Can you have too much of a good thing? The answer is yes, and “Man of Steel” proves it. While replete with incredible moments, “Man of Steel” misses wonderful opportunities to be a truly great film.
The first good thing that we get too much of is action. What? Of course, we want action in a Superman movie, but I haven’t been looking forward to this film to see our hero treated like a Michael Bay-directed Transformer.
The second excess is the “space movie” factor. Superman’s genesis is fascinating, and the images of Krypton, its culture and ultimate demise are spectacular, but at the end of the day, the story is about Earth and the Man of Steel’s place in and on it. In fairness, it appears this film was a setup for an “earthly” sequel that is sure to come.
Another excess is the reliance on special effects. What? We love the special effects, right? Right! But again, while Zack Snyder directed this movie, every now and then I felt the excess seen in the latest “Die Hard” movie.
Now, don’t boil the tar buckets and rip up a feather pillow. I’m not saying these “too much of a good things” ruined the film — they are just annoyances.
Let’s get to the good stuff.
I’m not going to waste time on plot. If you don’t already know the basic story, odds are you’re from another planet. But let’s talk about the wonderful casting. Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent is wonderful. He has the presence, strength and vulnerability to really pull this iconic role together. His biological father, Jor-El, is brilliantly portrayed by Russell Crowe, and the way he and the Krypton story are woven into the ongoing plot is masterful. Michael Shannon is simply perfect as General Zod, bringing a passion to this role that engenders a begrudging admiration and even a little sympathy.
So, what about the Earthlings? Kevin Costner and Diane Lane step into the roles of Kal-El’s terrestrial parents perfectly. The love, touching guidance and stewardship that these two employ on behalf of their son is deeply touching. Lawrence Fishburne, as Perry White, is woefully underused, but I do have hopes for the next film. And then there’s Lois Lane. In my humble opinion, this is the toughest character to cast. Hollywood has yet to get it just right, but Amy Adams isn’t bad. As a matter of fact, she’s pretty good, but we have yet to see the perfect mix of spunk, brains, strength and beauty that this most important character requires.
If you’re looking for phone booths or snarky villains with goofy sidekicks, you’re out of luck, but “Man of Steel” is delivering a superhero relatively true to his roots but tooled for a new generation.
Other than the “too much” factors I’ve mentioned, I really like this film. “Man of Steel” is rated PG-13, and I’m giving it 3½ stars.
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