Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Man of Steel Film Review (Spoilers)

Having waited for all the fuss to die down my wife and I ventured out to see Man Of Steel at the weekend around a week after its release, I had managed to avoid the spoilers and deliberately kept away from any reviews or podcasts that had a hint of Man of Steel about them. This was for me the most anticipated film of the year as a DC fan I want, no I need to have good DC hero films, and after the poorly received Green Lantern (I didn’t think it was that bad) the balance was restored by The Dark Knight Returns. As comic fans we needed this reboot of Superman to keep DC films in the ascendency, and did it didn’t disappoint until the final scenes of the film but I’ll get to that later.

Firstly the cinematography of this film is absolutely outstanding Krypton has never looked so good, the early  Christopher Reeve films had Krypton as a bland ice plant but here we see a Krypton that is vibrant, colorful and full of all types of life. Which is a pity as in keeping with the Superman mythos it’s also a planet that is on the edge of destruction, brought on by the over mining of the planets core in the pursuit of more resources.
The Cast:
The film boasts an impressive cast with Russell Crowe as Jor-El giving one of his best performances in a long while, his role has clearly been expanded as he appears several times throughout the film as a hologram to help the now grown up Kal-EL. You even get a reminder of Russell’s old Gladiator days when he goes hand to hand with General Zod, a pre-conditioned warrior who’s only thought is the continuation of the people of Krypton no matter what the cost. General Zod is played brilliantly by Michael Shannon and it’s to his credit that you do have some sympathy for his character, he sees himself not as a villain but as the savour of his people and if millions have to die to achieve that salvation then so be it.

Clarke’s Earth parents Jonathan and Martha Kent are played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, Costner is a little underused but good value for the screen time that he has. Whilst Diane Lane excellently portrays a rather feisty Martha Kent a Mother who has no issues telling Zod and his crew to go to hell when they come face to face, despite been thrown across the farm yard and having a pickup truck dropped on her house. Laurence Fishburne plays Daily Planet editor Perry White and Laurence plays him in the same way he plays everyone, I could have been watching Morpheus from the Matrix or Dr Ray from CSI but it’s a small role so I didn’t let it detract me from the film.

Amy Adams is Lois Lane and to be fair she plays a better one than Margaret Kidder or Kate Bosworth ever did in previous films, her Lois is one that uses her investigative skills and know how to track down and find the identity of the mysterious man who saved her life. Unlike previous Lois’s who used to sit across from him for around 8 hours a day, failing to work out that Clark Kent is Superman because he hides behind a pair of glasses. The problem I had with Amy’s portrayal of Lois is there was little or no chemistry between her and Caville when they are on screen together; this is supposed to be one of comic’s greatest romances but it just wasn’t there. That brings me to Henry Caville as the main man himself I had major worries about his ability to play the Superman role, I am not questioning his acting ability but everything I had seen from trailer clips to the stock photos he just didn’t look right to me, he didn’t look like Superman. Well how wrong was I, Caville was every inch the Superman I hoped he would be both in his actions and his presence on screen. The updated costume with no outside pants worked perfectly and although he must have worked tremendously hard to fill it out, I still think it would have looked better on me my wife confirmed as much when I raised the point with her as we sat having a drink and meal together after the film so it must be true. Cavills’ Superman is a lonely untrusting individual who has hidden away all his life trying to ensure no one finds out about his powers, a boy who was bullied knowing full well he could take down anyone who bullied him. Despite his mistrust he is still compelled to help those in need which he does as he wanders the world looking for clues as to who he really is, Clarks earlier life is show in flashbacks which works well and helps to explain why Clark is as untrusting in his fellow man as he is. Cavill plays this darker broodier Superman very well which includes his growth as his trust in mankind begins to slowly grow, this is probably the deepest look into who Clark / Kal-EL really is and the film is all the better for it.
The Action:
One of the main complaints about the last Superman film is there was very little action in it well this is not something you can complain about in this one, from the early scenes as Jor-El fights his way across a Krypton in the clutches of civil war to the films final confrontation between Kal-El and Zod the action never pauses for too long. The battle in Smallville between Superman and Zod is nothing but a taster on what’s to come, just when Zod is about to be beaten the ongoing battle between Kal-El, Zods right hand woman Faora-UL and the US military ramp the action up to spectacular proportions. I just need to add here that Faora-UL played by Antje Traue is a more frightening opponent than Zod, General Zod is driven but Faora-UL is psychotic and not afraid to hold back on anything be it jet fighters or some poor infantry man who happens to be in her way.

The final fight between a desperate Zod and Superman takes action and violence in a hero film to a whole new level, if you thought the Avengers destroyed Manhattan in their fight that was nothing compared with the destruction of Metropolis in this one. Which finally brings me to the scene that changed the whole feel of the film for me the killing of General Zod, up until this point this was the Superman film I had always hoped it would be, a little violent perhaps but still a great film then Superman broke Zod’s neck. Now I know in the context of the film he had no choice my wife pointed this out to me as we dissected the film over drinks and a very good pizza, but my one answer was Superman always finds a way, what that way is I don’t know but Superman would know and that’s my point he always knows.
Final Thoughts:

The whole character of Superman for me is one of hope he is the shining example other heroes aspire to be, by killing General Zod you move away from that ideal which is something I was not comfortable with when I saw it and on reflection I’m still not comfortable with now. So for me a great film was spoilt by that one action no matter how much he regretted doing it, having said all that its still a film well worth going to see and I know I will buy it on DVD when its released and you will see me in the queue to see Man of Steel 2 when its released. 


  1. I actually thought the killing of Zod was appropriate, for a few reasons.

    Yes... Superman doesn't kill. I've explained this to my kids many times, pointing toward one of the reasons I like him so much as a character. He always finds a way... If one is available.

    1. However, this is a young Superman who has just learned to fly and is still "testing [his] limits." The options he has in a crisis are going to be limited compared with a more experienced Superman.

    2. Comic heroes in movies have often killed villains that would never have died (or at least stayed dead) in print: nearly all of the Batman movies (Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Ra's Al Ghul, Two-Face, Bane, Talia), all of the Iron Man movies, all of the Spider-Man movies... and even in the original Superman vs. Zod in Superman II. And before anybody says "Zod fell, Superman didn't kill him" — if you're Superman and you have a strict no-killing policy, then you wouldn't even let him fall to his death.

    3. Zod is the last vestige of "old Krypton" that Jor-El argued needed to die away so that a new Krypton would have a chance to live through his son.

    4. Superman did kill Zod in the comics, though. In fact, that act of becoming the judge, jury, and executioner shaped the character of Superman for years. I remember reading comics as a kid and continually seeing allusions to that particular story every time Clark was faced with what seemed like an impossible situation. This is the main reason I believe it was an appropriate choice to kill Zod... for the sake of the story. Superman has been outed. He doesn't necessarily need to struggle with whether or not people will accept him. I think it would be very interesting to see him struggle with the guilt of having killed Zod in the sequel to Man of Steel.

    Anyway, just some thoughts. Thanks for the review!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts it is always good to read alternative views from other fans, we all have differing opinions on how the film played out and I understand and respect your views. As I said in the context of the film I understood why Superman did what he did but it still felt wrong to me, does that mean I'm wrong or your wrong, well no because what we believe are our opinions.

      Thank you for reading the review and for taking the time to post comments, I enjoy reading and value all comments that are left.

  2. "if you thought the Avengers destroyed Manhattan in their fight that was nothing compared with the destruction of Metropolis in this one""

    This is the thing that bugged me most about Man of Steel - the Avengers didn't destroy Manhattan, that was done by the Chitauri while the Avengers fought them and saved people.

    In Man of Steel, Superman and Zod battle without a single care in the world for the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians around them or that die when the skyscrapers come crashing down. That Zod didn't care is understandable, but that Superman made no attempt to save anyone or take the fight away from Metropolis is repugnant.

    While the film has it's good moments, the final fight ruins it for me from the perspective of it being a Superman film. His - not just Zod's - actions caused the deaths of so many civilians and we never see him react to them or the devastation at all. That's not the action of a hero, and definitely not Superman.

    1. I never looked at it from that point of view Gary but I can see where you are coming from, I think I have become so blinded by the killing of Zod that I haven't focused on that part of the film. Either way as you rightly point out this is not the actions of a hero, or the Superman I know and love.

      Thanks for your comments as always they are very much appreciated.

  3. Best SUPERMAN movie ever. The critics that don't like this movie are obviously looking for reasons not to like it. It made almost 200 million dollars its first weekend, THAT'S the critics you should listen to. Go see it, suspend disbelief and have an amazing time watching an amazing movie.

    1. I did see it and as I said in my post I did enjoy it so much so that I will buy it on DVD when it comes out, my issue was with the killing of Zod and that will not change and for me it spoilt the end of the film. However, for my wife it didn't bother her as her connection with Superman is film based only so she had no issue with it, we will have to agree to disagree on this point but I still think its a good film and I have told people I work with to go and see it. Thank you for your thoughts and taking the time to leave a post, I appreciate all feed back that is left.

  4. Great review, I also loved Crowe, though I hate the Smallville-style interactive hologram. What's the point of a character being dead if they can speak to you and affect things?

    Overall, I'd say too much gloom and too much violence; not enough joyful moments, such as learning to fly. I loved the music, and Cavill did well with the material - let's see if the addition of Batman in the next one makes things even darker, or if, situations established, both heroes get to have some fun.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Martin and I agree it is a very dark take on Superman which is in keeping with the present DCU, I watched the Flashpoint Paradox at the weekend which moves the animated universe in line with DC 52. It is the most dark and violent animated feature I have seen from DC, so I think this is the path they are choosing to go down at present.
      Good to hear from you as always, and I keep up with your excellent blog religiously and always enjoy your thoughts.