Man of Steel
Rating: Though it has its moments, I was begging for John Wayne to reappear and utter his famous line to a preacher who droned on in The Searchers (1956), “Put an Amen on it Reverend.”
Though I can only blame my grandson, Connor, for failing to accompany me to see Man of Steel earlier, I finally had to ignore his massive basketball, golf and soccer obligations and get the job done. Like it or hate it, its special effects require viewing in a movie theater.
Broken down to its basics, Director Zack Snyder’s film contains some great actors who are required to do very little. Krypton blows up and baby Kal-El/Clark Kent blasts off for Earth. He fortunately lands in Kansas, a State where Hollywood believes that all residents are quaint, hardworking farm families as seen long ago in the Wizard of Oz (1939).
Once again young Superman is blessed with colossal strength to be envied by our country’s steroid manufacturers. Russell Crowe is Jor-El, his Krypton daddy, and he does little more than seem exceedingly morose. On the other hand, if his planet’s disastrous version of underground fracking was ready to cause Earth to explode in our lifetime, we would probably be a bit depressed also.
While Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are quite effective as Sup’s Earth parents, they continually disappear just when they are hitting full stride. Costner is repeatedly fretting as he tries to keep young Clark from displaying his skills, and this eventually results in his own tragic demise.
Laurence Fishburne joins our angst ridden group, appearing briefly as the troubled Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet. Amy Adams’ Lois Lane drives him to the point of mental collapse, and you can almost sense him wishing that the Wachowski Brothers would bring him back for an additional sequel of The Matrix (1999).
Ms. Adams has long ago demonstrated her tremendous acting skills, but she does little here than repeatedly fall from high places that require Superman to come to the rescue. Though the two of them get romantically involved, Anthony Wiener generates more romance with his salacious emails than these two lovebirds can produce on screen.
Henry Cavill does a better job of projecting a psychologically troubled Superman than Christopher Reeves did in the original film which appeared in 1978. Unfortunately, he is also called upon to do little more than look continually perplexed. My grandson is a very smart kid who, though he liked this film, thought it was just “O.K.”.
Yet I agree with him when the film centered on the two villains, here played by the gifted Michael Shannon and Antje Traue. As seen by his nasty performances in The Iceman (2012) and Take Shelter (2011), nobody is better than Mr. Shannon at playing the bad guy.
Here playing General Zod, he escaped a prison on an outlying planet next to Krypton to hunt down Clark to get even with his family. Quite frankly, you can’t even hate him given the fact that Krypton had reduced itself to developing infants in a pod-like container with designed personality characteristics. Sure, Zod was a first class dick, but then again it really wasn’t his fault.
As for Ms. Traue, I fully understand why teenage boys were attracted to this film to watch her play Zod’s right hand woman. Not only did she look extraordinarily hot in tight Kryptonian leather, but she could devastate any opponent, armed or unarmed. I was left imagining these teenage boys hoping that she would somehow break into their bedrooms even if it resulted in their death.
While there were some very good special effects throughout Man of Steel, they were so repetitive that they became tiresome. A lot of buildings in our country were destroyed while Superman and Zod beat the Kryptonian crap out of each other, and it reached the point where it was hard to care who won.
Though the film is tolerable, you’ll find more humor in the old TV series, The Adventures of Superman (1952-1958), which starred George Reeves as the big guy. Sometimes loving “the good old days” is not a bad thing.