Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: Man of Steel

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: David S. Goyer
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon

One of my biggest complaints from Superman Returns was that it really did lack the kind of action that people were keen for in a Superman movie. Sure, Lex Luthor is an awesome villain but we wanted to see super powered beings beating the crap out of each other. Well, now Man of Steel has arrived and it scratches that particular itch, but does it make it better than the films before it?

Visually this movie is glorious and is one of those films that truly makes cinema going a wonderful experience. From Krypton to Earth, there is a beauty to everything; a beauty that makes the sudden explosion of action that much more jarring - but in a good way. It all builds towards making the movie epic in both scope and feel, great for a superhero movie.

Acting is also top notch with Henry Cavill striking a balance between the hero and the man who hasn’t quite discovered himself. He’s also ripped as all hell and I completely believed he was an alien even when not in the suit. Amy Adams is sweetly endearing which lends itself well to the pixie-like mischievousness that this Lois Lane embodies. Michael Shannon chews the scenery as General Zod but during his quieter moments actually comes across as sympathetic. Russell Crowe is hellishly impressive as Jor-El and I wanted more of him. Finally, a shout out to Christopher Meloni and Antje Traue for really creating interesting side characters with not a hell of a lot to work with.

Just look at this face. It screams evil. EVIL!

The story itself is actually quite good and while it reinvents Superman’s origin, it’s not going to offend anyone other than the most die hard of Superman fanboys. Unfortunately it’s in the nuts and bolts of the script where we find Man of Steel’s bigger problems; problems that I’ve seen in many of David Goyer’s works. While I think he’s an okay writer, his best work tends to lie towards composing with another author, yet in this case he is solely responsible for the screenplay.

Dialogue is one of Goyer’s biggest weaknesses and in this script some lines were so awkward I couldn’t believe the actors delivering them with a straight face. Another problem I touched on earlier was some characters weren’t given much to do, yet in the third act we are supposed to care. There was a ramping up of Superman’s origin that made things feel artificially epic, which is a shame as Snyder was doing a bang up job of that naturally with his visual aesthetics. I won’t touch upon specifics so as to avoid spoilers, but one example was the father/son relationship between Pa Kent and Clark. I feel the original Christopher Reeves’ Superman did more justice to the relationship between than this movie, and it did so in less scenes.

Still, despite all this the movie is pretty awesome. It feels like an excellent starting point for a franchise and I really did love Henry Cavill in the role of Superman. I hope that in future movies we can move on to new enemies. Braniac perhaps? Zack Snyder was an excellent choice as a director as his eye for spectacle has done Superman well. If you haven’t seen this already then get out there and watch. Marvel might have some competition now.

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