When I had heard that Zack Snyder was going to take the reigns on the new Superman reboot, I was optimistic that it would be good. Sure, I did have doubts as well, but I was expecting Man of Steel to be good.
Many in the generation I grew up in still hold the original Superman The Movie and Superman The Movie II movies in very high regard. Equating Christopher Reeves as Superman is the same as Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman: It's hard to find anyone that better fits those roles.
I'm not from the school who believes that you shouldn't compare the originals with reboots or remakes. That's completely garbage to me and a cop out.
Of course I'm going to compare a reboot or remake to the original. The original film holds the standard for a particular movie. It's the "standard" that remakes or reboots should either aspire to do better or on par with.
As usual, I opted to see this movie in IMAX 3-D...twice! Yes, I saw it twice. The second time was with my pops, and after the first time I saw Man of Steel, I was pretty reluctant to do a review. I already did a negative review for Iron Man 3.
So I saw it twice, thinking that maybe Man of Steel was just one of those flicks I had to see twice to really like it. Besides I like spending time with my dad as well. However, after the second viewing, I just said the hell with it. After all, I gave Iron Man 3 a less than stellar review.
What did I think of Man of Steel? Let's start off with the good stuff first. Oh yes, and if you don't like spoilers, stop reading this review. There are gonna be some big time.
To be honest, I'm really not sure if this movie was a reboot or a remake of Superman I and II scrunched into the same flick. I liked how they retold the origin of Superman. It was different, but not so different you were like: What??!
I also liked how the movie took time on Clark Kent's troubles while growing up a bit more. It was a realistic depiction of what someone would go through in this world having those amazing gifts and powers.
While some critics said the new back story of Clark's childhood was a bit too dark and sullen for their tastes, I disagree and am glad that part of the film didn't insult our intelligence on the matter. I felt that showing more of the isolation and conflict that Clark Kent felt during his youth gave the character of Superman more authenticity. He was more believable and relatable.
The special effects were amazing, and the planet Krypton was surely a sight to behold. The fight scenes between Superman and his fellow Kryptonians were quite impressive as well at times.
But you know what? That's a given for a movie like this. It's expected to have some really cool looking special and visual effects.
As for Henry Cavill playing the iconic comic character? I thought he did a spectacular job, and his acting was great. I didn't once second guess him nor compared him to Christopher Reeves. That's saying a whole lot, but I can't really say that for some of the others in this movie.
Kevin Costner was also superb as Jonathan Kent. His relationship to Clark had much more depth in this movie than the original and it was great to see.
And as fans were hoping for, Man of Steel does hint to a shared universe with other superheroes. I was definitely looking for this.
The big one, at least for me, was the Wayne Enterprises logo on the satellite during one scene in Man of Steel. It's barely noticeable and the scene goes quite fast. You can barely make out the Wayne Enterprises logo at the bottom of the pic.
I barely thought anything of this scene when Clark Kent helps save the lives of some oil rig workers and crashes into the water and sinks while two whales swim by him making noises. The only thing I thought of was, what's up with the whales?
However, when General Swanwick uses the codeword "Trident" in another scene, I was like oh, wow, did they? Of course, I'm referring to Man of Steel possibly connecting to Aquaman.
If not, what's up with the whales? Were they just put in as a visual filler, and why were they communicating? After the first time I watched Man of Steel, I did a search online and found out that some believe the whales were communicating with Aquaman. Also, some believe that the oil rig that was a blaze was a Merrevale oil rig, a company that Aquaman has fought against from time to time due to the ecological and environmental damage the company has produced in the comics.
However, while watching the movie the second time, I found no evidence or hint of Merrevale anywhere in the film. This speculation about nodding towards Aquaman may be reaching quite far, but it would be cool if it were true.
There was also a nod to Lex Luthor in this film, and in one scene we got to see the LexCorp tower. I do have to admit that was pretty cool and exciting to see. The second time I watched it, I also noticed the LexCorp logo on a truck when Zod and Supes go at it in the Metropolis streets.
Also, it seems that Kal-El is definitely not alone. When he finds a marooned Kryptonian space craft, he notices that there are pods in there with dead Kryptonians, but one of them was empty and opened. The Man of Steel tie-in comic book spoils just who occupied that pod, and it seems that Supergirl just may make an appearance in a sequel.
I also liked that this movie did not do the usual Superman action antics that we've seen before like saving someone from being crushed by a chunk of building or flying around trying to put out fires in the city.
Now for what I didn't like about this movie. Although I liked the film depicting more of Clark's childhood woes, I thought the over-use of flashbacks gave the movie a jarred feel to it. I do understand they used the technique to give it less of a linear feel and to spice up the narration a bit more.
However, the flashbacks was used a tad too much, making the technique stand out too much. The movie flowed less smoothly because of it.
Now, Michael Shannon is a superb actor. He plays villains or shady characters quite amazingly. He's a pretty good example of an actor who is typecast. Shannon looks like a jerk and badguy and plays jerks and badguys. Quite well as I've already mentioned. So well that I don't think he's ever played a good guy in a film.
However, I hate to say that his rendition of General Zod pales in comparison to Terrance Stamp's version. Not to say that Shannon wasn't good. He was, but Terrance Stamp as Zod is just iconic and great!
Stamp's version of Zod was just this truly arrogant villain, exactly how a being who is so much more advanced than us would be. However, there was a charming humor to him.
Shannon's Zod was pretty one dimensional. He was completely humorless. Just an angry, aggro, villain who's the way he is because he was born to be that way. His explanations of his genetic destiny and his Kryptonian obligations got a bit tiring after the third time.
Unfortunately it was the same for Amy Adams as Lois Lane. To be honest, I simply wasn't convinced. Once again, don't get me wrong here. I love Amy Adams as an actress, but the way this Lois Lane was written for Man of Steel hardly resembles the brash, tough, and quick lipped news reporter that we all know from the comics.The character started out that way and then seemed to get lost during the later parts of the movie.
Margot Kidder's Lois Lane in the originals captured the comic character much more and better. The Man of Steel Lois Lane seemed a lot more dry and flavor-less.
Another thing that irked me was that this film blatantly messed up the whole dynamic between Clark Kent and Lois Lane in terms of Superman's identity. Lois Lane finds out way too soon that Clark Kent is Superman.
In the comics and the original movie, Lois Lane is completely enamored with Superman, but doesn't think much of the bumbling, clumsy and dorkish Clark Kent. She doesn't know the two personalities are actually the one and the same for the longest time, and I do mean the longest of time.
This aspect to Clark Kent's character appealed to many young, male comic fans, because it rang very true to real life. It's the whole, If she could only see what I'm really like, she would love me, ideal that is a prominent and classic theme in humanity in general.
That aspect also gave the two characters the much needed tension and conflict for their dynamic to even work. Without it, in all reality, there would little point to even have the character of Lois Lane in the Superman mythos in the first place.
However, this important piece to Clark and Lois's romance was completely discarded from this movie, and the dynamic between the two in Man of Steel just seemed flat, colorless, and pretty pointless as a result.
Both times I wondered what her character was even in the movie for, and how did Zod know that Lois knew Kal-El? When the military gives up Kal-El, Faora comes down to retrieve him but then says that Zod summons Lois Lane's character also. Huh?
Another huge characteristic of Superman that was ruined is when he kills General Zod at the end. Superman is known for being a goodie-two-shoes boy-scout who doesn't kill.
Batman doesn't take it to that extreme, and neither does Superman. Both characters are defined by their unwillingness to take life. That principle defines their constitution as the type of superheroes they are. Wolverine, Punisher, and The Red Hood kill. Batman and Superman don't. Nolan's Batman trilogy, although many complained veered too much from the comics, kept diligent to that aspect of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Man of Steel did not!
I also wasn't sold on how Clark resolved his conflicted feelings when Zod demands that the people of Earth give him up or suffer his wrath. Clark visits a church with a priest in it and has a flashback of some bullies picking on him when he's a kid. He then asks for the priest's opinion, saying he doesn't trust Zod and doesn't know if he can trust humans either. The priest tells him that sometimes it takes a leap of faith first and trust comes later.
Now, if Clark had witnessed all the douche baggery that humans have shown him and treated him with while growing up, it would take a lot more than a "take a leap faith" line to convince the character to help out the human race. There's a lot of scenes in the movie that show all the glorious ugliness of human beings - like the scene where he hears his fellow classmates calling him a freak and making fun of him when he's a little kid, the truck driver who starts a fight with him at the truck stop he works, and the other flashback of the bully that drags young Clark out of his father's truck and tries to provoke a fight with him during the church scene. I just didn't buy his quick resolution and the flimsy reason the movie gave for him coming to it.
While I praised the visual effects and fight scenes earlier, I have to admit that some were moving so fast they were just a big blur, and it was hard to tell what was going on. I did like to see Superman being tested in this movie and actually have villains that could dish it out as well as take it from the Man of Steel. Some of fight scenes were quite impressive.
Unfortunately, the movie over-all was extremely humorless. Although the visuals and effects were super, this movie left me underwhelmed, unimpressed, and it strayed a bit too far from the essence of the iconic characters involved. The 3-D also was not very good (even my pops was disappointed about this but gave the movie a B-), and I wondered why it was in 3-D at all.
I actually left the theaters the first time thinking I should've Netflixed this one. The second time, I went home and watched the original Superman The Movie.
But this is all just my humble opinion. We all have one. If you enjoyed it great! I can see why you did. However, I still think Warner/DC should stop beating the Superman/Batman horse until they're both dead and start getting some other superheroes on screen...like Wonder Woman, The Flash, and another Green Lantern.