STARRING: Henry Cavill, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni, Richard Schiff, Harry Lennix
DIRECTED BY: Zach Snyder
(Sorry, but this review will contain Spoilers. I can’t discuss the problems any other way). If you just want to know the grade… it’s a C+.
Before I get started, this is a perfectly fine adaptation of Superman. I am in no way a Superman fanboy. I didn’t read the comics, I’ve never watched the original series of movies with Christopher Reeve. Superman just wasn’t really my hero. I’m approaching this purely from a storytelling standpoint.
In lengthy exposition, we are brought the story of Jor El (Russell Crowe) a scientist on the planet Krypton who is trying to save his planet, so he addresses the council, only to be violently interrupted by General Zod (Michael Shannon), who is taking over control. Large fights ensue, the men disagree, and Jor El shoots his newborn son off in a rocket to save his people from extinction. More on that later…
Cut to, his son is now Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), who grew up in middle-America as the son of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane). We learn eventually, through several sporadic flashbacks, that Clark was bullied a lot as a child, and his father encouraged him not to show anyone his powers. There was this one time, where Clark felt he had to in order to save the lives of kids on a bus, and even that seemed to freak everyone out. But still not enough to keep him from being bullied. Eventually, Jonathan tells Clark where he came from, and then Clark turns into an angsty teenager. Then on one fateful day, Clark says some things he can never take back, right before he watches his dad get sucked into a tornado. Feeling guilty, this fuels his passion to become a loner who quietly saves lives.
Clark travels the world, and we see him do a few good deeds without attracting much attention. He gets wind of some top secret government thing, assumes it might be a spaceship (because what else would be top secret from the government) and goes out to find the ship (covertly, of course). It it wasn’t for that pesky reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), no one else would have noticed him. Including the UNITED STATES MILITARY. Clark burns through like a mile of ice, and no one notices, except Lois who just happens to take a photo on her camera, zoom in, and see a blurry man, and decide to see what the blurry man is up to.
Clark learns about his heritage from a well-informed hologram of his father that is programmed somehow into this thing that Clark has been carrying around with him that basically works as a key for the spaceship. Then we learn that Zod is alive, he’s found Clark, and he wants Clark back (because Clark has the secret to repopulating his people), and he threatens Earth’s existence until he gets what he wants. Really, Zod isn’t that bad of a guy, he’s just trying to keep his race alive. Earlier, Jor-El tries to make some comment about “bloodlines” but the film never goes anywhere with that, other than to suggest that Zod hates mudbloods, I guess. Anyway, back in Hogwarts, Superman has persuaded Lois to keep his secret, but all that goes to hell anyway when he has to give himself up to Zod. For reasons unbeknownst to the story, Zod also takes Lois. This is never explained.
On the ship, Clark can’t breathe the air, and it weakens him. So Lois, with the help of Jor El’s spirit, help change the atmosphere on the ship so Clark can use his powers again (OH! So THAT’S why she’s on the ship). Clark breaks free, saves Lois, and heads back to earth to save his mom. After saving his mom, he meets two “kryptonians” in the middle of what looks to be the same one-street-town used in Thor. Everyone knows shit is about to go down, so they run inside, thinking they’ll be safe. WRONG. Superman slams these guys up and down this one street and into every building. And then the US Military flies in, shoots their guns, fires rockets, crashes planes and helicopters, and destroys whatever town this was. One would wonder why Clark didn’t move this off into a cornfield probably 500 feet away…
Meanwhile, Zod has set up his terraforming device on Earth, because in order to save his species, he’s stealing Earth from us, and terraforming it to meet his races needs. Supes has to destroy it, with the help of Lois (the reporter) who was told by a hologram of a dead man how to stop General Zod. Superman destroys the device, and destroys the spaceship with the kryptonians on it by sending it into a black hole. Only Zod is left. Then, because Zod is trying to kill more humans, Clark kills Zod too. Of course, he does so in the most 9/11 way possible, crashing into literally every building in Metropolis, sending skyscrapers crashing down in the process, but it’s cool. Cause he’s the good guy, right?
I mean, he just annihilated an entire race of people, because he is now the LAST Kryptonian, and he would at least need a female Kryptonian to reproduce with. So, Clark did the opposite of what his father intended, and damned his race to extinction. But it’s cool, because the humans totally love him. And now he works at the Daily Planet, which looks pretty great considering it was completely demolished earlier in the film. And considering he’s talking with his mom at the end of the film like the events in the film have just happened (not much time has passed), then that would mean that in Superman’s world, either we erect an entire skyscraper in a week (which would be a reason why everyone was cool that Superman destroyed Metropolis), or the Daily Planet just walked into someone elses building and said “We Own This Now.’
I suppose, if you can enjoy all the flaws in this film, it’s a decent Superman film. It’s a little slow in parts, and the entire first hour is exposition. I don’t even think Henry Cavill appeared until 30 minutes into the movie. And the scene where Kevin Costner gets swept away by a tornado takes so long. I understand his foot is broken, but he’s literally WAITING for the tornado to come kill him. In the time we watch him stand there, he could have easily drop and rolled into a ditch, and probably survived the tornado. Instead, he stands there, and we wait… and wait… for this tornado to come. Either chop out a few seconds of staring at Kevin Costner, or rewrite Jonathan’s death.
That being said, I actually liked Cavill. I just think this film was taking itself super seriously, and tried to remain joke free. Even the usually perky Amy Adams was acting like she was filming Doubt 2. Everyone is all frowny serious faces all the time. There is no levity in this film, except for perhaps the two seconds of seeing Superman in handcuffs, or seeing Superman mangle a douchebags truck. Deadpool he is not. Snyder definitely made some mistakes, but he’s never really been a flawless director in the first place. He’s been fun, and pretty accomplished at spectacle, but no one has ever said “Oooo, let’s nominate Zach Snyder” for an Oscar. He’s basically the Harvard version of Michael Bay. Knowing that when you go into the film may save you a lot of heartache when you realize that even with Chris Nolan attached, this film is nowhere near as good as the Dark Knight trilogy.
FINAL GRADE: C+