Movie Review: MAN OF STEEL

Chase Whale

by: Chase Whale
July 19th, 2013

Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: David S. Goyer (screenplay), David S. Goyer (story)
Stars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Lawrence Fishburne

I want to preface by saying that Christopher Reeves’ Superman was my hero growing up. But I didn’t realize it until much later that it was actually Reeves who was my hero. He made me believe a man could fly. Growing up with not many friends, the SUPERMAN franchise were my escape from every day life. I could related to Reeves’ Clark Kent, who was a complete goon and had a tough time being understood. And of course what kid doesn’t love watching their favorite person fly and save the world? I could really write an essay on how much the these films saved my childhood, but I don’t want you to get bored and fly away.

So let’s talk about MAN OF STEEL.

Keeping with the familiar setup, Snyder retells his version of Superman’s life beginning with his birth on Krypton. I’m going to skip over discussing this beautifully elaborated opening because it’s the longest you’ll get to navigate through Krypton and I want you to enjoy it with the freshest of imagination.

Once baby Supes lands on Earth, it cuts to a grown up, and very brute and bearded Clark Kent. He’s now a deserter, moving from one odd job to the next, living a pretty shitty life. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn how he discovered his powers and learned to control them, and we find out why he’s trying to stay off the grid. But when an old friend of his dad’s comes to Earth looking for him, General Zod (brilliantly played by a menacing Michael Shannon), Superman must come out of hiding and save the planet which he’s grown to passionately love. And beat the hell out of these bad guys.

Bryan Singer tried to give the franchise a reboot with SUPERMAN RETURNS. And while it was a noble effort, it failed on too many levels to warrant a sequel. After a long cliffhanger, Warner Bros. announced a they once again rebooting the Superman franchise and starting from Scratch. Out went Singer and Brandon Routh (who played Superman in RETURNS) and in came director Zach Snyder (WATCHMEN) and actor Henry Cavill to take on the titular role. Many questioned whether or not Snyder was a good choice to take on this project (his previous two films flopped worse than a fish out of water). But MAN OF STEEL was made, I’ve seen it, and I’m here to tell you that it’s the Superman film you’ve been waiting your whole life to see.

Christopher Nolan forever changed the way comic book will be made. THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy was as realistic as a superhero movie could possibly be. Then came IRON MAN, following that same routine. After that, it became understood that a superhero movie would not live to be a franchise without making it as raw and realistic as possible. So this begs the question, “Can a Superman movie feel real? It’s about a God-like invincible flying alien in the form of a man.” Well, with the help of Nolan (who produced MAN OF STEEL), screenwriter David Goyer (BATMAN BEGINS), and Snyder’s vision, you can breathe easy because the first time in history, a realistic Superman story is here.

There are so many things to admire about Snyder’s retelling of Superman - the explanation of how Supe grew to learn and understand his powers, how and why Kryptonite effects him, and most importantly, how he can get away with his alter ego Clarke Kent. One of the reasons why SUPERMAN RETURNS failed is because it relied heavily on emotions and lacked enough action to make it fun. MAN OF STEEL tosses out the emo shit and literally rolls with the punches. The action scenes in this film will leave you slack-jawed. This is the first time in history we get to see Superman throwing punches on the ground and in the air. You will not be disappointed.

MAN OF STEEL is the Superman film us Supernerds have all been hoping for. It's raw, it's gritty, and it's one of the most realistic comic book films ever made. There are, of course, fantasy moments in MAN OF STEEL, but this most realistic Superman film you’re every going to see. And while MAN OF STEEL isn’t as emotional as its predecessors, it still carries a lot of heart.

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  • Bob

    I feel spoiled by Bruce Timm’s version of Superman and the DC Universe. This movie was without a doubt the best Superman movie since the early days of Christopher Reeves, however, I’m still waiting to see the version I know and love hit the big screen. This was not that version. Perhaps The Dark Knight Rises has still left a bad taste in my mouth but I see familiar character flaws in Nolan, Snyder and Goyer’s work. Dark and edgy works with Batman, Superman — not so much. I’m confident that plenty of people will love the film, but to me, it simply wasn’t Superman.

  • Sam Lipkin

    The “Dark Knight” series was great. Which just helps prove that even talented artists can royally screw up. This movie was a piece of trash. Did Whale even see the same movie I just saw? What’s realistic about it? Superman tosses Zod into orbit and he just happens to crash into a satellite. What are the odds? I can’t begin to count the number of times one Kryptonian threw another Kryptonian bodily through the air, but every single time involved the throw-ee crashing into something that explodes. In Kansas. Thousands, maybe millions of people are implicitly killed in this movie, but what gets Superman so upset he gets on his knees, balls up his fists, and shouts “AAAARRGGGH!” at the end? When he finally has to kill Zod by breaking his neck in order to keep Zod from adding about 5 more human victims to his several thousand kill count. Realistic!?!?! Metropolis is literally left a desolate moonscape at the end of the tiresome, never-ending battle, and then two scenes later Clark shows up at the miraculously rebuilt Daily Planet building. This movie was painful to watch. There was real promise in the premise, I’ll give it that. And I really, really wanted to like this movie. I like Superman. There have been many great Superman stories on film and in print over the years. This was not one of them.

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