The Score: "The Hugely Entertaining 'Man Of Steel' Is The Best Superman Movie Since The 1978 Original"

Friday, Jun 14, 2013 6:50PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

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  • Man of Steel
  • Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe
  • June 14, 2013
Film School Rejects C+
IGN 9 out of 10
Guardian 3 out of 5
Screen Rant 4 out of 5
Washington Post 1.5 out of 4

Are you still hungover and upset over The Dark Knight trilogy coming to an end last summer? Well look no further than another DC Comics icon making its way to theaters nationwide today (June 14) in the new Man of Steel flick.

This summer's newest blockbuster follows stiff competition from a year ago in The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.

It must be the last act of superhero revisionism: abolishing the word "super". In this new movie directed by Zack Snyder, and produced and co-written by Christopher Nolan, the letter on our hero's chest doesn't mean what we all thought it meant. This is no English S, but a Krypton symbol denoting hope. The word "Superman" is stutteringly or suspiciously pronounced, like "the bat man" in the Dark Knight movies. He is referred to by his earthling name, Clark, or his Krypton name, Kal-El, or even as the "alien", by the frowning Pentagon brass. This is a 21st-century superhero who must steel himself against the agonies of being misunderstood by the people he is trying to help. (The Guardian)

Some DC Comics fanatics, especially Batman lovers, will notice similarities in this movie's progression to 2005's Batman Begins thanks to film greats Christopher Nolan and Zack Synder.

Script-wise, the story moves at a nonstop pace and should be wholly familiar to fans of Batman Begins in terms of structure; while comic book fans will also recognize several modern Superman stories that were mined for this film's plot. A lengthy prologue introduces us to the world of Krypton in detailed and imaginative fashion, before we break into that signature Nolan non-linear scene montage format, covering Clark Kent's life on Earth, past and present. The second act settles back into linear character and plot development (the re-introduction of General Zod), while the third act takes things into a full-on, over-the-top, super-powered showdown. (Screen Rant)

While plenty of Superman flicks have preceded Man of Steel, the newest addition clearly stands out the most.

Clark Kent yearns to be one of us, but instead he will learn that he has a special place in our world. Superman is forced to choose between his adopted world and his home world when General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his Kryptonian minions come to Earth looking for him. Needless to say a battle for the fate of our planet ensues. The hugely entertaining Man of Steel is the best Superman movie since the 1978 original. Cavill makes a great Superman, but we don't really get a true emotional attachment to the adult Clark Kent until he meets Lois Lane (Amy Adams). The flashbacks to Clark's youth inform us of his journey thus far and give us a sense of his inner demons. Otherwise, Clark is, as Lois describes him at different points, like a ghost or a cypher. (IGN)

While it could be bothersome for a few, Superman fans will get to see plenty of action this time around.

Ironically, in a film that features shots drawing comparisons to Terrence Malick's work, it's the excessive, non-stop fighting in the third act that eventually grows boring. I know, that doesn't make sense to me, either. Characters brawl for nearly an hour destroying buildings, vehicles and what could conservatively be counted at tens of thousands of lives. Punching, kicking, buildings collapsing... this goes on and on, and unlike a fight scene in something like The Raid, there are no moves or skills to appreciate. Action scenes shouldn't be dull, especially large-scale ones devastating half of a city, but that's exactly what threatens to happen here. (Film School Rejects)

Although Man of Steel has received ample praise, there are a few minor flaws critics singled out.

And rest assured, there will be future installments: Reportedly, Snyder and Goyer are already at work on the follow-up to "Man of Steel," which, with its allegorical nods to adolescent struggles with identity and ungovernable impulses, may have gotten the why-so-serious stuff out of the way. "Man of Steel" ends on an optimistic note, at least, with the maddeningly impassive Cavill -- who was so delicious in the TV series "The Tudors" -- finally showing a different emotional color than the movie's myriad shades of gray. That rare sighting up on screen isn't a bird or a plane: It's just a smile. (Washington Post)
At the same time, Man of Steel is not without some noticeable narrative flaws. The script can be very "comic-bookish" in some scenes of dialogue, and the jumps in time and place during the first act are not as cohesive as they were in Batman Begins. Clever editing and speedy movement earlier on often comes at the price of effective narrative development. In short: if you were one of those people who were hung up on the question of how Bruce Wayne made it back to Gotham after escaping prison in Dark Knight Rises, you'll find similar gripes with Man of Steel. Thankfully, the studio and filmmakers pull the same magic trick they did with the Batman franchise by casting an impressive array of highly-talented actors, who help elevate the weaker points of the script. (Screen Rant)

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