Man of Steel: How a Big Budget Ruined a Masterpiece

A few days ago I was gearing up and ready to see an awe inspiring rendition of a favorite childhood superhero. The trailer for Man of Steel was enough to inspire my inner child to show his face again and revel at the amazing CGI (would you believe it, even the cape is rendered!) mixed with a seemingly intriguing twist on Superman. Oh how wrong I was...

The start to the film blew me away, between Russell Crowe's commanding voice, the outstanding visual effects, and the underlying tones of "this could be Earth some day, so pay close attention," I was enthralled. But, I was becoming nervous. Here we are twenty minutes in and we still haven't met Superman, just a recently birthed baby that seems like something from Nirvana album cover. If you've ever read a screenwriting book, you'll know that any and all writers recommend introducing the main character within the first 10 minutes of the movie. Nonetheless, it was a brilliant display of scenery and the movie still had tons of potential, I'm a sucker for long films anyway.

After the introduction to Kal-El's home planet, we experienced another thirty minute preface showing flashbacks of Clark Kent as a young schoolboy, interspersed with random acts of kindness in the present day. Though I liked these flashbacks, they were so frequent and showed so little of the present day Kent that I felt like I couldn't really get to know the character, but I thought, okay we'll see that later.

But soon it just dragged on and on and on... And what seemed like 4 hours in the film, I realized that this blockbuster had nearly no character development! Where the character development should have been, after the hour long intro, instead there was nearly an hour of CGI fighting. Yes it's cool, and novel and Superman is shown as vulnerable and darker than usual. But come on, I see a film to feel a bond with the story and feel connected to the protagonist. Yet, why would I go see a movie for the CGI when I can watch cool new next-gen graphics from E3 or play video games? Yes, Henry Cavill has a square chin and muscles that make me feel guilty and want to work out 8 hours a day just to compare, but I barely even remember him talking. Honestly, I can't even judge him as an actor after his performance. He might be the best actor out there, but Man of Steel did so little to show that the world wouldn't know that. In fact some people in the movie theater I was in were so frustrated that they left prematurely after having thrown their hands in the air with a big, "WTF?!" (If you've seen it, the ending to the big fight seen was what was the last straw for the person. Though personally for me it was more David Goyer's interpretation of Jonathon Kent's death.)

Yes there were fancy flashbacks with lots of lens flares, emotions, and cool explosions, but I got all that in the trailer already. Come to think of it, Man of Steel was nothing but a 150 minute trailer. It's as if the director and writers just wanted to create a stretched out teaser for the sequels that are sure to come after this cash cow. It is just sad to see a film that had such incredible potential as a concept be utterly demolished by a big league Hollywood budget.

Written on June 19, 2013