Superman The Man of Steel Review
To borrow a line from Man of Steel producer Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight: This isn’t the Superman movie we need, but it’s the one we deserve.
Give it its due: Man of Steel is well-made sci-fi action spectacle on an immense scale, from the vistas of Krypton (part Pandora, part Coruscant) to the inevitable urban destruction sequences of the climax (rivaling or outdoing the Avengers and Transformers finales). There are some interesting new ideas and bold departures from the traditional story that make sense. The character’s Christological resonances and the morality that separates him from his enemies are both invoked.
It’s also way too much … and in all this muchness, something essential has been lost.
The action, especially, is way too much. From a dragon-riding Russell Crowe as Superman’s father Jor-El battling the forces of Michael Shannon’s General Zod on Krypton, to a numbing finale so catastrophic that a sequel (or, mirabile dictu, a Justice League movie) would be hard-pressed to outdo it without destroying the planet, the film bludgeons the audience with scarcely any respite. (I say this as a lifelong lover of comic books and superhero movies, who put The Avengers on my 2012 top 10 list.)
There’s too much plot, too many sci-fi conceits, too much technobabble, and almost certainly too many holes. Somehow the filmmakers have turned one of the simplest superhero origin stories into an overstuffed tale involving a Codex, a World Engine, a Genesis Chamber and a Phantom Drive (which I think gets converted to a warp engine, or vice versa, or possibly both). Not to mention all the gizmos and effects that don’t get special names.
There are three separate Kryptonian expeditions to Earth — one of which has nothing to do with Kal-El or General Zod. Not only does Jor-El speak with Clark (as in past iterations) long after his own death, he also gets action scenes (both in life and posthumously), saves Amy Adams’ Lois Lane and masterminds his son’s ultimate attack plan. Who’d have thought that at nearly 50 Russell Crowe would be saving Lois Lane, not to mention the world, in a Superman movie?
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