Marrieds at the Movies: How 'Man of Steel' (Mostly) Overcomes Its Atrocious Last 45 Minutes

Every Friday night, Movies.com sends cinephiles (and newlyweds) Sarah and Joe Piccirillo to see a film. Afterwards, they answer a few questions about it. Below is their discussion.

Man of Steel

Synopsis: It's a Superman origin story. Enough said. Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner.
 

Was this a good date movie?

Joe: I'm torn. On one hand, the girl is going to be turned on by Superman's muscles and integrity. On the other hand, it's going to make you look pretty inadequate in comparison. As a guiding principle, a guy should never put himself in a position where his date is left thinking: "Superman saved Lois by cauterizing her wounds with his eyes; my date saved $1.50 by sneaking Pop Chips into the theater."

Sarah: What's not sexy about savings?

Joe: That's why I got you that Groupon for Mucinex.


Everyone knows the story of Superman. Is there anything different about this one?

Sarah: It spends the time to build its characters, which is rare in action blockbusters. In a scene that shows a young Clark overwhelmed by his powers, he tells his mom that "the world is too big" and she responds, "Then make it small." The movie does a great job of balancing the big global impact stuff with small human moments.

Joe: Finally, I get the Clark Kent/Superman disguise. The movie makes us see Superman as an alien, not just a regular dude with a cape. It's not about glasses; it's state of mind. It makes sense that people wouldn't suspect that one of their coworkers is some alien who fights intergalactic battles between staff meetings.

Sarah: One of the criticisms of this movie is that it's too dark a take on a beloved character, but I think that in exploring how isolation and burden shape Clark Kent, a better story emerges.  

What did you love?

Sarah: I love the way Clark's childhood is woven into the present. One of my pet peeves is waiting for movies to get through tedious backstory and feeling like the movie doesn't really "start" until we're in real time.

Joe: I like that Lois was involved from the beginning.

Sarah: I loved where the codex was hidden.

Joe: I like that equal weight was given to both fathers, although Clark's human father seemed to be wrong about almost everything.

Sarah: Wait. He was right about everything. Like, everything.

Joe: It's so much easier to be flip than accurate.

Sarah: Nice. I like that they took the time to make everything that was fantastical seem reasonable. There weren't leaps in logic.

Joe: Michael Shannon gives General Zod depth. At the end of the movie, he explains his point of view and I actually felt bad for him.

Sarah: Comic books are so good at showing you how normal people become villains. They don't just show up evil.

Joe: I always like the appearance of Terrifying Actor Chris Meloni (Stabler). To me, he's always the villain.

Sarah: Oh, yeah. He just shows up evil.

 

What will you be thinking about tomorrow?

Sarah: How it's a shame that this movie didn't end 40 minutes earlier.

Joe: I was with it the entire way until two pods landed in the northern and southern hemispheres. Then, the movie devolved into Michael Bay/Transformer-style fighting between two seemingly indestructible men. It does answer the question: How many times does a man have to be punched through four buildings before I check my watch? The answer, my friend, is three.

Sarah: The human element is so much more compelling than the gratuitous fighting.

Verdict

Joe: See it. It's pretty great.

Sarah: Love the Superman-as-tortured-soul spin, but more humor and (a lot) less bang-crash-boom would have made this an amazing movie. It's hard to recommend because of the last 45 atrocious minutes, but it would be a shame to write off what was a really great movie until then.

 

Sarah and Joe are writers/editors who live in Boston. They met in a bar and married within a year. They love to argue about early Woody Allen films and old romantic comedies. They both agree to hate musicals.

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Next Article by Sean OConnell

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