Man of Steel (2013) Movie Review: A Movie Made Solely to Sell Kiddie Meals

Cinema Sentries

Upon the release of Skyfall, regular ol’ filmgoers and trolling fanboys alike started to point out all the similarities between the third Daniel Craig James Bond flick and a certain superhero series that filmmakers Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer had rebooted. Well, hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with including in a little homage to another title (or complete franchise) in your own movie. And it’s a game that just about anyone can play, too. All one need do is check out the Goyer/Nolan-penned reboot of the timeless Superman legacy, Man of Steel in order to see a couple of nods to other sci-fi/fantasy films.

Well, maybe “nod” would be an inappropriate noun to select in this instance. “Blatantly rip-off other people’s shit like a couple of no-talent losers” might be more accurate. Immediately from the get-go, Man of Steel attempts to set itself apart from all previous incarnations of Superman by making it more like many other movies, as is evident from the prologue – which successfully (not to mention very awkwardly) condenses the entire Star Wars Prequel Trilogy into just few [overlong] minutes. It is here that we are introduced to Russell Crowe as Jor-El, the biological father of Kal-El. Or, Superman, if you like. He’s really not called that in the film, for fear, no doubt, that audiences might think they’re paying to see a superhero film about a guy in tights.

Of course, they are. They’re also investing somewhere in the neighborhood of two-and-a-half hours and at least twenty-dollars worth of their time and money into a movie that is terribly reliant on its “Hey, look: we have a CGI machine!” style and extremely light on anything even remotely resembling substance. And having Zack Snyder – the clueless clod who brought us the homoeroti-rific CGI messterpiece 300 as well as the unwanted remake of Dawn of the Dead – plotzing his self-righteous heinder into the director’s chair certainly doesn’t help matters any, either, since he can’t even command a slightly sincere performance from any of his cast.

The aforementioned Crowe? Yeah, well, he just can’t help but relishing in the spotlight – from jumping at the opportunity to take part in an unnecessary opening action sequence when his character is alive, to waving his hands in the air like a lousy nightclub magician later in the film when he is reduced to being little more than Jor-El’s virtual conscious (with the ability to shut doors, hence the exaggerated extremity gesticulation) – just to remind you that he’s in the frame. Because Amy Adams (as the blandest Lois Lane since the last one) can really dominate the screen like that – especially when we don’t have her ass to focus on. Then there’s our super boy himself, Henry Cavill – whom, despite the fact that I know I’ve seen him in other films before, didn’t stand out as anything more than a glorified underwear model with an extra side of beef draped over his shoulders.

And he’s hairy, too. Remember how we used to balk at the notion of Nicolas Cage becoming Superman in the ’90s due to his superfluous bodily hair? Well, it happened. Fortunately, Cavill is much better-looking (and presumably better in the acting department – though you wouldn’t know it here) but still: should Superman have a few scraggly hairs protruding from his neckline and sleeves? I think not. Nor should he be the type to snap a guy’s neck, which he does here. But it’s because he has to, of course – just like he can’t lift up an object while he’s inside it, and has to rush outside to do so. Or how he can be real passive-aggressive with douchebag truckers instead of just givin’ ’em what for. I suppose he’ll resort to slapping people with lawsuits in the sequel, and debarking his neighbor’s dogs with his heat vision instead of just asking their owners to keep ’em quiet at night. I mean, who wants plain ol’ boring Superman, anyhow, right?

Well, I do, for one. Christopher Reeve wouldn’t have let that happen. I doubt even Tom Welling would have, either.

Still, I’m sure things could have been much, much worse. The makers of Man of Steel could have continued to borrow elements from miscellaneous movies on a wholesale scale. Oh, wait, they did. The could have laced the script (which apparently suffered from being rushed in 2008 in order to get a green light, and was untouched for years afterwards) with truly awful dialogue. Oops, they did that, too. Well, at least they didn’t hire bland performers to portray the bad guys. No, wait, that happened, as well. Michael Shannon is such an odd, poor choice for General Zod, that you almost wish Bryan Singer did get Jude Law to portray the character in his universally-panned 2006 film, Superman Returns. But then, you realize how truly good Singer’s much-hated flick actually was once you see Antje Traue as Shannon’s laughably-bad henchwoman.

Yes, I just said Superman Returns was better. After seeing Man of Steel, it was. Heck, even the infamous Turkish rip-off Supermen Dönüyor was a far-more dignified affair.

Harry Lennix, Christopher Meloni, Richard Schiff, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, and Kevin Costner round out the cast of this gigantic waste of my time (and eight bucks: soooo glad we didn’t pay for 3D!) – with the latter two taking up the position of Ma and Pa Kent. Ayelet Zurer has a small role as Kal-El’s mum, who has difficulty saying her own son’s name correctly. Most of the smaller parts add very little to the film as a whole. But then, it’s a bad movie, and nobody really adds anything to the film – though it is interesting to note that, after all these years, Costner still hasn’t mastered the art of emoting.

And this is from the same writers as The Dark Knight Trilogy? I really have to wonder if their take on Batman was just a fluke – although Goyer scribbled down what would be passed out as a script for both of Nic Cage’s Ghost Rider films, so maybe Nolan was the genius at work there. Nolan only co-wrote the story here, by the way – with Goyer taking on the whole regrettable screenplay himself like a toddler who just learned how to dress his/herself picking out the most clashing of clothes.

The end result? Oodles of CGI (including flying phallic objects: this is a Zack Snyder film, after all), awful dialogue, artificial performances, and very little else. In fact, so devoid of any substance is this film, you have to wonder if the movie wasn’t made just to sell kiddie meals at fast food joints.

Skip it.

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Luigi Bastardo

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