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Review Date: 07/25/13

Well, this has been on my chest as it where for awhile now, so I might as well get it off my chest right?

The other day, I managed to catch Man of Steel on Cinemax. So I watched.

I now can properly express why I dislike it so much.

First things first, let's get the positives, what few there are, on the table first.

Henry Cavill does a very, VERY good job playing both Clark Kent and Superman. He gives Clark Kent a likablity and down-home personality that doesn't feel disingenuous. As Superman, he plays the nessicary noblity and suaveness quite well, and really, most of my issues with this version of Superman are more directed towards the rest of the film then Henry. So yeah, I like Henry Cavill in the role, no worries.

The other positive are the trio of supporting characters played by Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni and Antje Traue (Parry White, Col. Nathan Hardy and Faora respectively). They all do their best with the material, and Traue brings an ocean of charisma to the rather one-dimensional character she was given.

Now for the ocean of negatives. This is the fun part.

Oh my god the rest of this cast is awful. The stellar talents of Amy Adams are completely and utterly wasted into nothing by the sheer failure of Goyer's chicken-scratch screenplay. This universe's Lois is sarcastic and snarky, but in all the wrong ways. Instead of coming across as a sharp-minded, smart woman with a heart of gold (like, say, Superman: The Animated Series), we instead get a stereotypical 'career woman' who mocks and belittles others around her while holding her head high like she's better then anyone else. The worst part is that she has absolutely no business being in this film from a story standpoint, since almost everything she does could have been done by any number of side characters. Also, Synder never seems to be able to get Adams to loosen up and properly act, and she really seems asleep throughout the film. Maybe she was saving her truly stellar skills for Spike Jonze's Her or something, I don't know.

Another sin before God is the fact that Michael Shannon, an actor I KNOW is extraordinarily talented, is absolutely abysmal as General Zod. His take on the character is a complete mess, with no focus on what drives Zod at all. Instead of a cultured, affably evil mastermind ala Terrence Stamp in Superman II or even the more blatantly militaristic one fromSuperman: The Animated Series, we instead get this strange, wild eyed coocoolander who's constantly shouting and barking like some kind of half-rabid dog. I feel no real menace from him, nor do I feel any real sympathy for him either. And don't get me wrong. On paper, the idea of Zod being born and bread for the protection of the now destroyed Krypton, and having a chance to create a new one is rife for both sympathy and complexity. Instead, the complex goldmine of themes (ranging anywhere from the morality of eugenics to racism to if the ends ever justify the means), is completely ignored in favor of an endless barrage of cackling, yelping, growling and hollering that just makes you wish Heath Ledger's Joker would come and blow him up already.

Also, the rest of the cast is squandered. Diane Lane's Ma Kent is flat and uninspired, babbling out miniature speeches that feel like they're being read off the paper from a fortune cookie. She also lacks the gentle, calming nature that Ma Kent usually has. She feels oddly aloof and cold for a Ma Kent in my eyes. This is a shame, since Diane Lane is, once more, a very good actress.

Kevin Costner is the worst Pa Kent I've ever seen. For one thing, Kevin Coster, while not a horrific actor, is no Daniel Day-Lewis. I've never really felt he had all that much range as an actor, and it really becomes glaring in this film, where Pa Kent feels as if he's some sort of alien golem with no emotions. On top of that, all of the advice he gives is absolutely horrific advice, coupled with a strange, unfounded paranoia that causes him to hover over and oppress Clark instead of allowing the child to develop naturally. A crowing moment of this strange, fatalistic version of Not-Pa Kent is when he willingly lets himself get sucked and killed by a tornado, instead of allowing Clark (whose only a few hundred feet away mind you) to save his life. Why? Because the world isn't ready apparently. So yeah, he just lets himself get killed, simply standing and waiving as a freaking tornado barrels over him. Damnable idiot. Another moment is when a young Clark saves his school bus from sinking into a river after a (rather hard to buy) accident, and  we get this little gem:

Clark Kent at 13: What was I supposed to do? Just let them die?

Jonathan Kent: Maybe; but there's more at stake here than our lives or the lives of those around us.

Um, excuse me Mr. Not-Kent, but I think when a bus full of children crashes into a river, and you're the only person able to save them, you get up off your ass as save them dammit. You idiot.

Another waist, not quite as horrific as Shannon's or Adams' is Russell Crowe as Jor-El. I love Russell Crowe as an actor. I know he can play this role to a T. Instead, just like everything else in this film, his performance is hollow and empty, lacking in conviction or heart. It just feels like he's going through the motions, awaiting the rather sizable paycheck that awaits him. Not quite as bad as Marlon Brando, I might say (Who I always felt was rather stiff and lifeless as Jor-El), but still another wondrous opportunity missed.

Moving on....

The 'screenplay' written by David S. Goyer isn't a screenplay. It's an empty mass of words that just so happen to resemble a screenplay. Every moral, every word is a tacky, empty piece of tripe, lacking in conviction or heart. On top of that, there isn't a single ounce of real humor in the film. Everything is dour and serious, as if we're watching some sort of apocalyptic requiem for Superman, and not a triumphant premiere and celebration of him. Everything drags along, moving from scene to scene with the speed of molasses, driving through plot holes like freight train, with contrivance piling atop contrivance to create a depressing, draining dredge of cinema.

The direction by Zack Synder has me divided. One the one hand, he knows how to frame an action sequence, and how to really lend impact to the punches and to the flight sequences. He also is able to evoke epic scope quite well, and smaller, more pastoral elements easily....but again, the screenplay shoots him in the foot, and he is still not skilled enough to pull himself above it. Instead, most of the film just drags on and on and on and on, with an ending fight sequence that feels more like watching 9/11 played on repeat over and over again as building after building collapses, sending billowing clouds of debris rolling upon thousands upon thousands of helpless, panicked, running civilians. This isn't helped by airplanes regularly slamming into the sides of buildings, only to explode into a fireball that rebounds off the building into another before crashing to the ground. On top of that, once practically every building in Metropolis is wiped off the map and left as a giant smoldering crater, we get ANOTHER fight sequence, this time Zod and Superman mono-a-mono, which just leads to two cgi men in spandex punching each other, causing MORE buildings to collapse, and MORE civilians to end up dead.

Let's also talk about the fact that the cinematography makes the entire film look like a funeral that never ends, with literally EVERY color being stifled under an oppressive soggy blanket of gray. It's an eyesore, completely clashing with the normally colorful and efferent colors that fill Superman's world.

Also, let's talk about the fact that Superman kills Zod outright, in a way that is so contrived and stupid that it makes what might otherwise be a serious lapse in judgement that might haunt our hero, into a mere snap of the neck and brief scream. That's it. Why didn't Clark just fly Zod and hurl him into space? Why couldn't he just take this entire fight out into the country side, and duke it out there, away from the already half-destroyed city? Why is Clark giving away key tactical advantages by outright explaining how to overcome the information overload a Kryptionian has upon arriving on earth? Why is Clark to anti-social here? Why does he constantly worry about if he'll be excepted or not? Why is he always seemingly reluctant to help people? Why is this movie so damned long?

The music by Hans Zimmer is forgettable. There are some interesting moments here and there, and the theme is serviceable, but the music isn't as inspiring or melodic as John Williams' work, and just helps add to the overall oppressive realm the film dwells in.

In the end, the film is an over-long, dirge like affair with plot holes abound and unlikable characters, with as much character development as a piece of wet bread. No one really learns anything, no one experiences a true epiphany or revelation about themselves, and it all just feels like a bloated piece of junk.

I give it a 1 out of 5 stars.

  • Mood: Anger

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Bronyman1995
Ben Miranda
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