Let me preface this review by saying that, growing up, I was a huge fan of Superman. Of all of the fictional superheroes, the one who stood for “truth, justice and the American way” was about my favorite. Though not a big comic book reader, I did watch the Christopher Reeves movies time and time again, as well as re-runs of the original “Adventures of Superman” TV show.
The expectations from these set me up for a letdown with the new “Man of Steel,” which was too long, full of inane action and a disappointing amount of crude, offensive language.
“Man of Steel” did a good re-telling of the myth of Superman, coming from Krypton. Further, the actual actor in the movie was pretty likeable, though I wish he had shown more personality. Amy Adams’ rendition of “Louis Lane” was very modern day, which was its strength and its weakness. The special effects were spectacular, though it is obvious that’s what they were–computer-generated special effects. Some of the supporting case, including Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner, did a great job (perhaps better than the main cast). My favorite character was “Perry White,” editor of the Daily Planet (but I am probably biased there by my own profession). For an hour and a half movie, it was at least entertaining, if nothing else. The problem is this was a two-and-a-half hour movie.
The largest problem in “Man of Steel” may have gone unnoticed by most movie goers. The Lord’s Name was taken in vain (in the “OMG” form) multiple times, which should not be in any Superman movie (or any movie, really). This next point is a superficial criticism, but while the “Man of Steel” was concerned for us earthlings in the movie, he did not seem as concerned from preventing destruction around him. In one scene, he is battling a super-powered enemy, who throws a fuel tanker semi-truck at him. Rather than stopping the truck, Superman just jumps over it, letting the truck hit a building and explode. Exploding buildings were everywhere in this movie, leaving the reviewer with a yawn by the end.
Throughout the movie, the moviemakers hinted at comparisons between Jesus Christ and Superman, who in the movie “was sent to earth to save” people, was 33 years old (the same age of Christ during His earthly ministry), and in one scene, he hangs in space with his arms spread wide. C.S. Lewis likes to say that we should expect imitations of the real thing in pagan myths and other forms of culture, but in today’s confused culture you have to be extra careful with such tactics. The movie did uphold the good vs. evil narrative, but not in a way that all audiences can resonate with, especially younger (e.g. 13 year-old) viewers. “Man of Steel” did struggle with the great theme of “the greater good,” which is important philosophically, as well as following your calling and doing your duty. These are more than bubble-gum thoughts.
Most people who see “Man of Steel” will like it. I supposed if I had lowered my expectations and turned my mind off for more of the movie, I may have liked it more, too. As it stands, I cannot safely recommend this movie for families.
Rating 2.5 stars (out of 4)