Superhero movies have come a long way from just being Big Strong Good Guy vs. Big Strong Bad Guy, thanks in large part to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series. Which is why it’s odd that “Man of Steel” — written by Nolan and David Goyer, another Batman alum — is such a loud, dumb mess.
“Man of Steel” has plenty of problems. Aside from the aforementioned loud, it’s also very loud and VERY, VERY loud. The story is propelled not by any sort of human (or Kryptonian) conflict, but by a desire to bonk Superman with various heavy things: Steel girders! Tanker truck! Satellite! The acting of Michael Shannon as Zod, who chews a scenery sandwich with a side of scenery chips, all the while slurping down a tasty scenery shake!
This lazy reliance on action movie tropes rings hollow in a post-“Avengers” world. And one glaring example of the movie’s weaknesses is the relationship between Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams.)
The two actors have the chemistry of flat tonic water, which is a major issue, but I can’t blame them entirely. The script never finds a reason for the characters to like one another. Yes, he saves her after she gets herself into a wildly stupid situation — the movie transforms Lois from an intrepid risk-taking reporter to a completely negligent bonehead — but “Man of Steel” seems to believe audiences will buy the budding romance because everyone already knows Superman and Lois like one another. (Also, Lois is annoying. I doubt anyone who actually has a Pulitzer declares “I am a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter!” to her editor. Who presumably knows.)
The relationship might have worked before Batman returned to theaters, reinventing what a superhero movie could be. In a genre that was evolving quite nicely, “Man of Steel” is a big step backwards.
If you, like me, have an irrational but very real fear of drifting alone in space, close your eyes during the “Gravity” trailer before the movie. It pretty much had me covering my eyes muttering “nope nope nope nope.”