Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's another reboot of the Superman franchise...
As I've said before in my Dark Knight Rises review, I don't get what the big deal is with making DC comic books into such dark depressing films. Producer Christopher Nolan has clearly tried to replicate his success with the Batman franchise by mimicking its edgy style in Man Of Steel. But I don't think it works for one fundamental reason: Batman is human, he has faults and weaknesses, whereas Superman does not. A lot of the problems I had with this film stems from that, and its incredibly messy plot.
Man Of Steel had a lot of potential but on most counts it fell short. I felt like most of the characters were very underdeveloped. We got to see a lot of Superman's past but it didn't give us much of an insight into his psyche and most of the flashbacks were hollow. After two-and-a-half hours I still didn't really know Superman. I think when you factor in his relationship with his foster father and his life growing up, there was a lot more potential for Superman to feel conflicted about becoming a hero, which was badly explored in this film. To be honest, I think Man Of Steel was robbed of a lot its emotional resonance. His relationship with Lois Lane was especially disappointing. It came completely out of nowhere because they hadn't even spoken that much before they suddenly became a couple. Superman seemed only to like her because she was the only person to show him any compassion other than his parents.
Action To Get Worked Up About
It had some eye-popping action scenes that are overwhelmingly epic. If you love watching massive explosions and buildings collapse then this is the film for you. But a lot of it could have been cut out. The film was already way too long and it was a shame that they seemed to fast-forward though all the character development and then dwell so long on these fight scenes, whcih were thrilling but very repetitive. I didn't feel at all invested in the action because Superman is invincible so there was no sense of peril. And oh my goodness there was so much collateral damage it was hard to see how Superman could be such a peacekeeper but still let all of this destruction happen.
Alienate The Audience
A lot of the main plot points could have been made more clear earlier on in the film. For example the fact that Superman was the only person on his planet that hadn't been genetically bred and so was the only Kryptonian to be truly free is a very big deal, but it wasn't really developed. That is a shame because it's a very interesting concept. It was strange that so much of Man Of Steel was set on the alien planet of Krypton or on Kryptonian space ships because it made the film feel less like a superhero film and more like a sci-fi Independence Day kind of film. But I did quite like the nostalgic feel this movie had, which was reminiscent of Superman's original 1930s style.
Superman's foster parents were the two most boring self-righteous drips you have ever seen. Constantly giving out cheesy lines of wisdom to anyone who would listen. Not to mention Diana Lane, who plays Superman's foster mum – she did some terribly hammy 'old lady' acting towards the end of the film. I feel like I've seen the role of the wise old mother about a million times in super-hero movies! I would have liked to see an actress do something a bit different with the role.
Henry Cavill does a great job portraying Superman considering the character is quite plain. He is very well cast in the role of the all-American good guy and I'm sure any female audience member will find him very watchable. Whereas Lois Lane was a massive disappointment. Although I don't think this is Amy Adams' fault. The character was set up at the beginning to be a daring badass journalist but as the film went on she lost all her charisma and became a rather lifeless damsel in distress. The funny thing is, I still think Amy would make the perfect Lois Lane, it's just a shame the story or plot didn't help her out a little.
Russell Crowe was pretty wooden. How many franchises can he kill before someone stops casting him? I don't think he's a bad actor, I just don't think he's cut out for action movies. It just comes off looking weird. Gladiator was as good as it's gonna get.
Director Zack Snyder had clearly tried to add to the realism by having the camera constantly off a tripod so that every shot would have that shaky documentary-like vibe. But it made me feel like sometimes I wasn't getting the full effect – especially in the lacklustre scene where Superman learns he can fly – and sometimes in the action scenes I had no idea what was going on or where the action was taking place because the camera just wouldn't stand still.
Overall I thought the plot and characters where badly put together and all that God-like perfection was very difficult for a modern audience to relate to. I can see that with Superman being such an icon it can be hard not to make it too hammy, but this adaptation seemed slightly soulless. On the other hand, I think that Man Of Steel might benefit from a second viewing because some of its main messages and themes where highlighted close to the end, especially as the story wasn't told in chronological order. So I might feel completely different if I saw it again – but a two-and-a-half hour film is difficult to sit through twice. You would have to be Superman.