Man of Steel (2013)
If there is one thing that I have noticed about the Superhero franchises that have worked versus those that have struggled it is something to do with the actor. From Robert Downey Jr. to Christian Bale and even Wesley Snipes’ Blade series, the one thing that has been constant is the ownership that each actor has had of the role. There is nobody out there that can say that Robert Downey Jr. is not Tony Stark or that Chris Hemsworth isn’t Thor. The characters win you over from the beginning and then the movie picks up the slack for the rest of it. In terms of the Batman I have always felt that Bale played 2nd fiddle to the wonderful villains played by talented actors but in the end the role of the caped crusader is solid, and enough to win us over. I say all of this about the heroes of Marvel and DC because it is the one element in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel that really bothered me.
Since the revamp of Superman after the lengthy run of Christopher Reeve the kryptonian has been nerfed into a sort of silent, mysterious hero and eye candy for women. In Man of Steel Henry Cavill takes on the role wonderfully but for comic book fans his height may strike as a distraction as Superman is a big boy in more ways than one. Cavill like Brandon Routh before him is relatively mute for most of the movie and it takes away from the much needed relationship that we the audience needed in order to feel anything for him.
Man of Steel relied heavily on long, destructive fights, rather than allowing us to get bored with character development, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the prime concern we had was more for the citizens of Metropolis than anything else. Though Cavill was made to stay quiet and just look handsome, the acting prowess of Russell Crowe did not go unnoticed as Superman’s father Jor-El. Crowe stole the show even more than the magnificent Michael Shannon as Zod which was unfortunate being that Jor-El was meant to be a driver for Kal-El (Superman)’s story. Another powerful part of Superman’s history that was quite memorable was his earth father Jonathan Kent played by Kevin Costner.
Though Man of Steel was a beautiful, fun and flashy movie–which is what we expect from the big screen–the direction could have been a bit less confusing if Snyder had given us a sequenced history (the way the original did) instead of showing us Superman as a young man having flashbacks of youth. The splintered memories and the feeling of a forced romance with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) seemed like too much information after a beautiful introduction of Krypton and it’s destruction.
General Zod needed much better writing as Man of Steel missed a great opportunity to bring about a villain as memorable as Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. This isn’t to say that Man of Steel was just a ton of near misses which eventually ended up in it being a failure. The cinematography was decent but I was annoyed with a Metropolis which looked more Gothamy with it’s darkness versus the bright, sunny city that fueled Superman’s power. The horrible attempt at portraying the US military responding to a disaster was also hilarious and Superman’s new “dirty” version of the red, blue and yellow suit was a bit underwhelming.
In terms of what I actually enjoyed… well there is a little lady named Faora-Ul (Antje Traue) with enough charisma and ass-kicking prowess to distract us from the terrible pacing. From her appearance on screen it was pretty obvious that Faora was a favorite of the person responsible for the action scenes because she ruled the camera in both sexiness and skill whenever she was involved. Also there are little Easter eggs scattered about the movie to put a smile on the face of comic book fans and fellow fans of Battlestar Galactica will be happy to know that much of the crew has been given supporting roles in this movie.
In the end Man of Steel was entertaining but not exciting enough to make me want more. Revamps should be much better than their original and get you excited for the sequels to come after them… I am not sure if the hype we 80’s kids got when baby Superman lifted a car is going to be replicated when baby milenials see the Man of Steel lift a bus – but who knows. If I had to do it all over again I would honestly wait for video instead of opening day.