By Drake Vittitow
Superman will forever be one of the most recognizable superheroes in comics history, and “Man of Steel” is not his first foray on the silver screen.
His theatrical run has been mostly successful, with the 1978 film of the same name being a classic. Before “Man of Steel,” the last audiences saw him was in “Superman Returns,” which was disappointing, to say the least.
The anticipation for this movie was massive because Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy had just concluded with “The Dark Knight Rises.” On top of that, Nolan was one of the producers of the film.
The first time I watched this movie, I was enthralled. I loved the visuals, the characters and the story. I thought the movie was near-perfect.
That was in 2013.
After the second watch under a finer lens, I realize that this movie is utterly average. Sure, there are some glimpses of excellence in it, but for the most part, it feels rushed and sloppy in its execution.
Let’s start with the good.
The cinematography in this movie is breathtaking. One of Zack Snyder’s strengths has always been making his movies look fantastic and he flexes his visual muscles in this movie often. The opening scenes on Krypton are particularly interesting because audiences were so used to Krypton looking like a utopia of crystal and Snyder through us a curveball.
He gave us a Krypton that looks like a futuristic and mechanized supercity. He even shows some of Krypton’s wildlife. Snyder does the best job of staying true to the comics with the look of Krypton. He also stays true to the characters’ powers.
A common difference between DC and Marvel is the strength of each respective companies’ characters. DC as a whole has more god-like and cosmic characters that, naturally, garner more power.
That power is shown in the movie’s amazing fight scenes.
A common complaint among critics was that the fight scenes were too fantastical; they looked like they were pulled straight from an episode of “Dragon Ball Z.” I would argue that the immense power that these characters possess makes the fight scenes incredibly realistic.
This isn’t some guy in a metal suit shooting cannons from his hands; these are gods amongst men fighting for supremacy.
Another plus for this movie was Hans Zimmer’s amazing score. His previous works like “Gladiator” and “The Lion King” are truly enhanced with his score and the same can be said for his work on “Man of Steel.” I am sure it is a tall order to compete with anything written by John Williams, but Zimmer’s score was truly captivating and holds its own with the original.
General Zod was also a great choice for a villain.
His motives were justified because his sole purpose of living was to make sure Krypton and its people remained safe. Having a noble and understandable goal is a great foil to Superman and his motives to protect Earth. Michael Shannon nailed the role as Zod.
Now for the bad.
Henry Cavill as Superman is a no-brainer and he does a phenomenal job with the script he is given, but I hate the fact that the script does not do its job in making the audience care enough about him. This is because of pacing. No matter if it’s the fight scenes, the flashbacks, or the dialogue, this movie just feels rushed.
Instead of letting certain scenes and actions sink into the readers’ thought process, we are just presented with either another action scene or another oddly placed flashback showing Clark Kent’s life as a boy.
By the time the end credits rolled, I was indifferent about anything that had happened. I didn’t feel happy or sad, I just felt like I had watched an okay superhero film.
Besides Cavill, I think that Lois Lane (Amy Adams) was cast perfectly, but the relationship between her and Cavill just seems so forced. If writers do not take time to flesh out the characters, then why should the audience care about what happens to them throughout the entire movie?
For example, Superman and Lois Lane’s relationship in the film is forced. Not only was Superman’s character not fleshed out entirely, but Lois Lane received no backstory at all. Why should we care about this instantaneous relationship if we don’t even know the characters to a competent degree?
I have definitely seen worse superhero films (“Superman 4: The Quest for Peace,” I am looking at you), but “Man of Steel” is an average superhero flick that ended up being the catalyst for the DCEU and the answer to the MCU.
“Man of Steel” is a lot like a pig with lipstick on. On the surface, it is a beautiful film. Its visuals, score and fight scenes were a sight to behold, but under all that glitz and glamour is a not so super film that suffers from a lack of focus on its characters and story.
Unlike most of its predecessors, “Man of Steel” fails to lift off from the ground.