When I first heard about it, I was mildly excited for Man of Steel and it was only because Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer’s names were attached.I wasn’t too sure because I don’t really know too much about Superman and what I do know comes from watching Smallville, not reading comics. Then I saw the incredible trailer and suddenly I found myself thinking that this could be my favorite movie of the summer. Plus, unlike everyone else I really enjoyed Watchmen which gave me some faith in Zach Snyder.
Overall, I really liked Man of Steel. Was it as good as I was hoping? No, but it wasn’t awful either. What I liked is that it managed to be serious and well directed while still remaining essentially a superhero film. There was action, sometimes almost too much action, adventure, and cute nods to the comics as well as some truly awful product placement. Sometimes I felt that the film took itself too seriously and could have used a few more jokes, but all films can’t be Iron Man now can they? The story, while leaving me with some questions, was well told.
My favorite scenes were the sun-drenched flashbacks that made my heart beat in the tune of the Star Spangled Banner because they were so patriotic and small town Americana. They did a great job of capturing the differences between Earth and Krypton and also served as important pieces of Clark’s history. The scene when Clark locked himself in the closet at school and Martha coaxed him out was particularly touching.
I would however have liked to see more Clark/Johnathan moments which Smallville always did so well. I found it hard to connect with Johnathan’s character or understand his motives past his desire to protect Clark. By the end of the film his fears seem unfounded because the general population seem to accept Superman the alien pretty quickly. There were no scenes of people calling for Superman/Kal-El to turn himself in or really people showing concern in general that an alien had been living among them for years. I would have liked a bit more outrage to make Johnathan’s death seem less senseless.
Another character I had a problem with was Lois Lane. As much as I love Amy Adams and thought she was perfect when cast, something about her in this part just didn’t work for me. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t believe her as this intrepid reporter she was trying so hard to be. The movie didn’t really show us as much as tell us that she was good at her job; the only “reporting” she really did was sneaking around an ice shelf at night and almost dying and then writing an article about it and fighting a lot with her boss. I also thought she lacked chemistry with Cavill and their relationship or whatever you want to call it happened much too quickly. I would have liked to see them develop respect and friendship in this film that could turn into something more in the sequel.
Despite the few problems I had with character development, I do think Henry Cavill was well cast as the man of steel. He had just the right amount of stoicism and emotion and I feel like if it came down to it, him and those baby blue eyes would be great leaders of a Justice League movie. He has the “plays well with others” attitude that Christian Bale, for all his strengths, lacks. I also liked Michael Shannon as Zod. I felt that he was a more fleshed out villains than the ones we usually see and by the end I understood his motives and even felt a little bad for him. I just really wish he shaved that awful goatee.
Out of the few films I have seen this summer, I think Man of Steel is great purely because of the cinematic spectacle. We see Superman and Zod fight through and destroy and entire city with the camera swooping and flying right alongside of them. We are brought from the rolling plains of Kansas (even though the movie wasn’t filmed there) to the icy north and to another world completely. All the while we are drawn into the story of a man who makes us believe in something out there just a little bit greater than ourselves.