I really, really wanted to love this movie but I can’t say that I do. I like it, but I don’t love it. The trouble for me when seeing it was that for every great thing about it, there’s something equally as bad…
Let’s start with the script. The story is one we all know, the character is one we all know which is why the filmmakers wanted to inject their own vision and make it something different. The trouble is that different isn’t always necessarily good. I like when filmmakers put their own stamp on things, what I don’t like is when they do it just for the sake of making something different, which is what was done here to some degree with the way the Superman character is written. He does some things that are very decidedly “un-Superman like”. An example is the fight with Zod and his cronies where pretty much 10’s of thousands of people would have died during this fight due to the destruction of Metropolis collapsing around everyone from Superman and Zod wailing on each other. There’s also something Superman does with relation to Zod at the end that makes you turn your head a bit. Superman was always about saving people, not allowing them to be decimated while he’s confronting the bad guy. There’s also the fact that the general public would probably be a bit pissed at the man in the cape after the annihilation of the city that he helped cause as a result of not taking the fight away from the people. Oh, and there’s that whole thousands of people dying thing too…
Then there’s Pa Kent (played by Kevin Costner) that in an effort to protect his son’s identity hints that he maybe should’ve let that bus load of kids drown so he can stay hidden. Hmmm, that seems like kind of a stretch to me, like it was inserted intentionally just to be different. I think they could’ve found other ways to be different without going so far off the grid. They did that well in certain scenes like when Superman is a young kid sitting in school freaking out because his x-ray vision is kicking in and he can’t figure out what’s happening to him. That was a great segment that told some of the backstory in a way that we haven’t seen before.
Then there’s the way the story is told. Instead of a linear timeline as we’ve seen in other iterations, it’s got kind of a jerky, disjointed quality where he’s 5, then he’s an adult on a fishing boat, then he’s a teenager, then he’s at a new job, then we’re somewhere else; it got hard to keep track of. Just when you were sinking your teeth into something, everything changed and you were trying to figure out where you were again. I like those kind of flashback-back-and-forth kind of stories, I’m just not so sure the Superman story is best told that way.
The action and effects are huge as you’d expect starting with Krypton (which seems to be modeled after a Star Wars / Avatar kind of vibe). I really liked the interpretation of Krypton, it was the first time we’ve seen a movie spend this much time there and while the sequence was a bit long, it was still enjoyable to see more of this end of the story told the way it was. The problem I had with the action is that it’s shown in the style of ultra-shakey cam with close-ups, making it hard to see what’s going on in the actual fights between Superman and Zod. I hate this! Too many filmmakers are incorporating this in such an overdone way that it’s hard to actually enjoy the action since you can’t see half of it. Zack Snyder directed and didn’t pull that crap with 300, I have no idea why he thought it was a good idea here.
The acting is great, no complaints there, it’s a strong lineup and includes Henry Cavill as the man of steel along with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Ma Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Michael Shannon as Zod. Cavill plays Superman passionately, I really liked him in the role.
Chris Nolan produces here which may be one of the reasons why the story and character goes in a darker direction that you may be expecting.
This is worth seeing and making up your own mind about as the merits of the film are there if you can get past the weaknesses of it.
reviewed by Sean McKnight