Man of Steel Movie Review – the not-so triumphant return of Superman

Man of Steel Character Poster. Image (c) Warner Bros.

Man of Steel Character Poster. Image (c) Warner Bros.

I’m a lifelong Superman fan. As a kid, I used to mimic him with something improvised that would resemble to a Superman cape (and Batman too for that matter) like towels or bed sheets. I’ve read some of the comics, enjoyed all the previous movies, faithfully followed Lois & Clark and literally watched all the 218 episodes from 10 seasons of Smallville. Needless to say, I had high hopes.

The movie opens with Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) giving birth “privately” to Kal-El, the first naturally born child in years on Krypton. As explained by Jor-El (Russell Crowe — your horrible performance from Les Miserablès still lingers…) a natural birth is a crime because babies are engineered not conceived. Each Kryptonian is created with specific destiny and Jor-El’s resolve is for child to freely choose their own destiny. Moments later, we see director Zack Snyder’s space opera interpretation of the Krypton, a planet that is on the verge of collapsing due to General Zod’s (Michael Shannon) coup attempt, thanks to Jor-El for single-handedly defeating some of Zod’s minions. They then let Jor-El wears this really bulky Iron Man-ish costume only to get stabbed by General Zod (*laughs*) and shoots-out the young Kal-El to planet Earth and raised by Ma and Pa Kent (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) at Smallville.

While the fight sequences are indeed awesome – awesome enough that it felt like I’m watching a Batman movie (from Christopher Nolan’s  franchise reboot *coughs*), I quite didn’t get the sense that Kal-El/Clark (Henry Cavill) actually cared for either earthlings or his people to that matter, suffice to say, it was so blank. Can I just comment on this particular laughable scene when Kal-El’s about to fight Zod’s minions and tells the townspeople to “go inside (the building) because it’s dangerous to be hanging around”? They even locked their doors. Few minutes later, Kal-El ended up destroying almost every building around with his fights with the Kryptonians. Poor townspeople (*shrugs*).  The Batman trilogy writers focused too-much of the fight scenes and missed the opportunity of letting the audience connects with him. Yes, he lost Pa Kent but still, how do we map his character? What are his ideals? He was only willing to surrender on his term that Kryptonians won’t hurt Lois Lane (Amy Adams), but at the end of the day, it is General Zod’s rule that’s going to matter. With the Superman reboot, I’m sure guessing that Nolan and Goyer are trying to copy the same formula that they did for Batman trilogy.

Given Snyder’s professional credits, I didn’t expect him to throw off some humors, witty dialogues and whatnots but I didn’t see something special between Clark and Lois, it didn’t happen for me, there is no connection between them.  I clearly remember when Lois (played by Erica Durance) was first introduced in Smallville TV series. She instantly clicks with Clark (played by Tom Welling). And in that timeline, Lana Lang (played by Kristin Kreuk) was still the love interest of Clark but you can feel and see the “love/sexual tension” between them. I’m not saying that they should copy that but it just didn’t happen, something is amiss, hence it is a failed love story for Lois and Clark.

Zynder’s “Man of Steel” was set on a different timeline where Clark Kent has no working relationship with Lois Lane and he hasn’t moved yet to the Metropolis. The movies focuses heavily on Kal-El’s Kryptonian origins and on the side, Clark Kent’s childhood was presented on a series of flashbacks. He also abandoned the idea of “big blue boy scout”. But one of the biggest disappointments here is when the whole team abandoned the iconic Superman’s trademark theme song. I needed that one last final scene where nerdy Clark is inside the elevator; dons his tights and flies out of the Daily Planet to save the world (insert Superman’s trademark theme song here). Sounds passé but it works.

“Man of Steel” also hinted possible shared DC universe crossovers and this could really be the “Justice League” movie. In the movie, we’ve seen (1) The Wayne Enterprise logo found on the satellite that Zod destroys, (2) LuthorCorp logo can be spotted on the truck as Clark emerges from the building while fighting Zod; and (3) Blaze Comics (Booster Gold) – it can be seen when Zod and Clark race towards each other with the collapsing buildings at the Metropolis.

DC's Superman vs Marvel's The Avengers

DC’s Superman vs Marvel’s The Avengers

Superman is perhaps the most popular superhero around the world so Warner Bros. is betting on “Man of Steel” big time, especially with the worldwide success achieved by their arch-rival Marvel who successfully launched their league of heroes, be it: “X-Men”, “Wolverine”, “Iron Man”, “Hulk”, “Thor”, “Captain America” and “The Avengers”. While Christopher Nolan was able to successfully revived “Batman” and expanded it into a trilogy series, Warner Bros., on the other hand, struggled and failed to launch its franchise on its own backyard with the mediocre reception for “Superman Returns” back in 2006 and with the lackluster performance of “Green Lantern” back in (sorry I forgot… the film was totally forgettable). The rumored “Justice League” movie has to happen otherwise, they’ll be overrun by Marvel which on the other note, I guess Marvel has already did. They have to do it now or Marvel will twist the knife deeper.

The movie left a rather ambiguous impression to me when Kal-El explained to Lois that the iconic “S” stands for “Hope” (yeah, yeah… at least in Krypton); so if “S” doesn’t stand for “Superman” then I hope “Man of Steel” who’s obviously having an identity issues finds himself on the sequel… hopefully. While “Man of Steel” didn’t meet my high expectations, it was still a good movie. My mind says I love it but the “inner Superman” in me says it could have been done better.

My rating: 8/10

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One thought on “Man of Steel Movie Review – the not-so triumphant return of Superman

  1. Pingback: HETHLERized! | Microsoft Office Mobile arrives on iOS

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