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Man of Steel (3D)

Warner Bros. // PG-13 // June 14, 2013
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Fandango]

Review by Jeff Nelson | posted June 14, 2013 | E-mail the Author

This summer has multiple huge blockbusters that have moviegoers eager to go to the cineplex, although some are higher anticipated than others. Some will exceed expectations, while others will be crushed under their own hype. It wouldn't be summer without numerous superhero flicks being released. Unfortunately, the recent motion pictures that depict these heroes have left me slightly underwhelmed. None of them left me feeling the same excitement that I felt after seeing The Avengers last year. DC Comics is reaching for success through the newest film being distributed by Warner Bros. With Man of Steel being released on June 14th, the distributor is hoping that this will spark into a more modern franchise. While some audiences are approaching with caution, it will surely do well at the box office. There's one major question that many viewers have on their minds: does it breathe new life into this superhero?

Before the planet Krypton was destroyed, a set of parents send their child to Earth using a high-tech craft. He crashes on a farm, which is when a couple decides to keep the baby. They name him Clark (Henry Cavill) and raise him as their own. As he continues to age, they discover that he possesses superpowers, but he must hide his true identity in order to keep the world from going into utter chaos. Once he reaches adulthood, Clark discovers that his real name is Kal-El and that he's originally from the planet Krypton. A young journalist named Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is the first outsider to confront his secret and she constantly backs him up. Soon after, General Zod (Michael Shannon) finds Clark on Earth. He happens to be surrounded by some of the only survivors from Krypton, but his intentions prove to be quite sinister.

Man of Steel begins by showing the end of Krypton's decline. The world is in pure chaos, as nothing more is on Jor-El's (Russell Crowe) mind than to save his son. He believes that Krypton's only hope of working with another species is for his son to understand what it means to be human. David S. Goyer's screenplay is heavy on its messages. This specific one is drilled into our heads over and over again. The film constantly uses flashbacks in order to tell Clark's journey to adulthood, as he learns how to control his abilities. When it isn't explaining his backstory, Man of Steel focuses on Clark's day-to-day frustrations, and eventually the invasion of Zod. Unfortunately, the screenplay spends so much time hitting us over the head with its messages that it completely forgets that it's a superhero flick. Despite all of its commentary, none of the characters are expanded upon. They all feel like flat pieces of cardboard. Since there's such a small amount of personality added to any of the roles, it's difficult to necessarily care for any of them.

This superhero picture suddenly remembers that a villain is required, which is when Zod comes in. Unfortunately, the depiction of this character isn't very threatening. Even though Clark gets beaten up quite badly throughout, it never feels as if he's in any true danger. Man of Steel fails to deliver a moviegoing experience that will make you worried for the protagonist. The screenplay itself has its share of issues, but the dialogue is fairly standard. There isn't very much necessarily wrong with it, although there isn't anything particularly special about it either. A lot of the dialogue comes across as generic genre content. There's a lot of action packed into the 2 hour and 23-minute running time, yet the pacing still doesn't feel right. There are a lot of explosive fighting sequences, but they aren't enough to keep this movie exciting. This feature isn't ever dull, but it isn't as exhilarating as I hoped it would be. If you were hoping for this to leave you in awe, then you'll surely be disappointed with the results.

The first act is clearly the best segment of the entire picture. There isn't a lot of emotion in this feature, but the beginning of the running time expresses a small amount of it. This is the best portion of the entire movie, since it manages to get off to a good start. There are some hints of decent material to be found throughout, but none of it leaves much of an impression. Once the credits are done rolling, Man of Steel comes across as a generic action flick. There isn't anything special that sets this apart from the numerous other superhero pictures that have been released over the years. This movie had a strong amount of potential to be something great, which makes it that much more disappointing.

Warner Bros. has developed a massive campaign for the new Superman flick. Henry Cavill's face is on every single advertisement as the superhero. He definitely has the look that one would require to be in this role, although he doesn't have any emotional depth. He has incredibly stoic expressions, which don't aid the character. He's as interesting as it is to watch paint dry. Amy Adams has delivered some phenomenal performances over the past few years. Her representation as Lois Lane is fine, but the material doesn't allow her to utilize much of her talent. Michael Shannon rounds out this great trio in the role of General Zod. He fits as the villain, even though the script hinders him from ever coming across as threatening. While the performances aren't great, the blame doesn't rest entirely with the cast.

With an enormous budget, this motion picture unsurprisingly looks excellent. Director Zack Snyder keeps his familiar tone, which is quite suitable. Man of Steel employs a darker atmosphere than one would initially imagine, but it doesn't take this route far enough. There is some interesting camerawork to be found, especially as Superman flies for the first time. Since the movie is presented in 3D, I was hoping that this gimmick would aid in delivering the film's tone. It doesn't add any depth to the picture. If you're going to check this out, go see it in 2D.

Instead of setting itself apart, this action flick feels incredibly generic. It has a lot of explosions and big action set pieces, but it isn't enough to make up for the bland characters and weak plot development. While I never found this picture to be dull, it did leave me disappointed. The beginning of the film hosts promise, but it doesn't lead anywhere particularly interesting. Henry Cavill has an extreme lack of charm, which leaves the role feeling incredibly flat. Man of Steel looks great, but it isn't as strong as it suggests. Rent it.



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