Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Man Of Steel (Zack Snyder, 2013)


    I expected much more from this film. Much more fun. Much more entertainment. Of course, I wasn't expecting something like The Avengers, but still. Man Of Steel simply does not have many fun moments. It's a serious picture with some really touching moments that reveal Clark Kent's inner anguish/backstory --up until the midway point-- and a whole bunch of fighting towards the end. The other reviews in the blogosphere are now especially poignant; now I can see why almost every reviewer was inclined to like one half of the film more than the other. The film is divided into two halves that bear distinctive tones. Thankfully, the tones do align perfectly well, even if not subtly so.

  The plot is kind of reminiscent of The Dark Knight in one respect. Zod comes back looking for Superman on Earth. He sends a message saying that if Superman (Henry Cavill) is not delivered to him within a 24-hour period, he's gonna go apeshit on the planet. That is basically the main plot of the film. Everything else that occurs within the two-hour-plus running time serves as a backstory to show how Clark has coped with feeling out of place in the very place he calls home and how he got home in the first place. His childhood feats and failures are shown, as his adoptive parents (both masterfully played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) try to help him fit in/hone his powers in a way that won't detract people from seeing his human qualities. Those scenes with Lane and Costner are beautiful and touching. Of note is a scene involving Costner that is beyond devastating. The length a man will go to love and protect his son is astounding. It also doesn't help that I saw the film on Father's Day. I cried.

   The problem with those scenes are that they seem to be building up to something greater; something that will conclude in an epic finale. It is what follows after that hour of exposition that is mishandled. The fighting sequences lasted far beyond their welcome. The film could have been over at three different points; and the second point would have made for an epic ending. However, it seems that Snyder was more interested in matching the megawatt legend of Superman with some worthy action sequences. In truth, they are at times amazing. But not only do they drag on, they seem more like the handiwork of a kid who's having fun smashing things around until there is nothing left. It's kind of grating. Snyder lacked self-control in that aspect.

   The other problem I encountered with the film is the lack of fleshed-out characters. This would not be a complaint of mine in a superhero film if Diane Lane and Kevin Costner's characters weren't so well fleshed out, making the rest of the cast somewhat/for the most part pale in comparison.  Lane and Costner were actually able to give life to their characters. They're e very talented duo. Unfortunately, let's be real, there is just no way that Clark's parents would ever be involved in an epic fighting scene with the bad guys. Instead, we are treated to characters I gave two shits about fighting/fighting to live. For example, Laurence Fishburne has a minor subplot where he has to save one of his employees from the rubble. The scene plays out all dramatically-like until at the very last minute...well, you see where this is going. I wouldn't have given a damn if any of those characters perished. I didn't care for them. They were not part of Clark's main narrative. They didn't receive the proper attention prior to their problems being revealed. I cared much more about the buildings and streets being destroyed, and felt sadder for the city workers who'd have to clean that shit up in the next few months (or years).

   Henry Cavill does a commendable job as Superman. He not only looks the part but he embodies everything I've personally come to associate with the character. The vulnerability, the sheer will, the steeliness hiding a sense of not belonging. Superman is a lost soul, a God above men. He bottles everything in, but what lies beneath the surface should feel palpable. Cavill accomplishes just that. I hope his character gets to be more fleshed out in the sequels because there is a lot of promise there. Amy Adams is great as Lois Lane, but there really wasn't that much chemistry between her and Cavill. Not only that but there doesn't seem to be as much to do with Lane's character in this film. She is shoved down our throats. When Superman boards Zod's spaceship, the Kryptonians also ask that Lois boards as well. But I ask why? They did not need her. Her relationship with Clark wasn't evolved yet for them to even know to/consider to use her as a safety net. Amy Adams is in the movie only to serve as a way for Cavill to do Superman stuff and save a damsel in distress.

I just wanna punch him in the face. Thank you, Superman
   Michael Shannon sucked. Yeah, I said it. I think his acting here was too OTT yet stagnant for my tastes, and not in a fun The Joker way. His Zod is always angry. It was far too clear that Shannon didn't believe half of the crap his character spewed out. His was not a difficult role (all he had to do was furrow those brows and shout), and he didn't do much more to make the character complex. I would not have had a problem with that but when a character is constantly mean-mugging on the theater screen and shouting, then I have no reason not to tell them to take their shit elsewhere. It got old super fast. Even then, his character is not given much to do further than being a roadblock. Whereas The Joker served as a magnificent foil to Batman, Zod is nothing more than an annoying critter on Superman's back.

Should have been the main villain
   Still, Man Of Steel  is overall a good film, though not one I will revisit often. Despite its flaws, it stands in contrast to other action/superhero films that would never be able to reach the level of excellence in its exposition during the first half. The cinematography is also a tour-de-force. The CGI is not jarring and actually helps inject more power into the action scenes. Krypton is also rendered unrecognizable from its past portrayals on film. If the action scenes had been toned down, if the two leads had more spark, if thus-far-useless characters didn't pop in and out, and if the villain was more explicitly recognized as going against everything that Clark internally stood for, then Man Of Steel would have no doubt being a 5 star movie. As it stands, I may not be in love with this film but I now do have high hopes for the sequels.

Ludovico Rating


  1. I think Nolan has decided that films should no longer be fun.

    What a letdown this film was after starting out so well.

    Morpheus looks like he has been hitting up the buffet at the local Sizzler.

    1. Yeah, it seems Zack Snyder was --I hate to say it-- trying to copy Nolan. He should have stuck to his own storytelling style.

      We meet there every Thursdays.

  2. It's good to see your thoughts here, although I did enjoy it a bit more than you. Now that it has become a success, I hope Snyder will stick around for the sequel and direct more from the heart.

    1. There's a lot of potential for the sequels.

  3. Good review Teddy. As with most origin tales, they are always okay, but not the best. It's only until they start throwing the sequels out there that things get better and the movies get more epic. For instance, the Dark Knight trilogy? I rest my case.

    1. I have to agree with you there. I didn't care for Batman Begins. But the other two installments were the shit! Definitely tuning in for the sequel.