Man of Steel (2013)

Man of Steel directed by Zack Snyder is a modern take on the popular DC comics, Superman. It's a brand name that has been struggling to get a spot on the big screen, but previous installments always seemed fail to find it's audience. Well, does this one accomplish what the others couldn't and become a huge blockbuster hit? Probably not. However, this movie does do a lot right, but enough is wrong with it that it won't become a classic like Chris Nolan's Batman trilogy. Some people think the problem lies in the fact that Superman isn't relatable as a character. He's simply too perfect--a Class A Boy Scout. Simply put, that couldn't be further from the truth.

Without spoiling too much, as the alien world Krypton is blowing up, Jor-El and his wife Lara Lor-Van send their only son to the planet Earth. Kal-El lands in Kansas and is raised by humble farmers. Now with the name of Clark Kent, Kal-el grows up to one day learn of his heritage but has immense empathy to ones who raised him, defending the entire human race from General Zod who seeks to Terraform Earth so that Krypton can rise again. The story is decently told, flashes of Clark's childhood get flashbacks pertaining to the moment they're needed and help the audience understand what Superman is thinking. In fact, the first third of the movie is very, very good. It's interesting to see how someone as powerful as Superman tries to be apart of modern life, finding joy in the small tasks small working people do, but also trying to help in the only way Superman can. But the story starts gets very tame when Clark ditches the beard and dons the suit. Perhaps, the biggest thing holding the movie back from being something incredible is the way to it forces itself to remain faithful to the original material. Plot points in characters are like marks on a check list. Did we have Lois Lane? Check. Was LexCorp mentioned? Check. It was surprising that the Fortress of Solitude didn't make an appearance. Only a few times did the movie dare choose to break away from the source material, and only in very small ways, leading to a cringe worthy ending. Completely straight faced, Clark Kent disguised himself with glasses at the Daily Planet, and not a single person batted an eye despite seeing Superman save them with their very own eyes. Listen DC, that will never be not dumb.

Everybody did great at the roles they played. Henry Cavill looked and acted just like Superman should, though decidedly even better with the beard. The Kents had that old comforting feeling of loving parents, trying to keep their son safe while also letting him grow up. General Zod, played by Michael Zannon, was menacing and believable. Even Lois Lane, Amy Adams, acted very well, but even despite that the character was bland and forced. Which brings us to one of the biggest problems...

Feminists will hate this movie. Superman was always a power fantasy, and since this movie chose to stay as faithful to the source material as it possibly could, the same remains true here. Lois Lane, despite saying like one lude line in her introduction, spent the rest of the movie being either being a damsel in distress or a device to get Superman to save the day. The movie, in general, never portrayed women that well. Either getting trapped underneath rubble to get saved by men, being cast as villainous for being violent, dying on a Krypton, or making a passing remark about how sexy Superman was to them, furthering the male fantasy that Superman seems to be all about. But Superman isn't about that, and he isn't about a suit, or America either. That's what the movie gets wrong. At it's core, Superman has been about everything good about the Human race. He was an ambassador, not just for aliens but for people as well. He has the personality of the everyman but the power of a god. Someone who can see the good through the bad.

The movie looked beautiful, especially in the fight scenes. Every shot looked organic and made the world looked like a real place where these events could happen, never mind that Metropolis is obviously New York because honestly, what made up city isn't New York. Even Krypton looked spectacular. Honestly, the cinematography is easily the best thing about Man of Steel. There's simply nothing wrong with it.

Man of Steel isn't a bad movie, but it could have been better. It probably could've used some other director than the guy who made Sucker Punch. The first third of the movie was really good, probably because Christopher Nolan had some influence in the publishing of the movie. Too bad he didn't have the reigns.

 

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