Well, the embargo broke on Man of Steel reviews late last night, and the response to Zack Snyder's hotly anticipated reboot of the Superman franchise is decidedly... mixed. This version of the superhero icon is heavy on the action and heavy on the seriousness, which some critics say drags down one of the biggest blockbusters of the year. Others have declared it a triumph. And like it or not, this is is the Superman franchise you're getting: Deadline's Nikki Finke reported last night that Warner Bros. is "fast-tracking" a sequel with Snyder set to return as director.
So will movie fans and Superman fans alike be clamoring for that repeat effort? Well, some will, and others... maybe not so much. The main critical gripe with Man of Steel after this first wave of reviews seems to be Snyder's extreme desire for relentless action, along with an attempt to make this Superman the super-serious counterpart to Christopher Nolan's Batman. "But Snyder's joyless film, laden as if composed of the stuff of its hero's metallic nickname, has nothing soaring about it," Jake Coyle of the Associated Press writes. "Flying men in capes is grave business in Snyder's solemn Superman. 'Man of Steel,' an origin tale of the DC Comics hero, goes more than two hours before the slightest joke or smirk." Scott Foundas of Variety explained that Henry Cavill, playing the titular character, was particularly "dour" and "like its lead, Snyder's entire movie seems afraid to crack a smile."
But it's really not all that bad. Alsonso Duralde at The Wrap claims the movie "flies, even if it doesn't quite soar." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter writes a measured review in which he explains that Snyder's "huge, backstory-heavy extravaganza is a rehab job that perhaps didn’t cry out to be done but proves so overwhelmingly insistent in its size and strength that it’s hard not to give in." Man of Steel, for better or for worse, is packed with action. And while McCarthy praises the "spirited rapport" between Cavill's Superman and Amy Adams' Lois Lane, The Guardian's Andrew Pulver calls it an "inert focal relationship" and Charlie Schmidlin of The Playlist says Lois' role is "frustratingly nonexistent."
But there remain some critics who are ready to get all sorts of euphoric over the film — or at least get their blurbs on a trailer this weekend. Lou Lumenick of the New York Post says it is "unabashedly crowd-pleasing." Though admitting that the action and destruction tops even The Avengers, Germain Lussier at /FILM writes that Snyder "has made an epic and heartfelt adventure that successfully reboots the Superman character in a realistic, and humanistic way." And Comicbook.com's Joe is ready to declare it the "best comic book movie ever made."
So there you have it. Neither the most brilliant superhero movie of all time nor the worst, Man of Steel is set to be hell (or heaven) bent on Snyder's brand of relentless action — a brand that you might even enjoy yourself and that you'd better get used to, as long as all that seriousness doesn't get you down.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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