Movie Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel

I had a lot of expectations going into Man of Steel, but were they too high? I mean, this is a film from Zack Snyder, the guy who did 300 and Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, the guys who brought The Dark Knight trilogy to the big screen. The trailers all made the film look like a re-imagining of the Superman origin story, a new look at a superhero that has been around for over 75 years.

And while the awesome action, the big set pieces, and the stunning effects are very much present – along with an amazing score by Hans Zimmer – there is a definite lack of character development that left me wanting more. I never felt connected to Clark/Superman or Lois Lane throughout the movie. I never really was rooting for Superman to beat the bad guy or save the day…mainly because he’s Superman and I pretty much knew he would win and come away unscathed (which I don’t think is really a spoiler).

Unlike Batman or Iron Man, Superman is an alien being with superpowers that aren’t fashioned by some rich guy in a fancy suit. So when Superman gets knocked around there’s really no danger of him getting injured or killed, which is what makes it hard to identify with him. Even though they are rich beyond belief, Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne are still human, which is one trait we can all identify with.

While it’s far better than the slow-paced Superman Returns, Man of Steel’s injection of style and spectacle only seems to mask the lack of a substantive story. There also seems to be two types of acting going on here: the overly serious, and the melodramatic. Both make for an uneven feel to the film as a whole and were a cause for unintended laughs.

Henry Cavill as Superman

Henry Cavill is a perfect fit as Superman. He’s far better suited for the role than Brandon Routh, and he does own the role and its complexities. However, I think his debut as the Man of Steel deserved a stronger script that didn’t rely on eclipsing human performances with computer effects and explosions. There needs to be a balance, and Man of Steel is heavy on the action and light on the acting.

Amy Adams as Lois Lane

I had a hard time believing Amy Adams as Lois Lane. I’m a huge fan of Adams and her work, but here she was about as effective as a Bond girl. She lacked any sense of wonder or emotion, and given all the crazy stuff she’s experiencing for the first time over the course of the film you’d think she would be a little more awestruck or terrified. But instead she’s fairly deadpan for most of it.

Michael Shannon as General Zod

Michael Shannon’s General Zod is less of an evil villain and more of a monologue spewing scene chewer that seems to have gone from Oscar-nominated actor to melodramatic hack. But I don’t think it’s his fault. If you’ll notice that Thor and Loki over in the Marvel universe also have a similar acting style, which makes me believe that directors/screenwriters have surmised that people from other planets or worlds speak as if they are on the Shakespearean stage.

I really like all the actors that they cast in this movie, including Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, and Laurence Fishburne. However, I do feel that their talents were used to their full capacity that has been seen in previous performances. It’s like when George Lucas directs great actors. Something gets lost in the translation.

Again, the action and effects are awesome. From the opening sequence to the big battle during the finale, each effect-filled moment is jaw-dropping and really cool. But I need to be interested in the human story in order for me to be totally into what I’m watching and Man of Steel just didn’t have that particular element for me to be 100% invested.

Nolan was able to bring a different take on the Batman story to life and make us care about the people who were part of the story. Here it feels like the characters took a back seat to the cool visuals, not unlike the Transformers films.

Would I watch it again? Yes. Do I recommend you see it? You bet. But be sure not to go in thinking you’re going to see a dark, complex origin story like Batman Begins. It just isn’t up to the same standard, which is unfortunate.

Man of Steel is in theaters NOW!

What did you think of Man of Steel? Leave a comment and let us know!

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