Movies: Man of Steel Review (or “My Patience With The Same Old Formula Has Finally Worn Thin”)

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%

Man of Steel Review: My Thoughts – Diminishing Marginal UtilityMOS

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.

Random Observations

  • 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.

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3 Responses to Movies: Man of Steel Review (or “My Patience With The Same Old Formula Has Finally Worn Thin”)

  1. atw1984 says:

    How IMDB gave it 8.2 is very easy if you do a bit of research. Recommend starting at Superman Forums or DC Comics Forums….

  2. I liked Man of Steel…. Superman is a bit of a boring character to pull off, but I thought they made a valiant effort. Although, I must admit, it’s no masterpiece… I have no idea how it has got it’s IMDB score.

  3. Carcotas says:

    I know what the critics has said. They complained about too much action, superman being too serious, lack of romance, etc. Since Zack Snyder directed this movie, I don’t think he cared about the critics. Don’t get me wrong, he DOES care about the fans’ opinion. Seems like he really wanted to really satisfy the fans. I see why critics complained about too much action. For me it’s just his way to satisfy the viewers. This is the kind of movie that is just really satisfying. When the movie ended, I got that ‘satisfying’ feeling instead of the ‘wanting more’ feeling. It’s like it was really enough.

    Even Snyder’s best movies (before this) which were 300 & Watchmen didn’t have more ratings than 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think the fans should have anticipated the bad reviews. His style is actually what critics hate. The over the top action and CGI is actually his trademark. So, even from the beginning, I think this is actually the kind of movie the producers wanted. About the lack of romance, I really do think it’s saved for the sequel. The sequel will definitely explore more about the relationship between Clark and Lois. This film focused on 2 aspects: the origin (krypon,struggle finding his place) & the action (Zod and his army). Don’t expect humor or romance.

    The visuals were spectacular! What’s best about this movie is its action scenes. The action were just relentless. I think the fans would not be disappointed at all. Yes, I know there is only a very few humor this movie but that actually doesn’t even matter. The battle between Superman & Zod will definitely ‘wow’ everyone but the critics. I mean who cares about the critics opinion? A superhero movie MUST NOT be judged by the critics opinion, what’s more important is the audience’s opinion about the movie and especially the fans’. I think the movie really delivered. Most people will definitely like this movie. I am really sure that many fanboys will consider this as the best comic book of all time. This is a MUST SEE for people who like action movie. The action were better than last year’s The Avengers.

    The sequel really have a great potential. Considering the minimum amount of romance in this movie (since they just knew each other, and superman was also more focused on Zod), the next movie could explore more of that. One of the things missing from the movie was also the presence of Clark Kent at the daily planet. It’s one of the trade marks. But, I believe the sequel will show more scenes in the Daily Planet which is interesting to see.

    As a conclusion, I think Man of Steel is so far the best action movie this year. This movie really is a Snyder movie. But it also has a quite lot of nolan-esque feel to it especially in the around first 45 minutes.

    If this was compared to Iron man 3, if Iron man 3 was a 7, this movie is a 8.6.

    More about the movie you can also find it here
    http://movieinfodb.com/en/movie/49521/Man+of+Steel-2013

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