What Are Critics Saying About Man of Steel?

Warner Bros. Pictures, which is owned by Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX), watched as Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder (300, Sucker Punch), raced to $44.1 million on Friday. The film, which is written by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Rises) and produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception), stands to make about $125 million for the weekend making it the second highest weekend gross behind 2013′s Iron Man 3 at $174.1 million.

While the film can already be considered a runaway success – Warner Bros. green-lit the sequel before it had even been released – critic reception has been divided. A lot of the criticism has been aimed at the film’s lack of fun and light-heartedness, which various critics have written doesn’t work for Superman nearly as well as it does for Batman. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times writes that, ”Given the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy’s Nolan and Goyer’s involvement, it’s no surprise that ‘Man of Steel’ is conceptualized in the Batman mold, a dark end of the street extravaganza where, theoretically at least, epic vision would be joined with dramatic heft. It hasn’t worked out quite that way.”

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Other critics seem to agree that the darkness of Snyder’s Man of Steel seems to render the film problematic. Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times writes that ”There’s very little humor or joy in this Superman story, and not enough character development for us really to care once the big-budget pyrotechnics are under way.” Similarly, Ty Burr of the Boston Globe writes, ”Snyder knows how to put on a show, and ‘Man of Steel’ has a massive scope that’s hard to resist. … But what’s missing from this Superman saga is a sense of lightness, of pop joy.”

Critics also seem to agree that while the action sequences are impressive, they might ultimately get in the way of the film’s narrative core. Stephanie Zacharek of Village Voice explains that ”‘Man of Steel’ is a movie event with an actual movie inside, crying to get out.” Lisa Kennedy of the Denver Post describes that ”The chief problem here is one of rhythm and balance in the storytelling and directing. The movie swings between destructive overstatement and flat-footed homilies.”

Some critics are holding no punches. Justin Craig of Fox News proclaims Man of Steel as the “blockbuster season’s biggest disappointment.” David Edelstein of New York Magazine called the film “pleasure-free.”

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However, with many critics pointing out flaws in the new Superman retelling, some are quick to explain that the positives outweigh the negatives.  ”Caught in the slipstream between action and angst, ‘Man of Steel’ is a bumpy ride for sure. But there’s no way to stay blind to its wonders,” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes. Zacharek describes that “Despite its preposterous self-seriousness, its overblown, CGI’ed-to-death climax, and its desperate efforts to depict the destruction of, well, everything on Earth, there’s greatness in this retelling of the origin of Superman, moments of intimate grandeur, some marvelous, subtle acting, and a superhero costume that’s a feat of mad mod genius.”

With the critics all over the map regarding Man of Steel, it remains to be seen if the critics’ view of the film may shape the film’s box office in weeks to come. But given the box office success early, it looks as though Man of Steel is strong enough to resist criticism at this point.

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In the words of Clark Kent, “What do you think?”

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