One Big Scene is a weekly column dedicated to spectacular visual sequences we’re recommending you see in the theater. If you have ones you’d like us to write about, let us know in the comments section.
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane! Nope, it’s Man of Steel, Zack Snyder’s big-screen reboot of the Superman mythology that introduces a new Clark Kent in Henry Cavill, and cranks up the action to a scale we’ve not yet seen for a Superman movie.
Everything about Man of Steel is bigger, from the amount of attention paid to Kal-El’s Krypton backstory to the scope of the battles back here on Earth. Snyder, we get the impression, was tasked with using cutting-edge digital technology to bring Superman into the year 2013… and Man of Steel certainly delivers on the bombastic spectacle contemporary summer-movie audiences have come to expect.
But there’s one visual sequence in particular that stands about above the rest, probably because it hovers over Metropolis during a defining moment in the film. This is one of the reasons why Man of Steel should be seen on the biggest screen possible. Let’s dive into it below.
The sequence is hinted at in the closing moments of most Man of Steel trailers. We see Superman (Cavill) punching Zod, and Snyder places his camera on Kal-El’s shoulder – essentially – so we can get a point-of-view image of Zod receiving the brunt of the punch, then flying through the air.
It was a criticism leveled at Superman movies of the past. When are we going to see Superman hit someone? Well, he hits a LOT of people in Man of Steel, and few of these sequences are nearly as exciting as when Superman and Zod take to the skies over Metropolis to duke it out, with the planet’s fate at stake.
Snyder answers that criticism by delivering the hardest hitting Superman movie in history. And the fight over Metropolis marks the moment where the director truly uses his camera like his main character, swooping and diving through skyscrapers, pulling back to show what it would feel like to hover miles off the ground and deliver a punch to an equally powerful antagonist. Snyder, during this climactic standoff, puts us in Superman’s boots and cape… and it helps Man of Steel soar.
Do critics agree? Let’s run through the top reviews of Man of Steel.
What Critics are Saying:
"Man of Steel has a scope that's hard to resist, but what's missing is a sense of lightness, of pop joy.”
-- Ty Burr, Boston Globe
"[Cavill is] a superb choice for someone who needs to convincingly convey innate modesty, occasional confusion and eventual strength."
-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“The movie can't decide if it wants to be a particularly thoughtful brand of superhero saga or a deafeningly generic summer action movie. So it ends up being both, to the detriment of it and us.”
-- Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News