With Batman v. Superman upon us, I figured why not review its predecessor?
Man of Steel will always have a special place in my movie heart. It was the first DC Cinematic Universe Movie I(and everyone else) had seen, it has remained a film that I never get tired of, and it also inspired my first article about movies. When I saw Zack Snyder's take on Superman the first time, I was more than satisfied. In fact the only gripes I had after my first viewing were that I wanted to know how his suit got in that ship and I wanted just a little more development for General Zod.
What I loved about Man of Steel the most was Superman himself. In this film, we truly saw Clark Kent as a man struggling with what to do with his powers. The first half of the film really resonated with me because I genuinely connected with Kal El's character. While I enjoyed Christopher Reeve's performance, I liked Henry Cavil more because he portrayed a conflicted character who wasn't sure if/when/even how to use his powers. For example, do you remember when Christopher Reeve gets his suit and flies? While that was cool and fun, there was no sense of awe from Christopher Reeve. He just started flying with an expression that made him look like flying was a totally normal occurrence for him. With Henry Cavil's first time flying, he has this determination to keep pushing his limits and fly. When he finally does, he starts smiling and laughing at how he can fly. His "Oh my God I can fly" look felt much more authentic and natural than Christopher Reeve's "I'm Kal El and I fly. That's cool I guess." In fact the entire cast of this movie is nothing short of amazing. Amy Adams as Lois Lane was possibly the best casting choice for Lois Lane ever. Russel Crowe as Jor El and Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent were also perfectly cast in my opinion. A lot of people have given Costner crap for his betrayal as Pa Kent saying that he was a jerkweed telling his son to let people die. I understand how people took his character that way, but that was not the filmmaker's intent. I understood Costner's portrayal to be a father scared for his son to be an outcast. When Clark asks Pa Kent, "What was I supposed to do? Just let him die?" I felt like that was an almost given answer, "No". However when Costner answered "maybe", I was shocked because admittedly it did sound cruel. But on further contemplation of his answer, it made total sense. From his perspective, he's scared for his adopted son, Clark. He feels that Clark's abilities will cause him to be an outcast, and he knows that one day the world will need Clark's abilities. But Pa Kent wants to keep his son as safe as possible for as long as possible. In other words, he wants to make sure Clark reveals himself to world only when he absolutely has to. Until that day, he wants Clark to live as normal a life as possible, and not become an outcast of the human race.
Another plus to the movie is the action. The action is fast- moving but also intense and very cool. I know a lot of people criticize Man of Steel for "having too much destruction." I personally find this both dumb and hypocritical. First, as this is Superman's first outing, he is inexperienced and still trying to control his powers. Second, him causing a lot of destruction( and by extent killing a lot of people) is not his fault. Sure you could argue since he was the one that went through the building that it is his fault. Well a lot of people tend to forget that he was thrown into those buildings by Zod. Third, it's realistic-ish. Fourth, why do people never say the Avengers kill people or cause too much destruction? In both movies, A LOT of destruction is dolled out in cities. Heck a freaking city gets lifted up into the sky in Age of Ultron!
Now Man of Steel is by no means a perfect movie. Something I find common with Zack Snyder movies is that his villains are always a bit...lacking. I mean they aren't like Maleketh in Thor: The Dark World or Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin, but they never have that driving home push to make you truly hate them or empathize with them. I enjoyed Michael Shannon's performance as General Zod for sure, but in the end I never really hated him like you are supposed to. I understood where he was coming from so I did empathize with him. The problem was he didn't really do much. He has an awesome broadcast to Earth, threatens Clark's mom, fights him twice, and has his minions do the rest. I think if the film had been Zod operating with a crew of very few people( like maybe 5?) then he would have had to come out to do more stuff himself. Another issue I had with Man of Steel is that sometimes the physics in the movie where dumb. That's a minor issue. My last issue with the film was in terms of the action. Yes I liked the action, BUT it was a bit much at times. What I mean by that is that when the world engine sequence comes on. For some unknown reason Zack Snyder felt it was appropriate to place hentai tentacles coming out of the world engine to fend off Superman. No. just no. What I think would have been better would be that as Clark gets closer to the world engine he starts to lose his powers to the extent where he is at his lowest low. What I mean by that is he falls into the center of the gravity beam and he starts coughing up blood, crawling towards his goal, and gets to the point where he just can't. Then we hear Kevin Costner's voice and Russel Crowe's each saying something about who he is destined to be. Once he hears this he looks up and screams as he summons enough strength to fly up towards the world engine and destroys it. Isn't that so much better than having tentacles fight Superman? (BTW Jeremyjahns gave me this idea in his spoiler talk review).
My last note before I say adieu. An accusation I've heard toward this movie is that it isn't hopeful. I disagree, although the tone of hopefulness can be lost in all of the explosions and loud noises. This movie is very hopeful and there are two clips that prove it. First there is when Cal-El is put into the ship. The way that the music wells up and the line "Goodbye my son. Our hopes and dreams travel with you." Plus I love that shot where the little bead things make the Superman key thing. That was really cool.
Skip to the 1:07 mark to see what I'm talking about.
The other clip I find very hopeful is when Clark flies for the first time. It's cool, it's got great music, and it has a Russel Crowe voice over to kick it off! Personally, I crack a huge smile when I watch this scene
You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will stumble, they will fall, but in time, they will join you in the sun Cal. In time you will help them accomplish wonders."
Alright so review/rant over! Man of Steel gets an A- to sum this all up. I understand that a lot of people will not agree with how highly I rate this film, and that is ok. At the very least I hope we can agree that the score by Hans Zimmer is amazing.