VIDEO: Man of Steel (2013)

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Cecil takes a look at the 2013 Superman reboot Man of Steel, and talks about why it doesn’t deserve the negative attention it gets, going into the most common complaints about the film and offering counterpoints to them.

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  • Alexa

    Okay you make some good points, and I respect your opinion and you are a fun and engaging reviewer, but I will never like this film because it just pisses me off too much. It was a very very empty movie that didn’t really make Superman interesting IMO. Generally I would have been ecstatic if they got someone like Grant Morrison or Mark Millar to write the screenplay because they understand the character a great deal better and know how to write a fun and exciting story way more than David Goyer, who seems generally to know very little about superheroes, as evidenced by his recent dumbass comments, and seems very embarrassed about superheroes in general.

    And believe me I wanted to like this movie, I really did, but between it written by a guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing, a director who is too preoccupied with sacrificing his cool and interesting style that he had in Watchmen in order to make Superman more “realistic” aka boring as hell looking with the bland colors and the actors looking like they’re bored (in order to make it more akin to the Batman films which makes no sense) and the pacing being generally horrible. I find this movie lacking in several areas. Also the Jesus imagery makes me mad because it undermines the original intent of Superman’s creator,Jerry Siegel, who wanted his story to mirror his Jewish origins, making Superman a parable on Moses. So I am not bothered by it using religious imagery just that they choose the wrong imagery. And no I didn’t want Donner’s version all over again, but I didn’t want this movie. It was a let down, ok. Its not the worst superhero movie, and yeah Superman 3 and 4 are bad, but this movie just doesn’t work as a Superman film. They got the wrong people and they focused on the wrong things. In the end I guess you could say I am not perfect because I hate this movie *shrugs*

    • John Wilson

      I say this movie works better then most superhero movies because it focuses on one thing few superhero movies focus on, goodness. I feel like in other superhero movies, they focus on too much soap opera stuff and not focus on what makes a good person. Zack does understand what makes a comic book movie good. He is one of the finest directors working today. What people missed in “Sucker punch” was the goodness. So he expended the themes of goodness much more in”Man of steel” Which works for me.

      • Alexa

        I feel like other superhero movies focus on goodness way better, like Captain America, which had a much more likable and engaging lead, and was willing to have a more fun and warm atmosphere IMO.

    • maarvarq

      It was a very very empty movie
      Indeed. Dark and gritty for the sake of it in place of actual characterisation. “A tale told by an idiot – full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Thinking of the sound, enough with the subwoofers already. I felt like the movie, having failed to be honestly exciting, tried to make up for it by shaking me.

  • Chris Palmer

    So wait…nobody complained about Lois knowing Superman’s real name right from the get-go? Considering this is a prominent aspect of the movie, I’m quite surprised

    I’m also disappointed that they didn’t do some sort of logo/title card during the first half.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I actually thought it was pretty awesome, one of the few things the film got right. Lois Lane was portrayed as being very, very smart and that’s cool by me.

  • KLLRFRST

    I liked MOS a lot. It was basically the film version of Mark Waid’s “Birthright” miniseries, minus Lex Luthor and the fake Kryptonian invasion replaced with a real Kryptonian invasion.

    You definitely did a great job refuting all the points that a lot of people bring up when they slam the film.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I have to disagree with you there. Birthright felt optimistic and uplifting, whereas this movie was depressing as hell. I mean, did you see Metropolis after those guys were done with it? And Pa Kent said “Maybe” to letting a school bus full of kids drown. The number one thing you want to make sure your super powered child respects is the sanctity of life. Pa Kent should have been proud that his son saved thirty kids, not brow beat him for it.

      In fact, if that had been a theme in the movie then Superman killing Zod would have had a far greater impact; Superman took a life, something he swore he’d never do.

      I don’t think Snyder is a hack. I just think Man of Steel should have been in stark contrast, tone wise, to Dark Knight. You know, the way Superman is in stark contrast to Batman?

      • Alexa

        Yeah really. I’ve read Birthright and while its not my favorite Superman, it was an interesting story of Superman finding himself and learning about his past. That’s interesting, what the film came up with and how they went about it, well really wasn’t. Also I think really the biggest problem I have with the destruction of Metropolis, was that it happened in the first movie.

        Instead of setting up character, environment and whatnot, and having a great big build up that they could of had in later movies, they just went directly to the destruction, and well I had no emotional investment and so I was bored. And yeah I realize Superman tried to save as many as he could, but it came up to three-four people, and that was him saving Lois several times. Also that kiss with Lois after the destruction of Metropolis was just all wrong, plus how the hell did she get to that train station so quickly?

        And yeah instead of making a fun and uplifting movie, in contrast to the Batman films, they just made another angsty Batman movie, but this time he can fly. I don’t think Snyder is a terrible director, but I don’t like him all that much since, he isn’t a very strong one, because he let a character that he supposedly loves, fall so short.

        • KLLRFRST

          I’d say that the high levels of angst was my real nitpick with the movie. We already get enough of that shit with Batman, and while Superman can be serious, he’s not the emo wanker that Bruce is. Don’t get me wrong – I like Batman, but for a guy who hangs with the world’s most awesome heroes AND bang supermodels in $10,000 a night penthouses, you’d think he wouldn’t be moping over his dead parents so much. Hell, Supes lost TWO SETS of parents, and you don’t see him skulking around the Fortress of Solitude listening to Depeche Mode and crying.

          • Alexa

            Yeah seriously, and I love Batman but I need a break from the angst and making everyone like him is extremely annoying!

      • Wizkamridr

        I think Birthright was overrated. I only picked it up because of the artwork. The fake invasion was lame. I liked Red Son better even if Superman gave everyone lobotomies.

      • KLLRFRST

        MOS and Birthright didn’t have the same tone, but it felt like MOS was following the same coming-of-age story arc that Birthright had, IMO.

  • $36060516

    Not done with watching this yet, but in response to the Sucker Punch part:

    “The girls […] are owning their attire and expectations in a way that most feminists could only dream of.”

    That sentence doesn’t really compute for me. Granted, I’m not a woman, and I haven’t seen the film. Just going by many reviews and descriptions. I don’t see how the young women in this movie could be “owning their attire” in a fashion that is so far beyond the way real life feminists feel about the clothing they choose to wear. I could be misunderstanding the intended meaning, but this statement seems to imply that “most feminists” would like to dress provocatively like the nymphets in the movie but are too afraid to “own that attire” and thus only fantasize about wearing such outfits. I’m not sure that for “most feminists” their goal in wearing clothing is to appear like a Japanese schoolgirl crossed with Lolita and a stripper. Again, maybe I’m missing the intended point. Even if not implying most feminists dream of dressing provocatively, it seems a mistake to assume to know the feelings of “most feminists” or negatively compare the boldness of real life people’s choices to those of fantasy characters living in a world that bears little resemblance to ours.

    “[…] the internet community labels [Snyder] a hack and one of the worst directors ever due to one film that they either didn’t see, didn’t like, or didn’t understand.”

    Those three options are pretty different from each other, despite you dismissing them in a lump as inadequate rationales for disliking the man’s work. I’ve read plenty of reviews from people who saw the movie and didn’t like it despite describing the feminist statement the director was attempting to make in the same terms you (and/or your friend) did. They just didn’t think he succeeded due to misguided choices and lack of subtlety. As for me, I didn’t judge Snyder negatively based on “Sucker Punch,” which I didn’t see (other than thinking the clips of CGI action scenes I saw looked completely unexciting due to taking place in a dream world where the girls have near-unlimited power); I judged him negatively based on “Dawn of the Dead,” “300,” and “Watchmen,” which I did see. After giving him those three chances, I didn’t feel like I needed to spend any more money on the guy.

    • Alexa

      While I haven’t seen Sucker Punch the main complaint about it, from what I heard, is that there is an interesting and complex story in there, it just wasn’t executed well. Again haven’t seen it, but that is what I heard. Plus I heard the action scenes weren’t all that engaging because the characters were kind of paper thin. I don’t know I have to see it to make my own assessment.

      But really what turned me off about the film is that seems to engage in that “fighting fuck toy” trope, like give a girl a gun and she’s automatically awesome, and no way is she objectified cause she has a gun, and that dumb stuff. I mean Im not going to get upset that the girls wore revealing clothing, but why did they all have to wear revealing clothing. Maybe have some of them wear something practical, and others something sexy, you know to have some variety. Nothing wrong with dressing sexy, but not everyone has to dress sexy. But I guess it is a fantasy, even though I didn’t see Jonathan Pryce imagining himself wearing a mini skirt and heels in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

      • $36060516

        Yep. From what I can tell from trailers and such, there are no butch women amongst the heroines. Usually any squad of troops or softball team has some butch gals in the group because they tend to be tough and willing to get their hands dirty. Despite Snyder’s noble stated intentions it doesn’t seem likely he would considered including heroines who are not there to be eye candy for men. It’s titillating for guys to see Milla Jovovich or Angelina Jolie shooting and cutting up anonymous men while wearing tight clothing, but doubt many guys would be as excited to see a butch woman in jeans and a buzz cut kicking guys in the balls.

        • CaptainCalvinCat

          Erm… Mister_Misinformed?
          Isn’t that “butch gals” a cliché, too? There were no butch gals in the Stargate-shows… we had relatively normal women in that ones. I mean, they were pretty, yes, but they were not wearing tight clothing or so.

    • mamba

      Sorry, but this (paraphrased) sentence doesn’t compute for me: “I’m not a woman, nor have I seen the movie Sucker Punch, but let me comment on it’s themes”

      You never saw the movie. Therefore you know nothing of the themes of the movie…only what someone else told you they were. You aren’t a member of the gender in discussion by those who have seen it. You only know the name, the director, and the fact that some girls wear skimpy clothing in it. So no offense meant, but you literally have nothing to contribute to the discussion!

      I see this a lot from people, “Let me give my impression of a movie I haven’t seen based on what I’m told I should be thinking by the internet in general” and it’s annoying. If you SAW the movie and have an opinion on it, go for it, but until that moment occurs where you judged for YOURSELF what Zack has done, you might as well be telling us how great it is to have 8 arms for all the difference it makes. You’re not talking about THE movie, only the one that exists in your head…and we can’t get admission to see that version.

      For the record, I DID see Sucker Punch, and disagree with our good reviewer on it, but that’s for another thread. MOS on the other hand, I’m glad someone finally pointed out that Zod was insane and unstoppable by Kent. Yes he had to kill him, because Zod was only a few seconds from breaking free of his headlock in the first place, and what prison is going to hold him? Personally ,I with the Donner Zod was the one in the movie…he seemed so much more intelligent and menacing, almost Shakespearean in his eloquence, and that take on the character nailed the intensity…while this guy just seemed like a pissed off centurion.

      • $36060516

        “So no offense meant, but you literally have nothing to contribute to the discussion!”

        My post took issue with two claims Cecil made: one about the beliefs of “most feminists” and one about internet response to Zach Snyder’s films. Though I am not a woman, I am a feminist and while I did not see the “Sucker Punch,” I witnessed that internet response to the film, and so felt qualified to comment on those limited parts of the review — while repeatedly acknowledging the facts I had not seen the film and am not a woman and that I could be misunderstanding the point Cecil was making on feminism. I believe that showed sufficient humility and openness to the possibility my reactions were incorrect, and so shared the part of my reaction to this review I felt was constructive as part of my general use of the site as a way to socialize with people I find interesting and whose creativity I admire (including Cecil, despite those minor disagreements I posted). Five people disagreed with your assessment that my post was worthless when they clicked “thumbs up” on it and when one of them took the time to make a thoughtful reply to what I wrote. So, while I’ve given your response due attention, I will henceforth disregard its injunctions toward silence. I hope you understand and do not suffer hurt feelings from this.

        • mamba

          Oh, s’ok, and I keep forgetting that tone doesn’t come across in print well. This wasn’t a rant or anything, just a pet peeve on “let me comment on things I never watched”. (smile)

          Sure, you may have nothing to say about Sucker Punch, but yeah, feel free to talk about feminist stuff in general, as long as it avoids the movie! (lol) No hurt feelings here, and I really do hope none there either. Next time, I’ll be the one to be the silent one.

          BTW, I actually agree on “owning” a feminist attire to empower rather than subjugate. Elvira is the perfect example of that. Snider’s just got some things to work through and comes across as maybe more credit given to the guy than deserved?

          Now as soon as we have an Agonybooth review of Sucker Punch (if we don’t have one already?), let’s jump on in. (smile)

          • $36060516

            I’ll tell you what, I’ll actually watch the movie now in penance for shootin’ my mouth off!

          • mamba

            “Penance” is the perfect word for watching Sucker Punch! They probably have that playing in some circle of Hell right now on infinite loop!

            Heck, I’m still trying to figure out whether that movie actually happened or not, since the ending scenes indicate both possibilities at the same time (can’t explain, spoilers would result)

            …and for penance for being an accidental tool, I’m re-watching MANOS because I need to feel the raw stings and lashes of pure incompetence in movies, and nothing of lesser pain will do.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            I think, if they show the movie on free tv, I’ll watch it, just to give it a chance.

            I mean, it can’t be THAT bad.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Its a little late but I have an answer for you!

      (from my friend Brynn, who wrote the Sucker Punch segment)

      ———————————-

      The way I see it, women have two options when they’re told that
      revealing clothing has negative connotations, and that being seen as ‘a
      Japanese schoolgirl crossed with Lolita and a stripper’ is something
      they shouldn’t be happy with or proud of. They can either shy away from
      it, looking down their nose at the women who do wear such shocking and
      scandalous clothing, or embrace it wholeheartedly and make it their own.
      Frankly I’ve always been more fond of forward movement rather than
      retreat. The girls are turning the men’s weapons against them. They’re
      saying, “I understand that others might see this as sexual and
      degrading, but if I wear it and show I don’t care, make it clear that I
      wear it for myself alone and not for the pleasure of others, it
      becomes mine, and mine alone.” It’s the core of the entire ‘look at what
      she was wearing, she had it coming’ anti-argument–women shouldn’t have
      to be concerned about what their clothing says about them, and their
      clothing shouldn’t give license to others to treat them any differently.
      I assume you would argue strongly against the argument that a woman
      deserved to be molested simply because she looked a certain way–why do
      you then judge the girls and fall back on the No True Scotsman argument?

      “Even
      if not implying most feminists dream of dressing provocatively, it
      seems a mistake to assume to know the feelings of “most feminists” or
      negatively compare the boldness of real life people’s choices to those
      of fantasy characters living in a world that bears little resemblance to
      ours.”

      That’s
      the entire point–real people can make real decisions at the drop of a
      hat. The girls in the movie in their ‘real world’ have absolutely no
      agency, absolutely zero power over themselves or their environment. They
      retreat to the second level world to try to explain what’s happening to
      them, and why they’re in such terrible conditions. The final retreat to
      the third level is where they finally break free from the restrictions
      and enter an environment that best mimics a real life person’s world in
      terms of freedom and agency. As in real life their decisions have
      consequences, but the point is that they can make these decisions.

      • $36060516

        “why do you then judge the girls”

        I don’t “judge the girls.” The girls are fantasy characters who don’t exist written and directed by a man. I was judging the aesthetic decisions of the man who invented them.

  • tedzey71

    An excellent video! Honestly, all the points you brought up was exactly how I felt about the movie! I’m just so mad that I could talk for days about all the things I enjoy about movies like The Avengers, but have to walk around egg shells when I talk about Man of Steel despite me liking it for all the same reasons! I just had a feeling that people were hating on the film before it opened and got what they expected without acknowledging the good things about it. With this much money, time and effort; you’re pretty sure there’s going to be something good to come out of it. Did I think the movie was perfect? No. I for one found some plot holes and even acknowledge the dialogue could have been improved. However I loved the performances, thought the action was well deserving of a superman movie (Imagine! Superman throwing a punch for once!), and would love to see where they go from there!

    One of the big defining things for me that you brought up was how he’s not superman yet. Yes, he isn’t; and he’s bound to make some mistakes with powers he’s had a hard time trying to control. I never understood how people got so defensive on the last fight between him and a small militia of super-powered beings. They have been trained in combat with one mission to destroy the world, and our only hope is someone with not a lot of experience saving it! No pressure there, Supes! It’s just nitpicking. Things that didn’t distract me from my overall movie going experience, or quite frankly should have to bother me! I’m sorry that you feel so bad about all the collateral damage caused! let’s ask how the transformers, the avengers, jaegars and just recently godzilla felt about ripping holes through the cities they demolished!

  • Gallen Dugall

    Yes. That so many reviewers pretend like they have to be handheld through every tiny event in a film is very frustrating. So many film complaints seem to stem from the fact that people were texting or stuffing their faces instead of watching the movie. Although I suspect it has more to do with the “everything must be the best ever or worst ever” aspect of the internet. Many of the complaints seem to exist to fill out a “what’s wrong with” article.

    For me the problem is with MoS is that there’s an oddly empty aspect to the new interpretation for the character – here as well as in ASM and Batman. Just as they turned Bruce Wayne into a real person who could have a life without Batman, and they made Peter Parker into Spider Man eliminating the conflicted duality of that character, here they’ve removed Superman’s simple mid-western values and sensibilities. Now he’s just some guy. Could be any guy… he could be you – but SUPER! I don’t think it’s the result of some insight into the character’s early years. They’re audience projection fantasy and what they take away from the characters isn’t replaced with anything, some reason to feel something about the character or maybe want them to succeed. I can care about a character so long as they are trying to hold themselves to some high standard or maybe try to accomplish some worthy goal heroes in these films exist just to manage the latest villain instigated disaster. These new interpretations of the characters just sort of drift through their films propelled by their bafflingly aggressive antagonists whose motivations seem very poorly thought out rationalization for the next big action sequence.

    • Speaking as someone who was raised by midwestern parents… Midwestern values are heavily over rated, and their view of them in Americana is propaganda. Fair play and helping others is not a midwestern value, it’s the golden rule.

      • Gallen Dugall

        yeah and you can say the same thing about Captain America, but it’s not really the point
        a character based on nothing is still inferior to one based on an unrealistic ideal

        • Captain America is not about the golden rule so much as he is supposed to be about patriotism (different from nationalism). True patriotism (unlike what shit head sovereign citizens like Cliven Bundy would have you believe) is about coming together to extol the virtues of a common people.

          Superman is many things to many people, and does have patriotism in many of his incarnations, but the question the movie chooses to put out there is, “What would you do with the power of Superman?” Would you let other people die for fear of the world? Would you give yourself up to save others? Would you be willing to kill to save others?

          Are you a bully? A tyrant? A god? It is a good question that runs thru a lot of science fiction. This movie had structure problems (in my opinion) more than story or character problems.

          • Gallen Dugall

            Patriotism is about coming together to extol the virtues of a common people? Uh, no. It’s just a commitment to a nation. Cultural ideals and such can be the reason for patriotism, but not necessarily.

          • A commitment to a nation is Nationalism. Which has the bad connotation of, “Love it or leave it”.

            Patriotism is more about exemplifying the best aspects of a country/community/whatever. You can be patriotic about ones state or city by cheering for their sport’s team. Or you can be Patriotic by participating in a political system, or by being charitable.

            The terms mingle, because people who want to create an enemy to fight tend to frame themselves as “Patriots” and the other people as “traitors”, but the rhetoric they use is not patriotic, just bigoted and hyperbolic. There are different definitions to words based on context, but if you call Captain America a Patriot, he is not about “America is always right” but he is about “America is a great place, let’s make it better by being good people.” Which rings more true.

          • Gallen Dugall

            This argument is the perfect description of what’s wrong with the character in this film. I dislike what they did with the character and you say I’m wrong. It’s not so much an argument as it is a misunderstanding. Here Superman’s not a character as much as he is an extruded product.

          • Well, yeah. We disagree. I do not think that Superman is empty. There are plenty of issues, I’ve listed several in my own comment elsewhere. But that isn’t an issue I had.

    • writebrain

      ^THIS, at least the first paragraph.

  • Hal_10000

    I don’t think the comparison of gratuitous destruction in Man of Steel to Pacific Rim is quite right. The objection was that some of the destruction in Man of Steel was *preventable*. In Super Man II, he leads Zod and his minions away from Metropolis precisely to prevent mass destruction. In Man of Steel, at a point when all Zod cares about is getting Superman, he engages him within the city, punching him through buildings and other things and then suddenly deciding its enough in the train station. Man of Steel has a much more serious and gritty tone to it. I don’t think that’s an apt comparison to something was a pure popcorn movie. (That having been said, the destruction in Pacific Rim did bug me.)

    EDIT: Watched the rest of the video and you address this point. But I still think it stands, especially given the serious grim tone that the movie is taking. It wants to be both a stupid action flick and a “serious” movie which is probably why it has problems.

    • The time it took to get to the Train station was probably all of a minute (they are moving at super speed) and Clark had to work himself into a mood to actually do the deed. I would generally think killing someone with your bare hands would be hard to do mentally.

  • Phil Murphy

    Great video agree with all the points you brought up.

  • Jerry Nava

    Ok so I respect your opinion Cecil but I couldn’t disagree more, the movie was a terrible mess especailly in how it handled its own themes and as much as many people want to deny it, yes, it was made to turn Superman into Batman.

    You are right in some points though, I’m gonna try and adress most of them.

    The suit: I didn’t know people were complaining about the suit being there! I haven’t heard almost anyone comment on that…huh, but yeah, that is an odd, pointless nit pick.

    Pa Kent: Yes yes his powers, the world wouldn’t understand, humanity is inherently evil and Pa Kent fears he would be misunderstood. Honestly I’m sick of this mentality in recent movies, they put humanity in such a dark tone just to make the hero sort of relatable, we’re not asking for people to be welcoming of him, but the “scared of the foreign” (cough 9/11) angle is glaringly obvious here.

    The truck: This scene’s position in the story is almost before he finds his real father’s ship, you’d think after saving hundreds of lives in secrecy he’d have a better behaivor, or maybe he could apply the values his parents taught him-OH! That’s right, his dad was killed so he could be the generic brooding man with a dark past.

    I did like the priest scene too! I wish it wasn’t a priest but the religious references are there so it makes sense.

    Pa Kent’s death: Nope, sorry, he wasn’t saving Clark (who by the way didn’t need saving because you know, super powers), he was saving a fucking dog, his death was stupid because the only purpose it’s supposed to serve is pointless. Why do you ask? Because Clark goes ahead and uses his powers to save lives shortly after, if that’s what he was going to do from the start, there was no reason to kill his only source of advice.

    Powers unused make sense: I agree with that as well.

    Minor problem though, while I agree with your points don’t fool yourself to believe the movie is called Man Of Steel because it is about Clark’s growth. It 100% was because they didn’t want to call him Superman. The movie straight up admits this in the scene where Lois is about to call him “Superman” but she is stopped by static and then she magically forgets about it because it would sound too silly.

    Because a Super hero movie? That’s too silly, unless it’s Batman. That was probably Goyer’s idea as well.

    Disaster Porn: Somehow I know you’d go with the Pacific Rim comparison, except there’s one little problem here, first, Pacific Rim is a Kaiju film, I’m sure you are familiar with the genre, destroying stuff is one of its trademarks, second the city was already evacuated (or in shelters), something that didn’t happen in Man Of Steel. But suppose it’s ok to see all the destruction, after all Zod was bent on killing everyone…except he only focuses on doing that near the end, 90% of the fight is Zod punching the shit out of Superman and only Superman, so you’re damn straight he could take the fight somewhere else. Also: About rescuing people, we aren’t asking for Superman to actually do it, maybe he could fail at it and that would create a better conflict than snapping Zod’s neck btw. The point here is that he didn’t even try.
    Here’s an example of what I mean, imagine a scene where Zod and Supes’ brawl collapse a building, Superman sees this and tries to stop the debris while Zod continues to attack him. He fails to save if you so want a darker approach, there’s your emotional consequence.

    Same goes with the neck snapping, people are not complaining because he did that thing, but rather because he didn’t even try, not trying is a clear sign of not really caring.
    BTW! Superman does shrug off his supposed manpain about killing Zod in about…a couple on minutes when he makes out with Lois and pretends everything is all right. They could’ve ended the movie in that somber tone but instead they had Superman destroy expensive equipment and make it as if it was an amusing thing to do.

    The line about Superman was cute I guess.

    On a final note, maybe one thing that fuels the discomfort with this movie in so many people is not so much the nitpicking as them already getting sick of watching Batman over and over and now even in a completely different Superhero, also, everything is blue, literally the whole movie’s color tone is quiet and cold. As if it was too scared to show actual excitement, what is it with recent movies being so afraid of color?

    I wanted to like this movie as much as you ask us to, hell I get what Synder was trying with the movie but I’m just not a big fan of it, it doesn’t help that Goyer is in love with his dark and gritty narrative, so sadly as long as he has something to do with writting in Comic Book Movies this trend will continue to completely miss the point of super heroes (aka not real people in the real world).

    At least we still have Marvel to counter that though!

  • spiff2268

    Great review. I agreed on some parts, disagreed on others. That’s how good reviewers make you feel.

    There is one thing you did that is completely unforgivable, though: It’s pronounced “DarkSIDE”, not “DarkSEED”, dammit!

    • You know what would be funny… If Dark-Seed was how it was supposed to be pronounced, but Jack Kirby could never get anyone to listen to him to make the correction.

  • I saw the title and audibly said, “Daaaaaammmmn.”
    Somebody wants to get a bunch of views.

    Edit (Having now seen the video):
    I complain about completely different things, though I have given the same explanations you did when hearing some people’s complaints. My issues:
    1) Lois was pointless, you oculd cut her out and have her role as common-person-trying-to-help be played by Richard Schiff’s Doctor Hamilton. All of the Daily Planet scenes were pointless (that scene in which Lois figures out who Clark is should have been the opening credits to the second movie, a recap of the previous film coupled with her entering the narrative).

    2) Metropolis was pointless (Once you cut out the Daily Planet and move all the gratuitous action to Smallville this place could have been the setting for the next movie, without any reason at all to destroy it).

    3) Superman’s Mom was pointless. This actually bugs me more after watching “Thor the Dark World”, because Thor’s Mom fights and nearly kills the main bad guy and is an active character in the first two acts. Superman’s Mom could have not been in this at all because all she does is give birth to Clark (where was her hologram!?)

    4) Krypton was gloomy, dower, and unpleasant. Not a place I was sad to see go. (Though… Yeah, genocide is always sad).

    5) The double beat, The death of Krypton is shown, and then explained by Jor-El, including Zod’s role in it. In a movie you should not have instances of exposition for what the audience actually saw happening (instead, just cut away from Jor-El telling Clark what happened, and cut back once he’s done explaining).

    6) Almost all of the fights outside of the Smallville battle (WHICH WAS AMAZING) were useless, they should have just had the climax of the movie happen in Smallville and then ended the movie.

    Edit (2): a link to my blog, because one of these days, maybe I will get someone to read it.
    http://rocketboy1313.blogspot.com/2014/02/movies-of-2013-superhero-pt2.html

  • Moppet

    The costume, and where it came from. I agree on this one, it’s really obvious actually. I didn’t even know it was a complaint some people had.

    “Maybe” he should have let the kids die? It’s a morality issue, some people cannot see beyond their own, let alone the morality of the moment. Never mind the things a parent will say, or do, to protect their child, especially one that is especially different. Maybe may not have been everyone’s right answer, but I could see why he’d come to it, especially if he wasn’t sure of the answer himself.

    The Truck. Yeah. He wasn’t superman yet. People make mistakes. Especially young people. I get it. It’s really not difficult to see this one. Magnify the mistakes ANY of you have made as a kid by whatever number it is you think is suitable for a person that has super powers like Superman’s. Countless people around the world, as kids and teenagers, as well as young adults, make mistakes with their perfectly mundane bodies. People even manage to do things like destroy other people stuff, like, say, a car. This happens with perfectly mundane Human beings, without super powers. If any of you out there had the sort of power Superman had, yeah, your mistakes would be bigger. Magnified. And anyone claiming different is full of it.

    Superman has always had religious themes. I agree. I also agree that the movie lacked subtlety in this area, and that it was beating the audience over the head with these aspects. I’m all for symbolism, but, there’s a difference between symbolism and constantly jabbing the audience going, “Get it? GET IT?” That’s just me though. The religious undertones, er, tones, didn’t annoy me though. It was movie, seemingly, not being sure we’d get it, and overcompensating, that bugged me.

    A pre-Superman Clark, yeah, his father was very specific about what he wanted Clark to do in that situation. He obviously had great respect for his father, so that would have quite a lot of effect on someone that hadn’t yet decided to be, essentially, the protector of the Human species. He wasn’t there yet, and he respected his fathers wishes, especially, in this case, what would be his dying wish.

    His powers? He’s just starting out and learning to control them, learning what he can do. I agree. That’s all. I agree. This one should be obvious, the film outlined it with the scene you mentioned.

    The city being destroyed, and people being killed, as a result of their fight? I get it. It didn’t look preventable outside of that last portion with Zod. I think, by that point, Zod would have gone after him anywhere. He probably could have led him away at that point, but, did it occur to him? Obviously not. He’s superman, not a strategist, like, say, Batman. He might have thought of it if he were more experienced, but, well, he isn’t more experienced at this point. He’s dealing with it now, not later.

    Killing Zod without all the things that would usually let Superman deal with Zod without killing him? Yeah. That makes sense, and he obviously did not like it.

    I need to add onto this, I loved the actor they chose to play Superman. I’d seen him in Immortals prior, which I can’t say enough nice thing about, and I was amazed they’d picked him. Not because he seemed wrong for the part, but because I could see it instantly. Whatever I think of the film, I love the actor choice for Superman. Great actor.

    All that said, Man of Steel wasn’t really my thing (I didn’t hate it, I didn’t even regret watching it, and I do want to see where they’re going in the future – I’m just more of a Marvel sort of person, Superman was never really my thing period), but, I fully respect your opinion on this one. I’m glad you liked it. No hate for you, or anyone, that likes it. Just more enjoyment, and a hope that further efforts with the character turn out even better.

  • Jim

    Cecil, I love your reviews and respect your opinion that Man of Steel is a good movie. I wanted to like Man of Steel. I can point to specific elements that were enjoyable: the return of ‘Silver Age’ Krypton, Jor-El and Lara, some of the enhanced effects. The death of Jonathan Kent was a huge error. If Clark were being portrayed as a child, then the “obeying his father” line works better, but angst ridden teen/young adult Clark just finished telling off Jonathan Kent as not his real father. So the idea that he suddenly becomes a perfect model of mindless obedience at that moment just doesn’t work. The truck scene wasn’t the worst thing, but we’ve already seen that done better in “Smalllville.” In that version, teenage Clark simply stacks the jocks’ trucks on top of each other. He has vented his frustration and not destroyed anyone or anything. That is much more important to the idea of Clark/Superman. He knows that he is more powerful than ordinary mortals and his struggle is to keep his powers in check. The movie’s attempt to be “darker and more realistic” just sucked all the life out of the story. You might want to slam the “jokey” nature of some elements of the Donner films, but a good writer and director know that you need to balance some light moments in with all the darkness or the dark parts lose a lot of their effect. The jokes in Superman the Movie or even The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves were always meant to be a way for Clark and the audience to connect. We know that Clark can stop a speeding bullet which is why the knowing smirk that Christopher Reeve gives the audience at the “mugger scene” in Superman The Movie works as an homage to the George Reeves era and a partial breaking of the fourth wall to establish a relationship with his audience. None of that exists in Man of Steel. We get a joyless string of bullies attempting to beat or threaten Clark from the kids in school to the customers at the diner to the crew on the ship. Everybody HATES this guy. His Earth father teachings him nothing about human respect or compassion all we get is the “your a god among men” crap and the fear of what they will do when they find out Clark’s secret. The destruction of Metropolis was just asinine. How many humans died as the different skyscrapers tumbled to the ground? If you are going to use a complete fantasy film like Pacific Rim as a guideline, then you can’t talk about Goyer’s “gritty and realistic” script. Goyer’s gritty realism is just the excuse of a tired hack writer attempting to put his angst ridden Batman in a CGI red cape.

  • filmguy450

    Ahh, Cecil I love you even more after this! A) Thank you (and your awesome female pal) for understanding “Sucker Punch”.

    B) My friend, the biggest Superman fan I have ever met (his car is painted with the character, and he owns more merch then I knew existed for the character, among other things) loved this movie to death, so it did please some die hard fans.

    C) I agree with all your counterpoints, but still have some flaws with the film. The action scenes had some weird zoom effects (I don’t mean speed ramping) that made me eyes bounce every which way. The sense of geography during some of those fights (not all mind you) was nonexistent. And I don’t think there’s enough teen (young adult?) Clark after Pa Kent’s death (I forget how old he’s meant to be in that scene. And I do realize that’s the reason he becomes a vagabond, but I don’t think enough is made of that).

  • Wizkamridr

    I obviously watched a different film than every one else who hated it.
    I cried when: kal-el was born
    clark saved the kids in the bus
    Jonathan died
    Superman destroyed the giant robot
    I loved the fact that the Air Force helped out
    The oil rig scene
    Heavy Metal inspired Krypton
    Jor-el
    An aggressive Lois
    Anime fight scenes. In your face DB Evolution.
    The destruction in the cities? Meh. Even when Goku takes a fight away from a city, he still tears up earth.
    Kamen Rider Kuuga caused a nuclear explosion with his rider kick. And guess what? The people of Tokyo evacuated.
    I don’t expect Superman to call a time out every five seconds. People could have left. They could have helped each other out.
    My only problem was how Superman killed Zod. The Superman vs Doomsday animated movie did it better.
    Oh, and in the new 52 film, Superman kills Darkseids b*tch boy.

    • $36060516

      “Kamen Rider Kuuga caused a nuclear explosion with his rider kick. And guess what? The people of Tokyo evacuated.”

      Probably right in their pants. I know I would.

      • Wizkamridr

        Ultraman Mebius used the city as a shield in his 1st episode. I thought it was hilarious.

    • Knievel Stone Riot

      Please. You CRIED when Kal-el was BORN??? That’s LITERALLY the first few seconds of the friggin movie. If you had no clue who or what the film was ABOUT, a scene that general wouldn’t have brought you to tears.

      No offense, but it’s pretty obvious from your extensive list that you were ready and willing to watch ANYTHING Superman related on that screen…..and probably couldn’t sleep for a month before opening day.

      • Wizkamridr

        Thanks for the ignorant comment.

        • Knievel Stone Riot

          There’s nothing “ignorant” about the comment….and you can’t refute the fact that there was nothing specifically moving about this childbirth scene unless you are already emotionally invested in the film before you enter the theatre.

          • Wizkamridr

            There was a recent birth in my family so I was “emotionally invested”. You’re not a mind reader. Learn to respect other peoples comments or opinions. Oh, and I apologize for the rude comment. I try to get along on the net.

  • Cameron Vale

    My main complaints about Man of Steel: I don’t understand how Superman even stood a chance against Zod, Krypton is just plain silly and doesn’t feel like it has a grand history, there’s no second act (the third act begins where the first ends), and the movie generally looks bad.

    • Wizkamridr

      I think that is why some people wanted Superman to kill Zod by the skin of his teeth.

  • conservative man

    YES, YES, and YES ! Thank you so much Cecil, I don’t have to say anything here because you hit the nail on the head ! You said almost everything I have been thinking ( and saying ) about Man of Steel since it came out, Man of steel is not a bad film ( superman 3 and 4 are) it’s not superman as Batman either, just a re-telling of the origin of superman ! And I’m glad you pointed out the double standard that so many have had about supeman killing Zod when he did the same thing in Superman II ! What can I say, there is nohting to say because you have said it all my friend ! Thanks for defending truth, justice, and the American way !

  • Arakasi_99

    Cecil
    I normally like your reviews, but I think that you misstepped here. In all of this, I didn’t really catch you making a positive case for the movie, so it very much came across as “man yells at people on the internet” I haven’t seen MoS, and you didn’t give me any reason why I should

    • Wizkamridr

      You might not want to read the new superman comic books either. Punching, punching and more punching.

  • Kevin Weaver

    All of the points you made are valid, and the movie’s story was pretty good.

    I hate it from a movie-making standpoint:

    1) The three scenes with Pa Kent were all the same scene (Son, you have to make tough choices)

    2) Lois was superfluous, and clearly only in certain scenes because “she had to be” (the reasoning that Zod brought her on board because “she found Superman” or whatever didn’t convince me)

    3) While I agree that the scenes in Metropolis aren’t gratuitous, I wished that I had some room to breathe. Basically, once Supes punches Zod in Smallville I felt like the movie ran me ragged until he killed Zod. It’s not that I thought those scenes were gratuitous, I just wished they were shorter.

    I agree that the movie did a good job showcasing a pre-Superman Superman, who makes mistakes. And we get to see the fallout of those mistakes. Sort of. There was tonal whiplash from me when, after killing Zod and having his emotional outpour, Supes drops a multi-million-dollar satellite right in front of General IForgetHisName. The scene plays out comedically, but in light of the previous bit with Zod I found myself worried that Supes had become a dick. He basically rubbed his lack of accountability in the General’s face (not that I’m saying Supes should be held accountable to the General, or the American government: after what he went through I’d expect him to do a good job of holding himself accountable for his actions, though this scene made me wonder).

    Overall, I thought the first half or so of the movie was great, but the pacing issues and redundant scenes ruined it for me. I don’t understand the intense hate for the movie, but I don’t understand people who think it’s a good movie either.

  • writebrain

    Great video Cecil; it makes me wonder – do people know how to watch films? Every question that haters have for this film is answered in the film. It boggles the mind that people can’t seem to grasp the subtext when Pa Kent says “Maybe”.

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      It is more mind-boggling that no one had the idea of letting Pa Kent say: “No, you never let people die, but WHEN you are saving people, do it as discretely as possible.”

      • writebrain

        He never said that, at any point in the film. Clark chose to rescue people while keeping a low profile, until he was able to discover his heritage and introduce himself to the world as a Kryptonian.

        • CaptainCalvinCat

          Exactly THAT is, what is mind-boggling to me.

          NO one – not the writer, not the actor, not the director, absolutely NO one – paused for a moment and thought: “Well, perhaps Pa Kents reaction towards the angsty-filled Clark junior, the “maybe”, makes Pa Kent sound a) at best completely without ANY idea how to deal with a kid, who just wants to do good and has superstrength or b) at worst like a complete asshat, who says ‘Well, I don’t know, maybe some kids should drown, if my kid is safe then.'”

          So – the right answer would have been: “No, Clark – you never let people die. Observe, if people could save themselves and if there is NO alternertive, if YOU must be their savior, do that as descretely as possible. Don’t rush in there, but be stealthy about it. Or – don a masquerade.”

          • writebrain

            Pa Kent is a FARMER, he’s dealing with Clark in the best way he possibly can. Watch Costner’s performance as he says the maybe; you can tell he’s enormously conflicted at even saying the word, and what it implicates, because the character doesn’t have the words to express exactly what he means. This is speculative science fiction, which is completely different than the Donner/Reeves version of Superman.

          • jjramsey

            What does him being a farmer have to do with anything?

          • writebrain

            It’s one of the fundamental tropes of the Superman mythos.It’s no accident that he is discovered by farmers; it’s the thematic basis for the story.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            A bad advice is a bad advice is a bad advice. Sorry, I don’t care if he has to force the “maybe” out of himself, the “maybe” alone is a bad advice and if that is the best way, that Pa Kent can deal with Clark, he can be glad, that Clark didn’t grow up to be a raging psychopath.

            “Maybe”… great….
            You say “Maybe” is you don’t know if you want to go to the movies or to the theatre. You say “maybe” if you don’t know, if you want to eat fish and chips or prefer fish fingers with custard. You don’t say “Maybe” if your kid asks you if he should’ve let the other children drown and die a horrible death with that.

            Compare and contrast this Pa Kent with the Pa Kent from the Donner Film in life and in death.
            The other Pa Kent doesn’t say “maybe”. He never would’ve said “maybe” concerning that kind of question. He would’ve said: “Son, it is not right to let other people die miserably. Just don’t use your powers to show off and use them discretely.”

            And now concerning the death of Pa Kent.
            Yes, the one in the Donner Film was more meaningful.
            I mean – in this one he is standing there, telling his son “No, don’t save me” , which makes him awesome, standing there, knowing that he will be killed by a tornado… on the other hand it is monumentally stupid.
            But yeah – set-up and pay off.
            It is set up, that Pa Kent doesn’ know, if one should let other people die a miserable death, that could’ve been prevented, if Clark would’ve use his powers discretely. So at least he is not coming off as a hipocrit – I mean, the audience has to be thankful for something.

            Again, compare and contrast this to Pa Kents death in Superman – The Donner Film.
            He is having a heart-attack.
            Why is that more meaningful than “death by tornado that makes him look awesome and stupid but at least not hipocritical at the same time”?
            Well, if Clark could’ve used his powers here, he could’ve rushed inside the tornado, let himself being sucked up towards Pa Kent and protect him… as he did with Lana in Smallville at the beginning of season 2.
            But concerning the heart attack: he could’ve rushed Pa Kent to a hospital, yes. But in the end – Clark just can’t outrun death.
            The heart-attack-death of his father is grounding him more in reality, because – like I said – there is little to no chance of surviving this in the middle of nowhere.

            Plus – and this is going back to jjramseys question, “What does him being a farmer have to do with anything?” – it does not matter if you are a farmer, a journalist, a baker or a cop – you never tell your 6 year old angst-filled son, who has no idea, what is happening around and about him, that “maybe” it would’ve been better, if he had nature happen and those kids die in the river. You just don’t do that.
            And while we’re at it: You don’t berate your kid for trying to help, either.

          • writebrain

            Again, he never said that he shouldn’t save them, nor was he berating Clark for saving them. Pa Kent was worried that by saving people, Clark would be exposed as superhuman, and that people would start poking around. Although Clark is superpowered, he’s still a teen, and would not be ready emotionally for the world discovering who he is, which shows enormous empathy for Clark by Pa Kent, and his portrayal by Kevin Costner, who gives a great performance.

            Clark was not 6 years old when Pa Kent does the maybe speech, he’s about 12-13. And, again, Pa Kent, as portrayed in this film, is not painted as all knowing. He is struggling too, and doing the best he can. Was it right for him to say maybe? Probably, probably not. But it is human, which again, is what this film is about.

            Farmers, as archetypes in films, represent simplicity of life, and appreciation for the important values of America. That’s what the character of Pa Kent means as far as these films are concerned. I’m not attacking farmers, I’m thinking about what a farmer represents in film language shorthand, and in the lore of the Superman mythology. If that’s not important then Jor El should just be a cop, no biggie right?

            The Donner films have a completely different influence: Big Sky Films of the fifties like Giant and East of Eden, and screwball comedies like His Girl Friday. Superman ’78 is a great film, but would not work today (as evidenced by the failure of Superman Returns, which was basically another Donner influenced sequel), so a different take was needed.

            Also, please do not attack me personally about liking this film, whatever my reasons. I have kept my rebuttals about the film, and if this paints me in a ‘not flattering light’, then I think we need to end this conversation. Let’s keep it about the movie, hate it or love it, if we are going to continue with this dialogue.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Oh, don’t get me wrong – jjramsey and I were just asking ourselves, why Pa Kent being a farmer would not allow him to explain eloquently why Clark should not put his powers out in the open but use them discretely. ^^ And I’m not attacking you for liking this film – I’m not attacking you, period.

            And again – just because someone is a farmer, he can be very good with words.
            Just because Pa Kent is a farmer, it does not mean, that he can say more than just “Maybe” – namely – as I often pointed out: “Don’t show off your powers, use them wisely and, if necessary, stealthy.”

          • writebrain

            My apologies if I took it wrong; no harm no foul.

            This is true, I’m sure many farmers are very eloquent, but in terms of film history, the Pa Kent character is the archetype of the simple but noble family man. Not a simpleTON, mind you(his character is very smart and emotionally available), but, based on the evidence that the film and the performance offers, he is more of a man of few words.

          • jjramsey

            But what does Pa Kent being a farmer have to do with him saying, “Maybe,” or not having “the words to express exactly what he means”?

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            I would have one theory, but… I think, it suffices, that this theory would paint writebrain in a not very flattering light.