward to for a long time now. Easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Leading up to the movie, I had myself a Superman Marathon to get me in the mood. Specifically I had the first two Superman movies in mind, the Christopher Reeve ones made in 1978 and 1980 respectively. Those are two movies that I love to death. Sure the effects are lacking due to how old they are and there are some cheesy moments, but they just hit it out of the park. All the characters are perfect. The story lines are fantastic. Character development is superb. There is just enough action to make it really fun, but not too much action, which gives it plenty of time for the to develop the story and the characters. In judging this new one, I had practically every plot detail from those two ingrained in my mind and I was really curious what direction they were going to take. I didn't expect to like it as much as those first two, especially after the critics didn't give it very much love, but I still expected to be thoroughly entertained. So I thus went in with fairly high expectations and was excited about the movie all the way up until the previews ended. Then the movie happened. All it took to completely wipe away all excitement and energy from my soul was that first sequence on Krypton. When that unfolded, I knew I was in for a long and painful ride. After drudging through 2 1/2 hours of complete slop, I walked out of the theater feeling completely offended at this disaster of a movie that I had just witnessed.

Superman has been around since 1938 and most Americans know the basic story of what happens, so I don't feel too bad in dishing out a few minor spoilers. If you don't want anything Superman spoiled at all, then I would stop reading this right here and take that first paragraph as my review. If you don't care or you have already seen Man of Steel, then let's proceed.

In the beginning scene of 1978's Superman, we see General Zod standing in front of Jor-El and the Krypton Council. Zod was once good, but has since gotten extremely power-hungry and cares about nothing but being a dictator. This causes him to get banished into space. One of his biggest desires is for Jor-El to bow to him and being banished with his two cohorts causes a huge built in anger towards Jor-El that turns out to never be fully satisfied because Krypton gets destroyed by running into the red sun. We don't dive into Zod more until Superman II, but this scene is very important as it builds up to a fantastic showdown with one of the best movie villains of all time. Zod doesn't know that Jor-El had a son named Kal-El. Just before Krypton gets destroyed, Jor-El and his wife Lara Lor-Van send Kal-El to earth in a capsule, knowing how different he will be, but yet also knowing what he has the power to become.

Why do I tell you this? I know most of you already know the background to Superman. The answer is I want to paint for you the beautiful picture of the original Superman series and then contrast it to the movie I just witnessed so that you understand where I am coming from. Now the picture I just painted of the opening to Superman I think is one of the best opening scenes in movie history. How do they do it in Man of Steel. First off, I immediately see this picture of Krypton that reminds me of a Star Wars planet. Krypton is not about to crash into the sun, but is imploding. Immediately that is a bad sign for me. Also, we do not open with Zod being in custody. We open with him starting a war on Krypton and we immediately dive into this huge, unnecessary action sequence that includes Jor-El riding on this weird and creepy Star Wars-esque creature. Kal-El is not kept a secret to Zod, bur rather after Jor-El send him off, he announces to Zod that he just sent his son away. Anger and hatred from Zod towards Jor-El is not built up because after Jor-El announces what he did right to Zod's face, Zod stabs Jor-El and kills him. It is after that where Zod gets brought before the council and banished. Krypton then explodes and pretty soon we find that this explosion is what shatters Zod's cage thing. No built up anticipation at all. No built up anger towards Jor-El. Lame death of Jor-El. Lame creature that Jor-El was riding on. Lame destruction of Krypton. Lame, pointless, over-the-top action already. Yeah, that's how this movie begins for me.  But I am willing to move on from that terrible opening if the rest of the movie is different. It's not. This awful story continues for all 143 minutes of the movie. Those around me could see how much pain I was going through by my reactions.

Going quickly through more story, we spend quite some time in Kal-El's (named Clark Kent by his earthly parents) childhood, his journey in learning who he is, his decoy job being a newspaper reporter for the Daily Planet, his falling in love with Lois Lane, and his unveiling of his Superman powers to the city, thus making him an immediate hero that is never questioned by the people. We really dive into Superman's character. Yes, he has nearly unstoppable superpowers, but he also has human emotions and is really kind and charismatic. Everyone loves Superman. We also dive into the fun and entertaining crew of villains led by criminal mastermind Lex Luthor. We also focus on Lois Lane and we see this relationship slowly but beautifully develop. We get more deep and complex with all this in Superman II, adding in the genius villain Zod, but I have already said enough.

Now I didn't expect Man of Steel to rehash the same story of Superman. I expected them to do something different with it and I was really curious and excited about what direction they would take. Yes I get very picky with remakes of movies, but if they do things intelligently I don't mind the changes they make. This one it just didn't cut it for me. We immediately jump right into him being an adult. But he is a much different Superman. We don't get to see him progress much, and when we do, it is confusing and backwards. He starts out as a perfect child and grows into a morally challenged being. We have this weird scene of him going crazy and not being able to handle his powers when he is young, so apparently it takes him many years to adjust. We get this story of his childhood get explained by in flashbacks that jumped all over the place. I think that ruined the story of his earthly upbringing. The death of his dad is awful in this one, by him getting killed by the world's slowest tornado after making the world's worst decisions when being chased by that tornado. Superman himself is an arrogant idiot and I don't develop any emotional connection towards him. He hides his power for the most part, deciding to remain a mysterious character living with his mom and doing very little until somehow Zod immediately comes to earth and says he is going to blow up the earth if Kal-El doesn't turn himself in, so then he shows his face as Superman.

Then we get the Zack Snyder effect. I hate Zack Snyder's movies. Sucker Punch is especially a movie of his that I think is one of the worst movies ever made. If you don't know Zack Snyder, he is known for his over-the-top action movies that lack on story and character, focusing solely on that action. When he was announced as the director, I was really nervous, but having Christopher Nolan on board as producer I hoped would tame him. It didn't. Once we jump into Zod coming to Earth and Superman coming to meet him, we get lost in this high-powered action frenzy that is way too over the top, completely pointless and brainless most of the time, and really hard to follow with how confusing it is and how much we jump around.  Add to that we have endless plot holes and other confusing aspects of the script which shows that Zack Snyder along with screenwriters David Goyer and Christopher Nolan really didn't seem to care about the script and story that they wrote. Why was Lois Lane in the North Pole with her crew? Why did she randomly run into Superman's cavern? What is up with the random dream or flash of Superman sinking into a lake of Skulls? What is up with us showing the random polar bears? Why is Superman's suit randomly sitting there? How does Lois Lane suddenly end up with Clark Kent's mother in Kansas? Why does Superman care so much about the people on Earth yet when he is fighting villains liberally throws them into buildings which should kill thousands? Why this? Why that? What is he doing? What is she doing? Why did he randomly switch his mindset? Why aren't they running away? Why are we showing so much product placement? Why is that Sears store not getting destroyed when every other building around it has? Why did they just make out when there was very little romantic development? Why is the city magically built up again at the end as if nothing happened? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I was asking these questions for the whole movie and it was so frustrating.

No, I'd not done quite yet. I have to talk about the actors. Yes, this is actually a pretty good cast. I can't say that anyone did a bad job. What I can say is that few of them did nearly as well as the cast from the old Superman movies. Russell Crowe played Jor-El pretty good. But I thought Marlon Brando was a lot better. Kevin Costner did a great job as Jonathan Kent. However they wasted his character by only showing him in flashbacks and giving him a super lame death. Amy Adams actually surprised me by doing a great job as Lois Lane (which if you know me you'll know I've been worried about that ever since I heard about it). However, she doesn't shine a light on the excellent performance of Margot Kidder (who I have actually personally met). She does do a much better job than Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns, though. Michael Shannon does an excellent job at being an evil and crazy General Zod. The problem is his character wasn't written nearly as well as the character of General Zod in Superman I and II. And of course Henry Cavill. The man actually does a decent job. The problem is, as I have already complained a few paragraphs ago, I hate how Superman's character was written in this movie. Christopher Reeve IS Superman. No one has come close to his amazing performance and I don't think anyone ever will. Hans Zimmer is not an actor in this movie, so maybe he doesn't belong in this paragraph, but I am putting him in here anyways because I have to mention his score. The man has talent in writing music and I enjoyed the score for the most part. But I dearly missed my beloved Superman theme that was gone. Speaking of being gone, Lex Luthor was also gone from this movie. I don't completely hate that decision, but I think they could've at least included him in a minor role, foreshadowing a bigger performance. A Superman movie without Lex Luthor almost feels incomplete.

Now if you have come this far and have read every word of this review, I congratulate you as I think this is the longest review I have ever done. In wrapping this up, Man of Steel is a pathetic movie. It is loaded with way too much, over-the top, brainless, confusing action. The story is dumb. The countless plot holes are ridiculous. This movie doesn't even shine a light on the original Superman movies that I love. I'd even go as far as saying that it is an embarrassing addition to the Superman franchise. It's not the worst movie I have ever seen and it may not be the worst movie of this year, but it is easily the most disappointing movie of the year and one of the most disappointing movies I have seen in a very long time. I am giving this movie a 4 out of 10... and I give it that high of a score because of the impressive visuals and decent acting. But know that I feel a little generous with that.


  1. Comments about the beginning - In the comics Krypton explodes because they destablize the core. That has been part of superman since the 1930s when it was created. In the comics Zod was exiled for trying to do a coup of Krypton trying to save the planet his way after it got destablized, something Jor-El was trying to do as well. So basically you hate this movie for being more accurate than Superman 1? Also Lex Luthor while not there was "present" as LexCorp was referenced 6 times in the film from beginning to end.

    1. LexCorp being "referenced" 6 times does not count as him being in the movie. And no, I don't hate Man of Steel for being more accurate. That is a stupid statement and you know it. I hate it for being a stupid story that is packed with non-stop over-the-top action and having poorly written characters. Add in the thousands of plot holes and you got a movie that I thought was awful

    2. So I agree with you Droge but, Bane Nathos is right too it was more accurate than the first one. There was a lot of pointless action in it in fact there was almost no story line at all, almost. I think they referenced him because Lex Luthor was already over and done with he might have done it already.

    3. Yeah, Bane is right. It is more accurate to the NEW Superman comics. But that doesn't sway me that much. I loved Iron Man 3 even though it spit in the face of the Iron Man comics. I'm not extremely devoted to the comic book lore