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Movie Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel

Well, this was not the worst Superman movie ever, but it was not the best.

First of all, I don't know why every superhero has to be "rebooted," origin story and all, every 10-20 years. We all know the Superman story. I'd rather see a movie that does something interesting with him, with the assumption that we all know who he is and what he does, than yet another iteration of death-of-Krypton, donning-the-cape, etc. I mean, James Bond didn't need to be rebooted for almost 50 years. Nobody needs James Bond explained in the first hour of the movie before you get to the plot.

So anyway, in this version, they play up Superman's loneliness and alienation from his adopted planet. They kill Pa Kent in a sequence I found particularly hard to believe (I'm sorry, Clark would never let someone die, especially not his father, to protect his secret identity!), and then General Zod arrives from the Phantom Zone to wreak a huge special effects budget on Earth.

Holy crap, Amy Adams is a lousy actress. Lois Lane almost seemed to be reading from cue cards. And chemistry? Forget about it.

The action sequences were impressive, though I thought the visuals borrowed too much from Alien and Independence Day. I can't recall many other movies with such blatant product placement, though, including the U.S. military.

[Spoiler (click to open)]The ending also annoyed me. Okay, you want to break over 60 years of Superman tradition by having him kill the bad guy? You should at least respect the canon and show it to be something more wrenching than his angst over being the last Kryptonian.

I understand there is a Superman-Wonder Woman movie in the works. I await it with mixed feelings - it might be good, but it has the potential to be very, very bad.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 29th, 2013 03:56 am (UTC)
On the plus side, the next reboot will erase all the shit it picked up this time around. Maybe cynicism will be passé when superman cycles back.
Dec. 29th, 2013 04:05 am (UTC)
See, here was my gripe with the ending. I mean, it's one thing to have a staunchly-anti-killing superhero kill: with the exception of Batman, most of them have been pushed to it in some way or another in extreme circumstances, but the bigger issue with Superman killing Zod in the movie was that it was such a bland, LAME decision. "I can't beat you, so I'll force you to kill me or I'll kill this photogenic white suburban nuclear family!" I mean, come on. That is the most basic, childish, surface-level, black-and-white portrayal of the "to-kill-or-not-to-kill" choice. If you want to subvert the superheroic code, at least find a more nuanced way to address it.
Dec. 29th, 2013 04:11 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was having problems buying the staged nature of that scene also. And I could think of half a dozen ways the comic book Superman would have knocked Zod out and then figured out a way to send him back to the Phantom Zone or something.
Dec. 30th, 2013 02:58 am (UTC)
This isn't the first time that Superman has killed on screen, though. It's not even the first time that he killed Zod. In Superman 2, Reeves' Superman first depowered Zod, and then hurled him into one of the smoky cracks in the Fortress of Solitude. And Reeves's Superman smirked about it.
Graeme Sutton
Dec. 29th, 2013 08:22 am (UTC)
This actually was my favorite superman movie ever, though granted I haven't actually seen any other superman movie besides Superman Returns.
Seriously though, I can see why people wouldn't have liked it, but I actually did really like this movie. This is partly because I have a tendency to latch on to secondary characters and especially villains. I loved the way the movie did Zod - As a villain with believable and sympathetic motivations who was nevertheless monstrous, I like that they can make us understand why his troops would follow this man to hell and back (literally) while still viewing him as a monster. And whenever I think of this movie, 90% of what I remember is random badass U.S. colonel dude and his Badass worthy opponent relationship with Zod's 2IC. I was also a big fan of the way they did the action scenes- no slow mo just crazy overpowered aliens. One of the big problems I have with the standard superman mythos is the way the humans are presented as screaming cowards or uninterested bystanders and it was refreshing the way this movie averted that trope.
Regarding the tone, I have a deep appreciation for grimdark, so it was fine by me. I can understand why people say that it conflicts with the tone of superman, but since I can't stand the standard superman mythos this doesn't bother me at all. To me the bland straightforward way the kill choice was presented was part of it's appeal and an excellent demonstration of the stupidity of Thou Shalt Not Kill.
Superman: I refuse to kill ever!
Zod: Then I kill this random guy. You have 10 seconds to make your choice.
Superman: Shit! (Kills him)
If your moral principle can be thwarted that easily it needs to be reevaluated.
Dec. 29th, 2013 04:40 pm (UTC)
While I'm not a huge Superman fan, I'm somewhat of a traditionalist, so making the Big Blue Boy Scout kill just seems like casual disrespect to the mythos. That said, in the real world, I agree that a Code vs. Killing is pretty stupid, and I always hated the way the Batman would keep locking up the Joker, knowing that sooner or later he's going to escape and kill a bunch of people again.

I did like the battles; I am a big fan of how SFX technology is finally making superhero movies actually look awesome instead of cheesy.

The "random badass colonel" is Christopher Meloni, of Law & Order: SVU fame. He was a surprise, and I liked him. Not such a fan of the sultry waifish Kryptonian chick.
Dec. 30th, 2013 12:18 am (UTC)
While I haven't watched Man of Steel, I feel the need to show my inner weeaboo and say that the anime Trigun is probably the best fictional analysis I know of the "Thou Shalt Not Kill" thing. The main character, like Superman, is incredibly overpowered and refuses to kill. Interestingly (and spoilers, if you care), he is faced with an even more extreme situation near the end than Superman was--a truly irredeemable villain mind-controls villagers who are about to kill the main character's surviving companions, and he even begs the main character to kill him. He does, and then spends the entire next episode angsting and hating himself for breaking his code, even concluding that he was wrong to kill and should've been able to find an alternate solution. Which, honestly, I respect a lot more than "Oh well, guess killing's not so bad after all!"
Dec. 29th, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
I was on an international flight and this was one of the movies I watched, although I didn't finish it. Somehow, at the point where Zod got to Earth and started wreaking havoc I was distracted by the airline meal and never regained the will to finish the movie.
Dec. 30th, 2013 11:13 am (UTC)
I watched this film (bought it ages ago but never got around to seeing it, but this post reminded me that I had it) just tonight, and I was appalled by it. I'm a fan of the DC Universe and have seen numerous renditions of its flagship characters, but this movie just offended me due to its poor characterisation. I would list its sins, but LJ has a character limit for comments. >.<

Agreed on Amy Adams, but the writing for Lois's role had a hand in that, as well. There was none of that lively spark, that innate sass that made Lois both a good reporter and an interesting person. And Clark's canonical dorky sense of humour and easy-going manner were pretty much thrown out the airlock. In the end, it ended up being a completely different film with names that happen to coincide with the Superman series.

All in all, this was pretty much a long, drawn out Michael Bay film with Zach Snyder's name on it. All the explosions with none of the heart, and it astonishes me that Christopher Nolan had anything to do with this fiasco.

Edited at 2013-12-30 11:14 am (UTC)
Dec. 18th, 2014 05:42 am (UTC)
This was a good movie but I think Snyder should have added more footage to score more emphasis on the struggle of Superman's life than he was going for. I'd imagine a scene during when Klark was riding his bike to the Daily Planet and see how much damage his battle with Zod caused but still keeps his head held high on account of the amount of trouble and hatred he has to go through before humanity can except him. 
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