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Joseph’s ProFan Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel (PG-13)
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe
Directed by Zack Snyder

I’m going to begin this review a little differently.

On this past Thursday, I was listening to The Tony Kornheiser Show on podcast delay (not important), and Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday was reviewing Man of Steel with host Tony Kornheiser. In it, she said that the movie was drab, uninspiring, dark, and devoid of the campiness that the Christopher Reeve Superman movies brought. Poking around the internet for reviews, you get something akin to this, with the consensus being that it’s just not good. Now, I normally don’t do this, because I believe that everyone has the right to have whatever opinion they want to have, but I’m making an exception in this case.

Those critics are mostly wrong. Not entirely, but mostly.

They’re right about one thing: the movie isn’t campy. It is as far from campy as you can get. The movie only has a modicum of humor in it, with the film being spent mostly in present day – with the occasional flashback to young Clark Kent’s life in Smallville growing up with his adoptive parents Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent. The movie also spends a fair amount of time on the doomed planet Krypton, where Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) give birth to Kal-El and send him to Earth. That’s not a spoiler: that’s part of the mythos. I won’t be telling much of the movie like I’ve done in previous reviews, because…well…my words won’t do it justice. You have to see this on screen to believe it.

 

Man of Steel

 

I’m gonna come right out and say it: I’m not a Superman fan. I think he’s about as interesting as a glass of milk. In the DC Universe, Batman calls him the “big blue Boy Scout,” and that’s not a compliment. Yeah, he stands for – as the old cartoon is so eloquent in saying – “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” but his wholesomeness really made me sick. It wasn’t until watching the amazing animated series Justice League and its sequel Justice League Unlimited that I began to appreciate Superman a bit more. Watching ten seasons of Smallville really helped me to appreciate him even more. But, even still, something felt off about him to me. As time progressed, I just shrugged Superman off as a blue Aquaman; serves a purpose, but disinteresting.

Man of Steel changed that for me.

In this movie, they make Superman more interesting. They tweak his backstory just enough that you begin to understand the purpose of his being so moral. The intertwining of both of his fathers goes to shape the inner turmoil that will be his guiding point. The feelings he has for Lois Lane (Amy Adams) doesn’t feel schlepped on like it did in the emo Superman Returns; instead, it feels organic and worthwhile. The conflict he has with General Zod (Michael Shannon) is incredible.

 

la_ca_0422_man_of_steel

 

Let me just say that Michael Shannon steals the show. You’ve seen him in the trailers: “You feel your son is safe?! I WILL FIND HIM!!!” is delivered in such a way that you really feel that he really means business. It doesn’t hurt matters that Shannon – while a fantastic actor – seems alien himself. His loyal lieutenant Faora (Antje Traue) is sufficiently evil to make you actively root for her demise. Really…this chick is scary evil.

 

Michael Shannon as General Zod in Man of Steel

 

Zack Snyder gets a lot of flak for some of his cinematic choices as of late, and deservedly so; whereas his interpretation of Dawn of the Dead and 300 were good, Watchmen was a faithful, if almost unwatchable, recreation of the comic it was based from, and the less said about Sucker Punch, the better. In this, he doesn’t go wild with his trademark tropes; he lets the actors work their magic, and he stays out of the way. The Hans Zimmer score makes you instantly forget about the iconic John Williams theme before it, and it carves its own path in the mythos.

 

Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Henry Cavill as Superman, and Antje Traue as Faora in Man of Steel

The only problem I have with the movie is with some of the camerawork; it relies a bit much on the shaky-cam documentary feel, as well as the overabundance of zoom cuts. That being said, it does quite a bit right, as you will NOT get lost in the action. Where you would expect the camera to really be shaking like it’s strapped to a vibrator, it stays pretty centered on the action before it.

This movie not only made me believe a man could fly, it made me love Superman. I said on Facebook and Twitter that this movie was better than Iron Man 3, and I stand by that. That is a comparison I’m willing to make, and I won’t back down from that. In fact, next to Star Trek Into Darkness, it’s one of my favorite movies of the summer. This movie is exciting from beginning to end, and I highly recommend going to watch it at your earliest convience. Hell, don’t even wait until then: watch it ASAP.

 

Michael Shannon as General Zod and Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel

My rating: A+

About Joseph Seltzer (401 Articles)
Joseph K. Seltzer is a movie reviewer for ProjectFandom.com. When not writing or talking obsessively about the art of movies and TV to anyone who will pretend to listen – especially when it comes to his love for the musical score – he works as a Help Desk technician for a local school board. Generally, you can find him either burrowed in front of the TV watching movies or playing video games, or spending time with his precocious daughter.
Contact: Facebook

5 Comments on Joseph’s ProFan Review: Man of Steel

  1. I agree with you that most of the negative things I’ve heard about this movie seem to be based on absolutely nothing. I’d heard people complain that it “doesn’t feel like a superhero movie”, which is complete baloney. I also agree about how well the two fathers were presented, and the way the movie demonstrates how they helped shape Clark into Superman is very good.

    Two things I’d disagree on: first, I liked the reportage camerawork in moments where it made sense, and I felt like it went away in the moments when it wasn’t needed. Second, I’d disagree that it’s not campy; it’s just a different kind of campy. It’s kitschy, wide-eyed, and optimistic campiness, instead of the unintentional, cartoonish campiness of the Donner films (and the intentional emulation of that campiness in Superman Returns). I loved the campiness Man of Steel brings; it’s the Americana-style, subtle pomposity and human exceptionalism that makes the Superman story as interesting as it is.

    • I didn’t see that as campy; I see that as more ideological. When I think of cannot, I think of the stereotypical black guy in Superman 2:

      “Say, man! That is a baaaad out-fit!”

      I see Man of Steel’s tone as more of a reflection of where w are in the world today.

  2. Man of Steel is probably my favorite Summer movie. I loved the flashbacks where we saw both Fathers mold Clark into Superman. I think now we see what he truly had to deal with in terms of his powers and how his parents helped him for this moment. I will admit I was drooling over Cahvill way more than I should have but he so reminded me of all that I loved about the Reeves films but at the same time STOOD out on its own. Its so good I’m willing – in the name of art- to watch it over and over and over.

    • I certainly enjoyed watching how Jor-El and Jonathan Kent’s lessons shaped him into the man he is meant to be. This version of Superman promises to be more than a milquetoast paragon; this one promises to be the most exciting one yet.

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