After the huge kerfuffle and outpouring of fan support for Zack Snyder’s Justice League recently, it was only a matter of time before I jumped on the DC bandwagon. I’ll admit it: I’m a Marvel gal through and through. But does that mean I can’t enjoy DC too? Absolutely not.
Man of Steel is technically the first “DCEU” movie, despite there being many, many iterations of Batman, Superman, The Joker et al before. With Henry Cavill headlining as the newest version of Clark Kent, the film is pretty much as origin story about how Superman was created in space and discovered he was not actually from Earth despite being brought up there. It’s a pretty standard superhero storyline, if I’m honest: a “man” discovers he has superpowers and is tasked with saving the planet from complete annihilation. We’ve heard it all before, in short.
Let’s begin by saying that I’m not a complete DCEU virgin. Before starting again from DC’s debut in this universe, I’d seen Wonder Woman, Shazam! and Birds of Prey, all of which I’d enjoyed to some degree or another. None of them particularly blew my mind in the same way as, say, Avengers: Infinity War did, but there was fun to be had with all three of those… And sadly I can firmly say that Man of Steel paled in comparison.
Here’s where this movie immediately goes wrong: the opening is an absolute slog to get through. There’s way too much backstory – yes, there needs to be backstory, but the writing is so long-winded when it really needed to be punchy and concise. I was already uninterested when it came to finally getting to Earth, and let’s be honest, we already know who Superman is in the year 2021. Even if you don’t fully understand his origins, you know of Krypton and Kryptonite, you know about Clark Kent being his alter-ego, and you know about Lois Lane. Taking us through the whole thing again is nothing but tedious on this occasion.
All that superfluity aside, I have to say that the casting choices are phenomenal. Henry Cavill is the embodiment of Superman even though he gets fairly little to do considering he’s the title character, and Amy Adams makes for a charismatic, less boring than usual Lois Lane. The supporting cast is completely star-studded too (Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne and Richard Schiff being the stand-outs) and they all do their utmost best with a story that is often lacking.
At roughly 47 minutes, things cut to the chase and we finally get to Clark Kent in his Superman suit. FORTY. SEVEN. MINUTES. Zack Snyder clearly does not know how to reign things in and it shows. Editing? I don’t know her.
It must be noted, there are a couple of decent things going on amongst the incredibly uneven amalgamation of action. For the most part, the CGI and special effects are quite well done, and the action sequences paired with the over the top score are pretty exciting. However, the film’s downfall is undoubtedly in the writing. Honestly, I really didn’t care much about any of the characters (other than maybe Lois at a stretch) and therefore never quite got invested in their story arcs. As I said, even Superman’s story contains more shades of dull than any superhero movie ever should.
All in all, the generic writing affects most other aspects in the movie like a ripple in water. It is clear that Christopher Nolan could not be fucked on this day. (Yes, I was as surprised as you were to learn than Nolan played any part in his snooze fest.) However, it’s not so bad that it’s unwatchable, it’s just that the pacing is completely off.
Cut out 20 minutes and it has the potential to be a 4 star movie. As it stands… 2 and a half is all I can give it.
Man of Steel is available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV in the UK.
TQR Category Ratings:
Costume & Set Design:
Overall Rating: ½