Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Movie Review: "Man of Steel" (2013)

Movie"Man of Steel"
Ticket Price: $9.75
Showtime: 4:55 pm
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 23 minutes
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On Krypton, General Zod (Michael Shannon) is the military leader of the planet and Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is its chief scientist. Kal-El's (Henry Cavill) parents have the first natural birth in centuries. In order to protect the bloodline as the planet is collapsing, Jor-El and Lara (Ayelet Zurer) send their son Kal-El to Earth as a baby. Clark Kent/Superman, now 33 years old, has been told his entire life to hide his true self for fear of rejection by the citizens of Earth. His Earth father and mother Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) have also told him he has an important role to play at some point in life, he just has to wait for the right moment to shine. Superman must attempt to bridge the two planets and their subsequent societies (Earth & Krypton).

"Man of Steel" is the first film in what is set to be the DC Cinematic Universe. Rivaling Marvel, DC has set up a series of films to be put forth for fans of its iconic characters. Many people have wondered how someone like Zack Snyder would do as the director of this film. He stays close to the comic book/graphic novel world, turning these projects into movies one at a time over the years. Did he do enough to verify his choice as master of the DC universe?

The entire first portion of the movie features Clark Kent jumping from job to job on Earth as an adult. All of this happens fairly quickly. Any time he shows his "abnormality"/the beast within, he runs away, trying to cover up his past while moving on to the next town, the next job, the next path, trying to find himself along the way. This backstory of Superman is good enough, but its disjointed approach is a little distracting. One minute, he will be present on Earth, and the next, a flashback will happen with little or no warning. While Henry Cavill is ridiculously attractive, Superman he is not. Christopher Reeve will always be Superman to us as he completely became the role. Even though Cavill definitely has the smoldering, brooding look, butt-chin and all, he lacks a bit of the charisma, swagger, and charm Reeve had. It's like trying to pull off the impossible, emulating such an iconic, cemented Hollywood portrayal. Since he has only been given one chance to prove to the world that he is Superman, we really feel like we need to see how he acts in "Batman v. Superman" to get the full effect of Cavill overall.

There are a lot of great special effects in "Man of Steel." Most, if not all of it, feels believable, especially Superman flying, which lost a ton of steam by the end of the Christopher Reeve Superman films in the 70's and 80's. Unfortunately, there are also lots of scenes where people are shown crashing into buildings and buildings are crashing into people. It has to happen well over 50 times. It gets to a point where it's just too much. Excessive CGI use bugs us when it doesn't feel flawlessly integrated into the plot of a movie, and here, it's a 50-50 ratio. This movie is also REALLY loud volume wise. It is one of the loudest movie we've ever experienced in the theater. The entire thing also feels as if it drags on and on and on. It feels like a lot of the lines were rehashed using just different words and verbiage (IE: "you're destined for something greater than this world" and "whoever that man is, he's going to change the world."). The script is rather basic, and we think this is what caused a lot of problems for "Man of Steel" in the eyes of fans and critics alike.

While this movie has a lot going for it, it still lacks something. We're not sure if it's Superman himself, who isn't particularly compelling as a superhero due to his inability to be destroyed by anything except Kryptonite/too many super powers/general annoyingness with the whole "I'm putting on glasses and pretending to be A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON" thing. Most superheroes are underdogs trying to defeat a much more dangerous opponent against all odds. Superman is just that, a really strong, indestructible "super" man, which makes it hard for him to ever be an underdog against anyone, even someone like Zod. And speaking of Zod, Michael Shannon is just fine as Zod, even though we disliked him and the way he played his character the first time we saw this movie. He didn't bother us upon revisiting it.

We were really excited about this film based on the trailers. Christopher Nolan was the producer here, so we had high hopes for his protege, director Zack Snyder...unfortunately, it just didn't live up to the expectation and hype. Something about the entire thing is off. It's not a bad movie, but it's definitely not the best superhero movie we've seen, not by a long shot. With the entire DC Universe on Snyder's shoulders, we hope he can muster enough strength to tone down the boom-boom action sequences and help to direct more cohesive stories in his upcoming films.

My Rating: 7/10 (our original review had this at a 6.5/10)
Josh's Rating: 7/10 (our original review had this at a 8/10)
MDB's Rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 56%
Do we recommend the movie: Ehh. Fans of superhero movies/Superman/actions movies will dig it.

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