“Man of Steel” Movie Review

No, this movie isn't called "Superman."
No, this movie isn’t called “Superman.”

I must make two confessions before I start any criticism about this movie:

  1. Superman was never a favorite superhero of mine. He has so many superpowers, he always seemed to be too powerful. Evidence: If he has the power to spin the earth backwards to prevent any mistake from ever taking place, why doesn’t he just do that every time he messes up? Also, why not laser-eye-ball the crap out of all the villains? Just be careful of mirrors, Clark!
  2. When I heard that Christopher Nolan was the executive producer behind this movie, I thought that maybe this version of the Superman story might be the one that hooks me in. I also enjoyed the director of this film, Zack Synder, who also directed previous films “300” and “Watchmen.”

So, I decided to take the opportunity to see the “Man of Steel.” While I wasn’t completely blown away by the movie, “Man of Steel” does provide a good movie-going experience and ultimately a great start to whatever this current DC movie franchise wants to become. Some spoilers are ahead as I list the good, the bad, and the whatever about this film…

What I liked:

  • The Editing — I was so glad that this movie didn’t do a straight linear retelling of Superman’s backstory. (Unlike some other hero reboots with spiders…) Why not change it up a bit? I absolutely enjoyed the non-linear storytelling of Kal-El growing up as Clark Kent intermixed with decisions that Kal-El has to deal with in the present or that Lois Lane discovers as she writes her article about Superman.
  • Russell Crowe as Jor-El — All the actors in this cast pull off their respective roles incredibly well, but Russell Crowe steals a little bit of the limelight. Since he’s Superman’s biological father, you would think that he would just be in a couple of scenes, call it a day, and check out of the movie.  But instead, Jor-El remains an integral part of the movie even after his death and Crowe takes advantage of the extra screen time.
  • Hans Zimmer’s Soundtrack — Hans Zimmer really might be the John Williams of this generation of movie soundtrack composing. The Lion King, The DaVinci Code, The Dark Knight, Inception, and now Man of Steel, are all magnificent pieces. Zimmer, just like Williams, just has this natural ability to fit their musically perfectly with the tone of the movie, and he delivered yet again with Man of Steel.

What I didn’t like:

  • The Final Battle Scene — Unfortunately, the movie gets a little too predictable and somewhat boring towards the last third of the plot. (Because it’s Superman, how could he lose?) But the action scenes themselves at the end of the final battle take so long and General Zod’s army destroys so many things, that it feels like Michael Bay suddenly snuck in to direct this film. Really, I lost count at how many damn buildings either got destroyed, toppled, or exploded in front of our main characters. It gets to a point where you don’t care about the damage done, and you just want to see the inevitable face-to-face confrontation between Superman and Zod.
  • The U.S. Is The Police of the World — Boy, would Teddy Roosevelt be proud of this film, because apparently in this world, only the United States F’n government runs the show. Any alien contact? U.S. Army, baby. Someone’s taking over control over our cell phones, TVs, and computers? U.S. Government’s on the case. I understand that Superman is also a symbol of American patriotism, but when did the United States of Earth happen in the DC Universe?
  • Blatant Product Placement — I hope you guys love cameras and pancakes before you head to see this movie in theaters. Nikon and IHOP are featured prominently in any scene they could shove their logos in. It’s almost as bad as the random Verizon FIOS logo in Iron Man 3. I understand commercials allow movie budgets to be bigger for bigger movies, but can we keep the product placement in superhero movies down please?

What the hell was that?!:

  • The Daily Planet News Team Escape — I don’t know if it was just me, but I didn’t feel any particular connection to the rest of The Daily Planet newspaper writers trying to escape the destruction at the end of the movie. The audience only really gets to connect with Lois Lane, but she’s not with her co-workers as they escape the newspaper building and try to stay safe as Superman and the U.S. Air Force take on General Zod’s invasion. Maybe they just wanted to give Laurence Fishburne more screen time.
  • Clark Kent & The Daily Planet — At the very end of the movie, Superman explains why he needs to work a particular job that will let him have access to breaking news and information that others would not have… and of course, he chooses journalism and joins The Daily Planet, fulfilling his disguise as Clark Kent. Personally, I could have done without this scene, but a lot of fans cheered when this happened. But also, if that’s the only reason he joined The Daily Planet in the first place, couldn’t he have landed other jobs with the same benefits? Or perhaps picking up a police and emergency scanner from Radio Shack and listen for the latest criminal activities? It seemed to be an unnecessary way to end the film.

With these things in mind, here are my final ratings for Man of Steel:

[easyreview title=”Man of Steel Ratings” cat1title=”Experience” cat1detail=”The movie is set on an epic scale, but doesn’t get too fantastical. The editing is also done very well, and the actors do a great job too, especially Russell Crowe.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Story” cat2detail=”Although the story tries to weave a narrative about Kal-El growing up on Earth and discovering the fate of all Kyrptonians, the last third of the movie loses the subplots and instead focuses on just straight-up superhero fighting.” cat2rating=”2.5″ cat3title=”Visuals” cat3detail=”Even though space and aliens are in this movie, there was an attempt to keep the movie looking as realistically as they could. The only problem is that’s it’s also a Superman movie. Also, I never knew it was possible to destroy THAT many buildings.” cat3rating=”3″ cat4title=”Sound” cat4detail=”Hans Zimmer composes a magnificent score for the film that fits the emotional tones of the movie very well. The sound effects are good, but nothing interesting to note.” cat4rating=”4″ Summary=”It’s a solid film. If you want the Superman version of The Dark Knight, however, you will be disappointed. But that doesn’t make this a bad movie. On the contrary, Man of Steel leaves a good impression and a nice start to the new DC Comics movie franchise, as it should become one of the summer blockbusters of 2013.”]