Man of Steel – Abs of Steel, Not Script of Steel – Review

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Photo Courtesy Warner Brothers

The Man of Steel proves to have Abs of Steel, but he needed a Script of Steel to make this worth the effort.

Henry Cavill stars as Clark Kent – a very unique dude who wants to stay out of the spotlight (I guess he’s not on Facebook, and doesn’t own a Verizon phone, so he can dodge the government).  It turns out he is Kal-El, one of the few survivors of his home planet, Krypton.  As you might know, Krypton was destroyed by its own people and poor decisions (I will let the movie give you the long version of that story), and Kal-El’s pop, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), put him in a spacecraft pointed at Earth.

Now, Clark walks among us, but he learned from the Earth parents who adopted him, Jonathan and Martha (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), that he should remain in seclusion for his own protection.  I guess they are convinced we earthlings might freak out and do something rash if an alien is discovered (they are probably right).

However, anonymity is not going to save our planet.  When Clark’s true powers are discovered, it sets off a chain of events that bring a militant group of Krypton survivors to Earth, with the intent of taking over.

Can Clark stop them?

Man Of Steel fades as the blurry action and phony looking special effects take over.

The first hour is very good.  Director Zack Snyder and writer David Goyer excel at telling the story of Clark Kent/Kal-El.  The opening sequences of Krypton falling into doom, Jor-El rushing to save his child when he has failed to save his people and the civil war breaking out around them, led by the military coup leader, General Zod (Michael Shannon), establish the history of Krypton better than ever.

Then, Snyder and Goyer give us Clark Kent’s life as a child in meaningful flashbacks that show us the crucial moments without ever wallowing in them.  Costner fills Jonathan Kent with an amazing warmth and groundedness that helps us understand the influences that shaped young Clark, while these moments where Clark starts to realize who he is, what he can be, and what he wants to be, all give us a fantastic feel for the man he becomes, especially the great scene of young Clark facing a tornado in Kansas.  Those are the “dark” moments fans seem to be clamoring for after the success of The Dark Knight and derision faced by Superman Returns.

However, Snyder and Goyer speed through the remaining portion of Man of Steel.  I know it may sound strange to hear me say a movie at almost two and a half hours is speeding along too quickly, but the audience is subject to massive jumps in logic and storytelling.  It’s like Goyer and Snyder want to get to the cake, but refuse to eat their brussel sprouts.

Clark suddenly knows all sorts of things about Krypton technology and history he never could have picked up in a couple days of limited exposure to his true origins.

He has mastered all of his powers even more quickly.  If it was this easy to hone your physical skills, Tim Tebow wouldn’t be a 3rd string quarterback fetching water for Tom Brady.

Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is falling deeply in love with Clark in what seems like a couple days or weeks.  I know the guy has amazing blue eyes and Abs of Steel, but our intrepid reporter drops her tough gal persona of disbelief and distrust too quickly for the sake of fulfilling a story plot point instead of making sense.

The people of Earth warm up much too quickly to this mysterious Man of Steel before he has done much of anything to earn it.

Worst of all, the action is just a mess. With such a basic story in the second portion, the action needs to be so much more compelling and real than it appears on screen.  The CGI is obviously fake and falls to Green Lantern levels of ugliness.

Then, Goyer’s script devolves into gibberish as we learn more about what Jor-El has done and what Zod really wants.

And, don’t even get me started on how Jor-El is incorporated into the story later on.  It’s stupid.

Plus, I wish Cavill was given more of a chance to be the leading man.  The Man of Steel is often overshadowed by others on the screen, but I don’t find it to be the fault of Cavill.  I don’t think the character is given enough material to be the dynamic, charming figure we need him to be.  It made me appreciate Christopher Reeve’s performance and dynamism as Superman so much more.

Is it because Hollywood can’t write an earnest, All-American hero anymore?  Is that too corny?  Do we always need a super tortured flawed soul?

I know the hope is Man of Steel will be the start of a new series of Superman films, but I can’t say this left me wanting that, even the tease of LexCorp’s existence.

1_5waffles_sml1 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Man of Steel is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language

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16 comments

  • Wilson

    there are always going to be people who LOOK for the bad in a movie. As the saying goes, look hard and long enough and you will find! … looks like he found after making many patho-ic comparisons mixed in with few logos or ethos.

    but with that said, to each their own!

  • manny

    I saw this movie and your review is worth just about nothing I paid to see it and I will paid to see it again, lets see he saves her life yet that is not enough to you to create a conection, action best ever seen in a movie you don’t know action and you don’t know quality if it will smack you in the face, phony? You are phony no doubt don’t believe this guy watch the movie and be the critic

  • Jose E

    I have read more than 20 reviews already…and I have watched the movie twice since it started on thursday; one thing i find similar in all the bad reviews I have read…the comparison to other movies, may it be Independence Day, Green Lantern, the other Superman films, and many others. All I can say is, for a review to be good and authentic you have to stop the comparisons and look for the details. There is always going to be some criticizing because of the lack of imagination and sense of inserting yourself in the movie and get your own explanation of the things that you feel were left out, or you thought their were to quick to explain…thats a mistake when you go watch a movie. So far none of the bad reviews I have read already have a point to make when judging this movie, and its a shame…but like the saying goes "to each their own"….Im going to watch it again soon, it is a very entertaining and awesome movie.

  • Jaime

    SPOT ON REVIEW. The fault lies with the writing and the directing in the second half of the film. I'm indifferent to Superman and I Snyder is okay, but this was just so poorly done. Marvel is doing it right; DC (really, Warner Bros.) needs to get on board. Ditch the executives and let the people who love the stories make them into what they should be. And they might as well have changed Clark's name to Jesus, what with all the heavy handed symbolism. That's the stuff of first year film school, not veteran film makers. This was as bad as Prometheus, in that regard. Learn to tell a story, Warner Bros.

  • Bill Strom

    The problem of Superman is it is live action. He is too powerful for live action. If they want to reboot the series, which only had 2 good movies of the 6 or 7. I think they need to think like Disney did in the1940's with a revolutionary full length animation. A full length animated version something between Golum and the Incredibles. Superman could be the story to take a leap in dramatic animation. Maybe there have been too many Superman movies for this because "the origins" can only be told so many times. Shazam–ie. Captain Marvel, maybe a good or better alternative. DC seriously has to consider this option, because in general their characters are just too powerful and epic for live actors to play. High quality state of the art animation should be DC's future.

  • Titangli

    You can't do any Superhero movies without using CGI to the maximun. As for the Man of Steel movie, no need for long detail about character build up, by now we know who they are, we need to see Superman in action and this movie has done it.

  • Chris

    Captain America in The Avengers was a great All America hero without seeming corny or simplistic. Maybe Joss Whedon needs to take on Superman as well. This movie left me wanting more of Krypton and less of the destruction of Metropolis. The collateral damage was enormous and Clark seemed oblivious to it.

  • Guillermo

    Another review from a critic that is pissed because what he finally sees on screen is not what he imagined on his own mind. And because this critic doesn´t get it, it doesn´t mean something must be stupid. JorEl latest onscreen appeareance, specifically. Technology? anyone? Duh!

  • John

    Jose E,
    You say that people are wrong to make comparisons in reviewing Man of Steel , but you have to remember that Superman has seventy-five years of comic book history, saturday morning movie serials, dozens of tv shows and cartoons, novels, a Broadway musical, and five feature length movies – IT'S IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO MAKE COMPARISONS. If a filmmaker wants to tackle Superman, good; but comparisons come with the territory. The fans want Superman movies that are great – not good, great. MoS was not great.

    Don't get me wrong. I didn't hate this movie . It had excellent effects, a good cast, some fine early moments (the scenes of young Clark were particularly good). But the one crucial element it lacked was fun. A Superman movie can (and should be) serious, but that doesn't mean leaving out the fun. Superman isn't Batman. The movie was too somber for me,

    You said, "none of the bad reviews have a point to make." Well I have a point, and its a good one. What was with all the death and destruction? By my reckoning, at least twenty-thousand innocent civilians were killed by Superman and Zod's battle. Possibly many thousands more. That is not Superman. Superman values life, above all else – for seventy-five years that has been at the core of what he is. This movie ignored that legacy and had Superman brawling in the streets of Smallville and Metropolis, making no effort to take the battle to less populated areas. I just couldn't accept that. Superman WOULD have kept the death toll down, or died trying.

    I rate Man of Steel C+ a good-but-flawed effort. I hope it does good enough for a sequel, and eventually a Justice League movie…but this is one fan who's putting the filmmakers on notice to get it right; SUPERMAN IS ABOUT LIFE, not the killing of thousands of innocent people. If people want ignorant bloodshed like that let them watch the Punisher.

  • DM6

    @Chris: He was too busy getting his ass kicked by Zod. He did appear to be trying to take the fight somewhere else.

  • Sojack

    Superman is a good movie and the viewers have voted with their money, as it took in $130 million it’s first weekend.

    This is the first time a Superman movie elaborated on his orgin and put him in a more realistic context. Well written story and great special effects.

    The problem with some of these obnoxious critics is that they are out to make a name for themselves by crapping on the movie and many of them also hate science fiction. They don’t have the minds to dream of other worlds or embrace it beyond silly jokes and clowning.

  • Shaun

    It's actually quite humorous that Willie is tasked with writing film reviews in which he opines about the simplicity of the plot, but yet he can't seem to get certain points of the plot right in his review. Sheesh… I knew the CW was bad, but this review is worse than anything Willie claims Man of Steel to be.

  • FatAssAmerican

    Stupid twat. Your review is 100% based on what you are expected to say as a film critic about a Zack Snyder film rather then actual film criticism Hack!