Man of Steel – A Review

man of steel

I’ve never really loved Superman. I wouldn’t say he’s my least favourite superhero (probably Daredevil — whilst a blind man being able to see is certainly great for him, it doesn’t really qualify as a superpower), but he’s always seemed somewhat bland.

A large part of that is that over the decades his powers have been increased to such a state that he’s near-invincible, and for there even to be enough conflict for a story one of the numerous flavours of kryptonite has to be wheeled out. The 1978 Superman had him able to reverse the flow of time, for crying out loud!

But here we have a new, modern, shiny version. From the man who made a fair old hash of filming probably the best superhero comic ever writtenWatchmen, and with a trailer that contained enough lens flare to make JJ Abrams blush, does Man of Steel even stand a chance?

Actually, it wasn’t half bad.

In a now well-trodden story, the film opens on a dying Krypton, where General Zod (Michael Shannon) leads a doomed uprising, as scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sends his infant child Kal-El off to safety on Earth. Kal is found and adopted by the  Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), who raise him under the name Clark.

Sparing us the traditional linear walk through young-Superman, we are first shown Clark as a young man, and only see his childhood and coming to terms with his powers through flashback. It’s a good fit, and a good storytelling approach given that most will already have seen this many times before. It’s something which The Amazing Spiderman should have considered to avoid a feeling of deja vu.

By the time Zod rocks up on earth, Clark has been schooled in basically everything by a posthumous hologram of Jor-El and “become” superman. The explanations for his powers — basically, differences in the environment between Krypton and Earth — are mostly believable, and the depiction of Kryptonian technology and culture are breathtaking and beautiful. Glistening wide shots of futuristic cities, with a fluidic and distinct architectural style It’s how I imagine Gallifrey in Doctor Who should have been.

Michael Shannon steals the show here. Whereas Terence Stamp’s original Zod revelled in his camp over-the-top performance, Shannon gives the character a sort of dark sympathy, a man who is desperate to save his world and his people and who will do anything to achieve that. His rage and heartbreak felt palpably human next to his alien nature.

Russell Crowe also does an excellent turn as Jor-El, and there is an ongoing mutual respect between the two bubbling away under their antagonism. One of the standout scenes, I felt, was the dialogue between the two of them as Zod’s plan approaches its climax. If this had been a film about those two characters, then I would likely be raving about it. And if Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan are reading: that’s where you need to go.

Sadly, this was a film about the titular Man of Steel, and Henry Cavill’s Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El and Amy McAdams’ Lois Lane both felt flat and lifeless. Part of that is the base characters, neither simmer with personality, but there was no reason for an automatic presumption that Lane had to be a love interest (and despite being referred to as “Pulitzer-prize-winning”, she was a fairly useless journalist).

The female characters were disappointingly unimpressive as a whole, actually. They all seemed generic, cookie-cutter, just-add-water characters to fill roles more to do with the plot than any well rounded character arcs. Others have put it better than I, so you should read their views.

Overall, I did enjoy the film. It updated the Superman mythos to make it feel cutting edge and modern, and like a proper science-fiction film. Between stealing the clothes of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek and The Matrix, it found a sweet spot of originality — only to fall down on the actual meat of the story. In the end, I was wowed by Kyrpton in the opening twenty minutes, and really would have rather stayed there.


  1. I know what the critics has said. They complained about too much action, superman being too serious, lack of romance, etc. Since Zack Snyder directed this movie, I don’t think he cared about the critics. Don’t get me wrong, he DOES care about the fans’ opinion. Seems like he really wanted to really satisfy the fans. I see why critics complained about too much action. For me it’s just his way to satisfy the viewers. This is the kind of movie that is just really satisfying. When the movie ended, I got that ‘satisfying’ feeling instead of the ‘wanting more’ feeling. It’s like it was really enough.

    Even Snyder’s best movies (before this) which were 300 & Watchmen didn’t have more ratings than 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think the fans should have anticipated the bad reviews. His style is actually what critics hate. The over the top action and CGI is actually his trademark. So, even from the beginning, I think this is actually the kind of movie the producers wanted. About the lack of romance, I really do think it’s saved for the sequel. The sequel will definitely explore more about the relationship between Clark and Lois. This film focused on 2 aspects: the origin (krypon,struggle finding his place) & the action (Zod and his army). Don’t expect humor or romance.

    The visuals were spectacular! What’s best about this movie is its action scenes. The action were just relentless. I think the fans would not be disappointed at all. Yes, I know there is only a very few humor this movie but that actually doesn’t even matter. The battle between Superman & Zod will definitely ‘wow’ everyone but the critics. I mean who cares about the critics opinion? A superhero movie MUST NOT be judged by the critics opinion, what’s more important is the audience’s opinion about the movie and especially the fans’. I think the movie really delivered. Most people will definitely like this movie. I am really sure that many fanboys will consider this as the best comic book of all time. This is a MUST SEE for people who like action movie. The action were better than last year’s The Avengers.

    The sequel really have a great potential. Considering the minimum amount of romance in this movie (since they just knew each other, and superman was also more focused on Zod), the next movie could explore more of that. One of the things missing from the movie was also the presence of Clark Kent at the daily planet. It’s one of the trade marks. But, I believe the sequel will show more scenes in the Daily Planet which is interesting to see.

    As a conclusion, I think Man of Steel is so far the best action movie this year. This movie really is a Snyder movie. But it also has a quite lot of nolan-esque feel to it especially in the around first 45 minutes.

    If this was compared to Iron man 3, if Iron man 3 was a 7, this movie is a 8.6.

    More information about the movie you can also find out here


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