Man of Steel Screen 20 articles

Man of Steel


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  • Snyder’s sense of morality has never been this trite. Take Clark’s ongoing conflicts with identity and faith, struggles that are supposed to be the film’s thematic core. Often, such emotions are verbalized in purely melodramatic terms without hinting at the deep-seeded trauma underneath. Here, Man of Steel proves just how little vested interest it has in the tangible spirit of humanity, for any feelings of substance born here on Earth or in the stars above.

  • Zack Snyder’s dull-as-dirt Man of Steel... feels like a straitjacketed affair, scared of ever wandering into humor, self-deprecation or romantic byplay. Produced by king of pain Christopher Nolan, it forgets to give the new Kal-El (muscle-bound Henry Cavill) a single recognizable emotion, save The Dark Knight’s all-purpose brood—which isn’t going to cut it when our S-clad hero, more than any other, has to inspire a gushing citywide love (so well-captured in the Koch-era original).

  • Snyder overemphasizes the direness of the narrative, especially its conflicts, the result of which is that Man of Steel feels both naïve and portentous. The filmmakers don't honor the sense of duty, moral or otherwise, of the brave soldiers and citizens portrayed here as much as they underline the importance of sacrifice through suffering and death, which echoes the film's unsettling sense of martyrdom as inherently masculine.

  • Unfortunately [Snyder] can’t pull it off, and “Man of Steel” has all the Nolan-esque tics you expect, from the Leni Riefenstahl heroic extreme close-ups to the oversize muscles and proto-fascist (or flat-out fascist) iconography to the creepy-looking technology ripped off from “Alien” to the assaultive and incoherent action sequences that go on so long you yearn for death, or at least for deafness.

  • Snyder’s roving quasi-documentary camera and writer David S. Goyer’s determination to tell the familiar Smallville part of the Superman saga in nonlinear form do nominally break from the blockbuster style sheet. But Snyder and frequent Michael Bay DP Amir Mokri’s Malick-lite bucolic Americana long lens inserts share screen time with... portraits of Smallville’s IHOP and Pizza Hut...

  • The ambition to make a grittier kind of Superman pic is certainly admirable, but much of what Snyder and Goyer set out to fix wasn’t really broken in the first place. By having Lois discover Clark’s true identity so early on, “Man of Steel” relinquishes the halting romantic chemistry between the two characters that brightened previous versions of the tale. And the narrow focus on Clark, Lois and Zod gives the movie an oddly circumscribed feel.

  • Mostly, Man of Steel is preoccupied with its own spectacle. There’s so much heaviness here that, ironically, nothing seems to have its own weight. And once Shannon’s Zod shows up on Earth with his dumb little goatee, you know this super-engineered movie experience is just going to get bigger and emptier.

  • As Hans Zimmer's magnficient but overused score insists on high drama, Snyder's urgent stylistics – all lens flares and tight close-ups – just can't sustain this bold elliptical storytelling. Never fully settling, Man Of Steel just keeps bouncing from big scene to big scene. What's missing is the strong connective tissue in between them – the film doesn't earn its big moments and this highlight-reel cinema leaves little room for character development.

  • Cavill—whose performance involves more posing than acting—is alternately presented as an alien messiah, a superweapon, and an American flag flapping in the wind; the one thing he never gets to be is a character. As a result, Man Of Steel sometimes feels like arty advertising—the tentpole movie equivalent of a car ad that invokes images of freedom or luxury without ever mentioning the price or specifications.

  • The movie has its only fun grazing big political themes, but it's not committed to turning them into any sort of principle. Nolan is a producer of Man of Steel and shares a story credit with Goyer. Each of his Batman movies managed to turn current events and political policy into a worldview. There's no conviction like that in Man of Steel — just a lot of heavy-lidded winking right up until the finale, in which Metropolis falls under heavy siege.

  • For roughly 100 minutes, or the running time of an average movie, Mr. Snyder is in control of his material. His handling of the story’s many flashbacks, which fill in piecemeal Superman’s Kansas childhood as Clark, is fluid and apt... [but in the last 45 minutes,] Mr. Snyder piles on the hammering special effects, becoming yet one more director gone disappointingly amok.

  • The image of Superman casually hurling Zod through the, say, 90th floor of a ruined skyscraper, where survivors are presumably nursing injuries, is profoundly disturbing, and a good reminder that Zack Snyder makes movies about fascists.

  • It’s not that I don’t take Superman seriously, as a viewer; it’s more that I don’t automatically take him seriously. The onus is on any new version to make him come alive – and Man of Steel mostly falls short. This is Superman as Sexy Hunk, going conspicuously shirtless (“I just think he’s kind of hot,” admits a shamefaced female soldier). This is Superman as Gentle Doctor, looking at Lois with infinite sadness as he prepares to cauterize her wound...

  • Overqualified actors, as they did historically, make up for lots. Cavill... is a fine Superman, imposing but wry. Though Shannon doesn’t find as iconic an incarnation of Zod as did Terrence Stamp in “Superman II,” he’s hammy fun, while Amy Adam’s Lois is nearly as plucky and flirty as Margot Kidder. But like most of today’s blockbusters, it’s a mixed bag of promise and mild disappointment, a potentially great picture hobbled by unnecessary busy-ness.

  • For the most part it's splendidly realized, even though the muted color palette, shaky camerawork and mostly secondhand design concepts won't win any prizes for originality. I like how Snyder, Goyer and Nolan bring together Superman's embrace of his destiny and Zod's arriving on Earth and assuming the mantle of visionary warrior-leader that Jor-El denied him back on Krypton... The most striking and curious aspect of "Man of Steel" is the way it minimizes and even shuts out women.

  • The director’s Malickisms threaten to become cliché at any moment, yet they help to ground a story that’s patently absurd (it’s almost astonishing that any seriousness can be achieved after the goofy first fifteen minutes, set on Krypton). The achronological editorial structure helps to sustain interest in what would otherwise be an overfamiliar superhero origin myth.

  • The entire movie, with its thrumming and droning and lumbering and crashing, seems especially nostalgic for imagination and morality on the human scale. If it’s so much more engaging, even in its roiling gray clashes, than Nolan’s own movies, it’s due in large measure to the primordial simplicity, purity, and clarity of the issues that Superman brings in his wake.

  • Man of Steel has a similar structure and climax to The Avengers, but it’s a far more ambitious work, refusing to relax into geekfest fun and games. Snyder tries to retell the most famous origin story in modern pop culture, not quelling the memory of previous incarnations but coherently setting up its own priorities, and doing it all in a fashion that recreates the specific gravity of this mythos.

  • Even though some of the attempts at gravitas don't work (the explanation that the "S" on the front of Superman's costume isn't really an "S" but a Kryptonian symbol for home, yeah, sure, whatever you say), the movie does make you believe that a flying man in tights is a thing of scary awe, and once Zod, played with inspired and genuinely complex menace by Shannon, starts his campaign to repopulate Earth with his own kind, the movie enters the realm of very impressive action spectacle...

  • Man of Steel attempts to reimagine the Superman legend, but it's also enhanced by a forthright acknowledgment of its influences and an acute appreciation for the sci-fi canon—one that's ripe with social commentary (a young Clark can only see his classmates' insides, providing a potent visual/political link with John Carpenter's meta-allegory They Live), spirituality (Superman's surrender evokes the military greeting party of The Day the Earth Stood Still), and unrivaled cinematic beauty...

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