Movie Review: 'Man of Steel' (2013)

Updated on July 22, 2020
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Man of Steel Blu-ray cover.
Man of Steel Blu-ray cover. | Source

Quick Info

Director Zack Snyder
Distributor: Warner Brothers Entertainment
Runtime: 143 minutes
Released: November 12, 2013
Availability: on DVD, blu-ray and digital

Story Summary

As the destruction of Krypton looms, Jor-El sends his newborn son Kal-El away to the planet Earth where he goes up as Clark Kent. He continues to use his superpowers to help people while trying to stay out of the limelight. But when General Zodd arrives on Earth in search of the Codex to restore Krypton, Clark makes the choice to protect Earth from him, becoming Superman.

This Plot Is Dumb in Many Places

In theory, the plot does sound like a good one. However, General Zodd is not a very interesting or compelling villain when it comes to the character writing. If anything, he’s really boring, and the acting for his character doesn’t help much.

The plot tries to cover too much of Superman’s life. It tries to highlight a struggle between him wanting to use his gifts to help and being a normal person, but it doesn’t do a very good job of that either.

The plot also runs on the villains carrying the villain ball constantly. They could have solved this entire situation if they weren’t jerks to Clark with a stupid superiority complex.

Also, they made Clark extremely out of character, and they only did it for forced drama, which comes off as really stupid writing.

On paper, the plot sounds good, but the execution was boring.

Kal-El meets Jor-El.
Kal-El meets Jor-El. | Source

Man of Steel - "Fate of Your Planet" Official Trailer [HD]

The Visual Effects Look Cool, but the Color Pallet Is Dull

The visual effects look cool, but that’s about one of the only things going for this film. The CGI looks cool but it’s dragged down by the dull color pallet they chose for the film.

I think Zach Snyder assumed that every comic book movie has to have some stylized color scheme like 300 did, but Man of Steel is not 300. The stylized color scheme just doesn’t work for this movie.

The fights are also loud and unexciting. There’s only so many times Superman can be thrown through a building before it starts to be repetitive.

Overall, the visual effects look cool, but the fights aren’t interesting or exciting.

The Acting Is Sometimes Decent, Other Times Ridiculous

Kevin Costner did a good job as Jonathan Kent. He wasn’t in the movie much, but he did a good job in his role.

Henry Cavill did a great job as Kal-El/Clark Kent. He did a great at acting, but he’s hampered by occasional silly dialogue and the fact that his character isn’t really in-character as much as he should be.

Diane Lane did a good job as Martha Kent. She’s good in this role and I liked her acting.

Amy Adams is an odd choice as Lois Lane, especially since Lois Lane is not normally a redhead. While I like her acting, she wasn’t extremely memorable in this movie. She’s a good actress, but she was just good in this film.

Laurence Fishburne is good as Perry White, who is ironically not white like his comic book counterpart. But he still did a great job in this role and I liked him in this movie.

Michael Shannon is ridiculously hammy as General Zod. His acting is so ridiculous that I couldn’t take the character seriously. He’s too over-the-top in this role.

The acting is decent in this movie, but not amazing. It was an all-right movie, but sometimes the acting is ridiculous.

Man of Steel (Deluxe Edition) - Hans Zimmer

The Score is Excellent

Hans Zimmer’s score is great and one of the things I did like about this film. It suited the movie and sounded really nice. His scores have always been well done and this was also good. I just wish the story was better.

Superman in the custody of the U.S. government.
Superman in the custody of the U.S. government. | Source

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This Film Drags on Too Long

The problem I have with the Man of Steel isn’t just the story, it's the pacing. The pacing makes this film drag on forever, especially in the middle. And since the fight scenes are loud and boring, they don’t even stop it from feeling like the pacing is faster.

There are too many moments of nothing really going on for me to stay invested in this film. It was a chore to watch, and I love watching superhero movies.

I Don’t Like Angsty Superman

They made Cark Kent/Superman angsty and I’m one that likes Superman more when he’s optimistic and hopeful and a cheerful person. If I want angst in a superhero, I'll watch Batman movies.

Trying to add all this angst for Superman’s character just doesn’t work because of what Superman is supposed to be, the symbol of hope for Earth. Trying to make him into a dramatic person just doesn’t work.

The sequel, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t do the character any favors because it brought Batman in to make it even more angsty.

This Is Dark and Gritty Done Wrong

Because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for its light-hearted tone and comedic moments, DC tried to swing the opposite way so they wouldn’t be accused of ripping off their formula, but there’s a reason the MCU works so well. It's because they have good stories, good characters, and most importantly, they know where they’re going with their story.

DC Comics had no game plan with this universe and it shows because they seemed to try to throw everything against the wall to see what would stick. The fact that they went too dark and grim is a detriment because you are, unfortunately for DC, reminded of how much fun the MCU is because DC has no idea what they’re doing when it comes to the tone they want and what the audience is expecting.

It’s too grim, unfunny, and serious to be enjoyed in this installment.

Making Superman out of character doesn't work.
Making Superman out of character doesn't work.

Parental Rating

The movie is rated PG-13 for all the violence, the punching, and getting thrown through too many buildings. There is some profanity but not a lot of it.

The Movie Is All Over the Place and The Story Isn’t Great

While I didn’t completely waste my time with this movie, it was one of the most boring modern superhero movie I’ve watched in awhile. The only movie that annoyed me more than this one is the sequel, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

This film doesn’t understand Superman or what the movie wants to be. It tries to appeal to people that want angst and serious movies, but this just doesn’t work. It tries too hard to win over the Marvel Cinematic Universe crowd and no one switched sides because of this movie.

Quick Summary

What works:
What Doesn't Work:
Interesting plot idea, characters are all right, world
The plot can be ridiculous at times
Great specieal effects
Some of the actors performances are ridiculous
Good acting for the most part
Grim and gritty Superman doens't work
Great soundtrack
Angsty Superman is not an interesting character

My Grade: D+

Man of Steel tries so hard to make the audience root for Superman, but choosing to make Superman a grim and gritty character just doesn’t work because that’s not what the character of Superman is.

I love Superman, but I’ve loved him because of the DC Animated movies I’ve seen him in and the movie Superman Returns, which got better reviews than this film. Those are the versions of Superman that I like; the Zach Snyder version is not one of them.

Just borrow Man of Steel from your local library or on digital rental. Only buy this movie if you really liked it. It felt like a chore to watch because it dragged on so long. It had a decent beginning, which is why the rest of it is disappointing.

It might be worth your time, but it’s only worth your money if you really liked it. I borrowed it from my library for free so I didn’t spend any money for it, and that was just fine for me. I’m not going to rewatch it again, twice was enough for me.

My Rating

2 stars for Movie Review: Man of Steel (2013)

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