The Commerce Journal

June 17, 2013

'Man of Steel' flawed but mostly enjoyable

Jordan Wright
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — “Man of Steel” has returned the “Superman” franchise to the silver screen in the form of a franchise reboot helmed by “Watchmen” and “300” director Zack Snyder. Presenting a unique and visually-driven take on Superman’s origin, “Man of Steel” succeeds mostly in being a decently entertaining popcorn flick despite ultimately collapsing under the weight of its grander ambitions.

The titular character of Clark Kent is portrayed by Henry Cavill, who seeks to discover his alien origins while doing his best to protect the people of Earth when he is confronted by Zod –Michael Shannon– a general from his home world of the Krypton, seeking to rebuild their society upon the conquered wreckage of Earth.

Snyder’s vision of Superman’s quest to become Earth’s guardian angel is compounded by a solid element of humanity found in his cast’s excellent performances and a visceral kick to the action that delivers the sense of scope and power to Superman and his enemies that have never been visualized before. The expansion of Krypton’s downfall within the film also offers a unique pathos to the character that helps the film stand out among other interpretations.

What this film has done with Superman lore in writing and with visuals are worth a view alone. Unfortunately, Snyder’s attempt to craft a superhero epic the likes of producer Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy” leads to a lot of unfortunate clumsiness that drags the movie down.

Namely, “Man of Steel” takes itself far too seriously. The cast’s performance is absolutely commendable but there just isn’t enough humanity within the film to distract from how grim the material is. By the time the climax rolls around, you will be mentally exhausted and emotionally drained.

Additionally, the pacing really hurts whatever connection the audience can make with the characters and their setting. Between telling exposition rather than showing characters forge potential bonds and rushing along certain revelations and points of development, a lot of moments that should have come across as majestic or iconic just fall flat.

For all of its faults however, “Man of Steel” is undoubtedly enjoyable if you’re willing to be patient with it. It’s not quite the “Superman” movie I was hoping for but it’ll do for now and will hopefully be the start of something even better.