Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 2 Stars
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language
I waited an entire year for this?! “Superman Returns” was better!
Directed by the writer/director of “Sucker Punch” (need I say more?) with a script void of anything memorable, written by David S. Goyer (Blade) and produced (with story credits) by the infamous Christopher Nolan, “Man of Steel”, the newest blockbuster sure to make an exorbitant amount of money worldwide, today sadly stands as one of the biggest disappointments in the resurgence of the modern superhero era.
Telling the story of the origins of Superman, his days as a youth and his adult confrontation with General Zod, there are basically three damning flaws which serve to retard “Man of Steel” and its assent into the stratosphere of superhero cinematic notoriety. “Man of Steel” isn’t even on par with the dangerously average “The Amazing Spider-Man”. Hell, while it wasn’t a better movie, even “Green Lantern” was more coherent at times. Anyway, the flaws are as follows:
1. “Man of Steel” is unbelievably un-engaging! It is impossible to emotionally connect with any of the characters on screen. And if I don’t care about anybody in this movie, then why am I watching it? If you don’t think this is a problem, go watch “John Carter” again.
2. Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man is not replaceable. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is not replaceable. Even Chris Hemsworth as Thor is not replaceable. But Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman is such “nothing” here, that this rebooted Superman character is more liken to a sort of Man of Steel by committee. His acting is so vanilla, that at times (many times) he sort of fades into the background of this larger than life production, for long stretches. But it’s not like Cavill was even asked to act or do much of anything here. He lifts a few things, and his eyes glow from time to time and he talks to his mom a bit. But I feel that any young actor with a muscular physique could have done the same thing. And maybe with a little more charisma of a leading man. Hence, Man of Steel by committee.
3. This feels like a 4 hour movie that had been edited down to a 2 ½ hour movie. And sloppily edited at that. Let me put it to you another way: The narrative structure within “Man of Steel” is so choppy in its plotting, that it seemed as if director Zack Snyder had completed a series of these films beforehand, but instead of giving us three separate movies, he felt compelled to give us a highlight reel, with dense plot development, followed by large gaps which seemed as if huge chunks of connective storyline were left out, followed again by dense plot development, and call it a movie. In short, more than once I thought I had fallen asleep during “Man of Steel” and missed crucial scenes, only to find out that I had not. And this is why I don’t lay any of the blame on Christopher Nolan. The man only came up with the story. What Snyder did from that point on is clearly beyond Nolan’s control.
This leads me to the one great flaw which supersedes, while at the same time umbrellas, said three major flaws: Zack Snyder’s direction. Due to his choice of focusing on his direction rather than his characters, said characters come off as unimportant. Hence, nobody cares if they live or die. Due to his lack of true understanding of the Superman series (no mention of Kryptonite?!) or the Superman character, Cavill comes off as a hero nobody roots for or sympathizes with. And due to Snyder’s choice of a plot structuring which exposes his horrific storytelling abilities, he has made a film that will leave a majority of audiences’ cold; only pretending to like this movie in order to save face with their friends.
For me Zack Snyder is nothing more than a version of Michael Bay. I can only take his stylized direction in small music video sized doses. So, after wading through about an hour and a half of majorly uneventful sequences, I resigned myself to waiting for the larger action sequences which were sure to come about in the latter half, thinking maybe this would be the aspect which brought me back into the film. But alas, it did not, as the fighting sequences between Superman and General Zod could only be described as long winded. I mean, the visuals during said scenes of conflict were what they were. Not bad, but more so a bombardment of desensitizing CGI explosions. And this is why I have to lay most of the blame on Zack Snyder, for putting this “thing” together. The bland script that was used didn’t help, but Snyder was clearly the wrong pick for this venture. Furthermore, the Nolan-esque dark and serious undertone Snyder implements is horribly misused, and comes off as awkward through tonally misguided attempts at comedic dialogue and dramatic portions which are far too melodramatic.
Final Thought: “Man of Steel” only has a few redeeming qualities. The first being, that there are more than a few well crafted flashbacks, which are perfectly implemented by the hated Zack Snyder. They convey the only genuine atmosphere of the entire film and contain the best scene in the movie where Kevin Costner fights a tornado (well, sort of). The second redeeming quality has to be Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) as General Zod, who isn’t great here, but seems to be the only actor not phoning in a performance. Also, Shannon has the perfect face to play this particular villain, as he gives his trademark crazy eye stare at every opportunity. And the third redeeming comfort would have to be Hans Zimmer’s score. But then again, I’m probably one of the few who hasn’t gotten tired of the bludgeoning score this composer brings to the table. All of that said, if you’re like me and had any kind of hopes or expectations for this film, then none of these aspects will be all that redeeming. And as one of the biggest disappointments in my lifetime, I’m being kind here by giving “Man of Steel” even two stars.
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