One of the first movie review I ever did was for “Man of Steel” (on my first blog that has been since shut down). It’s the last movie to look at from Zack Snyder’s film history and the first movie in DC’s Cinematic Universe. Certainly this movie was met with both anger and love (and riddled with debate afterwards) . I described “Watchmen” as divisive but the internet forums felt like a war zone after the release of “Man of Steel”. Some loved it, some absolutely hated the movie and both sides raged a seemingly never ending debate that the internet was built for. I think now with the movie’s release just a few years behind us, some of that has calmed down a bit.
When it came out I gave the movie eight stars. But I have to say this movie really does get better the more you watch it. I think that’s true for a lo,t of people who perhaps didn’t love it when this initially came out (not everyone but for some). I had a number of problems with the movie when it came out. But the more I watched it, the move I came to realize that those problems were only small problems and things I didn’t initially like (like the Lois Lane role) I came to really enjoy.
The first 20 minutes of this movie I have to say is perfection. Everything that takes place on Krypton is so interesting and exciting. It’s well done Sci-fi. The world that the movie creates feels unique. There could be an entire story taking place here and I would gladly go to see it. I would quite honestly like to see DC creating some prequel comics to this version of Krypton. It’s all anchored by the great performances of Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon as Jor-El and General Zod respectfully. It’s hard to replace giants like Marlon Brando and Terrance Stamp (from Richard Donner’s Superman movies) in those roles but these actors fill those enormous shoes.
Speaking of hard to replace, John Williams. Williams music for the original Superman is so iconic not just within the superhero genre but film is general. Hans Zimmer doesn’t attempt to recreate Williams. Zimmer plays to his strengths. Instead of trying to create something big, adventurous and instantly recognizable he creates a number of different themes that run throughout the movie. They are hopeful, exciting and works well with Snyder’s directing style Zimmer’s music isn’t comparable to Williams but uses similar techniques to what he did with “The Dark Knight” (just not as dark and brooding).
The first time I saw the movie i didn’t like the way they handled Lois Lane’s storyline. It felt at odds with Superman’s story. But the more I watch it the more I like Amy Adams in the role and how she was handled. She is right in the action and her story develops Kal-El (Superman). She isn’t a weak female character and the other thing I really love that she knows Superman’s identity.
The one thing I’ve noticed more and more when watching the film(something that it never gets any credit for) is how good the supporting characters. They aren’t nearly on the level of say a Gary Oldman in “The Dark Knight” but still well enough to stand out. You have Laurence Fishburne, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni and Michael Kelly. These are great actors and really help elevate the main stars.
The grand action is among Snyder’s best. Slow motion may be his signature style but he wisely doesn’t use it here. Snyder showcases the speed and power of what godlike superheroes can do. Fans of Superman (like me) have been waiting for years for technology to catch up with the potential of the character. The Smallville fight is easily the highlight of these scenes and had me smiling like a little kid.
The problem with the third act is how much fighting they try to pack into it. Everything in Metropolis and the fight against General Zod works. However Superman heading to the opposite end of the world to take out the World Engine that is changing Earth to become a New Krypton, doesn’t work. I understand why the scene is there but I think they needed to find a different way of executing it. Its loud, it’s shaky and just isn’t exciting. This where the overblown feelings of The third act comes from.
One other thing I said in my previous review (and many others also said initially) was that this is a darker take on the character of Superman. That though I think is an unfair point. Superman is not a dark character in this movie. He is hopeful and full of humanity. Naive for sure and the movie forces him to make some tough choices. The world around Superman may be is a bit darker and there are some real stakes where people die. But the character of Superman himself isn’t dark.
I do think this movie is stronger the more you watch it. I don’t know if I could quite give it an eight and a half out of ten yet but it’s pretty close for sure. It gets me really hyped to see “Batman V Superman”. The character of Superman is so well defined with this movie and Henry Cavil brilliantly takes up the mantle that Christopher Reeve and (to a lesser degree) Brandon Routh left behind. It’s probably my second favorite Zack Snyder movie. Bring on the Bat of Gotham now… I’m ready for it. Don’t let me down.