Man of Steel is the reboot of the Superman franchise. While I liked the film in general, the climatic fight scene in the last 30 minutes dragged down the film for me and took away from a decent story and good cast.
Note – this review may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want any spoilers, then don’t read this review.
I was hesitant seeing this film because I am a huge fan of the Christopher Reeve series and I loved Superman Returns (2006). For most of the running time, Man of Steel, hit the right notes in the Superman story. Luckily it didn’t stray too far off the classic story line.
We still had Jor-El sending his infant son away from a dying Kypton. The infant ends up with the Kents in Kansas. Young Clark finds out he’s special and Jonathan Kent teaches the young Clark that he must hide his identity for the time being since humans might freak out. Then we have Clark as a young man going to the arctic to discover his Kryptonian history with a visit from the ghost of his long dead biological father. And we have ace reporter Lois Lane trying to find out who this Superman is.
The villain in the film is Kyptonian General Zod who is trying to recover a codex Jor-El stashed with Kal-El before sending the child to Earth.
Having General Zod as the bad guy is where the movie missed for me. Zod has the same powers as Superman on Earth so their fight scene in the last part of the movie looked like a fancy staged fight and took me out of the film. The two were throwing each other into buildings in Metropolis causing untold destruction and it wasn’t even acknowledged by any of the characters.
In Superman II (1980) when it looked like General Zod would destroy Metropolis, Superman surrendered to spare the people further harm from their super fight. Man of Steel should have done the same thing to stay true to the character it established through much of the film.
The entire fight sequence was too long and lacked variety. After seeing building after building being destroyed it tends to get boring.
I didn’t have a problem with Superman killing Zod because he had to since nothing else would stop Zod except being killed by someone with the same powers. But I thought Superman II resolved it better for the characters.
Henry Cavill was passable for Superman. It will be interesting if he can pull off being reporter Clark Kent and he doesn’t just act like Superman with glasses.
Amy Adams was great as Lois Lane. She came across like the character should be. Tough and not one to take no for an answer – like a reporter should. I also like that she knows Clark is Superman. I did think Lois and Superman’s lip lock after he saved her life again was a bit much.
I liked Russell Crowe’s Jor-El and Michael Shannon’s General Zod was extra creepy which is a good thing. I thought that Antje Traue as Zod’s henchman Faora-Ul was just as good as Superman II’s Sarah Douglas.
Kevin Costner was great as Jonathan Kent – he lacked his usual wooden performance which was good.
Diane Lane’s Martha Kent was fine although I didn’t like the aged makeup she had late in the film. She was the right age for young Clark but too young for older Martha. Even though she was only in a couple of scenes early in the film, Ayelet Zurer, as Lara Lor-Van, Superman’s biological mother, was good.
Man of Steel had a great cast and decent story but missed with the climatic Superman vs Zod faceoff. I still think Superman Returns was the better remake.