Finally a Superman who looked like he could be… super!
I was so excited when I found out I had the opportunity to screen Man of Steel
. The previews looked amazing. Superman had the most massive chest I have ever seen, definitely trumping the muscle size of the last attempt, Brandon Routh (who was much better in Scott Pilgrim
… I digress). And this new account of the classic superhero tale was going to bring us back to the Man of Steel’s origins in a story where he is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his own race (yes… Zod is back!)
I was pumped.
So did it meet my superhero film expectations?
When the film opened all I could think about was, “How am I going to write this review without exuberating my obvious bias?”
But within the first five minutes, I had become newly fascinated with how badly the film stunk!
Hold on… don’t be too quick to dismiss the film. I didn’t. But I’d be lying if I told you that the film grabbed me from the beginning.
The story begins with Superman’s father, Jor-El, watching his wife give birth. That’s it. That’s basically the first five minutes of the film right there--a dramatic montage of grunting and sweaty brows for five disdainful minutes. An extremely disappointing way to start the movie.
Then the moments to follow weren’t much better. The filmmakers opted for a very in-your-face approach, removing any mystique and anticipation from Superman’s origins. I suppose that might have been the intent, but it just made the story look sillier and more campy when the film opened with Jor-El riding a space Pterodactyl and shooting bad guys with lasers.
Surprisingly, as soon as the story transitions to Superman’s life on earth it becomes immediately better. The development on Superman is interesting and vulnerable. The story focused on Clarke (Superman), leaving little room for important characters like Louis Lane or Martha Kent to have their time in the spotlight. But the choice to tighten the story gave an edge when trying to delve into the emotions that accompanied being... super.
The action sequences were nothing short of amazing, nearly carrying the film on their own. Snyder did a fantastic job portraying how someone with powers like Superman would actually fight, nailing the rate and speed at which he would punch or tackle. Contrast this to how labored and ridiculously slow the hero’s punches seemed in cartoons and past movies. I didn’t expect anything less. Zack Snyder is the master of action sequences (a la 300
As the credits scrolled, there was no denying it… I loved this film. I don’t know if I would say it’s as good as The Dark Knight
. But then again, I don’t know if it’s right to compare it to The Dark Knight.
This film was a completely different story about unlike people with unique struggles. What I ultimately found to be distinctive and important about the film was its persisting theme of hope and the importance of choice (which we’ll mention in the CONVERSATION STARTER ideas below).
All in all, I really enjoyed the film. The first 10 minutes could have been cut, but the amazing action sequences made me forget ALL about the film’s past transgressions. I will definitely be buying this movie when it is released on Blu-ray, but I realize that might just be because I’m a huge nerd who loves superhero themes and stories. So for the common viewer I would give it a score of “THEATRE WORTHY,” if not for the story, then at the very least so you can hear the crunch of the bad guy skull from Superman’s fists.
SHOULD KIDS SEE IT?
The film is rated PG-13 truly for the action violence. Some of the fight scenes are rather intense... PG-13, but intense. I think it's acceptable for kids of all ages.
Here's some great thoughts on Man of Steel from Rusty Wright: http://rustywright.com/articles/category/recent/
- Where is your hope?
- Hope was one of the major themes in this film. The Man of Steel was struggling to find hope in a fallen world. He began to lose his trust in humanity. What were some of the reasons Superman was losing his trust in humanity?
- Was he right to feel that way? Why or why not?
- When Superman saw the priest, the priest basically told him that he can’t always trust first, but to take a leap of faith, because trust will come later. Why do you think the priest told him this? Was he right?
- What is something you can put your hope in?
- What does this actually look like in your life?