What Went Wrong With… Zack Snyder & Man Of Steel?

A caricature of Zack Snyder by What Went Wrong Or Right With...?

Over-familiarity and repetitiveness is not a great combination for a movie. From Hollywood’s point of view, a familiar character can mean attracting an established following, from the audience’s point of view however, this can be one of the most disappointing aspects of cinema-going. With Man Of Steel the marriage of recognizable characters, predictable plot lines, and over-familiar aesthetics, all converge to create a tiresome and tedious “reboot”.

The story of Superman has by now become almost second nature to followers of popular culture. So familiar is the audience with this story that it now feels like watching a re-run of a news bulletin; pointless and out of date. What was needed for a successful reboot was either a memorable screenplay, an updated style, or maybe an allegorical subtext. Instead of making any point about our society (for example, about Superman being a foreigner or a refugee in America) or a point about humanity (about how we create ideas of deity, religion, or even hierarchy) Man Of Steel seems satisfied in churning out mindless and hackneyed bullshit we’ve all seen Hollywood produce a thousand times over.

The famous DC-reviving writing team of David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan is slowly becoming more and more contrived the more crap they write. With both of them trying to recapture the “good ol’ days” of Batman Begins by trying to write another “why do we fall?” style line, the pair fail to recapture the magic they once had. Nolan and Goyer’s screenplay for Man Of Steel is the equivalent of a ninth or tenth studio album from a once great musical duo; something which feels repetitive and forced. Goyer and Nolan have managed to create a lifeless and one-dimensional script which offers nothing new or game-changing like their first Batman reboot. Nothing about Man Of Steel is game changing. There’s nothing new about the plot, nothing refreshing about the characters, and thanks to Zack Snyder, there is nothing memorable about the overall film. Man Of Steel is the unwanted skin left floating atop this now stagnant and over-cooked genre, in a decade or so nothing about this movie will be remembered in the pantheon of great comic book adaptations.

The main reason for Man Of Steel being the same-same movie it ended up being is the directing non-talents of Zack Snyder. Snyder is one of the worst, most superficial directors of modern times, he’s someone who seems content in making films which are devoid of feeling and emotion. Zack Snyder directs like he’s shooting a commercial targeted toward teenage boys, and similar to his classmate Michael Bay from Pasadena’s Art Center College Of Design, he continually uses the same tricks in every movie he creates. Similar to Bay, Snyder directs like he missed every class and lecture which taught subtlety and emotion. “Pathos” and “gravitas” are two words this Spartan-loving twat seems to forget every time he sets foot on studio property. With Snyder, the contrast is constantly bumped up, grain is always added, and there are endless lens flares and quick zooms. Watching one Snyder film is indistinguishable from another, with Man Of Steel having many scenes which could have been lifted from Watchmen or Sucker Punch. Having Snyder at the helm of this film was not a great addition to this already tired team of bullshitting crapsters.

Snyder, throughout his entire career has never achieved anything memorable, he has never created anything which served as a renaissance for the aged genres he chooses to work in. With his butchered remake of Dawn Of The Dead and his tedious Watchmen adaptation, it is a frigging mystery why you’d want him aboard another remake, yet alone a reboot. With his overly-crowded framing and even messier camerawork, to his cluttering of every fight scene with needless junk (without even evoking a sense of urgency or quickening of pace), his techniques of cinematic shittery must take some special kind of hack-trick only Snyder is privy to. Using messy movement as an aesthetic rather than to create atmosphere or a sense of peril, is one of the continual failings of Snyder and his Man Of Steel. Along with the overuse of CGI which feels completely fake and disjointed from reality (including any realistic weight, realistic tones, shadows and texture, or even realistic physics) believability is completely stripped from this movie. The end result is a film which looks so fake we may as well be playing a computer game.

With its Matrix Revolutions-style fight scenes, its Avatar-esque Kryptonian creatures, and sci-fi set pieces which resemble something from the reject bin of a thousand green-screen bullshit action movies, the whole film felt like something we’ve definitely seen before, and something which we didn’t necessarily want to see again. The now commonplace action movie staple of buildings being destroyed in a generic American metropolis is nothing special to a desensitized public, and after years of pointless wars we cannot see the portrayal of the army as the “good guys”. With Superman’s puke inducing lines like “I’m from Kansas, that’s about as American as it gets” being uttered in the conclusion, this just adds to the pro-west shtick that was already on show. A superhero’s allegiance with America’s military is one of the most hokey plot devices in modern day Hollywood, and with Harry Lennix playing the most unconvincing and most annoying General in film history (not to mention Christina Wren as Major Carrie Farris uttering the line “he’s hot”) this proved Man Of Steel to be more corny and trivial than any of its forbears.


Man Of Stale

35 years have passed since Richard Donner’s Superman movie and nothing new has been added to the whole affair. They still speak English on Krypton. They’re all still white on Krypton. They still have American and European accents on Krypton. One of the bad-guys even has a Germanic accent. A Jesus-esque Superman still stands in a Church to confess, not in a Synagogue, not in a Mosque, or in a Temple; but in a place where the corrupted image of Jesus is embedded in the stained glass window behind Kal-El without any sense of irony. Henry Cavill himself adds nothing new to the role made famous by Christopher Reeve. He looks no more godlike than Reeve, and neither does Russell “Up Himself” Crowe or Michael “Bug Eyed” Shannon. And with Michael Shannon’s wide-eyed Zod being killed in the end by simply having his neck dislocated, I think everybody in the audience almost wished Terence Stamp was back in the role.

If you were trying to better the Reeve, Kidder, Hackman, Stamp movie, why make an expensive rubber-cladded tribute to it? The only attempt at being current was the corny dubstep-cum-bassline noise the “World Engine” made. They may have removed Superman’s red briefs and maybe even taken away the stylized curl from Superman’s hair, but by wimping-out and adding Clark Kent’s thick rimmed glasses at the end of the film, we have essentially a $225,000,000 rehash of a franchise for the sole purpose of making money. This was an update without any actual updating.

Snyder, Goyer, and Nolan are the Men Of Stale.




16 replies »

  1. I still haven’t got to see it, I was hoping it would be pretty good 😦

    I guess the trailer sums the movie up like Avatar? You already knew what would happen in Avatar just by watching the trailer, it was very predictable. The trailers for this however did give me some hope. I still will see it, just for the sake of being a Superman fan.

    • You should still go and watch it. It’s one of those movies that everybody is talking about right now, so it’s a good idea to see it, even if it’s just to argue with everybody! I personally thought it was a disappointment, but you might disagree with me.

    • Don’t worry, I’m not going to plaster a bunch of insults and childish slurs if I do disagree with you and like the movie LOL.
      I really enjoyed the Batman films by Nolan, but they are not for everybody.

    • there were elements of man of steel that could have worked. Zod was a tragic villain; his motives are heroic (he’s trying to save his world)…..were it not for the fact that he’d be committing mass genocide in the process. I like that Lois found out relatively quickly (plus she acted like a detective connecting the dots). Even the destruction of metropolis could be explained by superman still not having the training to use his powers effectively. His killing of Zodd wasn’t too bad; he’s clearly torn up over it, had no option besides it, and it’s implied to be the root of his “no kill” policy.

  2. This blog is so true. There are so many things wrong with just the first 20 minutes of the film, it’s hard to sit through.
    The Zod actor overacts big time (he goes from calm to screaming so quick and back and forth), Russell Crowe who is a great talent is not given much to work with, I like Kevin Costner, but he don’t do much, Henry Cavill at least looks like Superman but we’re not given enough time to even learn about who he is or his personality through the constant flashbacks over and over. (He’s a man now he’s a boy he’s a man now he’s a teenager)

    The whole flow of the movie is just ridiculous. We see the planet blow up and then we immediately go to an episode of the deadliest catch and that’s not enough we have to see even MORE explosions and action with crap blowing up! The whole flashbacks lazily cut out the build up of his origin story and even that is loaded with even more action. Why not just tell a story from the beginning and work it’s way up? It’s as if the Synder thinks no one is entertained unless crap is blowing up every 5 minutes, not even half way into the movie and it’s already boring.

    Why can’t Superman’s dad talk to him like a normal father to son? Every damn line in the movie is talking about what a messiah he is!!!! You could write a whole blog about how bad the dialogue is to this movie.

    I know you might disagree with me but at least the old Superman movie wasn’t this bad. Yes it’s cheesy, yes it’s corny, but it’s far more entertaining than this and it actually feels like Superman where this one feels like a cliche of every Sci Fi movie in the last 10 years on Krypton and then your average super over produced action movie for the rest of the film.
    At least the old Superman movie starts at the beginning and moves forward, and you can understand it a lot easier than all the dumb flashbacks they kept doing in this one and the over the top dialogue about him being a messiah.

    This movie has so many problems with it’s plot, it’s characters, the dialogue, the story telling, you could write many blogs about it dismantling it. Just within the first 20 minutes, you know you don’t want to watch the rest of it, and it’s a pain to go through.

    Why oh why did Zack Synder have to ruin this? Even with Christopher Nolan on board, that’s enough to save it, and yes I agree about Batman. The first two Nolan films were great, but the third one was disappointing, but I still take it over Man of Steel.

    P.S. check out DREDD if you want a great comic book movie that is more true to the comics. People complained about how violent that movie is, but the Judge Dredd comics are just as violent as the film made it. At least it felt like Judge Dredd, where Man of Steel feels like a big dumb action movie and a whole jerk off of projecting Superman as this messiah/Jesus Christ type character.

    • I completely agree with you, especially what you said about Sci-Fi clichés. Man Of Steel feels like you’re watching something cobbled together from all the other science-fiction green-screen action movies that have gone before it. There’s terrible dialogue like you said… hopefully Nolan does a better job with Interstellar.

      The biggest reason that this film doesn’t work in my opinion is Zack Snyder. When it comes to direction, Snyder isn’t great and he isn’t exactly subtle; his Direction is completely over-the-top and messy. There is so much pointless explosions and fight scenes, that by the time you get to the end of Man Of Steel you feel sick of the entire genre. With Snyder working on ruining Superman Vs. Batman, I would definitely prefer to watch Richard Donner’s Superman any day of the week.

      (Yes I agree that Dredd was superior to Man Of Steel, even though I thought the pace could have been quicker. I used to be a fan of 2000AD – I just wished the film had a bigger budget and MORE violence if anything!)

    • I have to agree there, Synder is not a good director. He’s like Michael Bay, which this movie could have been a Michael Bay film seeing how over indulgent it is in explosions and pointless action.

      Superman vs Batman is going to suck. It’s already been ruined just knowing Zack Synder is directing it. I am not even bothering with that one. I loved the old Superman movie (the first one) and this was so hard to watch, it disappointed me hugely.

      My biggest gripe though is the whole messiah/Jesus thing. The movie literally screams I AM JESUS with Superman’s character and you just can’t. You do NOT take Superman and turn him into Jesus, that is so so wrong on all degrees, even if it’s not Superman but any super hero in general cannot be taken to that angle. All the dialogue aimed at his character does nothing but describe how he’s the messiah and he can save humanity blah blah blah. That’s why he don’t even feel like a real character. We never learn about him as his character, we just hear over and over how he’s the second coming of Jesus. I literally DIED when it got to the church scene! Not only do we have to sit through that, they also shove pictures of Jesus in the background. I haven’t read the bible lately, but I’m pretty sure not even The New Testament has that much messiah hype in it.

      There’s so many problems with this movie though, I could go on and on. The plot itself is ridiculous, the characters are card board cut outs that are extremely one dimensional. The only reason we know Lois is Lois and Clark is Clark is because we are told they are. The Zod character is so ridiculous how he overacts to everything, and his character is incredibly flawed.

      This film looked promising from the trailer and it had a strong cast but even as much as I like Russell Crowe for his talent, his character is just as one dimensional as the rest of them. Not even good acting could save this movie!

      I LOVED DREDD. I thought it was incredible. Now that’s how a comic book movie can be made. It still at least felt like a comic book movie, even with the video game like element to it….can’t say that about Man of Stale that feels wrong on so many degrees.

  3. Zack Snyder is a total hack. He sucks at directing and this film proves. Man of Steel is a shitty, lifeless, bloated, CGI-filled piece of crap. Batman v Superman is gonna suck. It will be full of atrocious direction, shitty acting, lazy dialogue.

  4. Yes, I know know why u think Man of Steel was unlikable in this article. It was informative to say the least. Ending about Superman killing [spoiler] was unlike the character I grew up with. Pa Kent saying he will sacrifice himself was rubbish because Superman would love his parents. Not much emotion was shown by the cameras. There was some good as well. Acting was fine. Special effects, I liked, since Zack Snyder can create new creatures and weaponry, like George Lucas did for the original trilogy. Music was phenomenal in it. So this film had some bad that hurt the memory of Supes to some. Though I do not want u to make a whatwentwrongwith article on Batman vs Superman coming out on 3/25/16. You said “With Snyder working on ruining Superman Vs. Batman, I would definitely prefer to watch Richard Donner’s Superman any day of the week.” I don’t think it’s good for your stress to then watch the duel between the Caped Crusader and Supes film. Remember that Gandhi said to be the change you wish to see in this world. But just writing about what Snyder did wrong won’t change what this multimillionaire does. You should try creating a fanon wikia with ur own plot. There u can write a good Supes movie on the site. I’ll read ur wikia. You say you want a good movie writing, then u should do it yourself. Three articles on Snyder won’t change Hollywood one bit. Overall, this was kind of good. Please ignore my gravatar since i am not the same feeling as that icon and don’t use wordpress to be able to change it. I found your Sacha Baron Cohen article enlightening as well.

    • Uh, do u not like me. I really want to know what ur opinions are. Please note I do not hurt u in any way. Can u reconsider replying back.

    • Firstly, is “Please note I do not hurt u in any way” supposed to be some sort of threat? Are you used to people only responding to you if you “hurt them” first?

      Secondly, what exactly am I supposed to reply to? You left a comment which stated what you thought and you asked no question so why would I reply? And by the way my opinions are located in the article above.

      If you take a look at this site including this article, you can plainly see that I don’t reply to every single comment, I’d like to know why you should be treated differently and why I should reply to you simply because you have some strange desire for acknowledgement? That being said, I hope this straight-forward reply is enough to feed your longing for recognition.

    • 1. My bad. I meant to write “i did not hurt” in that sentence. That was a mistake on my part. No I do not hurt people and expect them to reply.

      2. I was curious if u had a wikia. You could post stuff on how to do movies right. Wikia is cool. There are many of ur articles on movie people that I agree with like Len Wiseman. Do u have a wikia cuz ur ideas need to be read by more folks? You did a good job on the articles I saw.

      3. Oh, I didn’t see every comment so I didn’t know. My comment stated that while Zack Snyder is similar to George Lucas, he isn’t a good director this decade. I don’t have some strange acknowledgment desire. When I did read comments, I saw how frequently you replied to comments and thought u would reply to mine. Good job with ur piece. I like this British website.

  5. Great article and this movie review from Red Letter Media back in 2013 compliments well with your article:

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