It’s high time that the man who is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings at a single bound takes the stage! 35 years since the original “Superman” movie, the fans are excited to have his origin story retold. Surely with the advancement on special effects technology and a team of highly talented writers and director, there’s absolutely no reason for this film to flop. Shockingly it almost did. So what went wrong?
The first question might be: What makes a great superhero film? Is it the story? The epic battle scenes? Or the actors? I could only assume, as I am not in the movie industry, that it takes the right combination of all these elements to make a great movie; a movie that people would talk about long after they exit the cinemas. Sadly, the right formula eluded the Dark Knight Team, Christopher Nolan and David S Gover, and Zack Snyder.
Since the film is based on a comic, there are no spoilers. The story begins on Krypton where Kal-el a.k.a. Superman (Henry Cavill) was born. His parents, Jor-el (Russell Crowe) and Lara (Ayelet Zurer) decided to blast him off to earth because their own planet was about to explode due to poor natural resource management. He was inevitably found by the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) who gave him the name “Clark”. Thirty years later, we find Clark all grown up and sporting a Wolverine-look, hopping from job to job and place to place, apparently trying to figure out his origin and why he is so different (you know, superpowers). This journey led him to the icy peaks. He found an old spaceship that can project a hologram of his birth father. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) apparently followed him there and discovered what he can do and he pleaded with her to keep it a secret. Then the bad guys came in the form of General Zod’s (Michael Shannon) group of Krypton rebels, demanding that Earthlings should surrender Kal or he starts killing us poor defenseless humans.
So the story is really no secret. We know that good defeats bad. The story isn’t the problem. It was the execution. Although the actors pulled off good performances (sans the on-screen connection of Clark and Lois), it wasn’t enough to make MoS as interesting to watch as The Avengers or the Iron Man franchise. Lack of dialogue-snappiness and jocularity should’ve been left to the grim tone of the Dark Knight. But for a movie about a man wearing spandex, a few more light moments couldn’t have hurt.
The movie took the “it’s all about scale” mantra when it came to its battle scenes. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with scale. We expect out-of-this-world battle scenes because heck, Superman and General Zod were both aliens. The visual spectacle effectively rendered the real-life grittiness to the un-worldliness of each scene. The SFX and CGIs were impressive, melodramatic and just over-all spectacular. But as you know, anything in excess is bad. And excessive, it was. Snyder went overboard with the super-stunts, the explosions, and the destruction. The last half-hour of a seemingly endless battle between the main protagonist and antagonist was almost excruciating to watch. It went from thrilling to boring.
Needless to say, Man of Steel held a lot of potential. It is one of those “could-have-been-great” films. There were missed opportunities here and there. And like science, it’s all about trial and error. With the hint on a sequel at the end of the film, one could only hope that they learn from this almost-flop and make a better and wittier Superman film.