Man of Steel (2013) (PG-13)
The first trailer I saw for "Man of Steel" was incredibly good. It had little to say, only letting the audience know that Superman was getting a revamp, and guess what? It worked. The first time I saw the trailer was at the midnight premier of "The Dark Knight Rises"...needless to say there were a lot of excited superhero fans and when Christopher Nolan's name came up as the producer, it incited a round of applause and cheering. The trailer itself just showed Clark Kent as a boy, had Russell Crowe's voice as a narrator and had Howard Shore's "Lord of the Rings" music playing in the background: it's hard to go wrong with this.
But my anticipation and excitement slowly waned when the second trailer was released because it contained a little something that the first one didn't—a wee bit of plot. Then, when the preview ended, the lady in front of me in the theater remarked on Superman "Ooh, he could play Christian Grey" which made me worry that "Man of Steel"'s main man was just a piece of eye candy. Then the production team started selling out Superman to loads of companies for advertisement: Superman's in the National Guard (I actually know people who took offense to this ad), Superman's being friendly to people eating hamburgers, Superman's shaving with a razor, and Superman's on a box of crackers. It seemed like the desperate move of people who know their movie is going to stink.
But still, hope springs eternal, and the opening weekend trailers lifted my spirits a little, that is, until I actually saw the movie.
"Man of Steel" begins on the planet of Krypton, during a time of duress. This earth-like planet is populated with people who wear funny outfits and talk like they were all born in eighteenth century England. But wait, there's a green message here: Krypton's leaders have been using up all the planet's natural resources and soon the planet will (wait for it) explode from it. Yes that's right, don't pollute and exploit resources because if you do...kaboom—not too subtle here are we?
Jor-El, Krypton's leading scientist, is begging the leaders for evacuation and when they question him he tells them that it was too late for evacuations anyway..........right.
Then, within the first five minutes of the film, General Zod shows up and proceeds to kill a bunch of people. Why? because he wants to preserve Krypton and he thinks that the leaders/elders are dropping the ball.
So Jor-El begs Zod to let him send his newly born son to another planet, where he can live...but Zod refuses. There's something special about Jor-El's son, he was naturally conceived. Naturally, Jor-El disobeys and the baby goes zooming of to who knows where (pronounced Earth).
Zod's coup is quickly overthrown and he is launched into exile but not before vowing to find Jor-El's son and reclaim a relic that controls freakin' everything.
Kal-El (Clark) grows up feeling different. Our opening scene on Earth involves Clark on a fishing boat. The boat receives a distress signal from a oiler that it on fire and exploding. So Clark swims over, shirtless of course because what point is there in saving twenty men from a inferno with your shirt on? Then he burglars people's cars for the clothes that he took off before saving the men and disappears again.
Then Lois Lane and Clark run into each other while he is helping a military group in arctic conditions find an old ship. How he got this job (mind you this is all very hush-hush), we are never told. Presumably, he has good connections...oh wait, he has no friends...how did he get this job???
That's where I'll end my plot synopsis, only know this—"Man of Steel" is filled with contradictions and inconsistencies. The actions of the characters never mirror what they say they believe in.
Every time Clark gets winded he closes his eyes and we go back to his childhood and some horribly boring memory is dredged up: take for instance a class room scene. The teacher asks Clark a question and he freaks out because his superpower flames up. He's hyper sensitive to everything and runs into a closet to escape the noise and confusion. The teacher then brings the entire class (wait, what?) out to stand around the closet because nothing says calm down like a group of your peers making fun of you.
Soon Clark's mother shows up and horribly written dialogue ensues...such stupidly written dialogue that is riddled with metaphors of islands and water that it was comical to watch.
The flashback scenes really want to be hipster movies: they rely on short depth of field and intricate angles to convey....absolutely nothing. It's an action movie that tries to evoke emotion, which it does not.
Superman is American, near the end of the movie he evens says something like "Hey, I'm American!" (this really isn't hyperbole, it's just that bad). I find this ironic because Henry Cavill is a British actor...nothing wrong there, it just amuses me.
But there is a problem with the acting in "Man of Steel" rather, the lack thereof. Henry Cavill does his best impersonation of a brick wall...he almost had me fooled for a while. Amy Adams is one of the better actors, but that's really not saying much. Russell Crowe, with the minimal amount of lines that he was given manages to pull off a fairly respectable performance. Kevin Costner is not necessary to the movie at all, everything he "teaches" Clark is reinforced multiple times through different people making him an erasable character.
But wait...there's Michael Shannon. The first time I saw him was in "Premium Rush" where he completely ruined a good villain role. Guess what? He did it again. He was my least favorite part of "Man of Steel", never being frightening enough to do any good whatsoever.
Then there's the special effects. Not only does Zack Snyder, the director, choose to shoot the action sequences through a camera that looks like it's on a trampoline, but he also overdoes the CGI. This giant orgy of action violence is completely bloodless and devoid of any merit. Buildings topple, millions die, and there is no end to the movie. The action is duplicated scene after scene and it began to feel boring.
The screenplay is so bad, like so bad...I can't even describe how bad it was. David S. Goyer, who helped Nolan on the screenplay for "The Dark Knight Trilogy", really lets his viewers down because "Man of Steel" is so small compared to that series.
The moments that were supposed to be intense came off humorous, it's hard to take a villain who frog-jumps up a building seriously.
The need for mindless action keeps growing as the last scenes of the movie play out until the screen is filled with nothing—just smoke, fire, and occasionally Clark.
But here's the problem: "Man of Steel" will be a box-office success. So with millions in the bank, who's to say that this movie is actually bad? "Man of Steel" will most likely have a sequel, but I hope not...I'm not sure I can sit through another one.
Score: 1 and a half stars out of 4
Posted by Micah Jones