Directed by Zack Snyder, 2013 Warner Bros.

I’m a child of the 70’s, therefore a long time Superman fan.  I’m also a fan of Zack Snyder’s The Watchmen.  I wasn’t sure if those two worlds should ever meet, and to be honest, after seeing a preview screening of Man of Steel, I’m still not sure.

The Good:

Michael Shannon as General Zod.  Rather than copy Terrance Stamp’s Zod, Shannon’s is grittier, more passionate.  His motivations are different.  Rather than revenge, this version of Zod seeks only what is best for the Kryptonian people.  As a general, he was born, bred, and trained for nothing but the betterment of his people.  Unfortunately, this is at odds with the interests of Earth.

Also great was Henry Cavill as Kal-El.  Nobody will ever forget Christopher Reeve, but Cavill’s talent, chiseled looks and physique will certainly have people forgetting Brandon Routh.  Cavill’s Superman was 100% flawless.

And finally, Russell Crowe as Jor-El.  I’m a not a Russell Crowe fan, not in the slightest, but he was great.  His Jor-El had a much larger role than the Marlon Brando incarnation had.  Jor-El is the architect of everything that unfolds.

The Bad:

I have problems with the wanton destruction.  Kal-El’s prime motivation is always the safety of others.  Yet he, Zod, and Zod’s henchmen pretty much destroy all of Metropolis and reduce it to dust.  Even though Zod seeks and needs Kal-El, our hero doesn’t use this to his advantage.  He doesn’t, say, fly to the Pacific Ocean to battle Zod.  Or Antarctica.  He stays right in the middle of Metropolis and is a party to damn near every building coming down!

I also didn’t like the look of the Kryptonian technology.  It was too monochrome and Cybertronian for my tastes.  (Yet, somehow Kal-El ends up with the only blue, red and gold suit on the planet?)

The Ugly:

I left the theater with a booming headache.  I don’t know if it was the 3D or the overly loud sound mix, but my head hurts.  To sum up the experience, the last hour of the film had too many missiles, airplanes, spaceships and carnage flying around.  The brain can’t process that much information.  I didn’t feel that the 3D really enhanced my experience.  (My brother in law Martin said the movie felt like a Michael Bay film, with all that crap blowing up.)

Man_of_Steel_37095Man of Steel had a decent story, that begins where Superman and Superman II did, but then goes in its own direction.  In many regards this movie is Superman:  First Contact.  It’s funny how often we forget that perhaps the most remarkable thing about Superman, is that he’s an alien!  Living among us!  Plotwise, the McGuffin here is something called the Codex, which contains the genetic blueprints for an entire generation of new Kryptonians.  As Krypton’s last defender, Zod wants it.  But his interests and Kal-El’s are at odds, since Zod plans to exterminate humanity and move in here!

I have to admit I’m surprised that Snyder got such great performances out of this cast.  Not that the cast are a bunch of hacks; they’re not.  Amy Adams was fine, and so was Diane Lane.  But let’s face it…we’ve seen other directors in the past get wooden performances out of Lawrence Fishburn and Kevin Costner.  Fishburn amounts to little more than a background character, but Costner’s role as Jonathan Kent is much more important than the version in Superman.  He filled the role appropriately.  My mother always said that Costner is best when he’s playing a farmer.

Much like The Watchmen, Snyder tells stories in multiple timelines simultaneously via flashbacks.  In Man of Steel, these flashbacks are all critical moments of character development.  This was done very well, with Cavill playing Clark Kent’s evolution perfectly.  At the same time, I’m surprised Snyder didn’t use more popular and classic rock music.  He did use a little bit, but certainly not on the scale of The Watchmen or even Suckerpunch.

I noticed two Battlestar Galactica alumni:  Tahmoh Penikett had probably 1 second screen time, but Alessandro Juliani had a bit more.  Why were they in it?  Because Man of Steel was partly filmed in Canada!

Although I will probably buy Man of Steel on blu-ray to “have the whole collection”, I don’t have an immediate craving to see it again.

Man of Steel opens today.  Time for an Advil.

3.5/5 stars



  1. Swithering a bit with this one. I liked Watchmen too and quite liked the look of the trailer for this but I’ve never been that much of a Superman fan. Never found him all that compelling… this guy totally looks the part!


        1. I’ve only been too see one 3D movie (Dredd 3D) and it was great… but quite a short film. I’m guessing this movie is pretty long so I can understand why it might have given you a sair heid!

          I’ll probably wait on the DVD/Blu Ray


  2. Great review, Mike. I might give it a little higher score than you did, mainly because of Henry Cavill and Russell Crowe. This Supermen looks the part and acts the part. He is an English actor who had a large role in the Tudors. I detected no flaws in his American accent. But his looks……….wow is he handsome! But you are right on with all of your comments. Too much destruction to the point of being ridiculous. And notice how Perry White is always in the middle of it but never gets hurt.


  3. I’m really excited to see Michael Shannon’s Zod, though I’d say I’m not too keen on the Bay-esque action. Fantastic review, will be catching this over the weekend in good ol’ 2D. :)


    1. Jade, Shannon was awesome. So was Cavill! I could watch a whole movie of just those two guys!

      2D might be the best way to go. Having said that, I am glad to finally have had the IMAX Experience in 3D.


  4. The things you called good seem band to me and what you call bad seems awesome! It makes me want to see it all the more.


  5. I, too, am a child of the 70s and always liked Batman way better than Superman.

    The best Russell Crowe movie is Cinderella Man, because he keeps getting punched in the face.

    Cool review. I’ll see it when it’s on DVD, but won’t need to own it I’m guessing. I’ve never seen a 3D movie (was supposed to see Avatar on Hwy 7 but it didn’t happen). I’m not surprised you had a headache, from your description.


    1. I didn’t have a headache with Avatar. That was “Real D”, not Imax 3D. I am not sure if that might have anything to do with it, or not. It could have just been this specific movie.


  6. “I have problems with the wanton destruction. Kal-El’s prime motivation is always the safety of others. Yet he, Zod, and Zod’s henchmen pretty much destroy all of Metropolis and reduce it to dust. Even though Zod seeks and needs Kal-El, our hero doesn’t use this to his advantage. He doesn’t, say, fly to the Pacific Ocean to battle Zod. Or Antarctica. He stays right in the middle of Metropolis and is a party to damn near every building coming down!” You continue writing articles about what great screen writers & film makers bring son. Man of Steel 4.5/5.


  7. Nailed the bit about the “wanton destruction,” but wayyyyy too kind on this movie, in my opinion. Could barely sit through any of the scenes that didn’t feature Russell Crowe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know what? I agree. Allow me to explain.

      My mom bought me this blu-ray for Christmas. On 3 occasions, I tried to watch it start to finish. Only on the third did I succeed. Yeah, I think after the excitement of the “preview showing” wore off, I saw the movie differently.

      Thanks for your feedback!


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