Man of Steel

Man of Steel photo starrating-1andahalfstars.jpgGeneral: What are you smiling about, Captain?
Captain: I just think he’s kinda hot.

Henry Cavill certainly looks like Superman. He’s handsome, almost distractingly so, sports a ripped physique that adheres closer to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine than any previous incarnation of the role. The Brit even speaks the part affecting a perfect American accent with the necessary gravitas to make everything he says sound meaningful. But that’s where compliments end for Man of Steel.

Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster’s iconic superhero is given the bigger is better treatment in this updated version for moviegoers raised on Transformers films. Zack “I directed 300” Snyder has taken courses at the Michael Bay school for directors where spectacle is key and damn any coherence or dialogue that gets in the way. Loud noise is more important than the story. Millions of dollars gloriously spent to envision beautifully designed worlds of breathtaking 3D graphics only to be obliterated in some fantastic assault of bombs, explosions and mayhem. A bombastic excess where even Superman’s cape is digitally animated. Snyder’s aesthetic is money and spend lots of it

Man of Steel is an overinflated packed to the rafters display of computer generated imagery (CGI) that makes Transformers seem like Forbidden Planet by comparison. The CGI is ridiculously wild and unchecked. A full third of this film is fight scenes. Not exciting ones, but blurry, relentless onslaughts that are hard to follow. I think I counted three epic battles but honestly one conflict blurs indistinguishably into the next. Their sole purpose exists so Snyder can blow stuff up. The wanton annihilation of buildings in the climax doesn’t even appear to be Planet Earth anymore. At one point Superman wrestles with tentacles in the center of the globe as some rocket machine deconstructs the earth’s atmosphere to that of an alien planet. The whole spectacle is so removed from anything organic, it doesn’t even exist as a live action movie with human actors. More like a virtual 3D universe populated by automatons rendered by a computer program.

The obscene amount of CGI-enhanced activity might’ve been tolerable if it served a coherent story. Unfortunately following the haphazard chronology is a task in itself. Good luck figuring out what time period we‘re in. The films was apparently edited in a blender. First we’re on Krypton, then we’re on an oil rig with an adult Clark Kent, now Clark is a kid in school overwhelmed by his powers, suddenly he‘s older rescuing his classmates from a bus. Now he’s Superman in the Arctic. Now back as a child again with his parents near a tornado. The script flash forwards, then back, then forward and back again, back and forth, back and forth over and over to the point of complete incoherence. The movie is an attention punishing 143 minutes and you feel every single one of them.

Part of the reason the story is so mind numbingly long is because the plot spends an inordinate amount of time delving into Kryptonian society, and explaining the sociopolitical and ecological situation before the planet’s destruction. Just what I want to see in a Superhero film. How about some scenes inside the Kryptonian Senate while they vote on various bills and legislation? Last time I checked this was called Man of Steel but it’s a full hour before he even dons the suit and near the very end before someone clearly calls him Superman. Even then it’s used as more of a throwaway joke.

There are moments where the script attempts to convey Superman’s inner conflict. The narrative tries to present Superman’s undying love for the people of his adoptive planet earth. But his devotion never makes sense. He experiences overwhelming rejection from the faceless masses his whole life. We’re given infrequent glimpses of his interactions with the human population. School bullies tease him as a child, a bar patron humiliates him (shades of Superman II), the military wants to give him up to uber villain General Zod. This is predicted in early scenes by his father (Kevin Costner) who warns him: “People are afraid of what they don’t understand.” We comprehend why Superman isn’t accepted, but not why he still cares for the citizens of this foreign world called Earth. The population disregards him so thoroughly. We have no reason to sympathize, to care, or even to watch.

The movie is the creation of sterile perfectionism. The actors are pretty, everyone hits their marks, says their lines and does exactly what is asked of them. It exhibits slick professionalism but not art. The picture has no essence. There is no warmth, no wit, no humor, no joy. The only thing more offensive than the vulgar reliance on special effects in this flick, are the product placement deals. Word has it that it earned $160 million even before it ever played in a single theater due to all the advertising negotiations made. It doesn’t come without a cost. Superman literally has a fight that starts at 7-Eleven, heads over to IHOP afterwards, then wraps at Sears. All the while the aforementioned businesses conspicuously pop up in scenes where the action is a muddy blur but their beaming signs are clear as day. There is no spark of life to be found in Man of Steel. It is a soulless product bought and paid for by the Hollywood machine.


120 Responses to “Man of Steel”

  1. Wow, I’m seriously surprised by your response to the movie and think you’re very off the mark on this one. I agree the movie has a heavy reliance on special effects, but in order for it to be an honest to god Superman movie which really IS a Superman movie, it would need to be, but comparing it to Michael Bay’s recent fare into the Transformers series is very, very harsh.

    This may have a similar effects dependency but that’s where the similarities end, there is no leery sexism present here (in fact the improvements made to the Lois Lane character are just the opposite), and there’s no purile jokes that made me want to vomit (though a little more humour interspersed would have gone a long way).

    Man Of Steel does have a soul, it’s mostly in the first half of the movie, though it spends the opening 15-20 minutes on Krypton, and much of this opening is an action sequence, this is no more formulaic than a superhero action movie normally is, with a big action oriented opening scene. What makes it different is the performances of the two fathers played by Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner, the latter of which who completely embodies the heart and soul of the movie. I started to well up at a couple of the Costner scenes and I know for damn sure that I wasn’t the only one in the cinema. This and the flashback scenes which all seemed perfectly easy to follow when they started/ended, explained not only the workings of this Superman universe, but also what made Clark Kent into the man he is.

    A lot of the reviews of this have been negative though audience response has been completely the opposite – I myself have already seen it twice, and the two friends i went to see it with one of those times, one has already also been twice, and the other plans to go again – and he’s a father with little time that he hasn’t even managed to see Star Trek Into Darkness yet. I believe this largely to be down to people’s expectations going into the movie who have gone in with expectations far too high, or disliked certain elements so much that their view of the movie is tainted.

    I’m realising how long this reply is, and apologise for the length (it’s coming up to 5:30am and I’m about to get some sleep) and will end it there, but sorry to say I completely disagree with you on this one, my rating would have been around 4/5. My review:

    • “I agree the movie has a heavy reliance on special effects, but in order for it to be an honest to god Superman movie…it would need to be…”

      Since when do special effects take precedence over plot, character and emotion? That’s what makes a Superman movie, or any movie for that matter, work. My expectations were only to watch a quality movie and I got a soulless Hollywood product more concerned with explosions and advertising that telling a coherent story.

  2. GaryLee828 Says:

    Oh wow, we disagree again! lol. I liked it. I did notice the constant I-HOP scenes and thought that was lame, but I just brushed it off. The reason Clark wanted to protect this planet was b/c it was all he knew; he may have been born in Krypton, but he doesn’t know much about it. He knows Earth as his home. It was Earth who had a couple who found him and raised him as their son.

    And they did show flashbacks as a kid and him being bullied, etc. but I don’t think it implied that was his whole relationship with kids. In the scene where he freaked out in the classroom and hid in the janitor’s closet I don’t recall those kids poking fun of him. I thought they seemed concerned b/c they weren’t sure why he was acting the way he was.

    And at the bar the one guy did humiliate him, but that guy was already established as a prick since he was groping the waitress. Also, the waitress smiled at him before the guy groped her, so I think that implied she liked him, etc. – and so point being I don’t think the flashbacks intended to convey that ALL humans were mean to him. The reason he was an outsider wasn’t because of the way he was treated, but because he knew he was different and he was trying to process it internally; therefore he isolated himself most of the time – which is another reason why he was at times the target of some ridicule.

    I do think the film was choppy in parts, and it could have been better, but I still thought it was really good. I liked Michael Shannon as Zod, even though I wished Snyder gave him more material to work with; he didn’t seem to be utilized to the fullest of his ability.

    And another thing I really loved about the film was the score Hans Zimmer composed; i watched it in IMAX and the score really amplifies the film.

    I really liked the action sequences, but they could have been a little more creative b/c they did get redundant, but I liked the effects, and I didn’t think it was too far-fetched considering this is Superman who most of us have been waiting years for a worthy Superman film to come out where he does epic things and it doesn’t look cheesy – and this film sufficed in that aspect.

    I also liked General Zod’s female sidekick; i thought the actress did a good job in the role…

    • The scene where he freaked out in the classroom and hid in the janitor’s closet, he used his extra sensory hearing/sight to hear/see them all making fun of him and calling him a freak.

      Incidentally I never said all humans were mean to him. Obviously his father and mother were a loving presence. Lois lane was ok to him I guess, No chemistry though.

      Clark Kent at 13: What was I supposed to do? Let them die?
      [brief pause]
      Jonathan Kent: Maybe…

      I was with Clark’s father.
      I didn’t feel anything for this film.

  3. (I can’t post via twitter for some unknown reason)

    A clear & sharp voice of reason splitting the incomprehensible cacophony of praise towards this film!! (at least – until @billyQuickSP2 & I record the podcast on monday)!

    I was getting worried until I saw your comments on twitter that you might enjoy this film.

    Expertly written review Mark (as always). There is so much I could go into as well. I was BORED out of my mind when the Kryptonians started hitting each other – I can’t believe Snyder et al hadn’t figured out that near-indestructible beings fighting gets tiresome before punches have even been thrown for exactly that reason – they can’t hurt each other!!

    I wish we could have had more Krypton, perhaps more backstory with Jor-El & Zod? Even more superman in his younger days to flesh out his relationship with his parents even more.

    The daily planet staff were a waste of space (and running time) and several points in this movie made me laugh inappropriately (Lois Lane covering several miles in under a minute)

    I’m sure it’ll still be in our respective top 5’s in a fortnight when we next record BANG.

    • I‘m going to call BS on you because on Friday you tweeted:

      My dear friend, how is calling the film FANTASTIC a criticism?

      Yes praise for the film has been overwhelmingly positive from opening day audiences, but critics are decidedly less complimentary. I experienced the same thing when The Hangover Part II came out in 2011. Back then everyone loved it. NOW it’s hard finding anyone that will defend it anymore.

      Superman in his younger days was nice. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane extracted every ounce of emotion possible from a script that was pull of platitudes and Hallmark wishes. I could’ve used more of them.

      • Haha! All will be explained when our podcast comes out. Think of my reaction as one similar to the stages of a grief reaction. In short – I came out with a general sense that I appreciated the film (having enjoyed the first 2/3) and sent out that tweet. I then sat down for a drink with BillyQuick and by the end of THAT conversation – well….lets just say my opinion had crystallised to what it is now!!

        If you continued to quote THE REST of my subsequent tweets – you would see that progression as well!!

      • Selective editing, I know, but your first tweet is what I saw initially and I was aghast, amigo!! LOL

  4. I understand why you and many others don’t like the film but for me it is the ultimate summer blockbuster. I really liked what they did to Superman and whole story. I am looking forward to the next one.

  5. “There is no warmth, no wit, no humor, no joy” if I may quote you Mark, sums up my feelings about this one as well. The film was so reliant on CGI, endless fight scenes and explosions that it weighed down the film and bored me. So much of those tyoes scenes have been done so much better before it felt very recylced. The heavy reliance on all of that was bad enough and the fact that the story was all over the place – flash forward and back too much too fast– only made it worse. It was like the filmmakers didn’t want you to allow the viewer any time to think about how bland the writing was. The characters had no chemistry, dialouge was just simple and villians bored me throughout. I think it was a wasted chance to reboot this franchise. It was 2 hours too long and I would not recommend it.

    • You were my first friend to condemn this film. I’m not going to rehash all the problems with this picture. No need to continue beating a dead horse, but I appreciate your voice of reason.

  6. Coming from a screenwriting/narrative point of view, I agree that the flashbacks could have been better presented and structured instead of being told in random order.

    As for the exposition, it’s to be expected from a Nolan film? He tends to tell in excruciating detail before showing anything.

    My own disappointment in the film stems from the script’s implication that Snyder’s Superman is on par or even worse than General Zod. By the end of the film, Superman’s words and actions actually fail the moral standards set by Jor-El in the film’s opening sequence, and that makes Superman either as morally monstrous as Zod, or makes Zod as principled as Superman…

    This is an example of what I mean (and forgive my imperfect memory):

    General Zod: We will build a New Krypton without the bloodlines that have failed us!
    Jor-El: And who will judge the bloodlines? You, Zod?

    INT. GENESIS CHAMBER/SHIP [containing artificial wombs to gestate future Kryptonians]
    General Zod: Stop! Don’t destroy the ship! You’re destroying Krypton!
    Kal-El: Krypton had its chance!

    • I thought I remember Superman stating that Kryptonian and Earthlings could live together so it made his decision seem odd. Do you really think the script impugns Superman for ultimately making that decision? It seemed more like a necessary evil. You point out fascinating detail though. Something to think about. What a great comment!

      • I can’t remember who made this comment on the GWG forum but I’ll paraphrase it: “Maybe the writers didn’t realise the moral event horizon they created”.

        Kal-El as a moral monster can be restated this way as well:
        On Krypton, Jor-El was aghast that Zod would claim the right to judge entire bloodlines. On Earth, Kal-El decides that Krypton had its chance, the entire species can suck it.
        On Krypton, Jor-El bests Zod, disarms him, and decides not to kill him. On Earth, [well, spoilers].

        You’re right that Kal-El’s actions should be impugned by the script’s internal moral code, as set down by the ideals and actions of Jor-El. Yet we don’t see any repercussions from that.

        The problem with necessary evils is that they’re very forced and artificial – especially when it comes to almost all Goyer/Nolan scripts, where choices are systematically stripped from the protagonist while the writers’ preferred solution are telegraphed way too early.

        And in this film, “necessary evil” is Zod’s line! The script shoehorns Superman into making a series of morally horrific acts on the basis of “necessary evil”. That goes right in the face of Jor-El’s hope that having a naturally-conceived child will allow the child to *make choices* that no other Krypton can.

      • I wish you had written this movie. You make excellent points. Such a thoughtful discussion that is so much more intelligent than this movie deserves.

  7. Elliott Says:

    honestly, this critique is spot on, and didnt even mention the the full screen on Nikon near the beginning. but product placement doesnt even bother me as much as the 20 minute action sequences with no progression. Plus they had so many opportunities to make this film have a message, and they squandered all of them.

    • Agreed. The product placement didn’t bother me in and of itself. But by then I was so fed up. It was like putting salt on the wound. Yes I totally concur with you. The action sequences were interminable.

  8. ICYNDICEY Says:

    Yep…everything you said is SPOT ON correct. I liked the new suit, however, and what was in it of course lol

  9. Agree.

    “The film was apparently edited in a blender.” Good line.

  10. This was the most intelligent review. I was blown away when I kept seeing Sears, 711, and IHOP in my face shamelessly. For a brief moment I thought Nolan and Snyder were sending a message to the people of the world with a wink “See what Hollywood and Capitalism is really all about?” But then I noticed that the film had absolutely no character development and logic. Superman kisses Lois, who kisses him simply because he was a hero, like a navy man met at a bar in the 1940s. They didn’t even get to know each other at all.

    The film was an ode to hyper-macho-steroided masculinity, and a war-happy militaristic America. Even the “Soldier of Steel” advertisements that have played for the last couple of months in theaters before the films say it all: military good, join up kids!

    But what it fails to note is that this country is owned by corporations, and the “soldiers of steel” will be sent to kill, to die, or to be scarred for life, all in the name of corporate dollars and a false sense of imaginary patriotism.

    Thankfully, I knew this would be the case, going into the film, so I got a ticket for After Earth instead. I figured, might as well give my money to a film that is about a father and son relationship, and has the message of remaining in the present moment. So I bought the ticket for After Earth, and went and saw Man of Steel. That’s the best way to protest, with the money.

    Anyone who has their eye on the waves of the world, on the trends, on the media, on the education system, on the politics, on the corporations, and on the arts, can see clearly, this nation is going down down down, yo. My advice is to become as simple and Buddhist like as possible, and go to a poorer nation where capitalism hasn’t sucked the soul out of every single person you meet.

    • I’m not so sure the movie is emblematic of a capitalist nation in decline, however, I will concede the filmmakers were clearly more concerned with commerce than art.

      I would’ve liked a little romance, innocent flirting, something between Superman and Lois Lane. We got an interview segment, but even that was a botched opportunity for a better conversation.

      “The film was an ode to hyper-macho-steroided masculinity, and a war-happy militaristic America.” Again, I don’t know if I agree, but you certainly know how to write. Thanks for making me laugh.

  11. Awwww… But I would still love to watch MOS tomorrow. Haha! 😀

  12. As a whole I see a lot of viewers’ expectations broken. Not a story broken. If your overall expectations are not met from the start, than of course it’s going to seem like the whole movie is a failure. This whole thing about no chemistry between characters and such. What the heck is chemistry? Sounds more like a disguised ad hoc argument. Something to pick on when really it can’t be explained. I haven’t once seen people give examples about how the “chemistry” is bad. Maybe the acting is mediocre at times (I’ll give you that), but “chemistry”? Give me a break.

    While the relationship between Lois and Superman is rather immature, I don’t think it’s ridiculous. I think if i was trying to save the world and the first human being was a woman like her who accepted me as I am on this planet helped me save the world, I’d be pretty infatuated. Quickly. Like them. And if I was Lois, I’d be infatuated. He’s Superman and he saved the world with her by his side…

    superman is not God. Even Jor-El says that he is A god. Someone to look up to. He is not THE god. He used to be portrayed as THE God. Now he is A god. That’s only a failure in plot if we come in with high expectations about who superman should be.

    as for this CGI stuff…what the heck is the fuss? That’s like people complaining about how the Fortress of Solitude was a Miniature in Superman: The Movie (it was…look it up). It’s not a categorical mismatch to compare. CGI and miniatures are a means of communicating the physical reality of a situation. Sometimes CGi is the necessary means of communicating physical reality because of her artistic capacity and stylistic plasticity (a necessary component of COMIC BOOK portrayal). In today’s generation, it’s the style that MOST people are going for when it comes to fantastical heroic films. It’s only a complaint in regards to Man of Steel because of nostalgic expectations.

    The film “relies” on special effects?
    I ask once again what this means? Superman has to fly to be superman. Special effect…it’s integrated into the story. Buildings topple because of superhuman strength–special effect that is integrated into the story, because the kryptonians have to be superhuman to be kryptonian.
    Reliance is different than detail. Yes, the movie has DETAILED special effects, but I don’t agree that it relies on special effects. If it RELIED on special effects, there wouldn’t be any sort of story in this film whatsoever. But there is. The story’s emphasis on Krypton’s character testifies to the fact that this film did not rely on special effects. The war waged within Clark regarding his identity testifies to the fact that this film did not rely on special effects. The fact protagonists can make mistakes testifies to the fact that this film did not rely on special effects (Johnathon Kent’s choice to save the dog, Clark’s choice to not save Johnathon)

    If as viewers we choose not to embrace details of the story because we were “overstimulated” by the effects, the producers and directors cannot be fully blamed. Partially, maybe. But not as fully as most of the critics blame them.

    • I don’t think special effects should be a substitute for story. The muddy CGI wasn’t even particularly good. For a good third of the film, we’re watching lots of generic action that does nothing to advance the plot. I don’t have anything against special effects. Superman has to fly. However we don’t have to watch buildings falling apart for 30 minutes.

      • I feel like you didn’t really read my entry thoroughly. My point was that special effects were NOT the substitute for the story. the special effects were DETAILED but were not substitutes for the story. I gave examples to back this assertion. Please read through my entire post.

      • Philo, I fully understood your statement and I addressed it already. Sorry if it’s still unclear to you. See Gary Lee’s comment below. He understood my point perfectly.

      • GaryLee828 Says:

        Philosophojake, I agree and disagree with both you and Mark. I am pretty sure Mark did in-fact read your comment, but what he’s saying is that the CGI was simply too much in the 3rd act, and took away from advancing the story during the climatic phase of the movie, which could have been an opportunity to develop and advance the story more.

        I agree with Mark that the fighting sequences did get redundant in the 3rd act, but I loved the effects and the way they looked. I agree with Mark the story could have been further developed, but I didn’t let it bother me b/c I figured they will do that in the next installment, and I enjoyed watching the fighting sequences b/c I thought the CGI here looked really cool, unlike most films I don’t like the way the CGI looks.

        I don’t think Mark is saying that there shouldn’t be any CGI, but that there was just too much of it, where he feels it was time to advance the heart and story at-hand, but instead there were just more and more fights; and I just get the feeling Mark is so disappointed by this film he’s growing weary of discussing it, which is probably why he didn’t write a whole lot on his reply to you.

        Sometimes people have an opinion, but don’t do a great job of articulating their thoughts on why they feel as they do – and those are the times I think to open up a great debate, in which I personally love to do – but in this case, Mark has clearly communicated exactly how he feels, and really doesn’t leave a lot of room for debate since his stance has already been so well established.

        Of course this doesn’t mean you have to agree with his opinion – b/c I don’t fully agree, either, nor do a slew of others – but at the same time he doesn’t really leave a whole lot of room to persuade him to change his mind b/c he understands fully and wholly just why he holds his opinion, and he’s not going to veer from it.

        As far as chemistry between actors, it is actually a very real thing; Mark and many others have pointed out the same thing about Cavill and Adams, and I can see their point; there just wasn’t much chemistry there – and it’s not a matter of how much screen-time a character has with one another. I personally didn’t think Cavill & Adams were great, or terrible together. I thought they could have been better, but it didn’t really bother me, either. But if you watch the original Superman you can see that Reeve & Kidder had a much better chemistry – but then again they were in a much better situation to get acquainted on a personal level, and once Superman took her on a personal flight in his arms around the world, fuhget about it! Any woman would be putty in his hands at that point. But in the 2013 version there was nothing really like that, therefore the love aspect felt a bit forced. I guess we bought into it simply b/c we already are so familiar with the history of that relationship.

        Watch “The Office” pilot and within seconds you can see great chemistry between Jim & Pam; it was established fast and was undeniable; and when you have a strong love story you want to be sure that your actor and actress have a strong on-screen chemistry, or it’s going to come across shallow and forced; and Mark isn’t the only one to state Cavill & Adams lacked physical chemistry. I’ve seen a slew of others, as well, so he can’t be THAT much off the mark. It also has a lot to do with the director and being able to direct in a way that makes the characters come across in a way that the characters have chemistry. So, Snyder needs some work in this area. Not saying he’s a bad director b/c I think he’s pretty good overall, and he has a very unique vision on-screen that a lot of people like – but he does have some room for improvement. I did like Man of Steel, but it was choppy in parts, and could have used a couple more revisions, and a little more time growing and developing the attraction between Superman and Lois.

      • Gary, you know it’s funny because I never said anything about chemistry in my review. I would invite Philo to re-read it again. Not sure whose review he was reading but it sure wasn’t mine.

        Despite that, Gary, you totally understand my point about the special effects even though you don’t share the same perspective. Good on you for understanding the difference!

    • The reason I felt like you misunderstood my statement is because you seemed to think I was implying that the special effects were indeed RELIED on during the film. But I did not assert that. I said the special effects were detailed, but the film did not rely on them. There’s a difference. and I tried to explain it.

      I undersrtand Mark was asserting the points you are addressing, but he also asserted that the film relies on special effects throughout the discussion. This is the part I was addressing.

      As for the chemistry thing…you are right. I apologize for bringing it up. I had just read many reviews and it was a point many brought up. In my impatience (and foolishness) I brought it up here. I apologize for that.

  13. Whoa! I must say, we’re in serious disagreement with each other here. As in, I don’t think we’ve ever disagreed more. I’m one of very few who’d go to a full five stars.

    Did we even see the same movie? Your review is well-written but it…saddens me.

  14. Whoa. I couldn’t disagree more. Sad you didn’t enjoy it :(, especially when I had so much fun! This is how everybody must’ve felt when I lambasted The Avengers.

    • No you were generous to The Avengers in comparison! :/

      • Fernando put The Avengers in his Worst Films of 2012.

      • Still, he gave it 2.5/5, and his review didn’t tear it apart nearly this much.

      • But that’s my job. Good film criticism justifies what you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about a picture so others can make a judgement based on your assessment. What you call “tear it apart” is actually my detailing the issues I had with the film so people have a clear idea of why it didn’t succeed for me.

      • I know. Like I said, it was a great review, just a shocking one. I can’t help but feel you tore it apart when I’d consider it the best of the year. Thinking back, this seems like one for your worst of the year list, along with Evil Dead?

      • We have got a LONG way to go before compiling a list like that. We haven’t even reached the halfway point yet.

      • Still, you’re very fair to films (in general). It’s not every day you give 1.5 stars, so…

    • Don’t forget you also lambasted The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey AND the original Star Wars…Good heavens!!! 😉

      • Ugh, don’t remind me of the torture that was The Hobbit. But I wouldn’t say I “lambasted” Star Wars. I thought it wa sjust OK, and gave it 3 stars.

      • Fair enough. 3 stars is a positive review. However I remember phrases like “I definitely didn’t love it.” “It’s a little too cheesy for my taste…boring and repetitive.” “is this what all the fuss is about?” You’ll forgive me if my impression was that you didn’t enjoy Star Wars.

  15. Aw such an unhappy bunny aren’t you, not for you then I understand. But out of choice would you prefer Man of Steel or Superman Returns?

  16. Good review Mark. It has an epic look and feel, but it didn’t do much else with it all except just adding on loud and angry bits of total destruction.

    • So much destruction. The worst was the final third.

    • I feel like this is an extreme oversimplification of this film, though. This is exactly how one would define Superman Returns. Brandon Routh shows up, shows off and gets kryptonite shoved into his side. The End. There was total destruction because there was a lot at stake here.

      On another note, I am totally digging how contentious this film is becoming!!! 🙂

  17. I just saw this now and while I enjoyed it more than you but I share many of the same complaints. There’s far too much CGI and I felt the idea of heroism was banged over the audience’s head too often. The product placement really bothered me as well. Nice review.

  18. Victor De Leon Says:

    Ugh. That opening quote you posted is enough to make me gag. And I LIKE Superman. Looks like Donner’s movie for me this Father’s Day weekend. Good job, Mark. A great read, bro.

  19. Wow, such scathing review. Sorry to hear this didn’t work for you but for me, the negatives still outweighs the negatives.

  20. This might be the first time I agree with a Mark Hobin review all the way through… interesting….

  21. Nailed it. I thought the scenes of his childhood were very well done, but the rest of the film left me cold. Hugely disappointing

    • The childhood scenes were the best part.

      Regarding a young Clark Kent as a boy saving the children on the bus….I was fascinated by the reaction of one of the mothers. She sounded like she was ticked off that her son was still alive. The script should have had Clark and/or his mother stand up and scream “Um you’re welcome you jerk!!”

  22. “The films was apparently edited in a blender.”

    I have this theory that Act 1 was originally written to begin with the Arctic episode, leading to Lois pulling her Pulitzer-quality set of investigations and interviews to trek down Kent’s footsteps from Canada to Kansas. That will show us almost all flashbacks of the Ministry of Clark Kent in reverse order, aside from the tornado episode, which will be recounted by Clark himself.

    Act 2 would open not with the military guys telling us the aliens will make a big entrance, but in the newsroom with Lois witnessing their big entrance. We won’t even see the Krypton episode until the middle of Act 2, where she meets Jor-El…

  23. THANK YOU! Zack Snyder is Michael Bay! And the repetitiveness of the CGI almost lulled me into a coma. Perfect review! I think I did like this slightly better than you did, but that is really damning with faint praise. By the way, I can’t believe all of the people who are defending Man of Steel. It’s a bad movie. I don’t know how else to say it.

    • Opening weekend audiences are defending it. Do you remember how popular Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was? It made $402M and that was back in 2009. It would be more like $428M in today’s dollars. Try looking up how audiences rate it on NOW. It’s currently at 5.9/10.

  24. Yikes!!! I can see some of the letdown, but honestly this can’t be called a disaster film. There was quite a lot of heart and soul pumped into this thing, even if the script didn’t hold up to the grand gestures laid out by all the action sequences, and so forth. However, I do think this film has suffered from unrealistic expectation that was not only created by spectacular trailers, but galvanized by an excess of other promotional material, as well as four (I think) additional trailers. There was far too much hype around this film.

    Even with that said, yes there were more than a few weaknesses to the film but I have to more or less disagree with this review hahah. Still nicely put, and I do agree with a few points. At times it’s a bit too generic a blockbuster

    • Where was the heart? Was it during the scene where all the buildings were being destroyed by Superman in his battle with Zod. Obviously people live in buildings so Superman was basically responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

      Did I just blow your mind? 😉

      • 1) each conversation between young Clark and his father Jonathan were important, open to a lot of interpretation and were meaningful. Costner was good in this role (a surprise for even me)

        2) Kal-el/Superman’s complete sense of loss of innocence when he does what he does to Zod in the end. . .okay, forget about spoilers i think everyone here has seen it .. . so when he kills Zod he lets out a roar of anguish, that really dug deep (at least it did me) and you cold sense in some way that got the best of Superman

        3) Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer’s scenes, even though slightly rushed, were full of heart. It was a heart-breaking scene giving Kal-el up. . . again, to me.

        4) i give up. 🙂

      • Ok, well thanks for the examples. That at least gives me an idea of where you found heart. None of those things felt real to me. That “roar of anguish” actually felt kind of campy to me. We see that reaction in so many films. Spock does it in Star Trek Into Darkness and while I love the film, that was a rare moment that felt phony and it felt like fake emotion here too.

        Oh I almost forgot to mention all of the product placement deals as well.

  25. I like this movie in spite of itself, I guess. At the very least I have to hand it to the film that it’s not as awful as its 2006 predecessor.

  26. The chief problem here is one of rhythm and balance in the storytelling and directing. The movie swings between destructive overstatement and flat-footed homilies.

  27. I didn’t have a hard time following the story and enjoyed the background on Krypton. I think the portion there helped provide a lot of the explanation (both scientific and moral) as to why Superman and Zod turned put the way they did. That said, I wasn’t fond of how it jumped around chronologically and found that it disrupted the narrative doing it that way. I agree that it was too long and that the CG fights were both excessive and at most times incomprehensible. I share your distaste for Snyder as a filmmaker. His camerawork and editing feel as frenetic as Michael Bay. Great review Mark.

    • While I didn’t enjoy this film, I don’t have a “distaste for Zack Snyder as a filmmaker.” I really enjoyed 300 and Dawn of the Dead. Watchmen had its moments too.

      • Fair enough. My bad on misinterpreting. I also enjoyed 300 and Dawn of the Dead. I wasn’t in love with Watchmen, but you’re right it did have its moments.

  28. While I disagree with you on some points, I agree with you on others. This film had no sense of joy, life or emotion. The characters were robotic and I’m still not convinced I liked Henry Cavill as Superman. The flashback and the flow of the story didn’t allow you to get close to the characters. As much as these things bothered me, I could not help but be entertained and leave with a smile on my face.

    • Henry Cavill did what he could. I think the script and directing was more to blame than him.

      I get the excitement factor. I’ve felt the same way about certain films with obvious flaws. Immortals is an example.

  29. SEASolicitorCJS Says:

    The one thing they forgot with this movie: Superhero movies, at their core, are supposed to be fun.

    • Good point. It felt like a labored product rather than an exciting story that had to be told.

    • Then why do people like “The Dark Knight Rises” so much? I liked it, don’t get me wrong, but not what I would consider a “fun” movie.

      • Ah but in essence The Dark Knight Rises is a “fun” movie. It is anything but a labored product. Don’t confuse “dark” with “joyless.“ Christopher Nolan displays the enthusiasm of a filmmaker telling a story that he is excited to tell in that awesome picture. On a superficial level they’re both somber in tone, but the difference between these two pictures is night and day.

  30. Wordschat Says:

    As a fellow reviewer now via Flixster user reviews I should be encouraging Mark and any blogger / reviewer to give us his thoughts. Sure in this case I disagree with his take on Superman but so what. Mark you took the the time and effort to write, you’re super to give a darn to speak your mind. After all it’s only an action movie not a remake of Ben Hur.

    • Oh gosh, that would imply action films can’t be great like Ben Hur. For example, there once was a little film called Star Wars…a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

  31. Yikes, I thought it was a “good” movie. I actually saw it twice. When I saw it the first time I kept comparing it to the classic 78-80 films. On that comparison it does not come close to being as good. When I saw it the second time, I just focused on what I didn’t understand the first time, around and did NO comparisons. It worked, I actually liked it better. Still not great, but with all the background stories done, maybe the second Superman will be able to focus more on Clark Kent and Superman. Hopefully. 3 stars.

    • Et tu, Ruben?

      Comparisons to the 1978 and 1980 movies are unfair since those are the greatest superhero films ever made. I treated Man of Steel on its own merits, a movie to be judged by the value of its own story and script. Needless to say, it didn’t succeed even by those standards.

  32. People’s reaction to your low score is how people talk to me when I tell them I didn’t like Avengers. To each their own. I still haven’t seen this Superman, but whilst I can’t see it coming close to the Reeve version, I’m still looking forward to it.

    • I know people can get very protective about a film they loved. This is why I took the time to explain in depth why I didn’t care for it. I could see an outcry with a bad review against Superman (1978) because that’s a masterpiece, but not this. It was so disrespectful to the spirit of the original character.

  33. Until my review goes up, I can only respond with the idea I mentioned a while back for a podcast that you and I would host:

    “No, You’re Wrong!” 😉

    • I think my reasons are pretty well covered, so I’ll look forward to your review which I’m sure will explain your feelings in a little more depth. 🙂

  34. I haven’t seen this yet, but didn’t realise there were so many flashbacks. 😦

    • For some reason, once we find Superman on Earth, he’s a fully grown man working on an oil rig. So the story is constantly jumping around to give details about his earlier life.

      • Well, I’ve seen this now, and I’m in agreement with a lot of the stuff you say in your review. I rated it a little higher on my site (although not by much), because I enjoyed some of it (the fight in the small town), but once the third action heavy act kicked in, it all went to hell.

        I rewatched The Avengers again a couple of days ago, just to compare the very similar alien attacks on a big city. What surprised me about the ending was just how much The Avengers actively tried to save innocent human life during all the huge fights. In Man of Steel, until that very last bit with Zod, Superman seemed just as much a menace, with little indication that he really cared.

        And damn those flashbacks!!

      • No question. The Avengers is a much much better film.

  35. On another note: how do you get 115 responses so quickly?! WOW.

  36. martin250 Says:

    nice review Mark. am planning to wait for this on video. your review confirms some of my worries- “There is no warmth, no wit, no humor, no joy” , not to mention CGI overdoze.

    the disagreements over this film looks like a clear case of 2 types of viewers. The “Dark Knight” generation of viewers who prefer seriousness. And the “Donner Superman” generation who prefer a balance in tone. I dont think Superman should be too dark and serious. That would be Batman.

    • I do prefer the Richard Donner version of Superman, but I was prepared to enjoy a new interpretation. The problematic issues really had nothing to do with this being “too dark.” I see joy in the Dark Knight series for example. I appreciate the attempt to do something fresh with this material. It’s a shame the script was so bad and the final third of the film was just a bunch of buildings falling down. Yawn!

      • martin250 Says:

        i see. bad script and a boring third act. that’s not good.

        on a side note, your mention about attempting something fresh and unchecked CGI usage, leads to a couple of questions:

        1) should remakes of Great films be permitted by the industry?

        2) should the industry start implementing rulings regarding CGI limits ex: Maybe they should only allow up to a certain CGI-to- live action ratio so that film makers are in a position to be more creative.

        anyhow..those would be pretty harsh rules. but might make an interesting debate though..

      • I think implementing rules and regulations in an industry that thrives on creative expression would be a very bad idea.

        We can affect change with our wallets. If someone doesn’t like remakes and/or CGI, don’t go see those films. If everyone did this, Hollywood would respond.

        Obviously people enjoy CGI heavy films. Man of Steel is a huge hit.

  37. Wow, you really hated this film haha. I liked it enough, but it definitely had its problems. A lot of the fight sequences got repetitive (how many buildings did he crash into?!!)

    Also, Adams described their dynamic as “a strong friendship”, which I agree with. I never really saw a romantic connection between the two, which isn’t a bad thing at all, I found their friendship really sweet and charming, so when the actual romantic interaction between the two happened, it caught me a little off guard. Perhaps that’s all down to the messy script.

    Still, I found it entertaining.

    • When a film feels like a commercial product and not the result of creativity, I lose interest. The bad script, coupled with ungodly amounts of CGI didn’t captivate me. I respond to a good story and interesting characters, but this had no heart. It did a good job advertising IHOP, Sears and 7-Eleven. Hopefully they sold some extra pancakes.

  38. Where do I sign? When I heard that Nolan would be involved in what they fortunately called Man of Steel (because there was no Superman in there) I was afraid we would have TDK all over again: lot of crap over stupid reasons with plot holes that would make any C movie feel like a piece of art. It paid off.

    That final part with the Man of Steel fighting Zod without caring for the remains of the already leveled city… let alone the civilians, was so not Superheroish that it was impossible to not compare it with the end of Superman Il, when Super did everything to take the fight away from the city, which was later embodied by Captain American in The Avengers when he worried to “secure the perimeter” to reduce damage… material and lives.

    Pa Depressed Kent dying in that tornado was the most stupid plot device “to teach something to a hero” I’ve ever seem. They could at least have Clark to choose between save his father and someone else. That would teach him that he couldn’t save everyone. The way it was done it was just cowardice personified! Way contrary to Coulson’s death in The Avengers, what brought the hero in those super powered humans and not so much humans and allowed The Avengers to be formed. It gave the whole meaning to the avengers in the title. Heros became Superheroes. Even the turn of character for Thor was done better in his film.

    By the way, the plot had so much things from other movies that I had Star Trek moments (the terraforming machine reminded me of Nero’s machine used to destroy Vulcan), x-men moments (in the oil plataform, Cavill was so Wolverinish with that beard and later with the whole truck thing), Buffy (the codex? how about another name for the book), Angel (Jasmine wanted to garantee world peace by eaten just a few humans daily the same way that it was ok for pa Kent to advice Clark that as long as his secret was kept, it was ok for people to die. So the end justifies the means), Indiana Jones (that skull) and Avengers.

    I consider Davy Jones to be the perfec CGI ever made. It did look real. Spiderman I and II had great cgi battles in which we could see hero and villain fighting. We could see their faces. The GCI in MOS is crap. Blured vultures flying around pushing each other was not fun for the eyes.

    Another wasted opportunity.

    • Agreed. I found your scholarly discourse to be well researched and very intelligent.

      Just to clarify to readers who might not remember, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) was the main antagonist in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. He appears in Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End.

      Thanks for contributing your thoughts. I really enjoyed reading them,.

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