Movie Review: Man of Steel

I went to the late showing of Man of Steel on Saturday night. These days, the movies I see in the theater are limited to movies I feel I *must* see in the theater. A new Superman reboot?

That’s a must see in my book.

Historically, I’ve felt most Superman movies are good. Not great. But decent films. I loved the Richard Donner ones when I was growing up, but I don’t think they’ve aged particularly well. Superman Returns was too weighed down with baggage, although there were parts of the film I really liked.

This new one is a good film, people. It’s not a great film–it takes itself a tad too seriously to pull that off, and its action sequences are too long–but it’s a solid summer movie, and one I recommend. I’d say it’s a 3 star outing, out of 4.

First, the good. The Krypton sequences are really well done and intriguing. Acting was solid across the board. Cavill’s a great Superman. Amy Adams does a good job as Lois. The effects are fantastic. I saw it in 2D, but I think it’s one where 3D would have added to the experience for what it’s worth. The story was intriguing and well done–but I don’t want to get into it, as I’d rather keep this review spoiler-free.

The so-so: I found the narrative structure of the movie a tad . . . strange. It splices in events from the past and the present so that in essence, a lot of the movie is spent discovering Superman’s history, as opposed to just having it laid out for us. Part of me liked that approach. It kept the origin story interesting. But then again, it also made for a bumpier ride, narratively. I think in the end, it was a wash.

Finally, the bad. Or rather, the not-as-good: Director Zack Snyder found a Christ Analogy hammer somewhere along the way, and he decided to start banging that hammer as hard as he could. Over. And over. You’ve got a whole scene with Superman talking to a priest, where they lay on the Christ imagery hard and heavy. You’ve got a big action sequence that starts with Superman basically looking like he’s nailed to a cross.

It just felt too heavy handed to be natural. There are interesting parallels between the two stories, granted. Just don’t push it so hard, Snyder. And this is coming from a pretty darned believing Christian.

Next up: the action sequences. Joss Whedon talked about how one of the issues he had with The Avengers was that all of the superheroes involved had “punchy powers.” And he’s right. Iron Man shoots things or punches them. Thor hammers them. Caps punches or shoots. Punch punch punch punch. The Avengers worked because the action sequences were able to put personal flairs on each fight. Make them visually distinct and interesting.

In this movie? It’s all punching, all the time. And there’s a lot of it. LOTS AND LOTS. By the end of the 2.5 hour movie, I’d seen a solid hour of Superman punching and being punched. Into buildings. Into mountains. Into space. Everywhere. But in the end, it’s all punching. And there really wasn’t much variation on it. The fighting style was the same. Punch punch punch. It got old.

This movie should have mixed it up, or taken out about a half hour of that.

And as a parting shot, I enjoyed Hans Zimmer’s score, but . . . it wasn’t John Williams. I think ditching the Superman theme was a mistake, and I wish it was present in the movie. But maybe I’m just a traditionalist.

I guess that makes this review seem more negative than I intended. It’s just that it’s easy for me to gripe about punching and Christ imagery, and hard for me to praise the pieces I liked without spoiling the movie. Bottom line: It’s a Superman movie. A popcorn flick. It’s fun, well done, and there are just a few big issues keeping it from completely shining. The best takeaway? I see a very good shot at a revitalized DC Comics emerging from this. I would love to have a Justice League movie . . .

Anyone else already seen this flick? What did you think?

2 Comments

  • By Trevor Green, June 17, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    I agree with most of what you said, with the following exceptions: I didn’t miss the John Williams theme and I didn’t feel quite the same about the punchy-ness. I loved the action SO much! The movie as a whole could have used a little tweaking as far as pacing goes, but in all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would love to see it again in the theaters!

  • By Bryce Moore, June 17, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

    The Superman theme is baggage I bring to the table with me, granted. I love love love it. Listen to it regularly. In many ways, that theme IS Superman to me. I can see other people not being as nostalgic. 🙂

    The action was awesome, agreed. But it felt at times like I was watching a martial arts flick where they had no weapons and forgot they had feet and legs.

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