Not So Super, Man – A review of Man of Steel
Title: Man of Steel
Production Company: Warner Brothers
Run Time: 143 minutes
Director: Zach Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane
Summary: Pretentious and self-conscious, this is perhaps one of the most over-rated and over-extended looks at this character on the big screen. It’s not even fun.
It should surprise no one that I am a huge fan of comic books and comic book movies. I grew up reading the four-color medium as a kid and still have thousands of issues in my collection. Every once in a while, I find myself reading some of those older tales just for fun. Admittedly, though, I always found Marvel Comics to have more compelling and interesting stories than DC.
I have to say, I love the way Hollywood has handled bringing these big budget stories to the big screen. In most cases, the stories are fun and heartwarming. The characters, even when they are over the top and larger than life still manage to have the pathos that endears itself to us mere mortals.
Here, though, I found myself wondering why no one is issuing a deportation order for this illegal alien. Given the mounting destruction and wanton disregard for the planet, the young Kryptonian battles it out with his nemesis, General Zod (Michael Shannon) and the prize for these two combatants isn’t even from this planet.
Without divulging too much about the plot, let me simply say that, if you saw the Christopher Reeve Superman from 1978, you have a pretty good idea of how this movie is going to start. The basic storyline is the same. With the imminent destruction of Krypton pending, Jor El (Russell Crowe) launches his only son Kal El (Henry Cavill) into space and sends him to Earth to become the savior of our planet.
Here, he is raised by Earth parents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) to become a man with superpowers who can save people in dire circumstances, like crashed buses and exploding oil rigs.
Almost from the get-go, though, the film deteriorates into a “look what we can do with special effects today” blockbuster, complete with hand to hand combat battles between Crowe and Shannon that harkens back to Crowe’s better battling days in movies like Gladiator and Robin Hood. I guess I just don’t buy him in that type of role anymore.
But underneath all the bluster and explosive effects, the heart of the story will always be about Superman’s efforts to keep this planet safe. He falls considerably short, though, here. There is an epic battle featuring incredible effects that devastate Metropolis and puts scores of humanity in harm’s way, but the one thing lacking here is the tongue in cheek humor that made the same scene in Marvel’s The Avengers actually fun to watch.
Don’t get me wrong. If this story continues and they can build a better foundation for the next installment, this might actually turn out to be a good re-boot of the story. Cavill is a little too staunch and unemotional here to make him an endearing hero, but I can buy that as him being an alien to our planet and his learning to fit in. Hopefully, though, it won’t take him long to grow a sense of humor.
Otherwise, I think we need to give this alien a one-way ticket back to his own universe. And that would be a shame. I give Man of Steel 3 out of 5 stars.