Man of Steel: Flawed Superman, but still super

The new Superman movie connects back to the first to Christopher Reeve Superman flicks, but breathes new life into the franchise. Photo: Warner Brothers

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2013 — Man of Steel is on its way to a thunderous first weekend, having already broken the $150 million mark. Critics are panning it (it has a 57 percent fresh rating on, but it’s a solid hit with audiences, most of them too young to remember Christopher Reeve’s Superman.

The Reeve films started well, but the third installment was silly, and the fourth film, 1987’s The Quest for Peace, was a loathsome, execrable farce. Superman IV and the equally foul Supergirl (1984) drained every last erg of cool from the Superman franchise. Brandon Routh’s outing, burdened with a ridiculous villain with a ridiculous real-estate scheme, did nothing to bring the cool back.


Man of Steel brings it back. The Kryptonian backstory pays homage to the first Reeve Superman, and General Zod comes to earth to hunt down Kal-El as in the second, but from there the new movie is a very different sort of beast. The world responds with less enthusiasm and more anxiety to the Man of Steel, the villainous Zod is a truly monstrous, sociopathic killer, and there is no humorous banter between hero and villain to sugarcoat that fact.

Harlan Picht watched the film with his father and gives us a 12-year-old’s perspective.

James Picht: Harlan, was this film what you were expecting? Did you enjoy it?

Harlan Picht: It was really, really good. I didn’t like it as much as Star Trek Into Darkness, but I’d give it an eight-and-a-half out of ten.

JP: What could they have done to earn the other one-and-a-half stars?

HP: The crashing into things at the end was too much. It started to make my ears numb. They could have toned that down. It just kept going on too long. But the effects were really good. You now how in a lot of movies when stuff is flying around it looks really cheesy, like someone did it with toys? This wasn’t cheesy. Everything looked excellent, and when Superman was flying, you knew they worked hard on it to make it look right.

JP: How about the actor who played Superman. Did you think he was right for the role?

HP: He was, and the costume was great. But he was sort of like, “yeah, I’m super,” not really happy or excited. I liked that they did his background in little bits and flashbacks, not all at once. They’d have to cover 30 years and it would take too long, but this way it wasn’t boring.

JP: How about Zod?

Not God; Zod. (Image: Warner Brothers)

Not God; Zod. (Image: Warner Brothers)

HP: He was really, really good. He looked like he really hated Superman. It wasn’t like he was pretending at all; it was like he actually hated him. A lot of bad guys in movies are like they’re just being funny, but Zod really wanted to kill everyone.

JP: How about the story. Did you think the plot was good? Did it make sense?

HP: The story made a lot of sense. The parts on Krypton were cool, and Jor-El was harsh. We didn’t get to know him very well because he was a hologram for most of the movie and didn’t have much emotion…

JP: Like Kal-El?

HP: Well, yeah, but you could tell he was doing stuff that was really serious and he wasn’t going to be all jokey. He did what he had to. And the story was good. I really wanted to see what would happen. Then when they were on earth it was good, too. And it made sense why Zod was going to kill everyone. He wasn’t like Lex Luthor in the last movie with those crystals and his stupid sidekicks. When you’re going to be a bad guy and kill people, it isn’t just some joke. The bad guy should be scary, and Zod was scary.

JP: So are you looking forward to a sequel?

HP: Yeah, but I hope they don’t mess it up.

JP: Thank you for your time. By the way, which movie are you looking forward to next?

HP: We have so definitely got to see that new 300 movie. I’m not kidding. What do you think it’s going to be rated? I hope it’s not an R. Man, that looks awesome. 


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Jim Picht

James Picht is the Senior Editor for Communities Politics and teaches economics and Russian at the Louisiana Scholars' College in Natchitoches, La. After earning his doctorate in economics, he spent several years working in Moscow and the new independent states of the former Soviet Union for the U.S. government, the Asian Development Bank, and as a private contractor. He returned to Ukraine recently to teach principles of constitutional law and criminal procedure at several Ukrainian law schools for a USAID legal development project. He has been writing at the Communities since 2009.

Contact Jim Picht


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