Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, look, it’s that other superhero movie that all the critics hated!
I have to admit: I’m not a big Zack Snyder fan. The only movie I’ve ever seen of his is Watchmen and, to be honest, I’m much more a fan of the book than the adaptation. Snyder is much more of a visual director than he is at handling dialogue or characters. However, there are good elements in the movie.
The best thing about the movie is, by far, the casting. Henry Cavill was perfect as Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent. He managed to pull off not only the Superman element, but he also was able to manage to provide a surprisingly human element to the character. Russell Crowe is a perfect Jor-El, Michael Shannon did a great job as General Zod (though at times he was definitely overacting), Amy Adams was a phenomenal Lois Lane; and not to mention the casting of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as John and Martha Kent. And the movie really benefits from a great villain with Faora, who really managed to pull her own against Zod.
I really liked how they established Krypton and its culture. Even though we only got to see a few minutes of the planet itself, it was interesting to see what life and establishment there was on Krypton before the eventual destruction of the planet.
Hans Zimmer’s score is an amazing addition to the movie. There are points in the music where I actually got chills. Much like what he did for the Dark Knight trilogy, he does away with the old ‘classic’ themes for the character and revamps a new one. In the case of Man of Steel, we get a rousing heroic theme with “What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World?”. But the other songs in the soundtrack work perfectly with the movie, giving excitement to the epic fights and highlighting emotional, more quiet moments for characters to stop and reflect.
The product placement in this movie is ridiculous. It makes Iron Man 3’s use of product placement look subtle and nuanced in comparison, when Superman just conveniently happens to crash through a Sears and an IHOP. I understand that no movie gets made without funding, but product placement should at least be subtle.
I hate shaky camera work. And watching MOS, I could tell that there was a cameraman holding the camera in almost every single shot. The frame kept moving around unnecessarily, which, to me, distracts from the fact that I’m watching a movie. Additionally, Snyder does a lot of odd and unnecessary zoom-ins which are jarring to watch.
Sometimes, the effects in the movie were less realistic and felt more like they belonged in a video game. Yes, I realize that this is a movie about an unrealistic alien who can fly, lift buildings into the air, has heat vision coming from his eyes, etc. But, with the budget for this movie, they couldn’t afford better effects? It just seemed a little ‘cartoonish.’
Here’s where viewers will either draw the line or will accept what happens at the very end. Zod, whose sole mission was to protect Krypton, begins terraforming the Earth in an attempt to rebuild Krypton, thereby eliminating everyone on the planet. Several more fights ensue, but the one that draws the most criticism is the one in which Metropolis is practically decimated.
The final act of the movie, to me, was a little long and drawn out. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy the fight scenes, but it felt like what I would call “disaster pornography.” Entire buildings are destroyed, and, presumably, thousands of people are killed in the fight between Superman and Zod. In a way, it felt like the ending to Return of the King, in that there are so many endings to wrap everything up. There’s Superman’s fight in Smallville, his fight against the world-engine, the fight to protect Metropolis and the fight against Zod. The movie might have benefitted from a little less fighting, honestly. But, as I said, I did enjoy the fights.
And the most controversial part of all: in order to protect a family from Zod’s heat vision, Superman makes a split second decision and snaps Zod’s neck. This was the decision that split a lot of fans. The way I see it: when he was put into a decision like that, Superman made the best decision he could make to protect innocent people. And it’s not like he celebrated killing one of his own people either. He cried out in agony over the fact that he killed the last remaining Kryptonian.
It’s come out recently that Chris Nolan was not a huge fan of how the movie ended. And while I can see where he came from, I’m okay with Superman snapping Zod’s neck.
Lastly, I’d just like to discuss the critical reaction to this movie. Listen, I love movie criticism. I love offering my opinion (not that it really matters) and I equally enjoy hearing what others have to say about movies I’ve seen. However, there has been a lot of almost vicious response to this movie. It’s currently sitting at 56% on Rotten Tomatoes, which makes it clearly rotten. Because clearly, whatever Rotten Tomatoes’s rating score says is the be-all/end-all final say on movie reviews. It reminds me of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where the movie that Mike and the bots were forced to watch received 2 and 1/2 stars from film critic Leonard Maltin. (Video starts at 11:44)
But just to highlight what’s wrong with Rotten Tomatoes, here are some movies rated higher than MOS:
The Amazing Spider-Man-73%
Quantum of Solace-64%
X-Men: The Last Stand-57%
Iron Man 3-79%
If you know me, I was less than pleased with Iron Man 3, so seeing that it has a higher rating than Man of Steel was astonishing to me.
While flawed and imperfect, Man of Steel is an interesting reintroduction to Superman’s origins. There’s definitely something here, but with the right people, MOS could have been a fantastic movie. It’s nowhere near as perfect, in my opinion, as the Dark Knight trilogy (a vibe this movie was definitely trying to go for), but it’s an entertaining experience nonetheless. B+.