Rob’s Review: Man of Steel

Letter Grade:

The Good:

Shot beautifully.
Crowe does very well in a part that's bigger than you'd expect.
Action scenes are excellent.

The Bad:

Amy Adams is miscast as Lois Lane.
A lot of good CGI, but also some bits of really bad CGI.
The nit-picky among us will find fault in the plot.

Cast & Crew:

Writer: David S. Goyer
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language

Superman has always been a bit of a troublesome superhero. A little too good, a little too perfect, a little too indestructible… Very Golden Age. It’s hard to fit him into a postmodern, ironic world. With Man of Steel Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan take their crack at modernizing Supes with their take on his origin story. (I believe my general disdain for origin stories has been well documented.) I think they’re attempt has generally worked, though the traditionalist in my has its hackles up a bit.

Photo courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures

Photo courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures

Kal-El (Henry Cavill… eventually…) is born on Krypton to Lara and Jor-El (Ayelet Zurer and Russell Crowe). The Kryptonian military leader General Zod (Michael Shannon) has launched a coup though (and the planet is going through a rather major case of going kaboom), so Kal-El’s parents encode thee genetic future of all of Krypton into the DNA of their son (don’t ask me why, I think it’s mostly to give Zod a reason to follow him to Earth) and launch their son in a rocket towards Earth, where he crashes in Kansas and is found by Ma and Pa Kent (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner). The re-christened Clark grows up blending in with the humans, but as his powers develop he question his purpose and goes off to find himself a la Into the Wild, though with less freezing to death in a bus. At 33 (yeah, there’s no Christ symbology here… /sarcasm) Clark comes into his own and takes up the blue tights and red cape just as General Zod and his crew find their own way to Earth and threaten to destroy the whole planet if Clark isn’t handed over. Amy Adams is the intrepid reporter Lois Lane, on the cutting edge of uncovering facts about this newly revealed visitor from another planet.

Photo courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures

Photo courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures

I adore Amy Adams, but I’m just not sold on her at Lois Lane.  There’s nothing particularly wrong with her acting, it just seems like she was miscast. I don’t get a “reporter embedded in an army unit” vibe from her. Kevin Costner has a smaller part than you’d expect, and Russell Crowe’s Jor-El has a bigger part than you’d expect.  Both carry out their parts very well though. There is some excellent aging makeup applied to Diane Lane. It took me quite a while to figure out whether she was wearing makeup or just starting to show her age. Michael Shannon was good as General Zod, though I find myself questioning the need for a Michael Shannon when Hollywood still has a .

Man of Steel is beautifully shot, Director Zack Snyder did an excellent job. Even his bad movies look spectacular, and this does too. Unfortunately the CGI doesn’t entirely live up to the rest of the cinematography. There’s a LOT of CGI, and most of it’s quite good, but there are some instances where it just doesn’t measure up, like when General Zod starts throwing cars around. The moments of bad CGI aside, the action scenes were very well done all around. Plenty of people being punched across town, and plenty of bullets flying off Kryptonian skin. The action scenes alone probably make Man of Steel worth seeing.

Photo courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures

Photo courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures

I did have a few issues with the story, though I’m willing to admit that I’m being a little nit-picky. The things that bugged me were things like how slowly the origin story progressed (it’s almost an hour in before we see Superman in his suit, and almost two hours in before Metropolis is actually mentioned.), or how they couldn’t seem to decide whether it was the sun’s radiation or the Earth’s atmosphere that gave Superman his powers, or how Clark’s secret identity is handled. That last part’s really the biggest departure from canon, and part of me wants to brand them as apostates for that, and another part of me wants to applaud them for a bold reinvention of the story. They didn’t deal with the Clark/Superman dichotomy in the way that I expected, but I really can’t say that they didn’t deal with it.

If you can ignore the nit-picky stuff you’ll probably love Man of Steel. I still think it’s definitely worth seeing, I just can’t quite give it an “A”.

Rob Bernard (108 Posts)

Rob is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Techie of Cinedraft. He hated Million Dollar Baby. And is really excited about the Ender’s Game movie. More About Me