Posted on 6/16/13 07:26 PM
"Man of Steel's" first 90 minutes are some of the best pieces of film I've ever seen. The character development, the storytelling, the soundtrack, and the visuals collaborate together perfectly not only to evoke massive emotion into every viewer, but also to make them think - a bold strategy seldom employed by screenwriters and/or directors. The team of Snyder (300 and Watchmen) and Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Memento) prove to be successful, and thoughtful. The score, while not to the calibre of Star Wars, Jurassic Park, or Lord of the Rings, stands on it's own as powerful, rarely tender pieces that fit the film perfectly. The Cinematography seems heavily influenced by Nolan being on the team, resembling a Noir-esque feel at times with harsh shadows and singular light sources often employed. Snyder understands the flaws of the original film, and its sequels, correcting many of them with the opening sequence. Unfortunately, Snyder's vision does not resemble a Feature Film at all, but a pseudo-documentary, almost as if detailing Superman's life as a Second-Person observer, involved in the events, but ignored by everyone else in the film. This is solidified by the fact that the shadow of one of the cameramen can be clearly seen during one of the flashback sequences, which, to me, made the film more like a documentary, or a homemade movie.
What absolutely kills "Man of Steel" is the shaky-cam zoom-lens combination; apart, not necessarily bad things - for example, Hitchcock and Scorcese have both independently and effectively used a counter dolly zoom to achieve a dramatic effect and films such as Cloverfield and even portions of The Dark Knight have employed the shaky-cam to a varying extent to increase dramatic tension or recklessness. In "Man of Steel," for the first 20-30 minutes, depending on the person, it feels out of place, nauseating, and reckless in a film driven by order. This isn't a horrible feature of the film, and it certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't go see it. What it boils down to is that prime lenses have been the Hollywood standard since the creation of the camera, and every invention for camera movement has been to prevent shaking or excessive motion (steadicam, crane, dolly, etc.) What Snyder's Director of Photography does here is separate "Man of Steel" from Hollywood completely and make the look of the film similar to a home-video. This will either enhance or detract from the film, depending on the viewer, and is something, again, that each viewer will adapt to on his or her own terms.
Above, I spoke of only the first 90 minutes, basically, until the action starts. I am the first to say I love action films; there's something about crap blowing up that's wicked cool. That being said, the 45 minute long action sequence bored me and left me wishing that 45 minutes had been re-allocated to character development of either Zod, Martha Kent, Johnathan Kent, or Lois Lane. This is the only pitfall in terms of the pacing of the film. I hate to do this - I really do - but what I equate that whole sequence to is the final fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith. The sequence is flashy, well-produced, and action packed. The problem that both share is that they're long, drawn out, devoid of emotion, boring, and tensionless; No spoilers here, it's a bunch of nearly indestructible Kryptonians duking it out leveling Metropolis. Ironically, the minute long sequence (you all know what I'm talking about) with Zod and Superman standing still, instead of flying all around the city playing tag, is more entertaining, engaging, and emotional than the rest of the mind-numbing action. Is it cool to watch an entire city leveled? Yup! Does it make for great film? No.
No complaints on the cinematography, or the score for that matter. I will say the Trailers' scores are better, but only just.
Clark's and Jor-El's character development are fantastic, 10/10. The flashback narrative and the opening 15 minutes are worth the ticket price alone. I do wish Snyder would've spent a bit more time on the Kents however, but that development suffices for what the film is.
There are one or two minor plot holes that don't impact the film too significantly, so I won't discuss them in depth.
Overall, a solid summer blockbuster sure to rake in the dough and please audiences. 8.5/10