Andy Stuckey, Ryan Maddux
Greensburg Daily News
This week we looked at one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, Man of Steel (PG-13).
Director Zach Snyder reinvents the Superman origin story through an ensemble cast featuring Henry Cavil, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crow, and Kevin Costner.
Ryan: Superman turns 75-years-old this year and in that time (from a live action standpoint) he’s had two movie serials, six major motion pictures, and 500+ episodes from various television shows. But given that unbelievable volume there’s still something missing from his cinematic/television resume — that of Superman being action-star Superman. Finally the cinematic technology has caught up to being able to put on screen the true awesomeness of Superman’s powers.
It might not be a big deal to most people seeing Superman punch General Zod through a building, but believe me — in certain circles — people have been chomping at the bit for that kind of over-the-top (yet true to the source material) action. At the end of the day I do have a few quarrels with Man of Steel, but ultimately this is the Superman movie that a lot of fans (including myself) have been waiting for.
Andy: When Superman: The Movie was released in 1978, it sort of launched the modern superhero movie genre. While that incarnation of the franchise dominated the genre through the 1980s, Superman has never really gotten the deluxe treatment that has been oversaturating the market for the last few decades. The 2006 Bryan Singer reboot fell flat in a way that seems unlikely for Man of Steel, as it hits all of the key superhero/ action notes, and it features a very strong and sustainable cast.
Ryan: With Christopher Nolan and David Goyer’s involvement, I was curious to see how closely Man of Steel resembled The Dark Knight Trilogy. And I was pleased that what it did capture was the film’s aesthetic both in terms of the look and tone of those films. I feel like, for the most part, Man of Steel is about as grounded as a film could get about an alien superhero. The movie definitely has that hyper-real feeling that propelled much of the success of Nolan’s Batman films; although, as I will argue later, that notion also handcuffs the film. But alas Snyder, Goyer and Nolan successfully usher in a new era of what a reinvigorated Superman can do (and can be) on film.
Andy: There is no question that Man of Steel is not quite on the level of the Dark Knight trilogy, and it is also fairly derivative of the Batman movies. Hans Zimmer’s insistent score is distracting enough that it made me think about Inception when I should have been paying attention to Superman. A similarity that was not distracting was the ability to create a genuinely menacing and interesting villain. Michael Shannon’s Zod is instantly compelling and believably terrifying. If more superhero movies were able to deliver that type of depth in their villain, I would be growing less leery of the genre.
Ryan: If somebody wanted to criticize the film for having a climax that just looks like another generic summer action movie with boundless destruction, I can’t really argue with that (without just saying that Superman needed a film like this). But what gives me pause, besides the shocking conclusion to the Superman-Zod fight, is that if one buys into the more grounded take of the character then it becomes very disconcerting to reconcile the amount of (implied) death and destruction that occurs in the film. But in a film with the lead character being at odds with himself, maybe it only makes sense to have a movie that is also at odds with itself as well. Even though I have a few reservations regarding Man of Steel, I found the movie to be a thrilling ride that completely engaged me from an emotional and visceral standpoint.
Andy: While there are some reasonable concerns about the film’s conclusion, I found the film’s beginning to border on tedium. I understand the need to explain the origin story, but investing almost 45 minutes of movie to Krypton made it seem more silly than it needed to be. There is one point early in the film where Russell Crow is flying around on what seems to be a computer generated dragon. This kind of hocus- pocus origin story taking place on another planet seemed silly and detracted from the powerful scenes that came later between young Clark and his human father.
While not without flaws, The Man of Steel successfully gives Superman the star-making blockbuster he deserves.
Final grade: B+.