Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) Directed by Zack Snyder. Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon. IMDB says: “A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.”
Man of Steel is a solid, well-made film. And it has Superman in it. First, a confession: I have never seen any of the other Superman films, or read any comics, or watched any television shows. My knowledge of superman and his antics is limited solely to what has transcended into pop culture. Luckily for me, Man of Steel is actually the Superman origin story. Well half of it is.
Man of Steel is a long film. Clocking in at just shy of 2 and a half hours, it is almost obnoxiously long, particularly if you choose to enjoy it in any more than 2 dimensions at once. The big reason for the length is the way the plot is structured. There is a big chunk of exposition at the start where you see the planet Krypton and learn why Superman has to leave his home. Subsequent to that, you see him as a full grown man who has yet to don the cape but does have a series of flashbacks giving us insight into what it’s like growing up as a superhero. There is a whole other side to this film, which focuses on a conflict Superman has with an antagonist played by Michael Shannon.
So apart from the length, the plot is really well done. I think this film would have been disappointing if it solely revolved around a young Clark Kent and failed to deliver on the action sequences I’m sure Superman fans enjoy. I found the use of flashbacks to splice the memories with the present day happenings in his life to be really effective. I also enjoyed the casting and acting from almost the whole crew. Michael Shannon delivered a powerhouse performance, as did Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner. I thought Henry Cavill’s performance was serviceable, although there were times were he was underwhelming.
Now, my biggest gripe was actually what I went in to the film expecting to be its highpoint, and that is the action sequences. The special effects are decent but they border on over-the-top. In a world of CGI and computer-generated stunts, this film is middle of the pack. It isn’t hateful but it isn’t anything impressive. In fact, much like the plot, length is a concern here. There are several sequences that go on for way too long, and just come off as gratuitous. If you choose to watch this film in 3D, you will need to re-attach your eyeballs at the end, as if enduring 2.5 hours of wearing the glasses and that added strain wasn’t enough, expect your eyes to bounce from side to side during the action sequences.
In closing, the strongest parts of the film are the coming-of-age parts. Seeing the early days of Kal-El and Clark Kent and watching the way he behaves before he knows who he’ll become is pretty enjoyable. All of the growing up sequences work really well and coupled with solid acting from all of the supporting roles, would have made for a great 90 minute film. However, once the switchover to Superman happens, the film journeys into a gratuitous over-the-top action film, that while still decent, feels overproduced and overly long.
Man of Steel was a good movie. I think, however, if I had high expectations for this film I would’ve been disappointed. It feels like Christopher Nolan had an effect on the film in a sort of homage type of way. The Dark Knight Trilogy is one the most beloved set of superhero films, rivaled on the Marvel side by the Iron Man movies. With that analogy, I would compare Man of Steel to Thor. Still a fun movie, but lacking in something that prevents it from being special.
The movie breaks up the usual origin story mechanics by starting Clark Kent off as an adult and showing flashbacks of his development and how he deals with slowly finding out who he is. This allowed the action to continue from the destruction of Krypton to Superman being on Earth in a natural way without a break in story flow.
The film had a really similar vibe to Star Trek Into Darkness. I believe it was the camera work. I also found myself more interested in the villain again. Michael Shannen offered a great performance as Zod. Even though his role was the villain, his motives were understandable and made him an enjoyable character. I would say more so than Superman, who can be one note sometimes.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys superhero movies. They will surely find a lot to like in Man of Steel. Also, anyone looking for a good summer movie will also probably get a kick out of the film. To the latter group I would suggest Star Trek Into Darkness above Man of Steel, but both would get the job done.