Tag Archives: man of steel

Movie Review – Man of Steel

That’s right – this baby is SPOILER-FREE!



IMDB Rating: 7.4 out of 10 (307,708 votes)

Director: Zack Snyder

The poster for Man of Steel.

The poster for Man of Steel.

As I was watching the start of ‘Man of Steel’, I would never have imagined that by the end of the film I’d be annoyed at Zack Snyder for putting too much action in. The first scenes on Krypton are simply superb; the effects are so amazing, the sense of danger is so real, the fireballs are so hot and we feel that, that total sense of awe. But 2 hours later I had had enough. ‘Man of Steel’ is pretty much continuous action, which is annoying because at the 90-minute mark you’re pretty much sick of it all. Many lives are lost, and not accounted for, which is a huge failure of the film – you just shouldn’t be doing that with a movie such as this, with such wreckage. But the most amazing thing about ‘Man of Steel’ is that the best thing about it is actually it’s use of flashbacks, and the way those flashbacks and backstories are put together.

Early in the film we are constantly cutting between current day, and the early life of Clark Kent. These scenes are filmed with obscured views, and blurry objects blocking the sun and casting shadows, as well as all having this great sense of nostalgia – some are framed with faded colours, some aren’t, but either way they all feel the same. These are the best scenes in the film. It’s a shame that in that 90-minute gap between 00:30 and 02:00 there is not one of these flashbacks.

Instead, the film insists on abusing it’s budget for no particular reason. Yes, I understand that Zack Snyder is trying to make a visual feast for all the little kiddies to enjoy, and perhaps even get them back into Superman (the last Superman film was in 2006, and before then it was 1987). But in truth Snyder completely overdoes it. He just piles on the destruction and burning, the crashing of aeroplanes and the falling of skyscrapers, and at the end of the day a reaction of “what was it all for?” doesn’t stretch too far. He’s not a fetish filmmaker, and he’s not an idiot, so the level of carnage doesn’t really fit the bill.



Thinking back on it now it still bewilders me how it took such a destructive turn when in the early parts of the film, Snyder and writer David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy, the Blade series) are seriously concerned with creating a human story. Not one of explosions and havoc, but one of divided emotions and character development. Clark Kent and the people around him – both sets of parents – hell, even General Zod (Michael Shannon), have some kind of background that creates an emotional response from the audience. So why did Zack change it all up? Perhaps he had the budget just lying there and thought “What the hell – we’ll make the money back anyway.” If that’s the case, that’s quite disappointing.

All performers of Clark Kent do a damn respectable job. People tend to be fussy about characters they love and the jobs people do with them; just take the unveiling of Ben Affleck as Batman for an example. But Henry Cavill does a great job, playing emotion really well. He plays it very down-to-earth, not frollicking around with his super powers but rather cherishing them, and we sense with Cavill’s performance that Superman realises these powers are a gift not to be thrown around for no good reason. Even more convincing are the two boys who play Clark in his childhood: Dylan Sprayberry (Clark at 13) and Cooper Timberline (Clark at 9). But the best performance in the film is that of Kevin Costner as Johnathan Kent. It’s just beautiful, and we’re gripped whenever he comes into the shot. We constantly feel emotion for this man who loves Clark like a son, even that will never really be legitimate.

In fact, that’s one of the best questions raised by ‘Man of Steel’: is the person you are today an accumulation of all factors you’ve faced, or is it who you were born to be? Zack Snyder challenges us to really consider this, using Superman as the host, the test subject. The very fact that we’re considering this hours after we’ve watched the film means that here Zack Snyder has made an intelligent action film with a big heart, even though it may not shine for the majority of the film, which is a real shame. I can’t help but feel that with the level of destruction in Metropolis in ‘Man of Steel’, the first in a probably-very-long film series, Snyder will try to do too much in ‘Man of Steel 2’ just to top himself, which may lead to errors in judgment. Still, it has Batman in it, so how bad can it really be?

MY RATING: 7.5 out of 10.

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