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Man of Steel (2013)

June 20, 2013

9/10 Dual Citizens

Respect the cape, son.

Man of Steel is the story of Kal-El, a boy who crash-landed on Earth after his homeworld of Krypton was destroyed by the arrogance of its creators. He grows up in the rural town of Smallville and is raised as a son by a pair of humble farmers. They name him Clark, and before long, he discovers that he has powers far beyond those of normal humans, powers that his father urges him to hide for fear of the public repercussion. So he grows up hiding in plain sight, going from job to job, place to place without ever revealing his true self to anyone. And after years of searching, he finally makes contact with the people of Krypton. Unfortunately for him, they’re less interested in assimilating with humanity as they are completely wiping it out. So with the survival of two races resting on his shoulders, Kal-El must choose which side he’s on.

As you’ve likely already gathered, I liked this one quite a bit. As I quickly gathered thereafter, I liked it more than most. On that note, I should probably get to justifying that Verdict up there. So without further ado, let’s take a trip back to the glory days of ’97.

I was 11-years-old, in sixth grade if I’m not mistaken. Girls were terrifying, Goldeneye was king and my after-school ritual was always the same: put off homework, grab Doritos and watch cartoons on the WB. Like I said, the glory days. It was one year after the debut of Superman: The Animated Series, two years after the last episode of Batman: The Animated Series, and as much as I enjoyed those reruns of Batman, Superman was tops, no question whatsoever. It was obvious to me, how could anyone possibly think otherwise? I mean, dudes, on the one hand you’ve got the Last Son of Krypton. On the other, a mere mortal who can’t even so much as fly. A for effort, Bruce. A for effort.

As far as I was concerned, Superman was of such an incomparable nature that everyone else would naturally be on the same page. Why even bother asking around? And I was awfully comfortable in this mindset, that is until one life-altering day when the WB held a contest, a contest where viewers like me could vote on who was better: The Man of Steel or The Dark Knight. So confident was I that I didn’t even vote, I just sat there licking the Cool Ranch dust off my fingers, waiting expectantly for the victor to be named. It was only seconds later that I realized my worldview was a sham, and to this very day, I do not understand it.

Before you grab your pitchfork and get a posse together, don’t mistake this as a slight against Bats. Bats is a great superhero in his own right and he’s only gotten better with time. The point of this story is that, at the ripe young age of 11, I realized that the world hadn’t given Superman a fair shake. Now that I’m 26, not much has changed, and I guess that’s one reason I was so taken with Man of Steel. After six trips to the big screen, we finally had a movie that fit the bill, one that treated the guy with the respect he deserved.

So why the love? What is it about Superman that puts him up on this tallest of pedestals? Well, part of it is probably ’cause I was born and raised Catholic, and you know how us Catholics love us some Jesus figures. Haven’t been to church in a spell, so I’m thinking that’s one of them subconscious reasons. But the main reason for the love goes back to something Superman Returns hit smack on the head, that Superman is more than just a hero. I know, the same can be said for Batman, but we don’t need Bruce Wayne in our world like we need Kal-El. To me, Superman is more than just someone whose mere existence renders all other powers moot by comparison. Whereas Batman is a symbol for justice, Superman is the personification of all that is good and right with humanity. Superman is the archetype, Superman is the best of us, Superman is a call to action.

Needless to say, screw the WB.

All the same, it’d been a while since I’d seen a Superman movie, so I figured I’d amend the situation by giving Superman II a go last week. Always heard good things and given the presence of General Zod here, it seemed like required viewing. So like the good blogger I am, I gave it a fair shake, and at the very real risk of digging myself deeper, I’m sorry to say that it was a pretty rough time. It was dated, it was sloppy, and after a while, it honestly felt like a joke. I’ll go into more detail in a bit, but with all that in mind, I went into Man of Steel.

I’ll admit, Man of Steel has its problems. The dialogue can feel forced, an extra dose of subtlety would have gone a long way, and Henry Cavill is fine as Supes. He looks the part, he gets it done, but it’s hard to deny that the guy’s kind of a stiff. Definitely not helping with the street cred. Still, it’s a whole lot better than Superman II.

See, back in 1980, Clark Kent was a clown and everyone else was an idiot. Through the power of bifocals and acting like a dumbass, Kal-El was able to fool us all into believing he was one of us. That’s some Moleculo shit right there, and I don’t know about you, but it was always a hard pill to swallow. Lo and behold, that nonsense is gone. Now, in the glorious dawn of 2013, Clark Kent is a mild-mannered fella’ with a badass beard who wanders the country from one odd job to the next. For all intents and purposes, Clark Kent is Bruce Banner, and it is a much more fitting look.

Back in 1980, Superman felt like a superhero living in a make-believe world. Now, he’s starting to feel like an actual person with superpowers. Lois Lane isn’t a damsel in distress, Jor-El is a total boss, and these figures in Kal-El’s life have purpose to them that go beyond their stock roles. And that, dear readers, is what I’m talkin’ about.

With that said, there are just so many interesting avenues you can go down with a character like Superman, the complex nature of his place in this world being one of them. Given how campy some of his past stories have been, I loved the way David S. Goyer wrote something so meaningful for the guy. It might get kinda muddled at times, but Kal-El’s search for belonging on a planet where he doesn’t was both a great place to reboot this franchise and a perfect place to weave in Zod.

The thing about Zod is that, once upon a time, Zod was a one-note character with a one-track mind with two loyal henchmen that weren’t any deeper. They were an obstacle and that was all. And while there are similarities in both his persona and agenda, this new Zod is the Zod I always imagined. This time around, there’s a reason behind his single-minded nature that actually ties back into Kal-El. This time around, he’s a destroyer of worlds, not the Pissing Contest Champion of the Universe that he once was. Not only that, but he’s played by Michael Shannon. Could have toned it down on the yelling a bit, but yeah, Michael Shannon says it all. Like many aspects of this movie, it is an noted improvement, and from Amy Adams to Russell Crowe, there are some damn good performances to boot.

But in going back to that “muddled” comment, let’s get to talking about those last 45 minutes. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you, but a lot of things go boom in those last 45 minutes, more so than most might have expected. It’s a big shift in tone and to say that it’s like watching 45 minutes of “Tekken with Kryptonians” isn’t exactly a stretch. It seems like this is where things went downhill for some folks, but in defense of those 45 minutes, was it really all that surprising? When you take a guy who’s so unfathomably powerful that he can punch through dimensions and then pit him against dudes who could all do the same, destruction’s on the menu, big time.

Plus, it’s a Zack Snyder movie. This kind of stuff comes with the territory. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I was so disappointed by the way ridiculous way Superman bested these guys back 1980, but I ate those 45 minutes right up. Although it was a pretty outrageous level of destruction.

Speaking of Zack Snyder, also nice to see him ease up on the slow-mo and let the art direction take center stage. Holy crap, does it reek of Lovecraft, but holy crap, is it easy on the eyes. Way to recover from Sucker Punch, man.

Alright, this is getting long. I fully realize that a big part of why I liked this movie is ’cause I’m a total sucker for Superman. If this movie didn’t do it for you, I don’t expect to have convinced you otherwise. Then again, that was never really the point. Different strokes for different folks. For me, Man of Steel was a long time coming, a much-deserved fair shake that continually moved and amazed. I’m excited to see where this new direction goes, I’m elated by the way it’s gone so far, and regardless of how you felt about it, I think we can agree that it’s all uphill from here. Until then, I’ll just be here, worshiping at the altar.

Now if only we could get Jimmy Olsen up in this piece…

42 Comments leave one →
  1. chopper606 permalink
    June 20, 2013 12:39 am

    Reblogged this on Chopper606 // Web Blog.

  2. June 20, 2013 2:07 am

    Can’t say I totally agree with you, but at the same time, I can see where you’re coming from with this. I too liked Superman as a kiddie-bop, but Batman always had my heart from the very beginning. That said, the first-half of this movie was kicking my ass, so much, that I actually started tearing up in spots that I didn’t suspect in the least bit. However, once those last 45 minutes that you talked about, actually do happen; it got a bit silly and came to be another dumb, loud superhero movie made for people who go “Raaaahh!!” and “Yeaaaah!!” Nothing wrong with that because that’s half of the demographic right there, but at the same time, it just felt like two different movies mashed into one origin story. But, like with the Dark Knight trilogy: first one is always a bit weak, then it only gets better from there. Let’s hope that is the case with this one as well. Nice review bud.

    • June 20, 2013 8:42 am

      You know what, Dan, YOU CAN GET THE HELL OUT!

      Sorry, Dan, I don’t know what came over me. A lifetime defending Superman will do that to a man. Thanks for the kind words, you’re a-okay.

      Anyhow, seems like most people are in agreement over a majority of this movie up until those last 45 minutes. When shit started going down, I’ll admit, there was a part of me that found it kinda suspect. But like I said, I ended up digging it through and through. Still, certainly not gonna knock anyone for feeling otherwise. And like you said, I’m thinking it’s only gonna get better from here. Love that this series is finally taking a page from Nolan’s playbook. Crossing my fingers, yo.

  3. June 20, 2013 2:45 am

    Reblogged this on Collaborative Bloggening.

  4. June 20, 2013 5:19 am

    I haven’t seen the film yet, matey, so I skipped a lot of this review until it comes out on the 27th (screw you, Warner Brothers!) but I’m glad to see you gave it a 9/10. Solid stuff, so I have high hopes!!!

    • June 20, 2013 8:37 am

      Haha. Completely understand, I would have done the same. Can’t believe there’s a two week delay on this for you guys, but hope you dig it as much as I did, especially since folks are pretty divided over it at the moment. Anyhow, keep me posted!

  5. June 20, 2013 9:02 am

    I agree with a LOT of your review (minus being a fan girl like you) but one of the things that irked me in the movie and felt forced was the relationship between Superman and Lois. They should have done a slow burn and introduced the more physical stuff in the next flick. Also, the scene in the desert, when she was able to stand with him? My mind SCREAMED “as if!” I get their connection. But still, too fast for me.

    • June 24, 2013 10:38 pm

      Yeah, Lois and Clark could have used some more work, didn’t feel like there was enough between them to warrant that big fat kiss of theirs. But hey, I’m sure they’ll address that in the sequel, easy enough to overlook for now.

      And I agree, that desert scene seemed a bit rushed. Then again, how could blame Lois, right?

  6. June 20, 2013 9:56 am

    Thank Henry Cavill’s Hollywood jawline that I finally read a positive review on Man of Steel! I am a HUGE Superman fan (he’ll be inked on my thigh within the next year alongside Hulk) and I’ve been so excited about this film only to read bad review after bad review. I haven’t been to see it yet but I should hopefully be rectifying that next week. I’m slightly nervous about going to see it because what if it IS bad? What if my high hopes are smashed and I’m left with yet another bad Superman movie? I’ll just have to sit back, forget everything I’ve read and enjoy the show.

    • June 24, 2013 10:39 pm

      Hahahaha! Happy to be That Guy! Hope it lives up to your expectations as it did mine. Whatever the outcome, you gotta see it if you’re getting that ink.

  7. June 20, 2013 2:16 pm

    Loved it, good review. Haha nearly as positive as mine 😀

    Needless to say, screw the WB?

    • June 20, 2013 3:06 pm

      Hahaha. Glad to hear we’re on the same page, homey. And yes, screw the WB and that horseshit poll of theirs.

  8. June 20, 2013 3:15 pm

    Excellent review! I loved it too. A bit different from what I expected but still bad-ass. 🙂

    • June 24, 2013 10:40 pm

      Thanks, man! Well said, glad we’re on the same page here. Solidarity, brother.

  9. Ryan McNeil permalink
    June 20, 2013 6:20 pm

    I was beginning to feel like a very quiet voice in a very loud storm Aiden. Many thanks for this post that reminds me I’m not crazy for liking Man of Steel.

    • June 24, 2013 8:35 am

      Hahaha. Somehow I dodged that bullet as most of these comments have been singing this movie’s praises, but always happy to help, man. We reviewers gotta stick together.

  10. June 20, 2013 6:45 pm

    Nice review even though I don’t agree wit most of what you wrote! The film is good but its probably a shame that Man of Steel came out after Nolan’s Batman as well as Iron Man and Avengers’ films, I feel we have sort of seen it all before. Another fine Superhero addition but the market has been somewhat saturated in recent years. The villain we have all seen before in a megalomaniac trying to destroy the world and Cavill, as you say, looks the part but lacks and real personality at the end of the day. Part of my issue is probably how exceptional Batman is and the fact that we live in the age of the Blockbuster, something that I (and I’m sure many others) have been desensitised too. Just my thoughts anyway, I enjoy your review style, nice to see some personality and context for your opinions. I just started up a film review blog, have a look, always nice to compare views on films!

    • June 24, 2013 10:44 pm

      Haha. Well thanks all the same and much appreciate the kind words, will definitely be paying a visit to your neck of the woods. And I hear ya’, this had a lot to live up to given how things have been going with Iron Man, The Avengers and Batman especially. If this had come out instead of Superman Returns, I think the masses would be singing a different tune. Can’t knock you or anyone else for not fawning over it, but yeah, I liked it quite a bit.

  11. Heche permalink
    June 21, 2013 10:56 pm

    I think this movie deserves every bad review it gets. The story and dialogue were horrible, especially the handling of Lois Lane and the romance subplot, (more the lack thereof). It was so bad. I was so disappointed with this movie.

    • June 24, 2013 10:46 pm

      Hahahaha. Well it’s about damn time we got a comment like this! I’ll agree with you, the Lois and Clark thing left something to be desired and some of the dialogue was pretty disappointing. Still, dug it for what it was. We’ll get ’em next time, Heche.

  12. June 22, 2013 9:24 am

    Nice review but there is a lot I disagree with. I don’t think this was Superman! He needs the secret identity, he needs to save everyday people and be more concerned with their safety than throwing bad guys through buildings full of people. Henry Cavill is good as Superman but the Superman in this film wasn’t very good as the character I grew up reading.

    • June 23, 2013 8:54 am

      You’d hate the comics now, then. He’s ALWAYS throwing things through buildings.

      • June 24, 2013 2:38 pm

        I’ve stopped reading DC since new 52. I hate the idea of retconning everything and starting again. There are still plenty of old Superman and Batman I have to read.

    • June 24, 2013 10:48 pm

      Thanks, man. Interesting take and totally get where you’re coming from. Was hoping for a change from the Richard Donner days myself, but if that’s exactly what you were hoping for in a certain sense, I can very easily see how this would disappoint. Just out of curiosity, what’d you think of Superman Returns?

      • June 25, 2013 3:47 pm

        Loved the action sequences but the general story was poor. Didn’t like the idea of a “superkid” and there wasn’t really enough for Superman to do towards the end. I admired what they were trying to do but a reboot was the best idea in my opinion.

      • June 25, 2013 3:51 pm

        Very interesting. Haven’t seen it since it came out so I’m not the best one to talk about it, but I felt like it captured a lot of what people loved about the original Superman movie. Still, if this had come out instead of Superman Returns, I think more folks would have been all about it. Man, I really need to see Superman Returns again.

      • June 25, 2013 4:05 pm

        Its got some great moments and it will take some topping of the airplane rescue… but I think trying to connect with Donner’s movies was one of the major flaws. I do wonder what position DC would be in with their Justice League movie if they had gotten Superman right then, rather than playing catch-up now.

  13. lkeke35 permalink
    June 25, 2013 9:16 pm

    I thought I was only about 5 women in the country who liked this movie for the all male eye candy. On a deeper note, the women in the movie were not annoying and did more than a little buttkickin ‘,which was alright. I’m a big fan of Superman II but not of Superman Returns. Id rank this film somewhere between the two but then I was about 11 or 12 when Supe II was released so there is a nostalgia factor.

    I didn’t mind the destruction porn quite so much. At least there was a better excuse for it in this movie than in anything by Michael Bay. And I do like this Zod better because Hey! Michael Shannon!

    Great review, btw. You had some good points. I still haven’t decided if I admire Superman or Batman more, however.

    • June 28, 2013 4:29 pm

      Hahaha. Lois Lane’s a tough cookie and Shannon’s the man as usual, so I’m digging it. Wish I had seen Superman II when I was about 11 or 12 instead of 26, have a feeling I wouldn’t have been so damn hard on it.

      And thanks! Supes and Bats are a tough one to decide on, can’t go wrong either way though.

  14. June 26, 2013 10:55 pm

    This is a very divisive movie. I didn’t love it or hated it. I liked it. It wasn’t something that I could watch again. It went through the motions.

    • June 28, 2013 4:22 pm

      Divisive’s the word. Happy to hear you didn’t hate it, but wouldn’t exactly knock you if you did. Still, let’s hope we can all find more common ground on the next one, positive common ground hopefully.

  15. Carcotas permalink
    December 14, 2013 12:06 pm

    I know what the critics has said. They complained about too much action, superman being too serious, lack of romance, etc. Since Zack Snyder directed this movie, I don’t think he cared about the critics. Don’t get me wrong, he DOES care about the fans’ opinion. Seems like he really wanted to really satisfy the fans. I see why critics complained about too much action. For me it’s just his way to satisfy the viewers. This is the kind of movie that is just really satisfying. When the movie ended, I got that ‘satisfying’ feeling instead of the ‘wanting more’ feeling. It’s like it was really enough.

    Even Snyder’s best movies (before this) which were 300 & Watchmen didn’t have more ratings than 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think the fans should have anticipated the bad reviews. His style is actually what critics hate. The over the top action and CGI is actually his trademark. So, even from the beginning, I think this is actually the kind of movie the producers wanted. About the lack of romance, I really do think it’s saved for the sequel. The sequel will definitely explore more about the relationship between Clark and Lois. This film focused on 2 aspects: the origin (krypon,struggle finding his place) & the action (Zod and his army). Don’t expect humor or romance.

    The visuals were spectacular! What’s best about this movie is its action scenes. The action were just relentless. I think the fans would not be disappointed at all. Yes, I know there is only a very few humor this movie but that actually doesn’t even matter. The battle between Superman & Zod will definitely ‘wow’ everyone but the critics. I mean who cares about the critics opinion? A superhero movie MUST NOT be judged by the critics opinion, what’s more important is the audience’s opinion about the movie and especially the fans’. I think the movie really delivered. Most people will definitely like this movie. I am really sure that many fanboys will consider this as the best comic book of all time. This is a MUST SEE for people who like action movie. The action were better than last year’s The Avengers.

    The sequel really have a great potential. Considering the minimum amount of romance in this movie (since they just knew each other, and superman was also more focused on Zod), the next movie could explore more of that. One of the things missing from the movie was also the presence of Clark Kent at the daily planet. It’s one of the trade marks. But, I believe the sequel will show more scenes in the Daily Planet which is interesting to see.

    As a conclusion, I think Man of Steel is so far the best action movie this year. This movie really is a Snyder movie. But it also has a quite lot of nolan-esque feel to it especially in the around first 45 minutes.

    If this was compared to Iron man 3, if Iron man 3 was a 7, this movie is a 8.6.

    More about the movie you can also find it here

  16. April 13, 2014 5:20 am

    I have to say this, Man of steel does not have anything to hold its audience, I’m waiting when this movie will end while watching it…..

  17. nick butera permalink
    April 24, 2014 9:53 am

    Thanks for the review. Have not yet seen the picture but will, soon. I’ve always loved Superman. I was also raised Catholic and did not connect the hero-worship thing, until now. Jesus as a role model didn’t quite work for me, either. But Superman always has. Words matter; action says far more. I grew-up on comic books in the 1950s and 60s, if it can be said I ever grew-up.


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