Man of Steel
My Grade: A-
Got to go to a screening last Thursday for Man of Steel so, obviously, I took the opportunity and went. Suffered through drive-time traffic to go to a theater on the other end of the city, an area I wasn't greatly familiar with and got turned around getting home but, in the end, got to see this movie a week before most everyone else.
In a word: Decent.
Our story starts off on Krypton where Jor-El is trying to convince the council to take steps to save what they can of their people because Krypton is about to implode due to over-mining of the planet's core. The council is shooing Jor-El away when things are interrupted by General Zod who's angry with the path Krypton has taken and wants to use a device to raise Krypton in his own way using a genetic lineage stored in the device (the Codec?) It seems Krypton has had no natural births in centuries as each Kryptonian is selectively-bred through genetic engineering to fullfill a specific role in society perfectly. (Hmmmm...) That is except for one, Jor-El has just recently helped birth Krypton's first natural-born son in eons. As Krypton crumbles the baby is placed in a space capsule and sent into space, meanwhile Zod and his followers are eventually captured and banished to serve a sentence and what we all know is the Phantom Zone. Krypton implodes/blowsup.
The baby, Kal-El, eventually makes it to Earth and is adopted by a farm family, the Kents, and is raised as their son Clark. As an adult Clark lives a secluded nomadic life "off the grid" trying to find out who he is and what his place is in the world. Along this path he finds himself working in an Arctic research station where he meets a young intrepid reporter, Lois Lane, and eventually finds the answers to questions he has on who he is inside a millennia old space ship buried in Arctic ice. Things turn bad when General Zod and his fellow captors turn up at Earth demanding it hand over Kal-El when, really, Zod intends to turn Earth into a New Krypton once he regains possession of the Codec he assumes Kal-El has.
Intercut through the movie are moments from Clark's childhood, being taught by his father Jonathon Kent and his encounters with Pete Ross and Lana Lang in Smallville, as well are some scenes with Lois and her dealings in Metropolis with Editor-in-Don't Call Me-Chief Perry White. Lois being driven to find the man who had saved back at the research station during an attack.
Overall, it's a decent movie with a lot of good action scenes and some good character moments for everyone involved, as well as some nice surprises and changes in the lore most are probably used to when it comes to Superman (who doesn't even get his name until a one-off line half-way through.) Superman has some great battles with Zod and the other Kryptonian Criminals, some good interactions with Lois and the hologram projection of his father and there's some nice stuff in the flashbacks to a younger Clark with his father.
The movie also, however, feels scattershot. Instead of being a building story showing Clark's progression form child, to teen, to wandering adult to Superman it's all sort of shuffled up a bit. I think -like the 1978 movie- being more of a saga through Clark's life would've been more interesting but, granted, short on the action through a good portion of it.
Everyone does a good job in their performances I think Cavill turns in a good performance and look as Clark/Superman and Adams is great as a Lois Lane, we even get to see her stronger "Army Brat" side to some degree. Good job by the actor who played Zod -but, really, nothing beats Terrance Stamp- and Crow actually works as Superman's father, Jor-El.
Action was decent if sometimes a bit blurry and hard to follow with the Kryptonians moving at lightning speeds but my seats weren't great so that may have something to do with it. The movie also suffers a bit from the Abrams lens-flare effect.
But, how does it set up the road to a Justice League movie/ DC-CU? (Mild Spoilers)
Eh..... I dunno. The aftereffects of Iron Man set-up the MCU nicely in a universe somewhat grounded in "a" reality that, granted, slowly introduced the fantastical and made it into a big deal by the time The Avengers came along. Here? We already have the fantastical front and center and with everything that happens this movie, well, the grander scale of the DCU is certainly in play here. It'll be interesting to see how (if) future DC-CU movies follow up. In the wake of The Avengers there was talk with the amount of damage done to NYC in the wake of the alien attack. Here? It's much, much, grander. Be interesting to see how things are worked together but, right now, it doesn't seem like they'll have nearly the cohesive universe the MCU has.
Overall I'd recommend it, but I still think there's still a great, awesome, grand, Superman movie waiting to be made, perhaps in a sequel to this one. Is it better than Returns? Oh hell yes. Is it everything a Superman movie can and should be? Not really. It seemed to lack some awe and heart and it lacked really seeing the people of Metropolis or even the world really seeing Superman and getting behind him. Heck, the Series Finale of Smallville played that a bit better.
No stinger after the credits (at least not in the preview I saw) nor is there a scene after title cards before the scrolling credits. Which, really? How is there NOT one in this day and age?
For what it's worth, I realize the disparity between the letter-grade and my "in a word" grade. The reason for that is because the movie failed to meet my expectations. I wanted to be BLOWN AWAY by this movie because, well, it's Superman! This movie didn't do that. But I know my expectations were really, really high and little could meet them. There's stuff lacking here and, well, I didn't leave the theater feeling the same way I did after last year's The Avengers. THAT movie blew me away.
All said, however, this IS a good movie! And I look forward to seeing it again this weekend, the Blu-Ray and any sequels DC-CU it may spawn. It's very good. Best Superman movie brought to screen in almost 30 years. But it should have been so much more, and I have "some" problems with plot elements and the consequences of what happens in the movie.
But, by all means, if you're a Superman fan go see this movie. It's worth an A- it being "Decent" is all on me and my expectations being too high which I wasn't going to fault the movie for in a grade.