I went to a special screening last night for the Man of Steel. Question: why do the front five rows exist in a movie theater? Oh, yeah. Revenue. Alright, that’s fine. But what a horrible experience for the patrons that sit on the sides of Row A. Yeah, that’s right, true believers; I was assigned to Row A. If the movie had all taken place in the lower right hand quadrant, I still wouldn’t have been able to see anything. Fortunately, the people in the assigned seating in the middle of Row B didn’t show up so my date and I moved there. Still a strain on the neck, but much better than the other option.
So, here’s the skinny.
THE GOOD: The film opens with a lot of background on the planet Krypton. Jor-El (played by Russel Crowe) figures heavily into that sequence. We are given a pretty decent understanding about the origin of Kal-El (Superman, played by Henry Cavill). We are given to understand the motivation behind General Zod’s (Michael Shannon) campaign to stop Jor-El and reclaim Kal-El.
In spite of the fact that a significant amount of time was dedicated to Clark Kent’s growing up period, there was no scene associated with the recovery of him as a baby. It was all implied. I thought that was a good use of screen time since it focused attention on foundational events Clark experienced as he grew in knowledge about his capabilities and potential future role.
The action sequences were both good and bad. The bad is that they went on too long (which is weird for me to say since, like most guys, I like watching things blow up and get smashed). The good was that the special effects for the scenes were incredible. The destruction scenes of Smallville and Metropolis are amazing. Between the juggernaut fist fights and building slamming by Zod and Superman, and the earth-wrenching world machine (very cool effects), the sheer destruction of everything around the super-beings made the similar scenes in The Avengers look like tea parties.
THE BAD: The film is 143 minutes long. That’s about 20 minutes more than it should have been. I loved that the extra length was in a battle between Superman and General Zod but the fighting did take up a huge amount of the run time. Maybe it’s because the story started wearing thin in the second half. As for the actors, Amy Adams wasn’t a good cast. Unlike Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, who we thought was going to be a bad fit but didn’t end up that way, Amy as Lois Lane didn’t work for me. To be fair, she played the role just fine but the role with her in it just didn’t make sense. Henry Cavill was serviceable as Superman. He was chiseled and had a manly face and a thick head of hair and hairy chest and was tall and had good posture and clean teeth so that was probably good enough. Diane Lane was cast as Martha Kent which was fine but pretty much anyone could have filled that uninspired role. Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent was a better fit for his role. Kevin has gotten to the point that he looks and acts convincingly like a stern father figure.
THE UGLY: You know a fantasy film has issues when the difficulty in suspending your belief isn’t in the scientifically unsound elements but rather in the human interest ones. The relationship between Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman is annoying. She appears in scenes unnecessarily and her participation feels forced like maybe Amy Adams’ agent was too successful in getting her as much airtime as possible.
In re-reading our review, I think I’m painting a picture of a movie that wasn’t as good as it actually is. If you’re looking for some superb drama, dialogue, and character depth, this is an average film. If you’re looking for a big screen superhero romp, big thumbs up for that.
3.5 out of 5 stars.