‘Man of Steel’: Lacking Personality and Effective Parenting

OVERALL RATING: 2/4

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Cinematography

This superhero film has a specific look. Visually, it’s one of those films you know looks great, but you don’t really care for it because it’s a wanna-be darker version of Superman that keeps masquerading itself as hopeful. Amir Mokri lights beautifully. Lord of War proves that even while much of his other work seems questionable, but Man of Steel falls short in story and characters, turning aesthetic appeal into a shallow surface. It’s like a costume, with nothing really super once you look past the cape… except maybe Henry Cavill’s abs.

Acting

Superman has no personality, and it’s probably because of his awful dads. One’s just some teleporting conscience in the form of Russell Crowe while his human dad is like a sadder version of Kevin Costner from Field of Dreams who tries teaching his son morals by being, well, kind of immoral. Sorry, Jonathan Kent, I’m pretty sure we don’t scold our super-human son for saving drowning children, but if your goal was to raise your alien son as passive, lacking personality even in comedic moments, and accepting of anything anyone tells him, then congratulations because Henry Cavill played along.

Zod comes back with a vengeance... and weird facial hair

Zod comes back with a vengeance… and weird facial hair

In fact, this entire film needs a personality reboot for the entire cast, except Michael Shannon does have his moments… playing the part of Michael Shannon. If you want a fun game while seeing this movie, imagine Zod as the angry sorority girl Shannon emulates for a Funny or Die episode.

Directing 

Zack Snyder, please leave. How is he still making films? How is he even working with an Iranian, Amir Mokri, after 300? Does he even have emotions because I cannot pick up on that with his films? Ok, I’ll give him a little credit and that’s about 30 seconds of the film when young Clark Kent fashions a cape for himself while playing with the family dog as his father of passive-immoral teachings looks on.

As for action, which is all Snyder cares for yet can’t entirely pull off, Superman’s fight with some Krypton girl is interesting enough until things get too heated up, much like the rest of this fiery mess. They really had a good time with the CGI fire on this film. It seems like there are so many different, strange action sequences that play out like moments from Thor, Hercules, and other strong-man movies so that more objects can fall to the flames. For a film about a superhero who can fly, a lot comes crashing down.

Writing

Why so serious... all the time?

Why so serious… all the time?

The film of disjointed moments and easily-resolved flashbacks. Nolan helped with the story and writer David S. Goyer is no newcomer to the superhero game, but where The Dark Knight Rises fell short, Man of Steel falls shorter. Basically, the lesson from this script is that superpowers and a pretty face don’t come with a super personality or vast emotional range. I do believe Cavill has the talent, but there’s nothing in this script for him. The comedic moments are poorly timed and his moments of heartache come with shouting, “No!” and, “Don’t do this!” for about 5 seconds.

As for an extremely picky complaint, there’s the actual reveal of naming the man of steel “Superman” that’s too cheap and poorly timed. The first half of the movie, even the film’s title, neglects referring to its protagonist as “Superman,” and I wish they kept it that way. We all know who he is, and this film want us to see that symbol as standing for something else, like “hope,” so don’t fly too far ahead of yourself if you want us seeing something more than an ‘S’, writers.

Score

I honestly cannot remember what the music sounded like in this film, or how it made me feel. Actually, I felt nothing. For a film that makes Superman a symbol of hope, hoping for another reboot instead of a sequel is a better option.

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5 thoughts on “‘Man of Steel’: Lacking Personality and Effective Parenting

  1. Pingback: Man of Steel? I wanna like it more than I do AND I wanna hate it more than I do… | nediunedited

  2. No Personality? How about the fact that he liked science as a kid? Also, how about the fact that he’s into football and drinks beer? They showed the former after his fight in Smallville and the latter before Zod’s “You are not alone” broadcast.

    • Separate from story, I think it fell flat on performance with the exception of Michael Shannon. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, but as far as the feelings I got from the flashback structure, they felt forced. When backstory isn’t done well I think it disregards the audience’s intelligence for grasping character. That being said, the childhood moments were far better than the the rest of the film.

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