Man of Steel (2013) +8 x3


Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s tonnes of falling glass and debris!

Episode 3: Man of Steel (2013)

The new Superman film, Man of Steel starring English actor Henry Cavill was a pretty great interpretation on the comic book hero.

The film begins with the dying Planet Krypton. Strange Giger-esque architecture and vaginas consume every detail. In a disagreement between Jor-El (Kal-El/Superman’s dad), the Kryptonian council and the rogue and racist General Zod, a revolution erupts in the planet’s last hour. In the melee, Kal-El is sent blasting Earthward. Jor-El is killed, Zod gets sent to the Phantom Zone and the Krypton becomes Kryptonite.

Using flash-backs throughout the first half of the story, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel kept me interested and intrigued in a story I know religiously. The story paints a lonelier picture of the young Clark Kent, battling with his desire to do good and help those in need while his adopted-father Jonathan Kent cynically warns him of his xenophobic fellow Earthmen.

After a series of sightings of his super-do-gooding and having saved the snooping reporter, Clark discovers he’s got Pulitzer prize winning reporter Lois Lane on his trail. What to do? What to do?

The answer comes in the form of the escaped General Zod and his band of grumpy soldiers who demand Earth to turn Kal-El over to him. Superman appears. Of course, General Zod intends badness and he begins terraforming Earth into a new Krypton which will end all human life in the process. Well that just won’t do.

Then the fighting begins.

An hour and a half later, it’s all over and Superman is dead. Lois Lane flies east around the west-spinning planet Earth, faster and faster, until it turns back the other way making time reverse and then Superman is alive again and everything is fine and dandy until everything being held on the surface by gravity floats away into space.

Of course that didn’t happen, that would be ridiculous.

Where was I? Right. An hour and a half later, it’s all over. The end.

While I really enjoyed this movie, it was watched under being assaulted by the loudest audio I’ve ever heard in a film. So loud in fact, that I feel like I’ve been to a concert. My ears feel like they need to recover and my throat is somewhat hoarse from talking (shouting) through the end credits waiting for the expected finale scene. Don’t wait, it isn’t there. It was so unbelievably loud that I’m tempted to write this whole review in capital letters. Sorry John Irving, but I won’t.

One of the interesting elements of the Man of Steel is that unlike previous incarnations, this film blatantly paints Superman as Jesus, the saviour of humanity. As Superman is being interrogated he says that he is 33 years old; the accepted age of Jesus when he was crucified, descended and ascended. A short time later, when about to save humanity he falls back with his arms extended is a ‘crucified’ pose. There are many shots and poses throughout the film that build this idea of the Jesus of Steel, but I applaud them in not being wishy-washy about it. Even the relationship between Clark and Lois harkens to the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the only person who knows him.

The Story of Man of Steel has been told countless times in comic books, on film, television, cartoons and still Zac Snyder has managed to make it feel fresh and new without taking too man liberties. The Story gets a +3. It’s approach with flash-backs and the overall moodiness was a nice contrast to past versions and paints Kal-El as something more of an intellectual, the way he should be portrayed. The Look also scores a +3 as it was beautiful and visually intriguing. The visual effects, his flying, the smashing, the throwing of cars was extremely realistic and though it had as problem or two, it’ll pay later. The Overall Casting was top-notch, couldn’t be better. Henry Cavill was a great Superman and deserves his place among George Reeves, Christopher Reeve and Tom Welling. Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Russell Crowe as Crowe-El, I mean Jor-El, and even Michael Shannon who had Terence Stamp’s big General Zod shoes to fill; they were all excellent. Even many of the lesser known supporting cast were brilliant including Battlestar-Canadians Alessandro Juliani and Tahmoh Penikett. Overall Casting scores a +2. The Commitment to Genre scores a +2 as this one rubs super-shoulders with the likes of the Dark Knight, Iron Man and the Avengers.

Subtotal: +10.

I think Man of Steel requires a deduction of one point (-1) for the destruction of Metropolis. It was too excessive; an endless barrage of smashing and crushing that at one point felt like this should be over…now…no way…how about now…nope. The sequel will need to be set 20 years in the future or everything will still be under construction. I will deduct a point (-1) because Zod’s soldier, the mute-giant Non who is never introduced, appears out of nowhere, never removes his mask and has no presence at all and I’m not really sure what even happened to him. He will share his point deduction with the Kryptonian armour – I just don’t like it. I will instead include him in a point (-1) deduction because of the speed of the action. Everything happens extremely fast and most of the details are missed by the eye. Every once in a while you will catch a glimpse of some great detail that if you weren’t looking there, just then, you would have missed it entirely (like several other bits). After several viewings, there will be more nuggets discovered I’m sure. I will add a point (+1) for the timber truck. Lastly, it will lose a point (-1) for the missing Superman theme. The music reminds me a bit of Tangerine Dream’s Bladerunner score but this film deserved the 1978 or the 1952 theme. This film has none.

I will say that I already want to watch it again.

Final score: +7.

The best teaser trailers ever made…

14 thoughts on “Man of Steel (2013) +8 x3

  1. As with Nolan’s Batman films, this one also draws inspiration from a published comic book story: 2006’s “Superman – Last Son”, written by …. wait for it … Richard Donner. Yes, THAT Richard Donner. As in the comic book, there’s Zod’s escape from the Phantom Zone with his Kryptonian gang bangers which includes a woman and a giant mute. Sound familiar? So, while everyone is desperate to distance themselves from 1978’s “Superman: The Movie”, it still fuels this new movie’s plot & characters. Too bad “Man of Steel” can’t replicate the one thing Donner’s movie did so well: making us feel the complete joy in seeing a man fly. If nothing else, Superman represents the best part of ourselves – what we aspire to be like. As Jor-El (Russel Crowe) says in the movie, “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.” (also taken from a comic book: “All-Star Superman”). What this movie is missing (what with the unrestrained carnage and almost complete destruction of Metropolis) is what we’re told the “S” means – hope.

    It sounds like I didn’t like the movie, but that’s not quite right – it was superbly made and thrilling; I just feel it didn’t live up to my expectations (rightly or wrongly based on the trailer).

    Starting with a base score of 7 (as Chadwick and I are in agreement here), I add a point (+1) for one of the best trailers ever but I subtract two points (-2) for not living up to that promise. While no one can top John William’s score from the ’78 film, I think Hans Zimmer’s score was terrific (+2) but the filmmakers lose a point (-1) for not having a scene which lets it soar as it does in the trailer.

    The casting of Henry Cavill, despite him being English and pale, was inspired and gets a point (+1) just for that casting choice. The guy effortlessly conveys the quiet confidence of a man who knows not much can hurt him but isn’t an arrogant prick about it.

    Subtotal: 8

    Still, I’m left with the feeling that the Superman in my mind always finds a way out of a no-win scenario, which the two WTF scenes in this movie goes against. Sorry, Zach – you lose a point (-1) for that.

    Final score: 7 (aw, c’mon – the same as Chad’s? Where’s the fun in that? Ok, I award a half point (+1/2) for a costume which works despite it being different than Christopher Reeve’s)

    Final final score: 7.5 (sue me for not being a round number)

  2. That’s funny. You do realize that rounds up to 8 so now you’re agreeing with teenagers who are just being introduced to Superman and who always wondered what that S stood for on those blue t-shirts they saw everywhere.

    I recently read that Henry Cavill auditioned in Christopher Reeve’s Superman suit. That made me inquire how tall Henry was because I find he looks short in the film. Lo and behold Mr. Cavill is 6′ not far off from Christopher Reeve and myself who Lurch in at 6′ 3″ (only inches taller than Ross). I guess his shoulders are just so wide that it makes him look shorter. At the same time, the lovely Amy Adams is 5’2″ and she appears close in height. Perhaps there is some height shenanigans going on here “accidentally” listing his height at 6′ instead of 5’6″, “oh, we forgot the five” on his bio; much like Ross’ bio.

    I only realized afterwards that he wasn’t wearing the red underwear in the film. I guess the costume was so impressive that a major change like that went unnoticed.

    While I agree with Ross about the lack of thrill in seeing a man appear to fly as we did in Superman: the Movie, I think that’s true for all effect-driven movies and horror films in general. When was the last time you felt scared watching a horror movie. I can probably count on one hand the times since the 80’s while Brucie on Hilarious House of Frightenstein scared the shit out of me. But Man of Steel’s flying is superb. Remember seeing Terminator 2 for the first time? Jurassic Park? Watch them now.

    I think another failure of Man of Steel that Ross didn’t mention, when comparing it to Superman II was that this General Zod didn’t have a laser-tractor-beam shoot out of his finger. What’s with that shit? No Oscar for Best Screenplay for Man of Steel.

  3. As the 3rd wheel of the Man of Steel opening night screening crew I have been instructed that I must provide my thoughts.
    I believe that my immediate reaction from the movie was a 7 so let’s see if that hold up!

    Story +2
    Look +2
    Overall Casting +2
    Commitment to Genre +2

    This given us a baseline of +8 to work with. Now onto the Pluses & Minus.

    +2 for not being a Marvel movie. This is in no way meant as a shot at Marvel but if this is going to be the template for the cinematic DC Universe I was happy to see that it was more inspired by the Dark Knight Trilogy than the brighter, lighter Marvel Movies. If there are going to be 2-3 Comic Book movies a year than the two universes need to feel different. The Marvel universe will be bright, cheerful, fun and popcorn where the DC universe will be more grounded, darker, and oozing with subtext.

    -3 for Superman NOT saving a dog. I don’t mean a literal dog here, but after he puts on the symbol of hope I can’t remember him ever going out of his way to save the little guy. For me that is a big part of who Superman is. He cared about the human race but never about all the people that died in all the destruction he caused in Metropolis.

    +0 for Superman killing Zod. I still don’t know what I think about this. I do like the fact that he immediately showed remorse for it but the Boy Scout doesn’t kill. That said he murdered Zod with a SMILE in Superman II and killed him again in John Byrne’s Man of Steel. I don’t think I can properly score this until after Man of Steel II comes out to see if this is addressed.

    +3 for making me understand why Clark becomes Superman. Let’s return to Superman: The movie. Why does Clark become Superman? Just ‘cus. For me this was the single best thing about the movie and why the last 1/4 has me so conflicted about how I feel about it overall. Snyder & Goyer did a fantastic job of really showing us why Clark becomes Superman. They showed a scared young boy and teenager who wanted to help but knew the world would fear/reject him. We saw him spend years trying to cope and isolate himself with his true nature always coming through. LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS!!!! Can’t say enough about this. When I rewatch this movie these are the scenes I will go back to again and again.

    -1 for being two different movies. The first three quarters of the movie was very character driven and then all of sudden a Michael Bay movie broke out.

    +1 for Amy Adams. This single best version of Lois I’ve ever seen. I’ve never liked Lois before but I quickly found myself rooting for this version.

    -1 for no General Lane. General Lane is THE Military connection in the Superman universe AND Lois’s father how did he get left out of the movie?

    +1 for explaining Zod’s motivations. Do you remember Superman: The Movie or Superman II. What was Zod’s motive? Oh wait, he didn’t have one. He was just evil because….the plot called for it. Here Zod was given a real origin story with pathos and a motivation for going after Clark. He showed deep regret for killing Jor-El and as much as I would not have made the same choices he did they did an excellent job at making them seem like choices that he would have made.

    -1 for too much distruction of both Smallville and Metropolis. I’ve covered this a lot and so have others.

    +1 for super speed fights! I really liked the way that superspeed was shown in the movie. Bring on a Bart Allen movie!

    -1 for their being Dragons on Krypton and the General look of Krypton. I did not like this. Dragons on Krypton are stupid. enough said.

    -1 for lack of classic Superman theme. It’s one of the most iconic themes of all time and really captures the hope of epicness of the character. Should have been used at some point.

    +1 for All-Star Superman reference:
    “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders”

    The greatest line from the greatest Superman story. Just cutting and pasting that gave me goosebumps!

    So overall I give in a +9. Higher that I would have thought. One final note, I actually find Superman: The Movie quite enjoyable but that ending is the worst. That said, I the guy who thinks that Batman & Robin is the best of the Burton/Shumacher films so maybe you are better off just ignoring this 800+ word review.

  4. Why does everyone think Supes killed Zod in Superman II? In the extended TV version they show the Arctic cops (US? Canadian? Inuit? WHO KNOWS!) arresting the 3 plus Lex. I’ve seen SII many, many times and I never once thought that he killed them (tossing Zod down a crevice was just understood to mean, “Man, you really pissed me off and I want to get you out of my sight. For now”). Besides, Lois hit Ursa (who fell down a crevice) and Non fell when he tried to fly and couldn’t, so can’t blame Supes for that. My guess is that only under 30’s think Zod dies. Maybe they’re move blood thirsty or desensitized to violence and hence expect it everywhere than us older, more civilized folks.

    I think a lot of Superboy’s points above are spot on and go towards why I feel so conflicted about this movie – on the one hand, we are given better motivations for ALL the characters here than in any other Superman movie but on the other the incredible disregard for collateral damage is NOT Supes’ style (especially when we see how he acts earlier in the movie). And while he went and cut-and-pasted Jor-Els lines from somewhere on the nets, I went and listened to the trailer again to do it in mine. And yes, there were goosebumps.

  5. The reason we think he killed Zod is because he threw a depower person into a bottomless pit! Seems pretty dead to me? I mean when Batman straps a bomb to a guy in Batman Returns and pushes him into an open Manhole and then there is an explosion I assume that to be murder as well. Also, never saw the TV cut of SupesII so…
    But I think this leads us down a rabbit hole of sorts.
    If you start saying that Superman (or Batman for that matter) did this in the comics or the movies once ergo he can do it now then almost anything is game. Originally in the comics Batman used a gun. In the 50’s Serial Batman was a government agent hunting down “japs”. In the Burton-verse Batman kills people like it’s going out of style.
    Superman also had a thing for punching “japs” during WWII and made a Porno in the 80’s (THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED – IN CONTINUITY AND EVERYTHING!!!!)

    I mean there is entire website devoted to example of Superman being a jerk.

    I heard a term awhile back that I think is crucial to characters like Batman & Superman. FANON. Fanon is the stories that each individual considers Canon for their version of the character. I mean what is your FANON origin for Superman?
    Man of Steel – (Zac Snyder)
    Man of Steel – (John Byrne)
    Superman – (Richard Donner)
    Smallville – (Gough/Millar)
    Birthright – (Mark Waid)
    For All Season – (Jeph Loeb)
    All-Star Superman – (Morrison)

    Something else?
    For me it is just page 1 from Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman
    Doomed Planet
    Desperate Scientists
    Last Hope
    Kindly Couple

    So the question is “Who is your Superman?”

  6. What we must accept is that Super-Movies need to be entertaining with the tools they have. George Reeves did a run and jump off of a trampoline with wind sound effects which sounded more like he was jet-propelled but it got the point across.

    Superman, like Captain America has had some really stupid story arcs. Don’t get me started about Cap-Wolf! But a film maker must step aside from comic book story arcs and scavenge what will make a great movie and then maybe even create some new concepts for a character because film need to be “real”. Of course, I mean real in a fake way. Again, to use Cap as the example: in the First Avenger movie he wore a fabric costume in the war-bond shows and I liked that costume but it would look hokey in the modern world.

    Superman must face real challenges and then make real decisions. He always tries to find a way but he’s smart enough to know that sometimes what must be done must be done. Sometimes fans don’t agree with those decisions because their Superman wouldn’t do that. While comic books have pictures, we are often still left to our own imaginations on how to interpret that images (of course, sometimes they’re very blatant). As with the Watchmen, I really didn’t like the movie because having read the comic book series many times I had developed an impression of what the feel of the story was. In spite of some great fight scenes and fantastic costumes, when the movie didn’t have the same feel as my impression, it didn’t work for me.

    Having said that, Man of Steel took some chances but as a fan of the idea of Superman more than the comics, I really enjoyed it. It is definitely a necessary two-views kind of film.

    Also, I am tempted to deduct another point because he found his uniform in the ancient ship. I think it was sent ahead and deposited into the 18,000 year old ice by a Battlestar Galactica space jump but I need to check. If it was just there as an ancient Kryptonian outpost, then how could it have his family crest on the chest? I need to know more about that element.

  7. THIS JUST IN via Newsarama:

    But for those who feel that this scene takes away the idea that Superman doesn’t kill – Well, not exactly. Director Zack Snyder explained:

    And the why of it was, for me, that if it’s truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is unexplained. It’s just in his DNA. I felt like we needed him to do something, just like him putting on the glasses or going to the Daily Planet or any of the other things that you’re sort of seeing for the first time that you realize will then become his thing. I felt like, if we can find a way of making it impossible for him–like Kobayashi Maru, totally no way out–I felt like that could also make you go, ‘Okay, this is the why of him not killing ever again, right?’ He’s basically obliterated his entire people and his culture and he is responsible for it and he’s just like, ‘How could I kill ever again?’

    In other words, this Superman will never kill again, because he’s already killed too much. It’s a significant change from traditional canon, but I have to admit, I kind of like it a lot.

  8. Ok, it’s not the movie under discussion but whoever said Supes tosses Zod into a bottomless pit in Superman II? If it was bottomless, what was holding up the damn fortress? And if he had just carelessly tossed him to his doom, don’t you think someone (anyone – even the other Kryptonians) would’ve have reacted with horror? Just sayin’ … kids these days are soooo looking for senseless violence. I bet you think Wiley Coyote dies every time he falls off the cliff and gets reborn somehow?

    BTW, he breaks Zod neck by pulling his head towards the family, so wouldn’t they have gotten zapped by his heat vision anyway?

  9. First of all, he didn’t break Zod’s neck, he was trying to subdue him and Zod super-twisted his body misjudging Kal-El’s grip. Second of all, the lights went out in Georgia just before the laser vision zapped the family. And lastly, while they will forever be freaked out over their near-deaht experience, that family will get a book deal and be on every talk show telling the story of their front row seats for Zod’s suicide.
    I must add that Wile E. Coyote (not Wiley Coyote) is a cartoon and his escaping death can in no way be compared to the real world of Superman.

  10. Doesn’t work with the WordPress account you set up for me, nerd. Told you that already but I guess you didn’t read that ’cause you’re too tired from watching the entire ‘Three’s Company’ DVD set.

  11. If you’ve watched Max Landis’ short film about the whole Death of Superman story arc from the early ’90s, then you know he has strong opinions about The Man of Tomorrow. Here’s what he thinks about Man of Steel:

    Max Landis Interview

    I think he has some valid points, although I completely disagree with him about Spidey being narcissistic.

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