Man Of Steel (2013)

Man Of SteelHaving been adopted by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) as a baby, intergalactic refugee Clark (Cooper Timberline, Dylan Sprayberry, Henry Cavill) struggles through childhood as his extra-terrestrial abilities alienate him from his frightened peers. Following rumour and reports of miraculous events, journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) tracks Clark as he attempts to find out more about his parentage, leading them both to a disused Kryptonian spaceship frozen in the ice. As Clark converses with a holographic manifestation of his late father (Russell Crowe), the craft’s recent activation alerts the villainous General Zod (Michael Shannon) — who also survived the destruction of their home planet — as to his current whereabouts.

There’s a reason that Superman is considered to be the quintessential superhero, and that’s because the character is so enduringly simple. There’s no radioactive spider, no gamma radiation, and no million-dollar inheritance — just a guy who saves people. Sure there is extraneous detail: he’s an alien, has two sets of parents and holds a torch for a journalist, but in essence Superman is about as archetypal as you can possibly get; he is the classic embodiment of truth, goodness and justice; he is the best of us. He is, as his very name suggests, a super man.

Simplicity, however, is not the first word that comes to mind during Zack Snyder’s reboot, Man Of Steel. Twenty minutes in and we’re still on Krypton, learning about the planet’s soon-to-be-extinct culture and society. Krypton is dying you see (?), and before it does Superdad must steal some sort of codex (?), Supermum must give birth in secret to the planet’s first naturally-conceived child in centuries (?), and General Zod must — rather pointlessly given their current predicament — be punished for a coup he staged against Krypton’s high council (?). These men and women of steel fire guns, interface with robots and fly space-ships (except when they’re riding dragons) against a backdrop of death and destruction. Twenty minutes in and we have yet to meet Superman.

But while Snyder, along with screenwriter David S Goyer, attempts to expand the mythology — in addition to incorporating faux-artistic shots of billowing linen, badly rendered CGI wildlife and a whole thing about a tornado — he seems to go out of his way to sideline some of the elements most closely associated with the character. The Daily Planet’s workforce in particular — comprising Lawrence Fishburne, Matthew Kelly and someone called Jenny — is noticeably underdeveloped, which proves especially evident once they are left to run around a collapsing Metropolis, supposedly providing the audience with a laughably unearned stake in the conflict.

Because Man Of Steel doesn’t really know what it wants to be. While Superman Returns and Smallville approached the character in different but equally direct ways, Snyder’s film keeps changing its mind, refusing to commit to any given angle. The title evokes The Dark Knight, with Christopher Nolan and David S Goyer’s involvement also suggesting a step towards some sort of dark realism, yet the story is even more fanciful than that of Marvel’s Thor. The billowing sheets and pointed melancholy, meanwhile, are straight out of a Terrence Malick film, jarring horribly with the endless green screen and unconvincing special effects that are occasionally so poorly rendered that they can hardly be considered live-action.

The most muddled aspect of all is inevitably Superman himself, Henry Cavill’s hulking Man Of Steel. A Brit playing an American icon from outer-space, the once incorruptible character has been compromised, with even the ‘S’ emblazoned on his chest no longer pertaining to the character’s superiority. Whether calling him Clark Kent, Kal-El or — with misplaced embarrassment — Superman, the film never really gets a firm grasp on its protagonist. As Metropolis falls, his native people face extinction and Superman is locked in a devastating battle with General Zod there is very little sense that this is the same ideological idol who adorns lunchboxes and inspires people. The film’s body count is incalculable, and much of it is our hero’s fault.

Man Of Steel is an awkward, uninteresting and weightless shambles of a movie. Originally a symbol of hope for the children of America, the character has become an unrecogniseable beacon of misery and suffering. The film itself drags on for two and a half hours, awash with complicated subplots (the Phantom Zone?), bloody violence (cauterization?) and strong language (dick-splash?), until every child in the theatre is left bored, confused and disenfranchised by their once-beloved hero. Not since Transformers has an intrinsically innocent franchise been so perverted in this manner. Not since Sucker Punch has a film left such a bad taste in the mouth.

1-Star

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

5 Responses to Man Of Steel (2013)

  1. keith7198 says:

    Ouch! I feel like we watched two different reviews, LOL. Nice review. It’s would fun reading a more critical review of the film. Most have been running down the middle. Mine will go up tomorrow and may be a little different than yours. 🙂

  2. This is perhaps one of the best and most honest reviews I’ve read on the film yet. You have hit the nail firmly on the head and highlighted my thoughts on the movie almost to a tee. If there is anything positive I took away from the film, it was that I will never waste my time watching another Zack Snyder offering again. I was never a fan but with Goyer and Nolan in tow I thought disaster could have been averted, I was wrong.

  3. Jamie N says:

    I couldn’t agree with your review more. I was looking forward to this film so much, not only because I wanted to see a great story but also to help ease the lingering disappointment of Superman Returns. Unfortunately, now I’m disappointed all over again! The Krypton scenes didn’t really work for me and the last half hour of the film (what is supposed to be the climax) was a veritable snoozefest for me as Superman and Zod just kept punching each other and going through buildings. I know the Phantom Zone was featured in the first two Christopher Reeve movies, but in a very simple way rather than a convoluted mess. I’m hoping they’ll get it right one of these days…

  4. Mark says:

    Wow, what a review – take that Superman!! (totally agree though)

  5. Pingback: June 2013 – Wait, I feel like I should say something important | popcornaddict

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