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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.
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.
Be sure to also check out Zack’s Review.