SYNOPSIS: The story begins on Krypton, as all good Superman origin stories must. To save his son Kal-El from perishing on the doomed planet Jor-El (Russell Crowe) rockets him off to a safe haven—Earth. There he is raised by Ma and Pa Kent, (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner), humble farmers who raise him as their own and keep his alien heritage a secret, but his (Henry Cavill) extraordinary powers are exposed when a snoopy reporter digs (Amy Adams) into his life and the last surviving Kryptonians, led by General Zod (Michael Shannon) try and invade the planet.
Richard: 3 Stars
Mark: 2 Stars
Richard: Mark, Man of Steel plays kind of like a Nirvana song. It starts off quiet, then gets loud, then quiet again and then REALLY loud. Thing is Nirvana songs were usually under four minutes and this movie clocks in at well over two hours. Much of it is entertaining, but I have to say my eyeballs felt scorched after the protracted blow-‘em-up scene that eats up much of the last forty-five minutes of the movie. It’s all crash-boom-bang and not nearly as interesting as the stuff that preceded it.
Mark: Richard, I always liked the Superman movies-even the bad ones-for their charm. Although there’s some good scenes toward the beginning of the movie, it becomes bombastic and self-righteous; way too serious for its own good. That forty-five minute scene you’re referring to made me long for headphones with Enya songs playing on a long loop. And I know it’s an origin movie, but I longed for the comic contrast between Superman and his journalist alter ego Clark Kent, which is mostly missing from the movie. Then again, we no longer have phone booths. Any of the actors appeal to you, Richard?
RC: I thought Cavill was suitably square-jawed and blue-eyed enough to play the icon lead character and Michael Shannon brought the crazy (as usual for him) to Zod, but I was let down by two other leads. Russell Crowe was fine, although I couldn’t help but imagine Ralph Fiennes really eating up the role of Jor-El. Finally, I’m not sure Amy Adams is plucky enough to play Lois Lane.
MB: Cavill was square-I mean, square-jawed, wasn’t he? Crowe was fine, but somehow Kevin Costner got to me in a very sentimental turn as Clark’s dad. As for Michael Shannon, I can only assume he was forced to overact at gunpoint, with lines like “Unleash the world machine!!!!” For a movie that cost a few hundred million dollars, it was often close to a Flash Gordon serial at times.
RC: I think I wanted more Flash Gordon and less of what was on the screen in front of me. It’s an entertaining movie for much of its running time, but the word overkill comes to mind. I feel like less—shorter running time, fewer explosions, not as many fights—would have been more.
MB: And did you notice that so many of the action scenes had the same basic gimmick- concrete being torn up over and over again? And I had to laugh when the entire city of Metropolis is collapsing under alien attack and there are scenes of people just staring at the buildings falling around them. If I see one brick on the ground, I’m outta there!
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