Movie Review: “Man of Steel”

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

(Photo: Warner Bros.)

Superman returns to theaters tomorrow. But this time it appears the man of steel got some life coaching from Iyanla Vanzant. Mr. Kent is contemplative, stoic and Henry Cavill’s voice is nearly in the same lower register as Christian Bale’s Batman. Clark Kent is grappling with what life truly means … he somberly wanders the Midwest, pondering the struggles of being an incredibly handsome alien with perfect hair, steel pecs and a natural six pack — plus, he’s a single man in his early thirties whose impressive gifts remain on the down low. Not to mention childhood memories of being bullied, daddy issues and trying to save Earth from his native people. This is some heavy weight on the hero’s shoulders and audiences should prep themselves to soak up two hours and twenty-three minutes of a reflective Clark Kent/Kal-El (the title of Superman is only used a handful of times).

Directed by Zack Snyder, Man of Steel’s kryptonite is following The Dark Knight formula. The reboot of Mr. Kent is produced by Christopher Nolan and written by David S. Goyer — who were also behind The Dark Knight. Batman was reinvented with a darker storyline, making the flick less comic book and more of a thriller. However, at the heart of Bruce Wayne, there is a bit of a horror element, especially for a story set in cryptic Gotham City. But Clark Kent/Superman/Kal-El is an All-American hero who doesn’t have a similar dark side similar to the Caped Crusader.  Superman is the granddaddy of all superheros and storyline we already know.  Therefore, Snyder, Nolan and Goyer’s epic rehashing of every molecule of Kryoton’s last son was exhausting. The film tumbles and crumbles with 90 minutes or so of tiresome back-story and, eventually, typical summer movie CGI’d action scenes.

Like most films based on comics, can the action save the day? While visually stunning, how many times can we see New York City suffer the blows of good and evil? Buildings fall, New Yorkers run for their lives, the battle travels from Lower Manhattan to Times Square to Grand Central and you can always predict who will be victorious. Loud, huge and explosive, even the action was anti-climactic.

Appropriately cast, Man of Steel actually works when Superman isn’t on screen — the supporting characters stayed true to their roots versus the star. Lois Lane is still the nosy reporter, played enjoyably by Amy Adams — plus, her boss at the Daily Planet is the great Laurence Fishburne. The villains are ferociously entertaining. Clark’s adoptive mother (Diane Lane) and father (Kevin Costner) are fitting, but the clinically depressed Superman fails to engage, which is no fault of Henry Cavill. He clearly delivered what Snyder and the creators of Man of Steel wanted.

On another note, Superman is not the patriotic hero in the 1978 version by Richard Donner, which some might find disappointing. But I was less concerned about patriotism and more focused on a solid film. Even without comparing Man of Steel to the original, the film struggles, never finding the balance of action and the “deep” storyline.

Man of Steel is not a terrible film. With editing, less exposition and a bit more fun, the film could’ve been a critical and box office success. Nonetheless, even with all of the obvious flaws this does not mean Man of Steel will not break box office records faster than a speeding bullet — sorry, I couldn’t resist!  The fan base is there, even if the story isn’t.

Man of Steel is in theaters tomorrow.

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Comments

isis Said on

What the hell is good hair? What does his pecs and six pack have to do with it…well the storyline???? You critics are really out there.

This review could not stear me one way or the other. No offense. Your opinion. Thank the heavens we are all gifted with our own.



KevinB Said on

The reviewer’s point about the perfect hair and six pack are obviously to point out all the “woe is me” angst that has been forced on Clark this time around. Basically, can we as viewers empathize with a guy who’s depressed because he’s too perfect? Answer: We can’t, and in the reviewer’s opinion, it detracts from the film.

Since you’re criticizing the critic, maybe you need a critique of your own: Don’t let your love of a character or initial biases lead you to assume that you know more about a film you haven’t seen than someone who has seen it or that any negative points in a review are because of “bias”. We all saw waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much of that with Dark Knight Rises and Avengers.



isis Said on

Did not say the reviewer was biased…ever. I HAVE SEEN THIS FILM. Nothing influences me, not your comments, the reviewers…no ones. And as I said, in my original post, no offense to” the critic.”

Don’t preach to me! As I stated– His opinion. The same goes for your comments!



Oomu Said on

@isis: why to read him then ?



Jerome Said on

Unfortunately, the analysis is wrong. The character is conflicted because of identity issues, feeling out of place with his surroundings. He doesn’t have “Daddy Issues,” more a interest to find out where he comes from. An adapted child ‘alienated’ from his culture. Note, how excited he is when telling his mother that he’s found his true heritage.

He’s adapting to a redefinition of self. He’s found his purpose. And unlike Nolan’s Batman, he doesn’t become a vigilante, but must choose between his adapted world (a place where he doesn’t fit in) and the Kryptonian world (the legacy of an unfamiliar past). Cahill doesn’t play this role as someone “clinically depressed,” but as someone cautious and diffident.



Neal Said on

There is a lot wrong with this movie, some things you just can’t place and some you just shake your head at directly. The critic is trying to point some of these things that are underlying in the failure of this movie and does a good job.

People who might enjoy the “Superman smash” style this movie seems to take will obviously disagree.