It's finally here - Man of Steel - the Superman movie from the minds of director Zack Snyder, writer David S. Goyer, and producer Christopher Nolan. I snuck out yesterday afternoon for an early showing, and I'm still contemplating all the awesomeness. Like I've said before, I really don't do traditional movie reviews, but I wanted to throw out a few thoughts and get yours as well.
Of course I know many of you haven't had a chance to see MoS yet, so this little write-up will be spoiler free. I'm sure as the summer rolls on, we'll have plenty of time to dive into the details of Supe's reboot. For now, I'll throw out 5 questions that I had going into the movie and a couple of thoughts. Let me know what you think.
5 Questions About Man of Steel1. Is it the best version of Superman ever put on film?
I know 1978's Superman: The Movie and its sequel Superman II are near and dear to many people, but I have to say the answer is yes. MoS is the type of Superman movie I've been waiting for all these years. What I liked best was how Kal-El's alien-ness was a big part of the story. I always thought previous Superman movies never adequately explored that aspect of the Superman mythology. Other things that make this version the best: the screenplay was intelligent, the cast was stellar, and the visual effects were mind-blowing.
2. Was Henry Cavill right for the role?
Again, a definite yes. Look, I'm not an expert on the craft of acting, but I thought Cavill nailed everything director Zack Snyder asked of him. I can't put it any better than Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan, who wrote that Cavill is
Damn, when I think about it, Kal-El/Clark Kent was an incredibly challenging role to pull off without looking silly. He had to convincingly show the character arc of the humble, confused Kansas farm boy accepting his destiny and look superheroic by the movie's end. Overall, Cavilll gets an A+ in my book.
3. Did the story respect the history of Superman?
Yes. I was surprised at how closely the screenwriters stayed to the essential Superman story we all know and love. Sure, the writers updated a few things, but all the key elements were there - the destruction of Krypton, the orphan Kal-El, the Kansas upbringing. Snyder deconstructed the superhero movie genre with 2007's Watchmen, but with MoS he pays homage to Superman's comic book roots.
4. Were the visual and special effects suitably spectacular?
Yes. I'd have to say that the action scenes in MoS are more massive and epic than any other superhero movie. I wouldn't call the CGI effects groundbreaking - they're the type of things we've scene in other mega-budget movies that feature cities being reduced to rubble. However, what make the action scenes in MoS memorable is the huge scale. I would say the final battle in the skies over Metropolis are even more impressive than the New York battle scene in Marvel's The Avengers.
5. Is it the best superhero movie ever made?
This is a tough one. I really don't think I can answer that until I see MoS one more time. I truly believe that if most fans don't consider it the best of all time, the movie would have to labelled a disappointment. At this point, I would still give the edge to The Avengers because it managed to combine action, drama, and humor into one crowd-pleasing thrill ride. After leaving MoS, I was totally convinced it was a great movie, but I just didn't feel the same sense of fun as The Avengers delivered. However, I must admit that in my showing of MoS, there was applause at the end, which I only hear at (maybe) one movie per year. I'll have to reconsider this question after I see MoS again.
Overall, MoS delivered everything I was hoping for, but I'm not willing to call it a masterpiece, yet. There were a few things in the screenplay that seemed a little sketchy, and frankly didn't make sense. What did you think? Is MoS the "Batman Begins" for Superman?
Bonus: Movie critic and author John Kenneth Muir created The Superman Movie Matrix, which shows some of the common elements between all 6 of the modern Superman movies.