written by Marc Morin of TwoOhSix.com (@thetwoohsix)
Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer, and Zack Snyder have combined forces to bring Superman back to the big screen with Henry Cavill putting on the cape this time around as the famous Man of Steel. Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, and Russell Crowe also star in what DC Comics hopes to be a rebirth of their most iconic superhero property.
On the far off world of Krypton, a civil war has broken out at the same time the planet itself begins to literally collapse so Jor El (Crowe) and his wife Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) decide to send their newborn son Kal El to the safety of another planet. That planet, of course, is Earth where they hope the boy will have the opportunity to grow up to be a powerful leader and carry on the legacy and idealism of the Kryptonian people. His body will be enhanced by the differing atmosphere and sun to the point where he could be considered near invincible.
As the boy grows up on Earth under the name Clark Kent, his adopted parents Jonathan and Martha Kent (Costner and Lane) help him deal with the fact that he will always be very different from everyone else, even if they have no idea how or why. With the understanding that the world could not be ready for a man with superhuman abilities, Clark does everything he can to keep a low profile although there are times when he decides that he must use these unexplainable gifts when there is no other option but to save someone's life.
Its only when Krypton's General Zod (Shannon) shows up and threatens the entire human race does Clark/Kal El (Cavill) decide it is time to reveal himself to the world. While Zod begins his hunt, Clark turns himself over to the United States military and befriends the nosey yet resourceful reporter Lois Lane (Adams) in an attempt to convince them how he means no harm, but will do everything he can to stop this threat that has come from his own home planet.
The first thing you will notice about this new take on the Man of Steel is how, like Nolan and Goyer's Batman trilogy, it is a much darker and grittier movie than any that have come before. Superman himself spends most of the movie brooding and contemplating his place in the universe which, while necessary to the plot, doesn't really allow for his true persona to shine through.
Normally I don't like to compare remakes/reboots to their predecessors, but since the Richard Donner Superman, which starred Christopher Reeve in the title role, is quite possibly the ultimate blueprint for comic book movie adaptations and one of my childhood movie going's defining moments, there's no way I could avoid it this time around. Where Donner totally embraced what the character is as well as what he represents, Nolan and Goyer's screenplay goes a totally different direction in trying to place him in a much more cerebral mindstate while keeping the essential framework in place.
As a director, Zack Snyder has been known for focusing on his extreme visual style which often gets in the way of telling a good story as opposed to using the technology he loves to enhance what's already there. While I feel the script itself is a misguided attempt at recreating the character, I also have to say that Snyder was a poor choice in bringing that vision to life.
There is little to no character development and the pacing almost leaves you wondering what just happened instead of keeping you fully engaged as to what's actually going on in the moment. There is a sequence of flashbacks utilized to inform the audience of Clark's younger days that I just felt was a clumsy device only used to differentiate it from its predecessors. My last gripe is the heavy reliance on overblown CGI effects that make the big action sequences look cartoonish and out of place compared to the darker and more raw character driven moments.
This has been one of the harder reviews for me to write over the last couple years as I so wanted to like this movie and everything I read, saw, and heard going in pointed to it living up to that expectation. Unfortunately, I find myself frustrated more than anything at a movie with so many flaws I just can't bring myself to say that I liked it. There's a good chance you will disagree with me after you watch the movie and I really do hope you enjoy it, but for my part, the Man of Steel fell far short of what it had the potential to be.
Marc Morin is a LFTDG33k friend and trusted contributor. His blog TwoOhSix Movies is frequently updated with new reviews of some of the hit films of the season. Keep an eye on this official Lifted Geek and future posts on our website.