If it’s bang you’re looking for, you’d be hard pressed to earn more bang for your summer movie buck than MAN OF STEEL will provide. The movie hits the ground with intensity and barely lets up over its runtime. It’s simultaneously exhilarating and tiring and represents the movie’s greatest strength and weakness all in one.
Every shot is perfectly framed within its shaky-cam-heavy-grain-color-desaturation. Every line of of dialogue is spoken as the most important line in the movie. Every note of the soundtrack is the most inspiring note you’ve ever heard. Every battle scores casualties in the thousands. There’s plenty of pay off, but without the build up to give it emotional significance.
What’s missing are the quieter moments, like in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (1978), when a so-ridiculously-wholesome-you-can’t-help-but-love-him Christopher Reeve has an awkward first interview/date on Lois’ rooftop. Sure, the movie is schmaltzy as all get out by today’s standards, but I’ll take wholesome over angsty any day.
Seriously… what does Superman have to be angsty about anyway? He’s an alien? He’s a handsome, straight, white male… with god-like power. Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel is as charming as a bowl of porridge. But at least he fills out the suit nicely.
The performances aren’t all a downer. Russel Crowe turns in a fantastic Jor-El (by far the most interesting character in the piece), Michael Shannon’s Zod is one-note, but delightfully so, and Amy Adams Lois isn’t nearly as irritating as she has every right to be.
MAN OF STEEL is absolutely recommended as an exciting blockbuster thrill ride. Zack Snyder has convinced me that a man can fly, but I hope he finds that man’s soul before he returns for the sequel.