Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

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Nick Saw ‘Man of Steel’ – Another Look

Last Saturday, I saw Man of Steel.  It has taken me a few days to really process it.  I took my time to weigh the pros and cons of Superman’s latest cinematic adventure.  Now, after really thinking about it, my verdict on the film is that it is less than good.  Honestly, I found the movie to be largely terrible.

Before going further, I feel the need to place a disclaimer: I am a huge Superman fan.  Man of Steel reworks a lot of the Superman mythology and takes some things in a different direction.  That stuff did not bother me at all.  I know some of the more tightly-wound comic book fans are taking issue with some stuff.  Not me.  In some ways, I found the new stuff refreshing.  The reworkings are not a part of the problems I had with the movie.

superman

Henry Cavill portrays Superman/Clark Kent

Here is the thing.  Man of Steel is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with today’s modern blockbuster.  I found the film to be completely generic, shallow, and somewhat forgettable.  Nothing that happens is all that interesting, the characters are paper thin, and the dialogue, at times, was just absolutely atrocious.  I really feel that the movie was just going through the motions (and given how this film was partially pushed into production, that is not too difficult to believe).

When Superman Returns came out, one of the common complaints was that Superman never punched anything.  A legitimate enough complaint, I suppose, but I somewhat feared that there would be nothing but fisticuff action in whatever came next.  Turns out I was right.  This film is just action, action, action.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, there is absolutely no development of the main characters to really make me care about the action.  And it was dull action.  There were times I became actively bored during the fight sequences.  This movie really felt like a video game (boss fight included), especially in the last half.

Also, filmmakers really, really need to stop with the shakey-cam and lens flare.  I have yet to meet anyone who actively enjoys that stuff.  These blockbusters also really need to stop with wide, large-scale set pieces of destruction with no consequences attached to them.

Like Iron Man 3, Man of Steel has a lot of little stupid things sprinkled throughout the film.  I guess it was supposed to give the film some “cool moments”, but instead they come off as eye-rollingly dumb, such as when Superman gets his perfectly-fitting suit when holographic Jor-El makes it magically appear in a closet of a long-dormant spaceship (how is this possible?!).  I realize things like this can be nitpicky, but when stuff like that which makes absolutely no sense becomes incredibly distracting, it makes me cringe.

Unlike Iron Man 3, this film had no sense of fun or wonder to compensate for the illogicalness of various set pieces.

Since the internet probably already hates me, I guess I should talk about some positives.  The acting was good.  Henry Cavill makes a good Superman and Amy Adams rocks it as Lois Lane (I was always supportive that casting choice).  Michael Shannon as the villain General Zod was a bit goofy and campy, but somehow that worked in this film’s favor.  Everyone was pretty good – I just wish they were given something interesting to do.

The critics are giving Man of Steel scathing reviews.  It is earned.  I did not have any straight up expectations, but this film is moviemaking at its shallowest.  I did not like it at all.  In fact, the more I think about it, the more I find myself frustrated with it.  Maybe when Man of Steel 2 comes out, the problems with this one will be ironed out.  However, considering that a sequel is already targeted for release in 2014 (next year!!), I doubt it greatly.

~N

Be sure to also check out Zack’s Review.

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6 responses to “Nick Saw ‘Man of Steel’ – Another Look

  1. Pingback: The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick

  2. JD June 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I’m glad that you weren’t complaining about the changes to the superman mythos and focusing more on the things you didn’t like about the film itself because I’ve read some really strange nitpicking from some superman fans and fans of the Donner films. I’m a fan of superman comics and I realize that some things about the old stories needed to be cut or modified to work in a modern superman movie. And it’s fine that you didn’t like the film but I disagree with you. I liked the lens flares. They’re flashy and futuristic looking and they fit well with the sci-fi tone of the film. I’m not a big fan of shaky cams but it didn’t get ridiculous in Man of Steel. It only bothered me for like 10 seconds in the beginning when they were in the counsel meeting on krypton.

    Also, Kal-El did develop a lot as a character from the begging. He starts as a drifter good Samaritan hiding his powers from the world and he winds up taking center spotlight on a global stage, saving the world, becoming a great hero, he gets a job and he develops a somewhat complex relationship with Lois Lane. The characters could have been a bit more complex and there could have been more philosophical discussions/dilemmas but I didn’t think the dialogue was that bad. It’s certainly no worse than the dialogue/story of any of the other superman movies.

    Visually, this was probably the most incredible movie I’ve ever seen. And the story was exciting and well executed by a great cast. Henry Cavill is just perfect for the role of Kal-El/Superman. If I made a Superman film I would have done things a bit differently but I was ultimately happy with the way the movie turned out.

    • Nick! June 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      If I were to criticize something about the changes to the mythology, it would be that they kind of made Superman’s origin go from fairly simple to overly complicated. Not that I mind another purpose added to sending him to Earth (in this case adding all the Kryptonian DNA from that skull into Supes), it is just that they didn’t do anything worthwhile or interesting with it, and it had zero impact on the story outside of casual references to it. It was just sort of there.

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