Max Landis Rants About "Man of Steel"

‘Man of Steel’ Review

For better or worse, everyone already knows the Superman story to some extent. So everyone is going to have some sort of expectation going into Man of Steel. My personal expectation was to see a fairly serious take on the Superman mythos. After the incredibly dull Superman Returns, people had been waiting for a worthy movie to take up the Superman mantle.

I don’t know if Man of Steel is that movie exactly, but it’s pretty damn close.

First off, Man of Steel is easily better then Superman Returns. In terms of pacing, action, acting, editing, basically it’s an improvement in entertainment, plain and simple. Henry Cavill takes on the prolific role and does a good job of embodying the legendary figure. Cavill is capable of getting his emotional points across with simple facial gestures and it works well in showing Clark Kent as a vulnerable person. Not to mention, Cavill just looks like what you picture Superman as.

In the film, General Zod is in search of Superman and “The Codex”, a database of all the unborn Krytonians after Krypton was destroyed. His hope is to create a new Krypton. General Zod is brought to life by the great Michael Shannon who is clearly having fun in the role, while also being the most intense character on screen. Watching Shannon letting loose with Zod was quite a treat and he really just steals every scene he enters.

Then we have everyone else. Costner as Mr. Kent, Crowe as Jor-El (Superman’s real father), Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Everyone gives solid performances, however this leads me to my major issue with the film. The script. The film was penned by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins). He is a pretty well known writer, but I have never found his dialogue particularly compelling.

What really ends up failing in Man of Steel is the serious lack of development for the Clark Kent character. The entire movie, we got plenty of Superman but not enough Clark Kent. The movie starts with an epic prologue where Krypton is destroyed. Once Clark is sent to Earth, though, the film jumps ahead quite a bit. We find Clark aboard a fishing vessel and, after seeing an oil rig ablaze, he raises into action to save the day. These sort of heroic events coupled with a handful of flashbacks to Clark’s childhood, are basically the only insight we ever gain into Clark’s head. While the scenes are good enough, the cheesy lines and constant exposition bothered me.

In a lot of ways, I though Kent’s Earth parents were very underutilized. We only really see them when it concerns Clark’s abilities. Of course that is important, but Mr. Kent is so convinced of the world shunning Clark that it got obnoxious. In some ways his advice and his actions just didn’t make sense. Furthermore, it seemed like a lot of his experiences with humans were kind of bad ones. I am sure there were people he met that kept him going, but I don’t think we ever saw enough of what was motivating Clark other then being good.

This brings me back to what I said early about people knowing so much about Superman. Man of Steel does change some things about the Superman Mythos, but I think the film makers became far too reliant on that fact. The perfect example is in Lois Lane and Clark Kent’s relationship. He saves her life a couple of times, of course, but the whole love just feels like it’s supposed to happen rather then feeling natural. I never felt much chemistry between the two of them. It’s no fault of the actors. Both are very capable. It’s the fact that most of their scenes involve Clark just saving her life and that gets a little old. We never get to see a scene of them having any sort of real heart to heart, it’s mostly just quick conversations.

Wanting to end this on a good note, it’s time to talk about the highlight of the movie from my personal standpoint. The action. For some, this is what’s really going to make people fans, and that’s a good thing. Some have been saying that the action is a bit over abundant, but it’s everything you’ve probably ever wanted, action wise, from a Superman film.

From the opening prologue of Krypton’s destruction to the last scenes of Metropolis being destroyed, the action is nothing but grade A, high flying, fist-flinging action. Anytime the action would start up, people in the crowd were literally cheering in admiration. Having seen quite a few action movies this year, the reactions from the Man of Steel crowd were by far the most positive.

In the end, Man of Steel has some incredible strengths and some glaring flaws. The flaws are never daunting or distracting enough to take away from the movies pace, but people who were looking for the incredibly complex portrait of Clark Kent becoming Superman, you may still have to wait.

Man of Steel is DEFINITELY a movie to see in theaters. It’s also something I would recommend to a wide variety of people. I think most people can find something to like here, even if it isn’t perfect.

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