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Though it rains, it soars
Man of Steel is an extremely difficult film to respond to. It is, for all intents and purposes, a slick, exciting blockbuster with a style and approach to design and action that raises the bar higher than a giraffe on stilts.

It is also, however, a film with a messy screenplay that seems to have been designed out of two or three different drafts. For every perfect modernisation of the old Superman tale - the most perfect of which is the re-imagined Clark/Lois dynamic in which Lois is A. aware that Clark is Superman from the off and B. one of the main backers of the entire identity - there is a bizarre (and sometimes headache-inducing) addition to the plot, most egregious of which is the baffling 'Codex', a badly-explained Macguffin that somehow helps make Kryptonian pod-babies and is also downloaded into baby Kal-El.

But despite the regular stumbles in the plotting and the often awkward dialogue (there are at least three scenes where characters po-facedly explain their motivations and themes of the movie), the film succeeds in the end. Most of this comes on the back of the killer opening sequences, which despite featuring the nonsensical Codex also features a sequence of shots that left this Troper's jaw agape for a good minute, and the perfect second act. Everything falls into place there, and for the duration of the act the film is sublime, let down only when the extraordinary huge fights of the final act begin to become both overly destructive and physically exhausting to watch.

The casting is without flaw - Russel Crowe redeems his turn as Javert as a surprisingly fallible Jor-El (never before has the much-maligned holographic presence of Superman's 'real daddy' felt this poignant - one can almost feel Jor-El's sense of redundancy and intransigence), while Amy Adams shines as Lois Lane at every moment the screenplay gives her. The standouts, though, are Michael Shannon's charismatic-but-demented Zod and Henry Cavill's phenomenal Clark Kent/Superman. Never before has Supes felt this tangible.

It's the last moments of the film that will make or break it for audiences, though. For all the beautiful score and shots, the scale of collateral and the outright execution of the baddie may prove too much. For me, at least, Cavill sold this as the origin of Superman - this is by no means a flawless piece, but it's a worthwhile one.
Yeah, the Codex and World Machine left me wondering, "Dudes, really?" I just ignore their existences and only remember their basic purpose.

On the defense of the exhausting action, I can only say that that's what will happen if several Physical Gods fight each other. Snyder's attempt to inject as much realism into Superman Myths as possible, I daresay.
comment #19857 TommyNinja 14th Jun 13
I thought the execution of the baddy was handled rather well. Instead of just nonchalantly throwing a de-powered Zod down an ice pit like in Superman II, Superman is forced to do the deed in order to save a family and is distraught about it, so it isn't that big of a problem for me. I'd even say it's a better way to handle the offing of a villain than Batman simply leaving Ras Al Ghul to die in Batman Begins. Plus, I thought the fight scenes were very well done. Intense, daresay even exhausting action, is what I wanted in the movie. And collatoral damage is going to happen in this kind of fight, and most of the buildings getting destroyed scenes happen around where the World Machine was, so it's not like those buildings were intact or anything.

And yeah, the Codex and World Machine were kind of weird, but they do work to kick off major plot points so I just rolled with it.
comment #19858 gameragodzilla 14th Jun 13
I thought Zod's death was handled quite well, especially since it was pretty clear that at that point Zod was trying to get Clark to kill him. And it was very properly presented not as "here's where the hero finally kills the bad guy" but as a very traumatic event for Clark.
comment #19860 LovesRodents 14th Jun 13
I absolutely agree on the Zod thing - I loathe it on a conceptual level (the whole 'Superman does not kill' thing means a lot to me), but the way it's presented feels a lot like 'Superman doesn't kill, and this is why', which I can cope with on a narrative scale entirely. I just wish it didn't feel like a hundred people died with every punch, you know? I needed... like, five or six shots/scenes where people are being evacuated, or Superman is helping them be evacuated. I wanted Zod to call him out on the collateral, too, or vice-versa - something to show, beyond audience inference, that Superman feels super-bad about all the death.
comment #19867 spacetimeboss 15th Jun 13
I agree with your assessment. Though I'd add that some elements felt unnecessary. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White is a great casting move, but he's got nothing to do in the entire film, and seems just there (Along with the other 2 non-Lois Planet people) to be there just because the Daily Planet needs to be there to explain Lois' own presence. His function in the script (Making Lois bury her story) could've been removed (Just have Lois do her investigation to acquire actual evidence before publishing her story) or replaced (Have one of the military dudes make her bury her story).

The flashbacks with the Kents also felt a bit disjointed. One moment Pa Kent is all on board with "You will change the world. You're here to do great things" the next he's telling Clark the world will fear him, he shouldn't expose himself, etc...

Small flaws all in all that do thankfully little to detract from the otherwise great movie.
comment #19871 Ghilz 15th Jun 13
I never thought Pa Kent was disjointed. He basically tells Clark that he WILL change the world, but not NOW, because Clark hasn't fully understood his identity and the magnitude of his powers. Limiting Clark to only use his powers when absolutely necessary (like Zod threatening Earth) is what eventually makes Superman a superhero rather than a Knight Templar. That's how I saw it, at least.
comment #19873 gameragodzilla 15th Jun 13
Yeah, I got the Pa Kent stuff. The whole 'don't save me from this tornado please' thing, like the Zod-neck-snap, works in the context of the movie. Clark's just dismissed him, then he accepts his message even though it hurts. I liked it, really. The flashbacks did feel a bit higgledy-piggledy, though. I'd have preferred a Batman Begins style big flashback sequence than an infrequent smattering - it broke the flow a little, I think, and kind of lessened their impact.
comment #19880 spacetimeboss 16th Jun 13
I will say I agree with that. The editing was definitely a bit off due to how short and how frequent the flashbacks were. I guess there was no other way considering how much time they spent on Krypton and how they had to go through Clark discovering who he is while also introducing and then wrapping up General Zod's story.
comment #19896 gameragodzilla 16th Jun 13
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