Hello, Spongey here.
I don’t usually do general reviews of recent films that are not currently in theaters in some way. If I don’t see it in theaters (be it lack of interest, or I’m busy) then I won’t do a full review once I do see it unless I do a play by play review.
Though I didn’t do a written review of Epic, which I did see . And I have too much to say for a normal review, so expect a full Spongey444 review in the future. But back on topic, this is a case where I knew I was gonna write a general review.
However, I didn’t really plan to check out this one until far beyond the point of people caring about it. When it came out, I was interested in it but unless it’s something that is well liked or /really/ hyped by me (Iron man 3 for example) I’ll just be too lazy to see it all.
Though once the immense backlash came out, I put a mental note to see it before the year is out. If you follow me on Twitter or anything like that, you’ll know the HATE for such a movie pissed me off. I even joked about it in the movie 43 review.
But then something happened…Doug Walker announced he may review it on The Nostalgia Critic when it hits DVD. When he first said it on facebook, I pushed it out of my mind. Then in his latest video, he had a full teaser saying he was doing it IN 2 weeks…along with Angry Joe, who famously liked it.
So finally, I checked the movie out. Why? Cuz I knew if I saw it after his review, all his issues will stick with me and I won’t be able to judge it for myself. It was hard enough watching it after seeing a few V-log’s (such as Martial Horror’s), just imagine if I had seen a full NC bashing.
NOTE: And I couldn’t be able to finish the review until after that review came up…and it didn’t effect my opinion at all. Whoops.
With that long intro out of the way, let’s finally look at the movie that everyone seems to hate.
This, is Man of Steel
PLOT: You all know the story, but I’ll say it anyway. The planet of Kyrpton is dying out, so Jor-el and his wife send their son Kal-el to earth so he can do great things. Kal is picked up Jonathan and Martha Kent and is named Clark. He grows up with these amazing powers, and has to learn what it takes be a hero.
But when the very guy who was part of the reason he had to leave, General Zod shows up, Superman will have to get rid or the earth is doomed. Will he do it, or will a big blockbuster have a bad ending? …Yeah, right.
As you all know, the reactions to this movie have been all over the board. Some like, some don’t, but it seems like there are a lot of haters. Most are dumbass fanboys…the same who bashed the haters before the movie came out.
But of course I went in with an open mind, knowing some of the legit complains. And of course, I thought it was….okay. Not all that good, not all that bad. Just….okay.
Yep, all that hype, bashing and build up…for me to come close to agreeing. Yeah. Now, I am not saying most of the fanboys are in the right on some points. People who say the narrative is sloppy, or that it’s overly dramatic are right in some way.
But let’s forget the reactions and look at it on it’s own terms. I thought nothing about it ventured into bad movie zone. Infact, there are plenty of points that worked fine and were a tad impressive.
But the thing, it THOUGHT it was great. It clearly tried to be deep and amazing…and the fact that it wasn’t really hurt it. My feelings are bit odd. It was never painful, I was rarely flat out bored, and i’d say it’s semi-watchable.
But in a lot of places, I thought it needed to SHOW some greatness instead of talking about it. This one of those movies that I liked less while I’m thinking about, yet if I were to watch it again, I could turn my brain off.
But here’s the thing: I shouldn’t NEED to do that. I’m fine with doing it for a mindless action movie like Trasnformers or something. But this movie had a real story, and an actual attempt at substance.
But the overall substance was really PRETENDING there was more substance then there really is. I don’t wanna sound negative, cuz I enjoyed it more than I didn’t. Let’s just discuss the basics.
Naturally, the movie starts on Krypton and we spend a bit more time on it than in other stories, but I feel like we didn’t learn more than in those stories. Keep that in mind for later. They send Kal to earth and…we cut to him as an adult.
Then after some of that, we see a flashback to him as a kid. Then an adult. Then there’s an extend flashback more akin to what I expected. Then most of the movie has him as an adult, finding out about his real home and all that.
And we still get a few flashbacks and references to his kid life. Okay, this is one of the movie’s biggest flaws: Whoever edited this thing didn’t know how storytelling works.
See, after the planet blows up, we usually cut to Kal as a kid growing up, adapting to his powers, and all that, then about the, let’s say 30/40 minute mark, He’s an adult for the rest of the movie.
But instead, they do this backwards ass way ot telling the story, that got old after awhile. Now, to be fair, this isn’t too badly done. We do see how Kal reacts to his new found powers, and his struggles and all that. It’s not the worst way to show it, but when you do it like that , it diminishes the impact of his “development”.
Not to mention that after the main flashback, the rest feel redundant. We get it, Kal can’t let people know who he is and Pa Kent is a dick(more on that later). You don’t need to tell us like 5 freaking times!
On the other hand, when Superman is being superman, it’s cool and I think it was worth slogging through the flashbacks. When they get past that stuff in the 2nd, the story is less…there, but the movie is overall stronger.
My other complaints are regarding some of the characters, so I’ll save that for later. I have a couple nitpicks about logic and plotholes, that I will spare you from…but I’ll say a couple anyway.
The S on Superman’s chest that we all know? It’s not an S. It’s some random Krypton symbol for hope, that happened to be on the costume Jor-El gave him. This doesn’t seem like an issue, but it makes NO sense to get rid of that so we can get ANOTHER lecture about Hope.
It’s part of their plan to not say Superman for some reason. At one point, this army dude calls him that and he says that’s what people call him. They never called him that before…and they never call him that after. I don’t get it.
Also, this movie has like 3 climaxes. It’s not as bad as in some other movies, but I swear each giant battle is so big that it could easily be the one climax. This isn’t too bad, except the 3rd one goes a bit too overboard in the action for my tastes.
Of course, I’m not the only who thinks that, but more on that later. Now, with that said, the action itself is pretty good. There isn’t as much as I’d like, but it’s all pretty good. The fights are badass, and I liked seeing Superman fighting his equal.
It’s a bit too big at points (especially for the first movie in a hopeful franchise) but it’s still well shot and pretty fun to watch. Though oddly, people act like the movie was nothing but action and dumb bits ala Micheal Bay…when there’s only pure action in the last 30 minutes or so.
The movie is about 130 minutes which is a good run time for this type of movie. Sadly, it does waste a bit of time with pointless minor characters and those damn flashbacks. Thankfully, the pacing is better in the 2nd half.
I’ll get more into the full positives near the end. For now, let’s jump into the characters.There aren’t too many important ones, so let’s keep it brief.
We’ll save the main man for last. First off are Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent. I don’t have much to say about the latter, as all she does is give small uplifting speechs to Clark or whatever.
So why am I starting with them? Cuz of Pa kent. Oh god, pa kent. I’ll address the main controversies near the end but I have to say this now. People such as Linkara have bashed this movie’s portrayal of him, calling him an asshole.
And…to an extent I agree. But to be honest, he only has one line that makes him an asshole. His main issue is that he’s not a character: He’s a plot driver fairy. This is when a character exists to get the character to move the plot along or something like that.
He’s in the movie for like…10 minutes, and an extra 3 for a flashback near the end. He shows up to tell Kal he’s gonna do awesome things and that he shouldn’t use his powers in public. That’s it.
He gives quite a few over written speeches, and it gets old. To his credit, Kevin Costner is trying but like most of his roles, he’s just kind of dull. But that’s not why most hate him. This is so sort of spoiler, but…this review has tons of spoilers, so sorry.
Young Kal saves his school bus from falling into the water. Of course this causes trouble as some think something is off with Kal. (Though they seem to have shurgged this off after this part).
Pa…scolds him a bit for doing that. Then they say this.
“What, was I supposed to let them die?”
…Maybe. Maybe. FUCKING MAYBE?! I know everyone has talked about this, but I too think it’s really stupid. Granted, I actually know the ponnt behind this as i’ve seen this in other movie. But he flat out says “Maybe” with no hint of irony. He bounces back after but come on. There’s another asshole moment like this during yet another flash back near the end. But I won’t spoil that one, cuz I want to move on to the next character.
There’s the real dad, Jor-El, played by Russel Crowe. He too exists to give speeches, though at least Russel puts some feeling into them. Not to mention that he’s not an asshole. He’s perfectly fine, but he doesn’t have much to him. Also, I don’t get the point of having him come back as a hologram, since it takes away the pain of him…you know, dying in the first place. But other wise, crowe does a fine job. And hey, at least he doesn’t sing in this one.
Then we got Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams. Lois Lane is a classic character, and I felt Amy Adam played her fairly well…but the character herself is just okay. But I will praise something. You know how in the past, Lois loves Superman but somehow can’t tell she freaking works with ihm?
That was stupid….but in this movie, she grows a brain cell and figures out who Clark/Kal is right away! Oh my god, I loved this so much. Sure, she can be a bit dull at timrs, but for the most part I enjoyed how semi-smart she could be at times
Though their romance is….well, not very romantic. I mean, they talk a lot, but I forget they even had a romance until the kissed at the end. Yeah, great romance. Overall, I enjoyed Lois and Amy Adams does a decent job, even if the script doesn’t give her the best stuff.
There a few minor character, like Discount Black J Jonah Jameson, or that other black army dude. They are okay but not worth mentioning.
So let’s skip to our villain, Zod, played by Micheal Shannon. I enjoyed this guy. Grant,ed his performance is a bit odd at points. Sometimes he’s a tad dull, and other times he’s incredibly hammy. To the point where I was laughing instead of being threatened.
“i WILL FIND HIM!”
But still, he was fun when he was fun. The character himself is a bit generic, but works for this movie. I do really like his motivation , and he’s not just being evil to be evil. He wants to bring back Kyrtpon, even if means getting rid of earth.
He is going too far of course, but I liked that the writer gave him that. Sadly, that’s never really explored and some actually feel more sorry for him than Superman. I only kind of agree. I at least don’t think Zod deserve to um…well, we’ll get to that later. Overall, he’s one of the more interesting aspects of the movie. A fine villain.
And now, for the big man himself…Superman aka Clark Kent aka Kal-el, played by Henry Cavil. I think Henry makes a decent, if remarakble Superman. The best part of the movie is when he flies for the first time, and he has that smile on his face. It’s a moment of JOY and Cavil really sells it.
When Superman is saying or doing Superman-ish things, Cavil says it. When the script gives me nothing to do, which is sadly often, he still keeps it afloat. The character himself is…okay. He’s given little personality outside of what we already know.
And that’s kind of an issue with the whole movie, but we’ll get to that in a second. However, he still felt like Superman at points, and he doesn’t really brood that much….even if everyone else says otherwise for some reason.
I think this guy IS Superman, just not the best Superman. He works for this movie, and when he’s at his best, he’s a Superman I could side with. He holds this movie together when it fails, and I enjoyed him. But don’t worry, he’s not as good as Reeve.
And with the characters done, let’s go over some other flaws. My biggest problem with this movie is that…it doesn’t do it’s job. See, I was hyped for this movie, cuz I hoped it would be like Nolan’s batmans were for Batman. You know what I mean. Nolan really took Batman, and made him way more complex and gave us more thiings with the character and his world that we had never seen in a movie at that point.
So I hoped this would do the same, really going into Superman’s character and doing new things. …Sadly, it does not. I said early we saw more of Kyrtpon, but we didn’t KNOW more. That’s a big problem. They draw the flashbacks, but all they say is:
“SUPERMAN IS JESUS!”
Yeah, the Jesus crap bugged me too.
But back to my point, this movie doesn’t do anything different from how I know the story. I haven’t seen the original film (Torches and pitchforks are over there) but even I know this is the same, only more dramatic.
This doesn’t make MOS BAD, it just makes it….routine. When they actually throw in new things, like some part of the action, Lois figuring out Clark, or Zod’s motivation, it works fine. But sadly, it’s mostly what we’ve seen before.
However, they still pull it off fine and some moments are still enjoyable. I’m just saying it wasn’t what I expected. As a straight forward story, it’s fine I guess. Though I will address one thing right now:
Since Christohpr Nolan worked on the story, and stuff like that (he didn’t write or anything, that credit goes to David S Goyer…who is pretty hit or miss) people have compared this to the nolan batman films.
Well, the title scheme rips off of the dark knight (as well as the “Show the title at the end” thing) but other than that …uim no. People say this a “dark” and “Gritty” superman that is bassicly just batman.
I have no idea where people get that. This is in no way “Gritty” or “Dark’ except maybe in places. I do think the color pallet could be more…diverse (washed out blues, some black,….and that’s it) but other than that, the tone is more “dramatic” then flat out dark.
There are story slimatires to Batman I guess, but I never thought of Dark knight or such when I was watching it. Infact, being more like it would be BETTER. At least the story, and Superman, would actually BE complex, instead of SAYING it is.
But I said earlier the style is pretending it has substance, so I don’t need to go on. It clearly felt it awesome as most of the movie (especially the score) tried to be so epic, when it really wasn’t.
Now, with all that said, I still say the movie is not bad. Infact, it was mostly watchable. I could forgive the flaws at points and just enjoy it, as I felt it was fun at points. Yes, I also I disagree with the claim that it’s “Joyless”
This is for 2 reasons:
- Sorry you’re movie about a guy’s home planet blowing up isn’t puppies and rainbows.
- Did you fall asleep during the part where Kal flies for the first time? That scene was full of joy! Sure, it needed to be less dramatic, but i’d say it’s far from “Gloomy’ or joyless.
Sorry, I had to get that out. Doug said in that NC (which was great, btw) that while he perfers a flashy superman, he is all for a darky, more complex version. But he felt the script was lacking, and I agree.
The movie is…okay. More on the ‘decent’ side of okay, though. Yet from what I’ve said, it seems kinda weak. I suppose of the critical level, it’s “Meh” but on a personal love, it’s on the “fine” side of okay.
It’s not a flat out guilty pleasure or anything, I just liked it more than it is flat out good. This review was kind of rambling, but there you go. The movie is okay, but….I still think the hate is overblown.
This is FAR from the worst thing ever. It’s far from awful. And it’s far from “going against what superman stands for”. If you don’t like it, fine, I see exactly why someone would not like. But if you say it’s horrible, please go watch Fred: The movie or A serbian film. Thank you,’
The main review is done, you can all go home. But if you want more, it’s time for IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE SHIT TO SAY ABOUT THAT I COULDN’T FIT IN THE REVIEW!
Here, I will address two BIG things about the movie I couldn’t fit in my main review. If you want to read my thoughts, stay. If not, go. The review is over.
First off….the city destruction. Even NC’s review didn’t cover my feelings on this even though Joe defends everything else. Now, during the 3 climaxes, Superman and Zod’s fight tears up the city. A lot.
There are many action films where scenes like this. There’s a trope called “Hero insurance” where a hero arguably causes more damage than he prevents, yet the whole money issue is never explained. This has been around for years, (and has been spoofed a few times).
So tell me: What makes this example so special? The answer should be NOTHING. I said earlier that the 3rd climax went a bit too far, but I just meant that the action scene itself ran a bit too long.
I’m sure those other stories that did this are in the wrong, but I don’t get why people get their panties in a bunch over this. People talk how much money those damages cost, or that people “probably died” or whatever. Yet no other movie that did something like this got the reaction
It just makes no sense. And to those who say we should have seen Supes rescuing individual people…well, before climax one, he does tell them all to get inside. So there. Not to mention he was a bit busy, oh you know, SAVING OUR ASSES!
I’m not saving every hero should go tearing up the city all the time. I’m saying you shouldn’t give this movie shit for doing something almost every other action movie has done. Okay?
That’s all I have to say about that.. Now…for the awkward one. At the end, Zod is about to fry some family with his heat vision. Superman has him in headlock….and he snaps Zod’s neck, killing him.
Yeah, people really hate this part, and even some of it’s fans are a bit split. Me? …Yeah, it bug me too…but as time goes on, I’ve grown to forgive it, especially after how Doug and Joe explained it.
But eh, it still bugs me for a few reason. For one, as Cinema Sins pointed, there are like so many ways he killed have gotten rid of Zod that didn’t involve killing him. I just don’t see why they needed him to resort to that.
On top of that….Zod’s neck must be made of the weakest shit. I mean, Kal twists it a bit and boom, he’s dead. WEAK! This evil super being crashes through walls during 3 climaxes, and one little twist kills him? LAME!
…But I can forgive that. But his death kind of still bugs me cuz of Zod’s character. He wasn’t being just ot be evil, he had a reason. So I think killing him was uncalled for. …But I see what they were going for, so I can sit with it.
So unlike the city destruction, I 100 percent get why people hate this part. I just don’t hate it as much.
…And that’s about it. I’ve addressed everything I needed to address. So like I said, the movie as okay and not deserving of hate. I stick by more score, and everything I said.
So I hope fans and haters see my points fine. But that imply I have readers,which I don’t. But if I did, i’d hope they would respect my opinion and all that.