HBO News Blog

Movie Review: “Man of Steel”

By VL Vanderveer on Apr 5, 2014 to New Movies

Okay folks, let’s get a few things straight right off the bat:

New Man of Steel Poster1. This ain’t your daddy’s (and granddaddy’s) Superman. Remember that.

2. This is no Superman you’re familiar with. If you’re thinking that this is anything like “Superman Returns,” you’re wrong. Sorry.

3. Oh, you held on to the belief that Superman was always Clark Kent and still changed in phone booths? Oh honey, we have some talking to do!

Now, let me just say that this movie is FANTASTIC. I’m going to repeat that because we don’t often get to review great movies (though I hold no one responsible for that except bad movies from Hollywood). “Man of Steel” is fantastic. If you love action, mystery, the gorgeous Henry Cavill in a multitude of roles, and can picture Superman in a different world, then you will love “Man of Steel.”

There is so much I could tell you about this movie – about the awesomeness of Clark learning how to be Superman; how Van Alden (er, sorry, General Zod) is evil beyond evil; how Lois Lane’s character is turned on its head and remade perfectly – but I don’t want to spoil anything. Nothing is worse than that.

If you look at the reviews for “Man of Steel,” they range from high praise to very lackluster. Rotten Tomatoes rated it 56%, with the audience giving it 76%. Interestingly, Rotten Tomatoes Senior Editor Gray Drake was shocked that his website gave “Man of Steel” such a low rating; in fact, it was rated lower than 2006’s “Superman Returns.” On Fandango, critics rated the movie “So-So” while audiences said “Go.” ¬†Lastly, IMDB rated the movie at 7.4 stars out of 10.

In the last seven years, we have had two different Superman-centric movies come out: “Superman Returns,” which carries on with the Christopher Reeves feel movies, and now “Man of Steel.” This movie, from Christopher Nolan and Zach Snyder, may as well take place in a different universe – and, in terms of characters, plots, and such, it does. This Earth, this ending of Krypton, this Superman, they are different than the Superman we grew up with and read about in DC comics. But can this universe work? Absolutely. Henry Cavill is a brooding hero trying to find himself by wanting to do what is right, even when he knows that could reveal his secret. When that happens, he moves on to a new place and a new hope for a norman life. He’s an itinerant super hero without the cape and suit. When he finally does find out about who he is, it’s around the same time he meets Lois Lane and forms a bond with her. Going back into the history of Krypton and the fall of that civilization, then General Zod’s coming to Earth in hopes of recreating Krypton, adds depth to these characters and the new world that Nolan and Snyder have created. And finally, when it comes between good and evil, Clark/Kal-El (yes, lots of Krypton names throughout; hooray for my fellow geeks!) must make a terrible choice.¬†


Is the movie perfect? No. But is it great and interesting and fantastic, in the sense of taking us into a new fantasy land of Superman? Yes. Just don’t make the mistake of calling him “Superman” too often. He’s the Man of Steel, and there’s a big difference.

“Man of Steel” stars Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, and Diane Lane as Martha Kent.

  • fevasu

    Man of Steel was the Superman movie I was waiting for, my entire life!!

  • Ellie Wilkin

    I just wish Zack Snyder would stop making films sometimes. Henry Cavill was the only thing that kept my interest i’m afraid!

  • MarkDubz

    I can’t say for sure if this is genuinely a bad movie, or if I was just really let down. I had heard so much good stuff about it, I guess I had my expectations a little too high. Anyhow, can anybody say over-acting? Everybody in the movie is so tight and over-directed it’s as though they all have kryptonite up their bum. The action sequences are absolutely ridiculous. They are on par with any garden variety “how to train your vampire” movie. The movie also relied heavily on the military, which is usually fine, just not in a “superhero” movie. Now, for the computer effects. If you love over-the-top CGI, then you will definitely like this movie. And, finally, if I have to see one more naked baby Superman, I’m gonna call child protective services. Overall, an unfortunate disappointment.

  • Ryo Shenmue

    Awful film and one of the worst scripts of the last 20 years. It starts with a prologue of 18 minutes. Every writer(but not David Goyer who’s a mediocre one) knows that a prologue should NEVER be that long. It could have lasted 8-10 minutes and it would have been perfect. Instead we keep asking ourselves: “So…we’re still on Krypton?”. Then, when the prologue is over, the film starts establishing one timeline after another without any logic. We can’t connect with the younger Clark because as soon as we’re close to do it, we already have to try to connect with the less young Clark(we change timeline and hence we change the actor we have to connect with very quickly. Cold move). Then we have Lois Lane, who does not have a role in the film and appears just when the plot needs her(without making any sense) and who also have one of the worst on-screen romantic relationship in Hollywood history. They’re drawn together because…because…we don’t know. But still, the film reaches the moment of truth, or rather the moment where Clark meets “Jor-El”, and all that is speed up ridiculously just because they had to get to the action part. That moment of truth is terrible and after that we have a 50 seconds recap of what just happened in those 50 minutes of film(seriously? we need a 50 seconds recap to to remind us of what JUST happened?!). But after that we finally get to the action part…45 minutes of boring action sequences when Superman causes more disaster than any villain ever. But we can’t forget some of the dumbest things this film gave us, such as: A script that puts the two fathers on two complete sides, confusing the protagonist to death. Kevin Costner says let everyone dies and protect your identity, Russell Crowe says become a hero and symbol of hope. Superman has no idea what he’s doing. Kevin Costner dies in one of the worst “death scenes” ever. Everybody is repairing from a tornado by staying under a gallery. And he stops when he’s about 65 foot from them. Not to mention the unexplainable presence of Laurence Fishburne who at a certain point, during the “everything is collapsing” scene, starts calling for a Jenny, who we absolutely don’t know anything about but should care just CUZ. The only decent thing we see in this mess is the final scene, who seems the only thing that came from Chris Nolan’s mind. A bonafide cinematic mess of huge proportions that was made even bigger by THAT famous trailer, indeed one of the best Film trailers of all time.

    • ThatRobbGuy

      You, are clearly delusional.

      Or high.

      Or both.

      • Ryo Shenmue

        You have clearly bad taste and no idea whatsoever of what decent/good cinema looks like. Awful film.

        • Michael Bren

          Incredible film.

          You clearly have bad taste and no idea whatsoever of what decent/good cinema looks like. One of the best comic-book movies ever produced.

          You critique is indicative of someone who doesn’t pay attention to plot points in a film. And only an idiot would complain about too much action in a movie from this genre…a genre predicated upon ACTION.

          Go home Man of Troll.

    • Dark Lord Sauron

      man of steel is way better then the past superman movies wo deal with it.

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