MOVIE REVIEW: Man Of Steel

MoSfeat

Movie: Man Of Steel
Director: Zack Snyder
Studio: Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, Syncopy

A year after wrapping production, Zack Snyder’s take on Superman has finally arrived in theaters with hopes of becoming the next comic book movie to shatter records. It’s the second time in a decade the caped hero has been brought to the screen, and fortunately for Snyder the final results far outshine Singer’s Superman Returns. Still, even at its best Man Of Steel fails to live up to the standard set by the its genre predecessors.

Much like Chris Nolan’s Batman Begins, Snyder takes his sweet time recounting the legend of Kalel in the early part of Man Of Steel. Technology has reached a point where bringing his home planet of Krypton to life is doable without looking laughable, and the MOS make the most of this with an extended opening chapter that offers the only action audiences see for the first hour and forty minutes of this 2.5 hour feature. Kalel’s father faces off against general Zod in order to protect the future of their people, and though it takes far longer to play out than it should it does provide a handful of eye-popping visuals and reasoning for Zod’s mission later in the film.

Once our tiny hero is sent to his new home on Earth, Snyder jumps ahead to a time after Kalel has grown up and become a quasi-recluse. We see him do his best to remain in the grey while haunted by memories of a childhood he’s still trying to understand, but as heroes are prone to doing he’s continually forced to reveal his powers in order to save someone (or a group of people) in trouble. It’s a solid attempt at building a strong emotional base, but the results are ultimately mixed. Clark’s first run-ins and flashbacks work without issue, but as the film moves forward it continues to lean on inconsequential flashbacks in order to provide motivation/reasoning for current actions, and in doing so slows its pacing to a point many will find to be boring.

Whether or not you cry tears of joy over the capabilities of CGI and comic book storytelling in film displayed in the last hour of Man Of Steel will likely depend on how you feel about the preceding hundred minutes. If the overly long (but surprising simple) setup has you groaning before our hero busts out his powers I doubt anything contained in the final chapter will salvage the picture as a whole. Superman’s inability to be injured for more than a few seconds makes every action sequence feel like more of a demonstration in how well people can digitally render destruction than a battle, but if you’re looking for pure escapism at the box office then that is exactly what you’ll find. It’s big, loud, messy, and oftenborderline incoherent, but for fans that have spent decades waiting to see their favorite comic icon have a proper fight with bad guys on the silver screen it likely won’t get any better than this anytime soon.

The real strength of Man Of Steel is not in its CGI or the alien do-gooder at the center of the plot, but in the supporting acts who deliver emotional punches our protagonist is (literally) incapable of offering himself. Michael Shannon’s Zod is both terrifying and captivating, both of which stems from the performance and not the dialogue itself. Similarly, Law & Order: SVU veteran Christopher Meloni brings a sense of heart and uncertainty to matters on the good guys side, thus offering someone people can actually relate to. Superman is the kind of person you look up to, and maybe even aspire to be, but virtually nothing displayed in his character (or Amy Adams’ Lois) feels believable. Some may write that off as a given seeing as one of those two is an alien superhero, but as the protagonist the viewer needs to connect regardless. Instead of establishing a firm relationship with the viewers, Snyder ops for melodramatics and slick effects, It’s a temporary fix that doesn’t last beyond the credits.

When compared to other Superman films, Man Of Steel truly is something special. Though flawed, it does offer the most in depth look at the life of America’s most iconic hero to date, and in doing so showcases the absolute heights of digital technology. There are also a number of noteworthy performances from people Hollywood has yet to fully appreciate. Unfortunately, all the glitz and high-gloss visuals in the world cannot cover up a paperthin plot being stretched 45 minutes longer than necessary for a payoff that is anything but satisfying, and ultimately Man Of Steel ends up being an altogether forgettable experience.

Score: C

Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)

 

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.