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The Story/The Direction:
This film was the first film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and was a reboot of the Superman franchise after Superman Returns failed to do so. The film is directed by Zack Snyder, written by David S. Goyer, and stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Russell Crowe. Snyder decided to ditch the feel-good feeling of the Christopher Reeve-starred films and to go down the Christopher Nolan route that Nolan did with his Batman film trilogy, Image result for a man of steel kryptonite story starts on Krypton that is a combination of the Matrix and Avatar. This viewing of Krypton was absolutely fantastic and it is gorgeous to look at. It also flows really well with the cinematography. Superman’s dad Jor-El (Crowe) and mother Lara try to convince the government that the planet is being destroyed and stopping a rebellion led by Zod. Zod and his followers are sent to the Phantom Zone. Krypton explodes except for Kal-El who is sent off to Earth and is raised by Ma (Lane) and Pa Kent (Costner). As he grows up, Clark Kent (Cavill) discovers from a young age that he is a super-powered alien and attempts to be mankind’s protector from General Zod (Shannon) from destroying humanity. Image result for a man of steel zack snyderSnyder’s direction is not the best here but it is also not the worst. I really enjoyed some of the shots he had and the choices he made regarding the cinematography. There were some really cool shots when Clark is flying for the first time and the music is great as done by the amazing Hans Zimmer.
The only character really looking into is the titular one played by Cavill as the majority of the others were more like flaws than positive aspects. Cavill did an okay job playing Superman’s angst and inner torment. However, this is not without flaws, I will into this in a bit. Cavill definitely looks the part being probably the most jacked out of all of the portrayals of the character. Visually, I felt he was well cast.
The main flaw with this film’s writing and how it deals with its characters including the titular one. Superman is not really relatable for me and this I feel was due to the influence of Nolan. Batman is/was a “symbol” to be an antagonist to crime and injustice so it made sense to be dark. Whereas Superman is very different as he is the sole survivor of an alien planet, he can destroy cities, fly faster than a speeding bullet, has laser eyes, and has x-ray vision. He is obviously very distant from humanity. In this film, he is shown to be a confused human who is trying to find his place but then, in the end, he is an alien who is among us, but not truly one of us. I think this is due to the film’s lack to give the viewers the idea of Clark Kent/Superman duality until the end of the film. Perhaps this is because the film introduces the concept of Clark Kent and Superman as a dual personality only at the very end of the film. This film does not care about the “human” side of him and honestly makes him a little more frightening. The reason why people like him is because he has all these powers but uses it to do good. In this film, we see him as an alien that yearns for his lost planet Krypton and the supporting cast is not much better. I will say also Cavill was not the best actor for the role. While he looked the part, he attempted to act more troubled and complex as to fit the film, he added no charm to the character and he has the same “troubled” look the entire film.
But he isn’t the only problem. Related imageThe all star cast is led by Shannon, Adams, Crowe, Costner, Fishburne, and Lane. However, a very weak script did not allow them to shine. The film clearly minimizes it’s two women stars especially Adams as Lois. She is a better reporter than the other films but she is only in this film to help Clark’s journey way to understand himself and claim his destiny. This Lois is very smart, but she has no personality and her relationship with Clark is almost non-existent until they kiss. I did not believe them to be connected in any way aside from the Lois and Clark mythos. Also and not to knock against Lois’s intelligence but you’re telling me that she is the only one in the entire world that could figure out that Clark Kent is Superman? I call B.S. on that one…Image result for a man of steel Diane laneMa Kent is a loving mother but she is not used as much as Pa-Kent who has a much more powerful presence on screen. Image result for a man of steel Lara even Lara-El is not used as much as her husband Jor-El. Why couldn’t both their consciences be on the ship? Having said this, the men in this film are really no better as they were given bad writing. Image result for a man of steel kostnerCostner felt like a daytime soap dad and the writing gave him the dumbest death. Clark could have done something. In Superman the Movie, he dies based on heart condition of which Clark has no control over. Here, he could have easily have run over as fast as a speeding bullet and saved him. The death in the former is better and much more heart-wrenching.
Fishburne as Perry White was the typical nice guy boss who turns the other cheek, even Lois goes back his back and publishes an article that he disapproved of. Shannon wasn’t terrible but he just had some terrible dialogue and the motivation for his character to destroy the earth to recreate his people was dumb. Why not just rule it with the powers you have? If you recreate your people, you won’t be the only one with powers.
The worst of them all go to Crowe. Apart from the opening sequence, I hated the character. The only thing I liked about him was that he gave the viewers a character with a powerful voice. Aside from that, he was only there for plot movement. He would tell either Lois or Clark what to do. In the prior films, Jor-El AND Lara were used to give advice but their knowledge was limited because they were pretty. Here, it’s essentially his conscious in the ship so he can say anything he wants. I feel it was only this way because Crowe wanted to be a bigger part of the film. If this is not the case, it was a terrible decision by Snyder. Marlon Brando did better in the 15 minutes of screen time in Superman: The Movie than Crowe did for the entire film.
Another problem is with its confusing themes. There seems to be a theme of choice as shown in the opening sequence on Krypton. Children are grown but Jor-El and Lara choose to make a baby the old fashioned way, creating Kal-El to revitalize Kryptonian society. This idea is then forgotten until the end where Clark is given the choice whether to destroy Earth or not, aka save everyone he loves from being killed. It's not a big choice really….In addition, what is the real reason why Jor-El puts the Codex into Clark? “To preserve the race?” He didn’t seem too much open with persevering the race as that’s essentially what Zod wanted to do. Image result for a man of steel battle another big problem is that Man of Steel has terrible action scenes as the big climax of the film is two Supermen hitting each other through buildings that have not really been developed too well. Watching two indestructible aliens fight, it has a different pull than watching Batman fight. He can have his ribs cracked and then buildings come falling down. I did not care if Superman got punched into a vault. Don’t get me started on the amount of damage that this causes…and then it is fixed up right away for the final scene. I know it gets discussed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice but as a stand-alone film, it's not a good look. The last flaw is that the special effects made me think I saw a green screen in almost every scene.
I do feel that Superman was wasted with this film but I didn’t hate the film as much as I did on the first viewing. This film is not without flaws but it's not as bad as I thought it was. It goes to show a rewatch can change your viewing of the film. The flaws definitely are mainly due to poor writing but if you can get by that overall problem, the film can be somewhat average but enjoyable. However, I would rewatch BvS and Wonder Woman before this film.