‘Man of Steel’ – What Did You Think?

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There’s little question that Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel is, at least on the surface, the movie that fans have been asking for. It has a solid performance from Henry Cavill in the lead role, a few great talents orbiting him in important supporting roles (notably Amy Adams, Kevin Costner and Michael Shannon), and the biggest, hardest-hitting depiction of super-powered action ever to hit a movie screen.

For some people, that — along with a detailed, wild vision of Krypton, and a revision of Superman’s origin — is probably enough to lock this as one of the best screen incarnations of the character. There’s a lot more than that to talk about in Man of Steel, however. So weigh in below, and tell us what you think of the film. Spoilers are encouraged below.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who really like the film, and I get where Germain is coming from in his review. On the other hand, I spent most of Man of Steel feeling very distant from the core of the story. For every aspect that drew me in — mostly the performances from Cavill, Adams, and Costner — there was something to push me away.

The flashback structure consistently hampered any sense of forward momentum, and the plotting never ignited into a compelling story. Zod’s plan — until explained in the final act — played as obscure to me, for one. (In the same way that a lot of people thought Aldrich Killian’s plan in Iron Man 3 needed explaining; that one, ironically, I didn’t have a problem with.) The Codex macguffin seemed like a distraction, as did the terraforming actions. And despite the fact that everyone in Smallville seems to know that Clark has some sort of powers, he can’t save his Pa? What the hell is that?

Snyder & Co. aim to create a vision of Superman more aware of his alien nature than anything else, and who must decide between loyalty to that birthright and his alien/human hybrid upbringing. That’s a compelling take, and very much worth exploring. But taking that choice away from Kal, through the incursion of Zod, undercut the very idea of the choice. It’s not like Zod offers some compelling vision of Kryptonian character to tempt Kal-El into hewing towards heritage rather than upbringing.

That said, while Superman’s final action against Zod is not in keeping with the traditional version of the character, it is one compellingly modern moment, and something that got a more emotional rise than did the action or flight discovery scenes. Other moments work quite well, too, such as the classroom scene where some of Clark’s powers really begin to manifest. And while I’m sure there will be many arguments about the precise manner in which Superman’s powers are explained, at the very least we’ve never seen them put on screen in quite this manner.

In short, I’d call Man of Steel a jumble of ideas, good and bad, but with little motivating principle when it comes to organizing them. It delivers exactly what many people have asked for, but does so in a way that doesn’t capture the essence of classic Superman, or make much of a case for this new vision of the character.

Did it work better (or worse?) for you? Let us know — what did you think of Man of Steel?

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