Man of Steel is the long-awaited origin story of Superman, following Clark Kent from his birth on Krypton and subsequent voyage to Earth after his planet is destroyed, through his childhood of discovering his differences, to the uncovering of his true heritage to his finally “coming out” to humans. When long-lost war criminal Zod and his merry band of world destroyers come to Earth, Clark must decide to either save the planet that has become his home, or watch as it burns.
Zack Snyder has a history of making very pretty, soulless films, but this is his least soulless film to date. Whether it was the addition of David S. Goyer as the screenwriter or Christopher Nolan on the story and production side, somehow this movie actually has a heart.
That said, the film is aggressively uneven. It vacillates between outrageously, unbelievably, laughably, outlandish and touchingly warm. The latter almost certainly comes from the performances of both Henry Cavill and Amy Adams. Every actor who steps into the not inconsiderable shoes of Christopher Reeve comes under intense scrutiny from Superman fans. Cavill, while not a perfect Superman, certainly matches his predecessor in emotional depth. Amy Adams’ Lois Lane has finally come into the 21st Century – she’s a strong woman who can stand her ground and get her story, but she’s not a bull-headed ball-buster who needs an equally strong man to tame her.
Fans of Superman, in either movie or comic forms, will find lots to love and hate. Major changes have been made to the Superman legend here (and with no apparent reason), but then it’s also been a long time since we’ve seen a Superman with so much gravitas on the screen that the changes, while laughable, can almost be over looked. For the first hour or so, viewers will likely just want to leave, since none of what’s happening on screen seems to have any purpose more relevant that to prove that it would be a crime against good pop culture to let your children see this movie, lest they think it’s actually what Superman should be. Parts of the second half recover, but not enough to save the film, which is ultimately unsuccessful.
Is Man of Steel opening weekend worthy?
Nope. I mean, things move around on the screen and your eyes will follow them, but the moments of interest and heart are mixed together with such incredible nonsense that it’s probably better to wait for DVD when you can fast forward to the good parts. If you absolutely must see this movie in the theatre I strongly recommend coming 20 minutes late. Without the ridiculous prologue you may not notice the bad bits as much. (Oh, and for those concerned about being out of the loop story-wise if you’re coming late: Clark is born, Krypton explodes, infant Clark is found and adopted by the Kents. Everything else is patently ridiculous.)
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