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June 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Man of Steel is another one of those movies that are often described as “critic-proof.” Good thing, too, because most critics are flinging kryptonite at it. Referring to the opening scenes, which describe the birth of Kal-El on the doomed planet Krypton, Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal remarks, “On our planet, however, the story proves to be a miscarriage, if not quite an abortion. Here’s one more studio extravaganza brought down by numbing action and an addiction to generic digital effects.” Rex Reed in the New York Observer grouses: “Despite an obscene budget that could have made a giant stride in the cure for cancer, there isn’t much originality, and the whole endeavor appears to be the work of grown men who never outgrew puberty.” Most of the reviews are quite so negative. Ty Burr in the Boston Globe finds much to like about it, “but what’s missing,” he writes, “is a sense of lightness, of pop joy.” and in the final half hour the film simply “gives in to the urge to just smash things.” Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune acknowledges that the film “has all the stuff it takes to compete in the modern blockbuster world.” However, he adds, “The scale of the destruction borders on the grotesque. By the time Superman squares off against General Zod … in a climactic, city-destroying melee that goes on for what feels like weeks, it’s no wonder the boy born Kal-El on Krypton eventually transforms into a bit of a prima donna.” Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times allows that the story “is well-imagined in terms of broad outlines that are more science fiction than superhero.” However, he adds, “While its ambition and scope pull one way, its pinched and unconvincing sense of drama pull the other.” The film, he concludes, is not “emotionally convincing.” Manohla Dargis in the New York Times is equally of two minds about the movie, describing it as being “at once frantically overblown and beautifully filigreed.” Someone, she writes, should have “smacked the director, Zack Snyder, in the head and reminded him that he was midwifing a superhero franchise.” Most of the critics agree, however, that British-born actor Henry Cavill was a fitting choice to play the title role. Peter Howell in the Toronto Star says that Cavill transforms into an “uncommonly brooding but refreshingly deep Superman.” Claudia Puig in USA Today writes that he “has the strapping good looks of the comic icon, and humanity to match his superheroism.” But Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post concludes that Cavill “makes a well-built, handsomely credible Superman in Man of Steel — or at least he will, in an already-planned sequel that, with luck, will more thoughtfully exploit his talents. For now, audiences can only speculate as to the hidden depths of Cavill, who in Zack Snyder’s busy, bombastic creation myth is reduced to little more than a joyless cipher or dazzling physical specimen.”