So maybe its just me, but recently i've noticed a lot of debate over [Man of Steel](movie:15593) resurfacing for reasons i can't fathom. And so i decided i'd sit down and give it another look and put down some opinions from a completely neutral standpoint. So if you're looking for whether or not it got Superman right, i'd look somewhere else. This is a simple review of it as a movie purely as a movie on its own merits, and taking no external factors into account.
The story opens on Krypton, throwing us right into the middle of a planetary crisis and we meet Russel Crowe's Jor-El. There's a lot of jargon about the planet collapsing and we meet Michael Shannon's General Zod, who immediately imposes his presence in this movie and off the bat gives an impression of a driven, focused, yet potentially insane villain. Oh, and Jor-El and his wife have a kid, which is supposedly a big thing, all Krypton's being test-tube grown. The visuals we get to see are absolutely beautiful, from the backdrops to the landscapes to the wildlife and even to the Kryptonian tech. It all looks and feels believable while retaining the fantastical feel of an alien world. The codex (AKA, convenient plot device) is stolen and then Jor-El's son is sent away to Earth. We get a very well choreographed brawl between Zod and Jor, ending in the death of Jor by Zod's hand. Then Zod is sent to a black hole with a sequence that feels bot forced and yet at the same time imposing, of Zod repeating "I WILL FIND HIM" over and over. Then the planet explodes and we go to Earth.
Fast Forward thirty or so years and we meet Clark Kent saving people at an oil refinery in a spectacular sequence that shows of this films already great visuals. We then get Clark's life story through a series of flashbacks, showing a touching dynamic between him and his parents over his need to conceal his powers because of the impact they could have on the world, and how it would tear it apart. We also get to see Clark struggling to try and fit into society as he tries to e a good person by distancing himself from others yet finds it difficult when they go out of their way to piss him off. It's all quite dry and devoid of humor, but there are two ways to look at that: either as director's sleight of hand for portraying the strained and difficult life that Clark leads in order to help people without revealing himself; or it can just be taken as really boring and difficult to put yourself through, i guess it's a matter of opinion.
The discovery of some kind of Kryptonian scout ship leads Clark to meet his father because he put some kind of replication of his consciousness onto a command key thing that Clark puts into a slot. So yeah, that's how he discovers his heritage. This leads to two father figures in his life giving him opposing advice about how to use his powers, which could lead to an interesting dynamic, but he just goes with Jor-El's advice. Which is really disappointing as it contradicts the movie's most touching moment of his dad's death. Still, we get one of the movie's other best sequences of him learning to fly, which holds the kind of magic that someone LEARNING TO FLY should have. Oh, almost forgot, Lois Lane also turns up just before this and doesn't really make any kind of impact. She's just... there. Amy Adams puts in a decent turn but she's just not given enough to do. So yeah. So far we've had what is, in my opinion, a really good first half or so that has laid the foundations well for any of a few themes to follow through and make a really good, inspiring final act.
And the movie does nothing with any of them. Zod and his army come to Earth and then everything goes to sh**. The action is awe-inspiring but it loses any of the feeling that the first half had. This isn't helped by the lack of acknowledgement by Clark that he blatantly kills at least a good few hundred civilians and destroyed half of Metropolis' homes. It could be helped by some kind of scene at the end to show him helping the rebuilding of the city or mourning over all of the dead, but no, we get him destroying government property and in essence raising the finger to the military for not trusting a guy who flattened one of their major cities. Not what we needed.
The only two consistent things over the whole movie are the spectacular visuals and Michael Shannon. He gets a great speech about his being bred to be a protector and blah blah blah, you know the drill. Henry Cavill is good, but toward the last third, his screenplay feels off and his script doesn't seem right. He plays his part well but there's some unnatural scripting in places and the part he is given in the final act doesn't feel like the same person we saw in the first half. The chemistry between Clark and Lois just isn't fleshed out at all, like i said, Amy Adams isn't given enough to do.
Finally, Clark (i'd call him superman but the name is used in the movie as if it carries a curse) killing Zod. It was fine, it worked. It makes his character feel three dimensional because he makes a mistake. In desperation he snaps Zod's neck and instantly realizes what he's done and yells out in anguish. What doesn't fly (hehe) is the fact that he shows remorse for killing the villain but not the hundreds of random civilians of Metropolis
So concluding, there's a really good movie in here somewhere, maybe even a great one, but it gets smothered in nothingness and cliches the more it goes on. Characters are left with half finished arcs and nothing is followed through into the end. It's like they came up with a good few great themes and then couldn't decide which one to make the main one and in the end just made the second half of the movie anyway. So the film has its appeals, it has its disappointments, but overall, it's decent, with some gaping issues but some outstanding strong points.
EDIT: I am not against loads of people dying as everyone seems to wrongly be picking up. What i actually dislike is the fact that Clark doesn't seem to care about it at all. It makes sense for people to die, he's an amateur and all, but it contradicts the kind and caring character that was established in the first half of the film who spends his life trying to save as many people as he can without exposing himself. To quote, i actually refer to "the lack of acknowledgement by Clark that he blatantly kills at least a good few hundred civilians" NOT the fact that people died, that works.
Do you agree? Did you love, hate, or feel indifferent towards this movie? Let me know below.
Never stop lovin' movies or superheroes guys!