Comic Book Movie Rewatch: Man of Steel

I’ve decided to go back and watch a bunch of movies based on comic books. No real reason, just something I thought would be fun. This time it was the 2013 movie Man of Steel.

MoSMan of Steel

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes critics: 55%

Rotten Tomatoes audience: 75%

My Rating: 6/10

This movie was actually a lot better than I remembered from the first time I watched it. I still wouldn’t classify it as a particularly good movie, but it definitely isn’t the bad movie I had thought it to be.

A lot of the issues with the movie are small technical details. One big one I noticed really early on was the use of the shaky camera. It happened during slow, set up scenes, but the a steady cam was used for the action scenes. Now, I hate shaky cams to begin with, but I can understand the reasoning behind having them in action scenes. Having a shaky cam when there’s no action doesn’t make any sense to me.

The writing was probably the biggest problem in the movie. It affected some of the characters (more on that later), and contributed a lot of little problems, like the flashbacks during Superman’s origin. They’re a little jumbled and hard to follow. Or the relationship between Superman and Lois that comes out of nowhere. The inconsistency with how the Kryptonians breathe on Earth, and the Kryptonian armor that literally does nothing to protect them are a couple more. The movie also has the common problem of the villains mastering in minutes what the protagonist takes years to master. At least in Man of Steel, Zod gives a reason for his ability to learn everything so quickly (flimsy as that reason may be, it’s more than most other super hero movies give). The worst aspect of the writing, however, was that the last hour of the movie is just one extended fight scene.

There were two parts of the movie that I thought were great. The first was the music. It had an outstanding score. The music didn’t overpower any scenes, but when it was emphasized, it was beautiful.

The casting in the movie is also really good. The one that stood out to me was Diane Lane as Martha Kent. One of her first scenes, where she’s comforting Clark through a door is fantastic, and really sets the tone for her character. Michael Shannon is great as Zod, and Henry Cavill was surprisingly good as Superman. Amy Adams was just okay as Lois Lane, but I think a lot of that had to do with the writing. Lois just wasn’t given a great part to show off her personality. Jonathan Kent’s part was similar. Kevin Costner does a fine job, but re-writing the character to be morally ambiguous (the fact that he considers letting a bus full of kids die to preserve Clark’s secret didn’t sit well with me) made the character a little harder to like than I think he should have been.

It’s not a great super hero movie, but it’s adequate. I doubt that the movie was really what the studio wanted to kick start the DC extended universe, but it does give the universe a very distinct feel.

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