I am not a movie reviewer, or even a smart person. This is just a list for the fanboys of four reasons why this movie sucks so, so bad.
1. As Funny as George Zimmerman’s Lawyer
That’s not fair. Zimmerman’s lawyer was way funnier than this movie. As far as I can tell, this movie has three real jokes in it, one of which I forget, but here are the two I do remember: The first is when Lois and Soops kiss for first time.
Lois Lane: They say it’s all downhill after the first kiss.
Clark Kent/Kal-El: Only if you’re kissing a human.
Uh, okay. Was that a joke? I’m sorry, I was too busy vomiting at the awkwardness between Cavill and Adams. Do I have to explain why that’s not funny?
Okay, I will.
I did stand-up comedy for eight years. Not successfully, but I know what a goddamn joke is. Jokes are surprises. No matter what kind of joke it is, from knock-knock to prat-fall, jokes are surprises.
Lois’s expression of doubt is just not surprising. In fact, it’s typical. It’s the neurotic vulnerability of a smitten new love. And Soops’s response is not surprising also. It’s confusing. Who said only if one is human? Do Kryptonian’s have infinite romance? Are they known for that? I could go on, but you get the idea. Besides, you didn’t laugh at the joke in the movie. Why? It wasn’t funny!
The second joke I can remember is when Soops talks to this general at the end, and the lady Major is giggling next to him.
General Swanwick: What are you smiling about, Captain?
Major Carrie Farris: Nothing Sir, It’s just I think he’s kinda hot.
Right. The female Major just can’t control her hormones in the face of Soops’s alien magnetism. She is powerless in the face of a big superdick and pectorals rivaling the most siliconed breasts. She is a screaming schoolgirl and Soops is her Justin Bieber.
Yeah, he’s hot. Even I think so. But you know what else? This woman is a major in front of her general. She would maintain herself and not have desire hold dominion over her. As I said before, this joke is not surprising. It’s also not funny. It’s fucking stupid.
Moreover, it’s sexist. The movie reduces a strong female character into a blathering idiot when a big strong man is nearby.
You might argue that because Nolan and Goyer wrote this movie, it’s a Superman version of Nolan’s Batman movies. Well, Batman Begins had no jokes. Heath Ledger made up for all of it in The Dark Knight (and arguably, Tom Hardy’s wacky voice in The Dark Knight Rises). Superman ain’t got no Heath Ledger.
You might argue that this is an action movie, not a comedy. I cite the concept of a “comic relief.” Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are tragedies, but they have Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Mercutio. Star Wars had Han Solo (and C3PO and Yoda and ugh Jar Jar). They all have comic reliefs. Because serious films need comedy to lessen the tension and, let’s face it, the boredom.
2. Action Scenes Are Meaningless
Zack Snyder knows action. He did 300. He also did the suicide-inducing “movie” Sucker Punch, whose title has an extraneous “er punch” in it.
Man of Steel falls somewhere in between those films. The action is cool. It looks good. It’s easy to follow and fun. But, it’s totally fucking worthless.
Superman punches people a bunch of times. They punch him a bunch of times. He throws them into buildings. They throw him into buildings. Superman wrestles with weird nanobots.
Good action is meaningful action. In a good action scene, you want to feel each punch. Every movement should be important. Each punch should have consequences. Or, if it’s a large choreographed fight, it should escalate, change, etc.
Superman did none of that. The fight he has mid-movie is very similar to the fight at the end, in terms of worthless fighting and forgetableness.
Worse, several times in the movie Superman saves some jerk at the very last second. Like, this happens at least three times. Someone’s about to be killed and then there’s Superman, flying in faster than a speeding bullet, knocking the person over like a locomotive.
And it’s great the first time. And by “great,” I mean “totally expected.” By the third time you see it, when Lois is falling at the very end, you know it’s going to happen and are not surprised at all that it happens. What if he just let her die? That would be interesting and different.
I’m all for good action, but it has to mean something.
For instance, take The Matrix. In that movie, there’s a ton of Kung Fu, most of which is meaningless, except that it’s visually spectacular and the choreographed fights evolve. Superman could have benefited for the delicate ballet that is Kung Fu. Instead, it was much more MMA style, monotonous.
Superman is a fan of right hooks, because it’s basically the only thing he does when he’s not throwing somebody into a building filled with innocent souls.
The question is, how many times do I need to see Superman hit Zod in the face? The answer is somewhere between zero and three.
Zack Snyder thinks the answer is seven hundred.
This is annoying at the very least because the punches do nothing. They don’t hurt Zod. They don’t hurt Superman’s hands. They’re just a waste of time.
“Hey, he’s slowing wearing down Zod’s defenses!”
The action scenes weren’t like The Matrix, or the beautiful action of the first Ironman, where you feel every single blow. No, they were more like Power Rangers. And at least Power Rangers was limited to 22 minutes.
3. Doesn’t Make Any Sense.
One of the biggest mistakes of Man of Steel is it suffers from logical errors. Let’s look at a few.
- Cape scene at end. So at the end of the movie, there’s a flashback to Clark wearing a red towel as a cape as his parents look on with the knowledge that he will be great one day. So poignant. So poetic. One problem: Who the fuck is he pretending to be if not Superman? This is a world without superheroes until he shows up. What person is there with a red cape? It doesn’t make any fucking sense for a kid to put a cape on and play Superman when that kid had never heard of Superman. It’s like if young Bruce Wayne painted a Batman logo on his shirt.
- Gravity is low on Earth = Superman can fly. That’s the explanation they give. If Superman keeps jumping higher and higher, suddenly he’ll be able to fly. Obviously Zack Snyder failed to consult a single person with even a moron’s familiarity with physics.
- Superman can save people by catching them in mid air. I hate to be the one who says this, but at the speed he catches Lois, in reality he would have broken her spine.
- Dozens of tall office buildings can be evacuated in minutes. The movie seems to think that if you don’t see people die, that means nobody died. See my next section for a longer discussion of this.
- Superman isn’t allowed to kill people. Soops is all boo-hoo when he snaps Zod’s neck at the end, saving a family (who could have easily DUCKED under the heat ray), but the audience is never told that Superman is against killing. Snyder assumes you know this. But the movie starts with Zod murdering a bunch of people including Soops’s dad! So what the fuck?
- Atmosphere from Krypton makes Superman weaker the closer he is to it. So they sub the atmosphere of krypton for kryptonite in this movie. Which is fine. But they don’t even follow their own fucking rules. When Superman is fighting the tripod nanobot monster in India, he seems to not get weaker whatsoever. I mean, not in any tangible way. He stops flying for a second. But then he uses the power of his heart to destroy the thing. Yay meaningless plot points!
4. Inappropriate 9/11 Imagery.
I’ve had this argument with a few people, and some disagree with me. They are wrong. The climax of this movie involves a huge fight in Metropolis where scores of buildings are knocked down.
And I’ve gotta say, much of the destruction looks exactly like 9/11 footage. Now you say, just because buildings in a city are being knocked down doesn’t make it commentary on 9/11.
That’s true. But the scenes were from a street level perspective of people running away from a large dust and debris cloud as it spread down the street. It looked like 9/11 videos. And this is a world where 9/11 happened. If you want skyscrapers to collapse in a city and you don’t want people to think of 9/11, you’re going to have to change what you want.
Furthermore, as I said before, there’s no way all those buildings could have been empty, or all those streets could have been empty. Buzzfeed did a calculation of the damage that was incurred, both in lives and in money, and you can check it out here. Another website talked about how this level of destruction didn’t mesh with Superman as a character.
What did Russell Crowe, the man who ruined Javert for me forever, say to Superman in that ship?
“You can save her, Kal. You can save them all.”
Right. Except for the couple hundred thousand you kill.
Personally, I don’t give a shit either way. What I’m more concerned about is how quickly our country has forgotten about the horrors of 9/11 in such a way that it’s okay to feature buildings being destroyed like this and nobody mentions anything. I mean, sure, people have mentioned the similarity in some of the visuals, and others have talked about this being a post-9/11 Superman, but nobody has ventured to give a theory about what it all means. So, I will:
Fear of terrorism has melded itself to America’s DNA such that, like many victims of molestation, America now gets off on terrorism on the big screen, the more destructive the better. We are abuse victims who later buy whips and chains and role play abuse with loved ones. (I’m not saying all abuse victims do this or that all people who do this are abuse victims, okay?!)
It’s just a theory. Probably wrong.
So that’s it. That’s why Man of Steel really wasn’t that good. I mean, sure, there are other reasons. The acting is wooden. The writing is subpar. The premise is overly complicated. The message is muddled. The movie is too long. The chemistry is all wrong. There are no subplots. Etc. Etc.
The movie is, as I have said, Okay. But seriously, fanboys, this is not one for the books.