Man of Steel (2013) Review
by Jayme K.
Man of Steel was a film I’d initially been looking forward to due to the collaboration of its impressive cast and crew. Then, I was firmly crushed by it when I read the RottenTomatoes reviews and percentage. 56% for Zack Snyder’s latest film. 56.
And then I went to go see Man of Steel myself, to form my own opinion. Because yes, RottenTomatoes and I occasionally do not see eye to eye. Plus I’d been looking forward to this movie for months.
I have to say, after having viewed this film, I find myself wondering what fucking crack critics were smoking when they took a seat at the theater this past Friday. This movie does not warrant all the negative reviews it has gotten. It does not warrant a 56% on RottenTomatoes. What it does warrant is critical acclaim and Zack Snyder’s public status as an auteur and masterful filmmaker.
A lot of the complaints that I’ve read from critics have primarily been focused on the amount of violence in this film. And yes, for a Superman movie, it is more violent than the last five. But you know what? It’s 2013. Stop being a pussy.
1978 had the Superman film it needed. A lighthearted, easy-going man of steel played by Christopher Reeve and the over-the-top Gene Hackman as his primary antagonist, Lex Luthor. Richard Donner’s Superman helped bring the hero back to ‘icon’ status and left its mark on American cinema forever. No one will ever argue that the ‘78 film and its successor are classics.
Bryan Singer tried to bring that good ole American fun back to the big screen in 2006 after many failed attempts to create a ‘dark’ Superman feature. Do I even need to reference Tim Burton’s Superman Lives? Rather than rebooting the franchise, Singer continued from Superman 2 onward and was looking to recapture that feeling audiences felt when seeing the first two films. He failed. What he did accomplish, though, is putting audiences to sleep. Superman Returns is a bad movie. It’s boring.
The Superman of Superman Returns, and the original features, is no longer a relatable one in our society. Yes, Superman is supposed to be the symbol for goodness, yada, yada, yada, purity, we got it already. In 1978 we believed a man could fly. We also believed Superman could walk into The Daily Planet wearing glasses as a disguise and not get recognized.
It’s a new era. And where Bryan Singer failed in 2006, Zack Snyder excels in 2013. This Superman is likable, relatable, and dark. He may not be human in DNA but he certainly is in emotion. Man of Steel, while slightly flawed, is still a masterpiece of the genre.
Henry Cavill is the best Superman since Christopher Reeve. Bar none. Not that he had much competition, anyway. Cavill’s Superman makes you feel for him, which is hard to say for Routh—who could barely emote.
Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Lawrence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni, and Russell Crowe soar exceptionally well in their roles, respectively. Though the movie’s weakest moments, admittedly, do take place during the opening twenty minutes. Setting the opening on Krypton, however, does prove to be a wise choice on Snyder’s part. It immediately engages the audience into a familiar—yet distinctly altered—setting and throws them in the heat of the action, while setting up the origin of the film’s antagonist, General Zod (Michael Shannon.)
Shannon’s early scenes as Zod waiver here and there, but once Zod finds his way to earth Shannon brings his A-game. Now, there will be obvious comparisons between Michael Shannon and Terrence Stamp, who played General Zod in Superman 2. While I do happen to prefer the original Zod, if only for pop culture purposes, Michael Shannon certainly does not slouch and holds his own in the role.
And, for those that’ve seen the film, you can’t mention Zod without thinking of Zod’s demise. Here come major spoilers…
The movie ends with… (AND I SWEAR TO GOD, IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER)
…Superman snapping the fuck out of Zod’s neck. In an unprecedented move, Zack Snyder consciously disobeys canon Superman-mythos and turns the beloved American icon into…a murderer. Granted, there is a fantastic set-up in which death becomes the only way to stop him, but still…Superman took it upon himself to kill a guy. And no, that’s not me complaining—that’s me in awe at the balls on Snyder.
It’s not like Tim Burton’s Batman, where Michael Keaton straps a bomb to some guy’s chest and throws him over a bridge without even thinking about it. Zod’s death is not portrayed as a moral win. Nor should it be.
What Man of Steel does best is the ability to bring something new to the table and invigorate a hero that was once believed to be out-of-date. This is the Superman for our era. It’s a great film and quite possibly the best of the year thus far. I highly recommend Man of Steel.