Average User Score: 7.6Jun 27, 2013This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Minor Spoilers Below
Man of Steel is the biggest disappointment of the year. What makes it such a letdown is that despite the interesting ideas it presents it fails completely with the execution. Take for example, the character development of the main character. Henry Cavill is a fine actor but you wouldn't know from this film. Clark Kent in MOS is a very poorly developed character. He has no personality and a severe lack of character development. And when I say personality, I don't mean that Clark has to be glib or witty, I mean that we as an audience don't get a sense of his point of view. We don't really see how he feels or where he stands. We don't see him develop a sense of morality or a sense of purpose. And this is largely because he spends most of his time listening to exposition of other characters of what he should be doing. We don't see him make any important decisions as a result. Instead he spends much of his life wondering from one place to another until through a very contrived circumstance; he overhears the discovery of an alien craft (Seriously?!) And when he finds the ship, he is told again through exposition of what he should be. Thus when he finally becomes a superhero (which in other origin films-ex. Batman Begins- is one of the most triumphant moments of those films) it is very flat and uneventful. The other main character Lois Lane, doesn't fair much better. Amy Adams is again a fine actress, but she is not a very interesting character because much of her presence is contrived. She often shows up in the film inorganically and is forced into situations with Clark and the other characters to keep the plot moving. As a result, she has really little chemistry with Clark because their relationship feels forced. Thus when (small spoiler) they finally kiss at the end, it comes off very flat and uneventful. The other characters are suitable but if the two major characters are bland and dull, that is a major issue.
The film also struggles to develop its themes. In the beginning of the film two major themes are introduced: hope and faith. The film suggests that Superman will be a symbol of hope and how he will be the one find a way, do the impossible, defy the constraints etc. The film also introduces this idea that Superman will have a reciprocal relationship with the people of earth: he will have faith in them in making the right choices and they will in return have faith in Superman in saving them in their time of need. Only, these themes, as interesting as they, are again developed very poorly. Superman is hardly a symbol of hope in this movie because he simply doesn't do anything really hopeful. We don't see him inspire people to be better. We don't see him try to do the impossible. In fact, in the last scene of the movie, when superman has a chance to deal with the main antagonist in way that defies expectations (hence hope), he instead opts for the lazy and predictable way. As for faith, this theme is poorly developed for the simple fact that we barely see Superman interact with the people of the world. We don't see them "stumble and fall" or "join him in the Sun" because the film simply didn't care to develop these ideas. If you notice a pattern in my criticism, its that the film likes to introduce ideas but has either no idea what to do with them or the film decides to distract you with action.
Which leads me to another major issue, the nonstop CG action in the final 40 minutes of the film. About a little more than half way through the film, the movie forgets about the character development and themes(which it handled so poorly already) and decides to show 40 mins of pummeling and tiresome action. If you are fan of Dragonball Z or the Matrix films you may be amused for a while. But there is only so many times that I can see someone be thrown through a building before it becomes tiring. And during these ridiculous action scenes, Superman forgets to do the one thing he does in every other version of Superman (comics, cartoon, Reeve's films): saving people. So many building are destroyed and so many people are injured and yet we barely see Superman even acknowledge his surroundings. Snyder was more interesting in topping the previous action scene than providing the proper balance of Superman fighting and saving.
This last point is indicative of the problem of the film: style over substance. The film gives the illusion of depth by introducing interesting ideas but does such a poor job developing these ideas. Instead the film tries to distract you with expensive CG action scenes, but even these scenes ring hollow because there is nothing beneath the action. If you are looking for film with interesting and relatable characters, quality storytelling, and good thematic development look elsewhere. If all you care about is action, you may enjoy the last half of the film.… Expand