Man of Steel – Review Part 2
Why do we continue to allow Zack Snyder to ruin beautiful things? After what he did with Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder shouldn’t be allowed to direct a movie. That movie, although visually stunning, was horrendously anti-character driven. I understand that he wrote it; maybe therein lies the problem, but I digress. We aren’t here to talk about the failures and shortfalls of Zack Snyder… unless we’re talking about Man of Steel. Which in this case we are.
Man of Steel was not only a complete utter disappointment but it was also an insult to the beloved character of Superman and Clark Kent. As an icon of morality, Superman is an example to others because he is the one superhero who loves humanity more than himself. In Man of Steel, it’s never really clear which side of morality Superman is on. Yet we are expected to make inferences based on small clips and bits of incomplete history from Clark Kent’s unapologetic past. The movie struggled with finding its footing on how to introduce Clark Kent as a character and as our beloved superhero. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy waiting to burst through that emotionless human façade? Are asking these questions necessary? And if so, why? A well written movie does not let the audience make assumptions about a character. Instead a well written movie will define a character. The character development for one Clark Kent was mediocre at best.
*Spoilers* Based on the comics, the shows, cartoons, whatever, we all know that Pa Kent dies. Man of Steel tries to explain that as a young kid, the restraint that Clark Kent feels is only because of Kevin Costner’s character, Jonathan Kent. Pa Kent ensures his son’s concealment from the government (or others that may want to do him harm) by prohibiting him from using his powers. Man of Steel tries to illustrate this when a young Clark Kent is found to have rescued an entire school bus of children after it swerves and falls off of a bridge. But Jonathan Kent is not easily impressed and instead disciplines his son about the dangers of being different. And although that may have made for an exceptionally legitimate struggle in Clark Kent’s chronicle and overall character development, the climax of said chronicle was never finalized and when it should have been, it lacked real and raw emotion. In fact, when Clark Kent watches his own father die due to his lack of interference, Clark Kent doesn’t evolve. He doesn’t vow to do good and become a super hero right then and there, or he doesn’t immediately go on a revenge rampage and destroy society. Instead, Clark Kent decides to become an itinerant worker and live on some boat in the middle of the ocean doing menial tasks. Whhaaaa? It’s assumed that Clark Kent left the farm after the death of his father to become a wanderer but again it was never really clear. Needless to say Henry Cavil, could have done more with this character. The way in which he portrayed Clark Kent was cold, dark and unemotional. Moving on.
Starting the movie off with Krypton and Jor-El may not have been the best idea because by doing so it allowed the audience to admire Jor-El’s character and have a deeper understanding of the fall of Krypton. How is that a bad thing you ask? Although going into the politics of it all was effective, it made us care too much for Jor-El such that when we saw him again later in the movie, we’d rather him be on-screen than our superhero. Jor-El was probably one of better developed characters in the film because you to see his emotions and his reasons for doing what he did. That being said, his introduction in Krypton did not do him justice as an actor. The entire first part of the movie’s dialogue was underdeveloped and I believe it had less to do with the actors and more to do with the script and more specifically the way in which Jor-El’s character was written. Case and point, if a very angry General Zod walks in and kills a councilwoman, you don’t turn around calmly and ask General Zod a question. No, instead you turn around, weapons drawn and fight.
The initial conversation with Zod and Jor-El was lackluster and felt really rushed. I wanted to feel what Jor-El was feeling and as previously mentioned, in some instances I did. Some of the best parts in these early sequences of Man of Steel was when Jor-El infiltrated Krypton’s archives to steal the codex and the tender moments between him and Lara. There was a hint of desperation, a touch of sadness and a dash of hopelessness. But it was just not enough to make up for the fails and lack of character in the rest of the movie.
Speaking of which, Amy Adam’s Lois Lane fell short. Completely. There was a brief two minutes when she was an awesome badass of a woman but then every moment after that, she became more and more unlikable. And I love Amy Adams! Christopher Meloni played that typical American soldier badass that would go down fighting against anything, even if that anything was a convicted ex-Phantom Zone alien. Pretty cheeseball but still one of the better parts of the film. Diane Lane played Martha Kent with the love and tenderness that could only come from an actress who knows how to play a good mother. Michael Shannon was a great Zod because he was scary and impassioned regardless if it seemed forced.
Although, the movie did have it moments of nostalgia, (the tiny town of Smallville, watching Clark Kent grow into his powers, a brief mention of Lana, a Lexcorp logo on the side of a truck) the plot holes and lack of emotion and character development for every character, make it simply dreadful. Laced with enough action bits and explosives to see you through a million 4th of July holidays, the action sequences and special effects are the best part of Man of Steel. But it was only once we got to these action scenes in the movie (which started about halfway through), did we realize that we didn’t really care about who these characters were. Man of Steel is an action-packed cold, dark, empty shell of a movie. Go see this movie for the special effects but don’t expect to feel anything while you’re watching it.