Man of Steel Review

Banner-Man of Steel

Superman is a character everyone loves. He’s courageous, strong, fearless, patriotic, and true. He symbolizes the best that man can be, and with such lofty associations, adapting him to the big-screen is something many have tried, but few have really succeeded at. While Man of Steel is not a perfect movie, and bound to cause division amongst fans, it is one of the best portrayals of Superman I’ve ever seen.

Directed by Zack Snyder, Man of Steel is an explosive, action-packed, and often times spectacular film that gives fans a live-action Superman that they can easily get behind. While this version of the character comes packed with numerous changes, more on that later, this is still Superman, and we should still love him.

Played by Henry Cavill, the Superman of Man of Steel is an honest yet frustrated man, forced to live in hiding or risk the safety of the world he calls home. It’s a conflict that fans of the character know well, and it’s given justice in this movie. Clark Kent, thanks to Cavill’s top-notch performance, is both relatable and sympathetic, almost perfectly balancing the dichotomy of the human Clark and the alien known as Kal-El.

Superman

A symbol of peace.

Cavill really needs to be applauded for his work here, as he not only possesses the intensity of the character, but also the much needed humanity that Superman stands for. While not as witty or humorous as past incarnations of the character, Cavill’s take on the man of steel fits well in today’s world. Although I can say I would like to see more of Clark in the inevitable sequel.

As much as I enjoyed this take on the character, Man of Steel makes some bold, bound to be controversial choices regarding Superman that are likely the cause of such mixed opinions towards the movie. In Snyder’s universe, there is no Kryptonite, although there is something similar, and there are some drastic shifts in both Superman’s origin story and his rise to being a hero.

For the most part, these changes work (although I would’ve preferred if Kryptonite existed), but there is one addition to the character that is sure to split fans down the middle. It’s a bold, extreme shift for the character, and while I understood and even support its inclusion, I can plainly see why others would differ in their opinion; but for the sake of spoilers I’ll refrain from elaborating.

Superman in Flight

Man of Steel nails the way Superman flies.

Overall, Man of Steel has a great cast. In addition to Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon stands out as the villainous General Zod. He’s ruthless, cruel, and shows no restraint in his attack on Earth. While occasionally straying into some melodramatic moments, for the most part Shannon shines as Zod, and is a worthy opponent for Superman.

However, I found his second-in-command Faora-Ul to be just as menacing, if not more so. Her brutal intensity and mesmerizing presence are immediately captivating, and she especially stands out when able to stand on her own, without Zod to order her around. I almost wish she was given even more screen-time, as I feel like she wasn’t used to quite her full potential.

With that said, not all the cast shine quite as bright as the villains. While I love Amy Adams in almost everything she does, she just didn’t feel like Lois Lane here. She felt like Amy Adams playing a gutsy reporter, not Amy Adams playing Lois Lane. Sadly, her only discernible purpose here is to act as a romantic interest and damsel in distress for Superman. And that’s just too bad.

Superman and Lois

I love Amy Adams, but her Lois Lane leaves something to be desired.

Although I greatly enjoyed Man of Steel, its plot has some obvious flaws that need to be addressed. For one, the first third of the film is disjointed as the film constantly jumps from the present into the past. While these flashbacks are interesting, and do a great job of both highlighting Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent as well as filling in Clark’s backstory, they come across as sudden and even obtrusive.

And because there’s just so many flashbacks, I found myself getting slightly annoyed at the distraction. Which, of course, means that what was happening in the present was fascinating enough that I didn’t want it to leave. And that’s where Man of Steel really pulls through.

The conflict in Man of Steel is stupendous, and distracting flashbacks aside, seeing Clark’s evolution into the superhero we all know and love is really something special. As he engages with the consciousness of his dead father Jor-El, played masterfully by the ever great Russel Crowe, we see him gain the confidence to embrace his part in the world, and to stand up for the place he considers home.

General Zod

Michael Shannon’s General Zod is one of the movie’s standout characters.

When Superman and Zod and his army finally square off however, all bets are off and the film delivers equal amounts spectacle and raw, emotional intensity. Truly, Man of Steel is one of the most explosive films I’ve seen recently, and it’s climax tops that of even The Avengers in terms of sheer size and destruction.

Seeing Superman finally punch a man through a building is immensely gratifying, and thanks to some great special-effects and directing, every action sequence is filled with adrenaline and excitement, especially the climax. The final showdown between Superman and Zod has, in my mind, won the award for best duel of 2o13, and I highly doubt it will be topped anytime soon.

However, with the amount of explosions and destruction, it’s hard to get caught up in the fun of the fight scenes when you know millions of people are getting killed. Yes, I understand this is a superhero movie (although it feels more like sci-fi to be honest), and critical thinking is something you’re supposed to stay away from, but this still bothered me a bit; just not enough to ruin the climax entirely.

Man of Steel-Fight

The action set-pieces are too grand to even describe.

In its entirety, Man of Steel is a success. It has its flaws, some more glaring than others, but still delivers where it counts. It is easily the best Superman movie out there, and my favorite film of the year thus far (although not the best), and its pros far outweigh its cons.

Your opinion on this movie will most likely depend on your expectations of Superman. If you believe that there is just one version of Superman, you will likely walk away disappointed. But if you’re open to letting the character grow and adapt, as I am, then I’m sure you will enjoy Man of Steel just as much as I did.

8.5

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21 responses to “Man of Steel Review

  1. You’re right, Will, definitely NOT a perfect movie, but explosive and action packed and entertaining nonetheless. Cavill was really good in the suit, I hope he gets a series of films out of it so he can establish a chapter in the characters history.

    I believe the part you hint around is the action Superman takes in the finale, and if that’s true, put me down in the “not a fan” camp. 😦

    Great review!

    • I hope the sequels are able to take the best from this movie, add in a little more wit, and leave out the bad altogether. And you know, I think if I was a bigger Superman fan, I wouldn’t be fan of that particular action either, but as someone who’s fandom for the character is just average, I was okay with it. Still though, there were other ways it could’ve been, probably better ways.

      Thanks so much for stopping by man, really appreciate it! 😀

  2. You know I really liked it and as a fan of superman before this I don’t see why some open minded fans wouldn’t love it 😀

    Good review Will, am looking forward to a lighter touch sequel 😀

    • I think some of the changes made to the character were just to abrupt for some fans, which is perfectly understandable if you ask me, I just don’t normally have a problem with filmmakers changing some things when adapting something into movie form. As long as the character stays mostly intact, I’m happy. 🙂 Thanks for reading man!

    • Yeah I think we are. The more I think about it, the more I think I enjoyed it, but still wish some of its shortcomings had been ironed out. Thanks for reading! 😀

  3. Hi William!! Great review and glad we seem to agree on many points. Yeah, Cavill really needs to be applauded indeed! I don’t mind that he’s not as humorous, I mean not every character has to be Tony Stark, in fact it gets tiresome after a while. His take is more realistic I think and he’s NOT without charm 😉

    I think we’ll see more Clark in the sequel, as it’s been hinted at. I didn’t think they’d still go with the glasses thing though.

    • I don’t think he needs to be humorous exactly, but the Superman I love has always had that little bit of wit or dry humor. But I think for the first of an obvious series, Man of Steel balances Supes pretty well.
      Really glad they went with the glasses at the end though, definitely made me smile. 🙂

      • Ah I hear ya, I suppose he could’ve been more witty but I think that’d probably be in the sequels. In this origins story, he has a lot of inner tumult if you will, just like Bruce Wayne was in Batman Begins. So the humor might be too forced.

        I LOVE how Cavill looks with the glasses (really, I don’t think he could pull of a bad look, ahah). I just think they’d forgo the silly disguise if they want to be in keeping w/ the realism front.

  4. Good write up, William! I have yet to see the film but I honestly have been a bit ambivalent about it. At this point I can take it or leave it. Your review was a great read though. It seems that many feel the film is flawed but still exciting. I will see it eventually. Good job, buddy!

    • Yeah, I get that. I think that, by going in with lowered expectations, I was able to enjoy the movie a lot (obviously) even though it didn’t quite live up to all its hype. Hope you enjoy it whenever you see it! 🙂

      • You aren’t the first person I’ve come across that has mentioned “lowering expectations” I guess that’s the way things are nowadays with these blockbusters. I will definitely let you know when I watch it. By the way, William, you are doing a great job with your blog, man! Keep up the great work! 🙂

      • I think with the over-abundance of marketing, getting too excited for movies is much to easy. So I tend to go in with lower expectations just as a rule (except in the case of Star Wars of course). And thanks, really means a lot man! 😀

  5. The friends I went with and I were all deeply analyzing every part of this movie for half an hour afterwards haha, from the little “save the planet” theme snuck in with Krypton harvesting non-renewable resources, to the differences between Lois and Clark’s relationship. It was a great movie though, looking forward to a sequel!! (There was a Lexcorp van blown up ^^) Great review too! =D

    • I totally saw the Lexcorp can! I thought I was the only one, haha! 😀 Glad you enjoyed it Ray, I’m also really looking forward to the sequel. Hopefully it’s even better than this one. 🙂

  6. Great write up. Glad to see you enjoyed it.

    Funny thing, the more I see people praise it, the more I want to go and ret-con my own score lower. I was severely disappointed in this one, because I felt it started so strong, and finally “got it”. Then everything falls apart after the Twister. And I’m hardcore into the “Nope” camp on the ending.

    • I figured this is how you’d feel about the movie, although I’ll be honest, I’m surprised how much the dog bothered you. Like I’ve been saying, if I was a more loyal, or dedicated Superman fan, I think I’d be in the same boat as you. But as someone who just wanted to a good time, I definitely got that here. 🙂 Thanks for reading man!

      • The dog bothered me, because it’s a trope that appears in movie after movie… It’s meant to show how heroic a character is… and it’s just stupid.

        I’m sorry. But it’s stupid. These characters are *always* mothers or fathers. You’re risking your child’s ability to be guided and raised by you for the rest of your natural life for the chance at saving an animal. I know many people think of their animals as part of the family… but they’re not worth the risk of your child losing a parent over. I’m sorry… They’re not.

        Now, add on to the fact that this movie’s Jonathan Kent spent his entire onscreen time telling Clark that saving lives isn’t as important as protecting a secret… That’s just ludicrous. And for him to then prove that lives are meaningless by his innane actions during the twister… GRAH.

        I don’t even like Superman that much. That’s just bad… bad… bad storytelling.

      • I’m not disagreeing, I thought it was ridiculous too, just didn’t bother me that much. I do think there was some shaky, not sure I’d say bad, storytelling at times, but for me it didn’t overshadow the parts I enjoyed. But I can obviously see why it wouldn’t for everyone.

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