Man of Steel Review

Man of Steel
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: David S. Goyer (screenplay), David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan (story)
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe and Christopher Meloni

Man of Steel

Rabid fans of Superman have been chomping at the bit to finally see Zack Snyder’s take on the DC comic icon.  Snyder has proved to be a technically superior director with 300 and Watchmen, and he continues that tradition with Man of Steel.  The film is incredibly well done and the impressive set pieces will satisfy anyone looking for an action-packed summer extravaganza. However, underneath the slick facade, Superman has lost his soul. Man of Steel is a telling title. The film is cold, sterile and lacks any emotional depth. Fault the story from David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, not Snyder.

Steel is a reboot of the origin story of Superman. The opening sequence sets the tone for the rest of the movie. It’s loud, busy and bloated. The population on planet Krypton has found itself facing a planetary crisis foretold by scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe). His warnings fall on deaf ears thanks to a civil uprising led by General Zod (Michael Shannon). Jor-El decides to launch his newborn son Kal-El in a spaceship headed for earth. He has also hidden the codex for the Krypton species, in hopes of preserving their population.

Flash forward and Kal-El (Henry Cavill) is now a grown man living on earth. He lives as a drifter, randomly partaking in acts of heroism, but promptly eluding detection by disappearing. Through a series of flashbacks and fast forwards, we see how Kal-El (earth name Clark) was taught to hide his powers by his earth father Jonathan (Kevin Costner).  Kal-El / Clark struggles mightily with his desire to help people in crisis at the cost of being ousted. It’s his burden to bear, so to speak. It finally catches up with him when he assists Lois Lane (Amy Adams, investigating a fallen Krypton spaceship) after she is struck down by a mortal injury.


This moral conundrum becomes the centerpiece of the film when General Zod and a handful of his cohorts descend on earth to reclaim Kal-El, along with the Krypton codex. That pretty much sums up the piecemeal plot, which takes a backseat to smash up action.  Snyder’s take on Krypton is wholly a sci-fi rendition, as is most of the film. Some fans might welcome this updated version of the Superman story, but gone is the nostalgia and fun of the source material.

As for the action, it is relentless, so much so that the movie feels like one overlong set piece that is virtually indistinguishable from any Transformers movie. When the action is this pervasive, it ultimately strips the film of thrills. It’s numbing.  The final third of the movie amounts to watching buildings sliced in half and crumbling into heaps over and over again. I lost count of how many times this trick pony was trotted out, but somebody seems to think obvious visual references to 9/11 will thrill audiences. It doesn’t.  After the endless final confrontation between General Zod and Kal-El, the resolution is cheap and nonsensical.

Lois Lane is plucky and capable save for their first meeting, but Adams and Cavill lack chemistry. The best performance (and the most believable relationship) comes from Costner as Clark’s earth father. His scenes with Cavill give the film some sorely needed emotional weight. Diane Lane plays Clark’s earth mom, but has precious little to do. Cavill is okay, but not particularly memorable. It’s telling that my biggest takeaway from Steel is that Hans Zimmer has managed to bring us another magnificent score. Snyder hasn’t made a bad film; he’s just brought us one that is interchangeable with a dozen other sci-fi films. This version of Superman simply lacks staying power. Here today, forgotten tomorrow. – Shannon

SCORE: 2.5 stars

Around the Web:

  • PlanBFromOuterSpace

    “Steel is a reboot of the origin story of Superman.”

    Correction: “Steel” is the movie that you left out of your premium podcast! Definitely top 3 in Shaq’s filmography.

  • PlanBFromOuterSpace

    My mistake, Shannon, you had nothing to do with that injustice against us all. Still, I would have paid to just listen to the guys talk about THAT.

  • Sean

    Good call, I now totally regret not adding this to the premium podcast.

  • MadMax

    I finally saw Man of Steel last night and found
    it to be incredible! Seriously, this is the Superman film I always wanted. The
    movie nearly delivered on all accounts (had some slight issues with Zod acting
    wise). Especially the last 3rd of the film. It was like the most awesome DBZ
    fight ever; I’m talking Goku vs. Freeza level insane! This is where I disagree
    with the reviewer. We the fans needed to see Superman throw down! After 30 plus
    years all we got were sub par fights since the technology at the time wasn’t up
    to snuff. Furthermore, I didn’t need to see a warm and fuzzy superman film
    ‘we’ve got multiple films and a television series for that’. That’s not to say
    this film doesn’t have heart, the flash back sequences were beautifully
    handled, and quite touching. Most fans however, including myself wanted
    Superman to be a raging Badass, and that’s what Zack and company delivered. Now
    to be honest, I always hated Superman, and found the original films to be
    overly saccharine. He was way to goody to shoes for my liking, and so I welcomed
    the new and more serious approach. To me this is the best Superman film ever
    made! It’s a 9 out of 10 for sure. I’m defiantly going to see it again this
    weekend only this time in Imax 3d.

  • chaq686

    Action sequences are not like transformers movies. What are y’all nuts? I mean, punches can be look clearly. The superpowers of the characters are very well detailed. At least I’d give it 4.5 out of 5, and I’m being modest.

  • ECONOMYpolitica

    Chris Nolan doesn’t care about alien people.

  • HeroSupreme

    The question is, did Frank feel compelled to watch Steel for MoS prep?

  • sunsetwalker

    If you enjoy the justice league animated movies, you will be very happy, This was the Superman movie that I wanted, the fight scenes are amazing and just like the comics.

  • David Merryweather

    This was an appalling, mindless, charmless, humourless, deafening mess.

  • Theo

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. 9 in a half outa 10 for me though. lol

  • Theo


  • Derek McFarland

    I’m very very pleased with MoS… and don’t think I’ll be forgetting this badass movie anytime soon. I might have agreed if I would have seen Superman turn time backwards, by flying “super” fast around the Earth (S.M.1), teleporting from one place to another/ throw an expanding cellophane “S” from his chest (S.M. 2), or rebuilding the Great Wall of China using telekinesis (S.M.4). While I still enjoy watching the earlier films w/ Chris Reeves, they seem pretty outdated…and with him having abilities I don’t recall him having in the comics. Reeves will always be my favorite Superman actor (same as Keaton as Batman), but this has got to be my favorite “S” movie so far. I thought it made Superman Returns look like an alright T.V. show pilot. As for the chemistry between Adams and Cavill…. I found it better than the one between Routh and Bosworth. I found the chemistry between Keaton and Pfeiffer way better than Bale and Hathaway; but still liked TDKR more. When it comes to the fight scenes I didn’t find it all that indistinguishable from the Transformers movies…. they looked rather clear to me… the fight scenes in Transformers looked more like junked up pieces of metal getting thrown around in a clothing dryer. After seeing the fight scenes in this movie, I can only dream about what Snyder’s idea of a Superman V.S. Doomsday fight would look like (with the JLA). Considering how much I like Michael Shannon, I did think he could have done a better job as Zod, but that’s really about it. I give MoS about an 8 in a half to a 9 out of 10. Can’t wait to see another.

  • Theo


  • I really enjoyed it. I didn’t need it to be funny or lighthearted, I had a ton of fun with the action. The whole Smallville fight, I just had a huge smile on my face. In the last act, it did seem to go way overboard with destruction and no consequences, but I still liked it overall.

    And I loved all the flashback and wandering Kent stuff.

  • Kenneth Serenyi

    I agree – 2.5 for me. The action was numbing and the special effects already look dated. All the preachy lines to Kal-El from both of his fathers started to make me wince after a short while. I liked all the military stuff because that hit home for me as the most realistic reaction to aliens and Kal-El – although I was reminded a lot of ‘Independence Day’ and ‘Transformers’ as mentioned in the article. I think they should have focused more on character development rather than all the Matrix special effects. Maybe Superman has just been overdone or maybe I’m just not a Superman fan.

  • Xidor

    My biggest complaint is that it was too loud.I saw it in IMAX 2D with the wife and kids and they were uncomfortable with the volume. It seems that IMAX has to pump the volume up to impress you with their system. Anytime it flashed to smallville we felt like we could relax from the noise. I think watching at home will be a better experience for us. I give it a 2.5 for the IMAX experience, but I think watching it again at home could be a 4. A lot of the action will be worth watching again since it was so fast and there was so much of it. There are more than ten easter eggs to find on a rewatch as well.

  • daneforst

    People comparing this to the original is a mistake. The originals movies are over 30 years old for crying out loud! This is a fresh take that is grittier yes, but more emotional and I personally found it to have TONS of heart. People who say it’s mindless are obviously not paying attention. This movie has almost ZERO plotholes unlike The Dark Knight trilogy and Prometheus. Read this far superior and in-depth review.

  • daneforst

    Agreed Agreed

  • Theo

    Agreed…. No rebuilding the Great Wall of China using telekinesis, or turning back time, by flying around Earth fast. Best Superman ever.

  • MisterQuigley

    Sorry, need to watch Supe 3 and 4 and (not) Girl before I download. So it’ll be a few years. Cheers, big ears…