Man of Steel (2013) Movie Review

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool,

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Don't be fooled for a second. This picture has had significant lighting effects applied to it. Nowhere in this film is this much color seen.

This week's superhero and action adventure movie review takes a look back at the 2013 Superman movie which was the introductory movie into the DC Comics and Warner Brothers Cinematic Universe - Man of Steel.

We have reviewed numerous Superman movies here at When It Was Cool.  Some have been really good and others not so muchMan of Steel falls somewhere in-between.  There are times this movie is really good and packed with action, pitting Superman against an antagonist just as powerful as he is.  There are other times this movie failed.  It is about four movies crammed into one.  It's biggest failing is setting the tone for the other DC Movies that followed it- dark, grim, poorly lit, and joyless.

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This is far more representative of what Man of Steel's tone really is.

The first thing you see in the Man of Steel movie is a woman grimacing in pain.  That should tell you all you need to know about the tone of this movie and all the DC movies to come.  We never see a joyous, thriving Krypton.  We see a Krypton set in the midst of destruction and rebellion.  There is also the difficultly of Zod. If you watch Man of Steel with fresh eyes you will see that General Zod is actually right.  He is completely correct in what he is doing in the beginning of the film by instituting a military takeover of the corrupt Kryptonian council which is watching the world literally being destroyed and doing nothing. Zod's goal is exactly the same as Jor-El's, the father of the future Superman.  There is literally no reason for Zod to be a villain to begin with.  He is actually the hero of the film, although, by late in the movie he goes too far and becomes a radical.

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The movie is very long and meanders through non-linear storytelling which further complicates the film. We all know the Superman origin so I'm not going to rehash it here but, needless to say, that young Clark Kent's youth in Man of Steel has a far different, darker, and more sinister tone than it ever had in the comic books or any other Superman movie for that matter.

I still believe Henry Cavill is a good choice for the lead role of Superman.  He looks like a freakin' Superman, though his every appearance thus far (Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, and Justice League) have cast him as dark and joyless, but that is more of a directorial criticism than one of Henry Cavill himself.

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Zod (Michael Shannon) is excellent in this movie. In fact, tonally, the movie should have been called "Zod".

Michael Shannon was fantastic as General Zod, bringing a dark dangerousness to the character.  Amy Adams was fine as Lois Lane.  I wasn't blown away by her performance which, at times, seemed a little forced but never awkward or silly.  Kevin Costner put in a wonderful performance as Jonathan Kent and may have been the most redeeming character in the whole film, although, his death scene was needless, hokey, and unrealistic.  Diane Lane as Martha Kent was unremarkable and Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White was a good choice and added good credibility to the character.

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Even in the brightly lit desert, Superman somehow manages to look dark.  Also, this Superman suit is ridiculous. The costuming in all these WB DC Movies has been abysmal so far.

Finally, I have to rag on the Superman costume.  The DC cinematic universe costuming has been terrible and Superman's over designed rubber atrocity leads the pack.  Superman's costume is the easiest thing ever in American pop-culture.  To screw it up this badly takes effort.  It still hasn't been fixed and somehow manages to look even worse in the Justice League movie.

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