*Spoilers Ahead, Obviously*
Things I Liked:
First of all Henry Cavill is so hot, amirite? Like, so hot that he’s literally on fire within seconds of appearing on screen. And then later when his mom says “You’re beautiful. We saw that the moment we laid eyes on you,” I was like “yeah you are, and yeah we did!” And at the very end, when puts those glasses on, and smiles at Lois’s “Welcome to the Planet,” he’s literally almost too adorable to stand looking at. I can’t find a picture of that scene online yet, but if you’re reading this you probably already saw the movie and you know what I’m talking about. (Is this a good time to remind everyone that I have a giant Henry Cavill poster from Immortals in my bathroom?)
Amy Adams’ portrayal of Lois Lane was a lot less annoying than the pushy version in the old films, yet still very much retained that assertive-journalist-who’s-not-giving-up on-a-lead vibe. I liked her.
I loved dream-state confrontation between Zod and Superman, when they were at the Kent farm (but not really) and the world-building machine was over the field, and Superman suddenly went from wearing a t-shirt to his suit, and sank into a pile of skulls. The visuals felt very much like something out of the pages of a comic book.
The music was very good, and I’m almost willing to say they’ve recovered from that initial trailer music mishap where they played Gandalf’s death song from The Lord of the Rings. But whyyyyyy is the Man of Steel soundtrack so expensive? I couldn’t afford to buy the whole thing, so I had to choose a couple favorite songs, and I’m not done pouting about the fact that I don’t have the complete soundtrack.
As I’ve already blogged, I loved all the Kansas shout-outs.
Because I am a huge Battlestar Galactica fan, I was delighted to spot both Alessandro Juliana (Gaeta) and Tahmoh Penikett (Helo) in small speaking roles. Alessandro was one of the military guys, and Tahmoh was one of the leads that Lois questioned to get to Clark.
I loved when he first figured out how to really fly, and then accidentally crashed into a mountain. The joyous tone of that “I can fly!” scene reminded me of one of the best parts of John Carter, when the title character figures out how to take giant leaps in the low gravity without falling on his face. It’s a similar “this is awesome, and fun!” feeling.
It was a tiny moment, but I loved it when the fellow fish-boat worker “saved” Clark from a falling trap, because I thought it was showing a teeny example of how living among humans had fostered his empathy and sense of justice and responsibility: if you see someone in trouble or in danger, you help them.
This is not a like or a dislike, just a curiosity: who came up with the clunky, unimaginative name “world-engine,” and how can I get a list of translations of Zod’s line “Release the world-engine!” when it gets dubbed into other languages? Because I bet there would be some funny ones.
Also, this part.
Things I Didn’t Like:
Was it really necessary to spend so much time on Krypton at the beginning? We get it: he’s not from this world. I would have preferred to see more of Clark’s formative years rather than getting them piecemeal through flashbacks the way we did, which maybe there would have been time for if we hadn’t had all that Kryptonian backstory. “Ooh, Jor-El rides a giant dragonfly/dinosaur creature.” Well that doesn’t add to Superman’s storyline at all, so who cares?
Also, why add the extra layer of drama with the “ooh, he’s so different and special because all other Kryptonians have their careers predestined, but he’s going to have to choose.” I mean, it really doesn’t matter what other Kryptonians’ lives were like, because either way Kal-El would still be the only person with superpowers on planet earth, and would still have to choose how he was going to use his powers, whether for good or for evil. The “first natural birth in centuries!”, not that it would matter how he’s born since we’re sending him to a different planet anyway!
Furthermore, all of Jor-El’s platitudes about choice and leading humanity sounded exciting in the trailers, but within the movie they just fell flat. There was a lot of vagueness about leading people to exist in a somehow better state, which I guess Kal-El was supposed to inherently know how to do, or maybe it was because he was reading Plato that time he got bullied at the auto shop? And there was too much talking about how Superman could show humans this better path without any showing the audience what was meant by that, or how he would go about doing it. I mean obviously humans aren’t going to be able to fly and be bulletproof and have x-ray and laser vision, so I have to assume Jor-El meant that he could instill values of fairness and justice and helping protect the disadvantaged and live peacefully and stuff like that. Which Superman spent basically zero time doing in this movie.
And Jor-El’s motivations were all over the place, anyway; first it sounds like he wants to rescue his son from the destruction of their planet, but then it’s “I broke hundreds of years of tradition because CHOICE,” (which, isn’t it ironic that Jor-El CHOSE to have a natural son and then said he wanted his son to be able to make choices for his own life because Jor-El couldn’t…like, didn’t you just?), but then when Clark finds the ship and talks to the memory of his father Jor-El wants him to lead humanity to a better future, but then later he says he wants him to be a bridge between two worlds, but then it’s revealed that he secretly all along wanted him to be the host of an entire potential world with the DNA of all engineered Kryptonians in his cells? WTH?!
I agree with everything in Devin Faraci’s post on Badass Digest about the excessive destruction at the end of the movie. And again, maybe there would have been time for more dramatic development, showing Clark struggle to figure out what the right course of action for his life is, if the whole last third of the movie wasn’t just battles.
I don’t know how I feel about Jonathon Kent’s death…I mean, I guess it was okay, but I wish they would have shown it earlier, so that Clark wandering around like a bum for years and not using his powers at all would make sense. Like if they would have shown him losing his dad because he respected his wishes not to reveal his powers much earlier, and then showed scenes like the one in the bar where he just silently takes the blows from the drunk and doesn’t fight back, which would have felt more intense if we knew “oh, he’s holding back because if he doesn’t it’s like his dad’s death is meaningless and he should have just saved him”.
And when Clark expresses a wish that his dad could have seen what he became, his mom says something like “oh, he did,” and we flashback to kid-Clark in a red makeshift cape it makes no sense. Why would he be dressing up like a superhero if there weren’t any superheros yet?? And anyway the cape is not what Jonathan Kent would have been proud to see, it would be seeing Clark save people. So why not show a flashback to a young Clark helping someone or fighting for justice in some innocuous little incident, and Mr. Kent watching and smiling a half-grin because he knows that his son is on the path to someday fighting for those same values on a global scale?
To sum up, when/if they make a sequel, I would like MORE DRAMATIC CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, LESS SUPERFLUOUS AND OVER-EXTENDED BATTLE SCENES. Please and Thank you.