Well, it’s finally here.
While Marvel Studios’ big budget Avengers venture started with a relatively obscure hero, DC opted to use their heavy-hitter: Superman.
However, the choice to reboot the all-American hero’s franchise – as a jumping off point for eventual Justice League movies – wasn’t cut and dry, since he floundered critically the last time around in Superman Returns. So, how did Clark Kent’s alter-ego fair this time?
The answer: Not so bad. Not so great, either.
As for plot, Man of Steel is pretty straight-forward. Clark Kent is sent to Earth by his parents, has a difficult time growing up (and comes across as autistic), travels the world incognito, then returns to his earthly hometown to save the day when Kryptonian General Zod – a remnant of Superman’s home world – comes calling.
While the cast is full of relatively strong talent, everything comes down to three main roles.
Henry Cavill, as Clark, is superb. While the actor does little talking, he has the art of the emotive expression down perfectly. Zod (Michael Shannon) is a pretty typical movie villain, but his motives are pretty strong, so he’s not downright bad.
Then there’s Lois Lane (Amy Adams) who does a great job as the snarky but earnest Daily Planet reporter.
Since the plot and acting were both good, my main issue with the movie lies with pacing. It felt like everything was moving way, way too fast.
Clark’s childhood is shown through flashbacks instead of in a linear fashion, which I thought was a good choice so as to not split the movie into sub-plots with a jarring tone difference. However, instead of serving as solely emotional beats to highlight the character motivation in the main plot, many added more action sequences on top of central storyline action.
When the movie is good, it’s very good. Scenes like Clark learning to fly, his introduction to the sort-of Fortress of Solitude, and his horrific childhood of seeing people’s internal organs are all great moments, but because of the quick-pacing, the audience never gets a chance to let those moments soak in. It’s immediately back to punching, shooting, explosion!
Reading this, you may be confused. Trailers for this movie highlighted the involvement of Christopher Nolan – the master of The Dark Night trilogy – and while his presence might be felt in the more emotional moments, this is a very different world.
That’s not a bad thing. The terms “dark and gritty” and “Superman” are kind of incongruous. While there is some of the former, this is a film full of the latter.
Overall, the plot, characters, and tone all worked for me, I just wish that pesky editing had let things go at a slightly less intense pace.
- Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adam, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane
- Directed by: Zach Snyder
- Running Time: 2 hours, 23 minutes
- Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Check out the trailer below:
What did you think of Man of Steel? Was the pacing good for you? Did anyone feel let down by tone and/or characterization?