Naftali Burakovsky, left, and Lorenzo Venneri
Scribble Works Reviews
If there was ever pressure to make a film right, it was for Man of Steel. This film had hype, Chris Nolan’s name, and the hope of an epic Justice League film. There was a lot riding on this film. Man of Steel had a ton of grand action, but it didn’t have a whole lot else. Although we hate to say it, this film was grand disappointment. Man of Steel is a $225 million children’s film that likens itself to a Power Rangers episode minus the red underwear. And that means you probably shouldn’t let your kids watch it. Action sequence after action sequence leaves no room for anything else. The plot is trivial and forced, the characters are banal and undeveloped, and we couldn’t wait for the film to be over.
Contrary to what many may think, this is not Chris Nolan’s film. Rather, this was a Zack Snyder film, and being a Zack Snyder film, it will have a lot of action. This type of filmmaking worked for a film like 300, but the unthinkable amount of action in this film made it feel like brain basher. There is a point at which the action becomes so inflated and so repetitive that it loses its value. For this film, less would have been more. Also, because the film lacked depth of character and plot, most of the action seemed emotionless and pointless, and this is bad for a film that is almost entirely action. At the root of Snyder’s problems is the quality of the screenplay. Formulaic and overdriven seem like adequate words. As you will see (or not if you trust us), the dialogue is poor and awkward with no hint of the memorable phrases from previous David S. Goyer films. Most obnoxious is the choice to make the conflict about the destruction of earth. In this film, the fact that humanity could be annihilated does little to incentivize the audience’s interest. These apocalyptical conflicts have become overused excuses for drama.
We thought we would get the depth and character development of a Chris Nolan film with the visual appeal and action of a Zack Snyder film, but in the end we got the short end of both. The film looked great, no doubt. Although the producers should have spent some of the $225 million to buy a tripod, the visual effects were stunning. Then again, you don’t need a tripod for CGI. This illustrates the problem in today’s film industry. Producers are willing to spend $225 million for the most stunning visuals and incredible effects, but they forget that films are more than just a visual experience. They focus on the “awesome” factor that can be derived from shiny lights, explosions, and fighting sequences. And they forget that a film needs a message and characters worth caring about. At the end of the day, money can’t buy a good message and worthwhile characters. There was hardly any character development after the first act. Other than a couple of gems, notably Kevin Costner’s character, there was no emotional investment or attachment into any of the characters. This is true of the character of Superman especially, who didn’t get enough dialogue or personality to make us care about his fate. The villain, General Zod, had a well established motive, but he was neither interesting nor menacing. He was used to explores certain themes of utilitarianism and freedom of choice, but these themes were so marginally explored that they aren’t even worth noting.
The last few minutes of this film offered a welcome and original change that made this film just a little brighter. Snyder beautifully frames the sunny fields of Kansas and happily concludes the film. But truly, we were the happy ones because the film was finally over. By the end, the fate of this film, like Krypton, had already been sealed, and like Krypton, this film was destroyed. We understand that everyone wanted to love this film and that our review will not be welcomed. While there is a lot to hate, there is always something to enjoy in the stunning visuals and the rebirth of a classic American superhero. Regardless, the film was boring, and that is a lot to say about a movie with so much action. For all the Superman lovers out there, as you walk out of the theater, ask yourself, were you moved by this film, or were you hoping to be moved? This film would have a rating of Omega, but we didn’t want to offend Chris Nolan’s $225 million. Man of Steel barely deserves its rating of Beta and we drearily await spending another $10 on the sequel.
Editor’s note: Lorenzo Venneri is a film student at Rice University. He does his best to give the most unbiased, honorable, and critical evaluation of any film. Naftali Burakovsky is an economics student at UCSD who has had a passion for film from a young age. He loves film, but always gives an honest and critical judgement to preserve the integrity of quintessential movies. Venneri and Burakovsky have been watching films together since they first became friends many years ago. Together, they are committed to letting you know what’s good and bad, what’s worth two hours of your time, and what isn’t. Direct contact: firstname.lastname@example.org