I’ll be brief, because there isn’t that much to talk about: Man of Steel is brutal and empty and depressingly bland. This shouldn’t be surprising, because Zack Snyder has made his career on making movies like this. I suppose I should feel lucky that there isn’t some sort of Lois Lane attempted rape, really, but instead I’m mostly just sad that this movie is what it is, because there are moments when it tries to be so much better.
Throwing off the idea of a secret identity and just having Clark running around shirtless and saving people is great. Having Lois track him down and know who he is even before he becomes Superman is really interesting. It invests this character as having an identity that’s defined by his Otherness, instead of trying to juxtapose the same hokey stories of secret identity and fear of discovery and all of that. It’s really god damn on the nose (there’s that scene where he’s literally having a crisis of confidence in a church in front of a giant Jesus window, way to sledgehammer home that point), but in its own hamfisted kind of way its trying to at least be about something. That’s more than I can say about a lot of movies of this type.
Then Zod shows up and the punching starts. There’s a whole lot of punching, and heat beams, and space ships blowing up, and whatever. It’s all very pointless because everyone who matters is invincible and everyone who isn’t doesn’t get any weight. Thousands get killed in a city by Zod. Superman blows up a ship full of innocent Kryptonian babies, and the whole thing is too busy relishing CG men punching each other to notice or care that these actions have occurred. Its cartoonish in the extreme and so fake that none of it has any weight, lessons that you’d think people would have learned a decade ago about misusing CG. Just because we can do everything doesn’t mean we should, but a blockbuster cannot care about such thematic concerns when it has to be the punchy fighty Superman because the last one everyone criticized because it was too much ‘about feelings’.
Never mind that the entirety of these fight scenes are ripped right out of the third Matrix movie, where at least there they had some sort of build up but were equally hollow and (rightfully) derided for being so. Never mind that the blu-ray I watched opened for a trailer of the new DC universe fighting game that looked more ‘real’ with its polygonal fighters than this 100+ million dollar movie did in trying to render the enraged bug eyes of a fully wasted Michael Shannon. This is a movie that wants so hard to be cool, and manages a very silly shortsighted 14 year old boy version of coolness that is a total vacuum of worth. It’s pretty terrible.
But what did I expect? This is a movie from Zack Snyder, the king of 14 year old notebook fantasies writ large. And I should have known from the get go, when Russell Crowe flies around a giant digital matte painting on the dragon from Avatar like a solemn Kryptonian Obi-Wan Kenobi. At least he knows the movie he’s in is cheese and acts accordingly.
I don’t seriously score movies, but if I did this would get 1 out of 5 stars for wasting Amy Adams. Everything else is obvious, but not making the movie about her is the only truly unforgivable sin.