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