Directed by Zack Snyder, ‘Man of Steel‘ is the latest adaption of the DC Comics hero Superman. It is released through Warner Media and Legendary Pictures.
The story begins on the planet Krypton, where Jor-El (Russel Crowe) is warning the leadership that their planet is dying. He and his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) have the first naturally conceived child on Krypton in centuries, meanwhile, General Zod (Michael Shannon) leads a coup to takeover the planet, but it is stopped. Zod and his followers are sent into the Phantom Zone, but they manage to kill Jor-El just after he sends his son Kal-El into space.
The film fast forwards with Kal-El now called Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) struggles to find who he is and where he is going. His human father, Jonathan (Kevin Costner), wants him not to show his powers because he fears that people will reject him. At last, Clark discovers a Kryptonian scout ship carrying a ‘genesis chamber’ (how the Kryptonian would breed). He uses a special key from his original pod to access an advanced AI that is modeled after his true father Jor-El, who tells him his purpose. Meanwhile, Louis Lane (Amy Adams) of the Daily Planet tracks him down and discovers who is really is. Just after Kal-El reveals himself to the world, General Zod and his followers come to Earth after following a signal sent by Clark’s ship. They demand him to turn himself over or they will destroy Earth.
While the film was WAY better than its immediate predecessor Superman Returns, this movie did not have the epic quality of Superman or Superman II, of which this movie borrowed both plots. The film’s dark tone does not seem to fit with Superman and a lot of the cast felt out of place. I do not blame them for this, this was the director forcing a dark tone onto the how the story unfolds.
Particularly, the betrayal of Jonathan Kent was hard to get past. In the comics and previous media, Clark’s adopted father was supportive and tried to guide his son with his powers. Instead, he is grim, manipulative, and ambivalent to his son’s powers, coming off incredibly resentful. In the end, you resent him for the poor fathering he did for Superman.
I was hoping that Snyder would divert from his usual nihilistic tone, but not so considering Superman is supposed to represent the best of humanity. That was too much to expect. Snyder presents a world without hope, where Superman is struggling with his identity and comes across as incredibly insincere. It was disappointing and you felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment as you watch an angsty Superman tear through Metropolis with no regard for civilian life in the final battle. You did not feel you were watching Superman at all or even Clark Kent.
Instead, we are treated to the ever growing trend of “deconstructing” the characters, but with a Snyder twist. Vague dialogue that sounds philosophical, but ultimately means nothing. Tacky film filters. Poor character development. All of the worst of a Snyder film is here and it is forced on Superman.
Three things save this movie from the usual obscurity that surrounds a Snyder film. The visuals, the music, and the performances of Henry Cavill as Superman and Amy Adams as Louis Lane. I wish they had been given a better a chance to shine as the characters. With a better director, the two could have been something memorable. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but I hope they get the opportunity to play the characters with a more capable director.
With what is now called the DC Extended Universe (updated from the DC Shared Universe), this is not the right start from this franchise. They should have mirrored their Warner Animation counterpart and started with the Justice League before spinning everyone else… and with a better director. If they stick with Zack, I don’t see it going much further.
Bottom line, Zack Snyder took the story of Superman in Man of Steel and turned into a Snyder flick. It is competently wrapped in stunning visuals and driven score, only to be a vague, nihilistic version of the Last Son of Krypton.
FAVORITE QUOTE: I’m from Kansas. I’m about as American as you can get.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Foul language
You can watch the trailer below:
That is my review. What did you think? Let me know in the comments below and tell me if there’s a movie you’d like me to review. Check out my thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.