I often start my reviews of Superhero movies with a line like “I like Superhero Movies” .
Having just gone to see Man of Steel, I might have to reconsider…
Man of Steel Review: What’s It About?
A Superman reboot telling the story of his origin and then how he must fight his own kind to save Earth.
Man of Steel Review: Who’s In It?
The guy who plays Superman himself – Henry Cavill – is not known to me, but the movie stars plenty of well known actors like Russell Crowe as his biological father, Kevin Costner as his adopted father, Amy Adams as Lois Lane and a very bored looking Richard Schiff playing a scientist.
The villain – General Zod – is played by Michael Shannon, another actor who I’ve never heard of and one who seems to have trouble speaking clearly.
Man of Steel Review: How Highly Is It Rated?
IMDB rates it at 8.2, which – as you’ll discover from reading this review – is a mystery to me, while Rotten Tomatoes awards it an approval rating of 55%
I often bore my brother by discussing the concept of Diminishing Marginal Utility.
In the unlikely event that you don’t know what that means, at its basic level it’s that the more you consume a product, the less you enjoy/gain from it. For example, if you go into a bar on a hot day and have an ice-cold drink, you’ll love it. If you order another, you’ll still enjoy it but a little less than the first one, and each subsequent drink you buy in that sitting you’ll enjoy less until you simply get no more enjoyment from it.
That’s how I felt watching Man of Steel.
I’ve seen enough skyscrapers being demolished during long, protracted fight scenes in superhero films to last me a lifetime.
The first time I saw this in a film, I was probably very impressed by the special effects, but so many films have done this sort of thing now and it’s become passé. Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve been to at least eleven films where large chunks of it are devoted to showing large buildings being blown up or raised to the ground, most notably Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.
It’s been done. I’ve had enough. I don’t get any enjoyment from seeing it anymore and I can’t be bothered wasting my time watching another film that employs it so heavily.
Once special effects are no longer special, what are you left with?
Well in the case of the likes of Avengers and Iron Man 3, there was some level of humour or decent scripting too, and I could take that from them, but in the case of Transformers, there as nothing else too it.
Sadly, Man of Steel was very much like the latter rather than the former.
No drama, no comedy, nothing.
Superman – A Character That Doesn’t Work Outside Comic Books
I get the point of Superman; he’s invincible unless he’s exposed to Kryptonite. I get that, and I understand how the character would have enthralled children back in the mid twentieth century.
But as a character in a film, he’s worse than useless.
I suppose I did know that going in, but even so, where’s the fun in watching a guy who is – for all intents and purposes – untouchable?
Plot wise, they tried to show the anguish he had as a child learning to cope with how different he was and how his adopted father taught him the value of staying out of the spotlight, but the adult Clark Kent had no anguish at all; he just battered through everyone without showing the remotest hint of vulnerability, or at least not any that you could take seriously.
And since his fellow Kryptonians were in the same boat, watching them fight each other, battering the shit out of each other without showing any signs of it hurting, it just got boring.
You know the scenes in Family Guy with Peter and the Giant Chicken? That’s what the last hour of this film was, except neither Superman, Zod nor the woman Zod hung out with picked up a scratch.
“Right, That’s the Story Done, Let’s Start Blowing Things Up”
In the absence of any drama – but for one laboured scene where I think we were supposed to care about the possibility of some woman from the Daily Planet dying – it was just action scene after action scene. I thought it was all wrapping up – plot-wise – after an hour, but instead it was more like “Right, that’s the story done, let’s start blowing things up”.
Now fair enough, some people might enjoy that, but I’ve reached my limit with it and have had enough.
And moreover, they don’t even get the destruction right. We all remember 9/11, don’t we? When the World Trade Centre collapsed, the air around Ground Zero was thick with dust, people covered in dust and blood and in desperate need of medical attention. Well the destruction of Metropolis seemed to be far worse, with dozens of large buildings crumbling to the ground, and yet the people on the street still looked wonderfully coiffured, the air was clear and nobody felt the need to find shelter. It was pathetic.
- Another issue I have with Man of Steel is the design of Krypton. I mean, talk about lack of imagination! What we see as the design for this “Alien Planet” is pretty much the same as every other one to come out of Hollywood for ages.
- Man of Steel is also built on one of the stupidest plot-holes that I’ve ever seen. Knowing the planet is about to be destroyed, why did the Kryptonians sentence Zod and his troops to a “punishment” that would see them safely avoid Krypton’s end? Would it not have been a more fitting punishment in these circumstances for them to be kept locked up on the planet until it blew up?
- And another thing; with the threat of Earth’s destruction looming, would anyone really keep Clark Kent’s whereabouts a secret? Knowing the alternative, even his adopted mother might be tempted, so why a journalist who has had two previous meetings with the guy decides to risk her own life and that of everyone else on the planet to save him is ridiculous.
- On the whole, in spite of my issues with the film, the acting is of a reasonable standard throughout. Nobody really lets the side down on that score, even if the guy playing Zod was limited at best.
- Unfortunately, part of the problem with Superman – and DC Comics – is a lack of imaginative super-villains. I like the Batman ones because they are grounded in reality, but the likes of General Zod and those purple blokes from the Green Lantern just do nothing for me.
- All of a sudden, with an hour of the film gone, a baby started crying in the cinema and its mother had to take it away. Neither returned. I mean, why on Earth would you bring a baby to the cinema? Surely the continuous loud explosions of noise are a certainty to wake it up?
Man of Steel Review: Final Thoughts
So it could be that my patience with the same formula for Superhero Movies has finally worn thin, or it could be that this was just a bad film with no originality, no drama and a sub-standard plot.
Either way, I found it a chore to sit through, and felt that I absolutely did not get my money’s worth.
Indeed, I would go as far as to say that Man of Steel is a contender for being the worst film I’ve seen at the cinema since starting this site.
Even more tiresome than Transformers: Dark of Moon, this is one film I have no desire to see ever again.
That it got 8.2 on IMDB is a mystery to me.