Man of Steel: Two Movies at the Price of One

Let’s hope they make enough money to warrant a sequel so we don’t have to see another origin story.

It has been a few weeks, I’ve seen Man of Steel twice now, I’ve read several reviews on both sides, and now I’m going to throw my own thoughts out there to be picked apart by fans and flamers alike.

An image from the movie “I Am Legend” which teased what could have been a possibile Batman/Superman team up.

I am more of a Batman fan than Superman buff, but seeing as how Christopher Nolan was associated with this film, I had high hopes it would be successful. Past rumors suggested that when Superman Returns came out the year after Batman Begins, they were to put out a trilogy that would have a combined film for the third movie. I still submit that this would have been amazing had Superman Returns been halfway decent. It was not and Brandon Routh never got to share the screen with Christian Bale in what would have been a better movie than the Dark Knight Rises on any given day. But unless Superman can in fact change the rotation of the earth and turn back time to give DC the insight to reboot the story line instead of try to pick up where Christopher Reeve left off, we are stuck with the unfortunate decisions that have ruined the possibilities for a potential masterpiece.

After seeing Man of Steel for the first time, I wasn’t surprised with the negative reviews from critics and fans. I credit this all to the confusing and dual story lines, the lack of character development and dialogue, and the shaky cinematography and flashy special effects.

Man of Steel seems to be more like two stories in one and neither of them are given enough time or attention to be any good on their own. Seeing how Nolan served as the executive producer, the story was equivalent to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight compacted into one film with only 50% of the essential dialogue to keep the viewer informed as to where the story was going.

Let me continue to make comparisons and point out the differences. Batman Begins is the origin story with a minor antagonist who helped shape Batman into a vigilante that villains feared and a hero that Gotham needed. It was simple, yet brilliant. Granted, if Man of Steel had tried to be that simple, there would have been just as many people complaining that it wasn’t as great as The Dark Knight, but it would have been comparable as an origin story.

There wasn’t a single thing I appreciated about Kal-El’s origin story in Man of Steel. The whole Krypton segment felt like I was watching Green Lantern. Even Thor was better than the opening sequence of Man of Steel. Granted, I’m not a walking Superman encyclopedia, but it was hard for me to get invested in the back story of an advanced race that was living in caves, dressed in body armor, riding on flying walruses, and fertilizing their future race in open pools exposed to the elements. The rest of the origin story which is interspersed throughout the movie is stripped bare of any real developments that Clark Kent had to make in discovering he was Kal-El,. Snyder made so many changes to the original back story that the mythos of Superman was lost in a sad re-imagination.

The other story line was not nearly as disappointing, but was disappointing all the same. The Dark Knight is all about how Batman is knocked off his pedestal by his greatest villain who turns out the be a product of protagonist himself. Likewise, Zod is Superman’s greatest rival and is drawn to Metropolis because of Superman. There are many great elements to how Zack Snyder interpreted the Kryptonian invasion of earth. Still, there were several key elements that I would have changed to make the story much better and more authentic. But seeing as how much I hated the origin story, I think this story line would have been passable if it stood on its own.

The problems with this movie are clearly in the dual story lines that don’t work together, but what makes it even worse is the pitiful dialogue that comes across forced and sad. Even when they try to be funny and make a joke, the phrasing is just bland and colorless. If they were trying to speak down to the audience, they succeeded. Far from Alfred’s discourses and no where close to Ironman’s whit, Man of Steel could have had the whole script written on one page.

If you saw the movie, and you left with a headache, it’s probably because of the shaky cinematography, fast paced graphics, and lens flares. I don’t know if Snyder was trying to imitate JJ Abrams or if he just thought what he was doing was really cool, but he went too far and it didn’t quite work.

My final critique would be with my basic pet peeve of movie physics. While cars are being lifted off the ground and smashing back down due to a change of gravity, people are freely running around. Again, Lois Lane continues to fall from the sky while everything around her is being sucked into a black hole. Even Superman has a hard time flying against the forces. I could go on, but I’ll digress. I will say that Star Trek: Into Darkness had far more infractions to my pet peeves, but I didn’t mind because they did a much better job at developing characters, tension, and emotional connections.

There are several elements that I really liked about Man of Steel. The cast is amazing. Henry Cavil makes a great Superman. Amy Adams is always beautiful, and the supporting cast was spot on. It was great to see Superman actually fighting with someone who could rival his own strength. I would have been happy to see the changes I mentioned before, but I’m looking forward to what changes they will make for the sequel. Without having to deal with the origin of Superman, they should have an opportunity to make a great story. Let’s hope that they listen to the vast majority of viewers who passionately love the mythos of Superman.

With all the hating I just did, I would still give this film three out of five stars. If you have any interest in seeing Man of Steel, see it in theaters so that they will make enough money to warrant a sequel.

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