“But at least Superman hits people, right?” Yes, there are fight sequences in Man of Steel, and occasionally, they are exhilarating – particularly the POV camera shots where Kal-El is beating Zod from one end of Metropolis to the next. If you’ve seen Snyder’s films, you know he appreciates up-close camera shots that place you in the action, which gets disorienting once Kal-El and Zod decimate large swaths of Metropolis in their climactic confrontation.

He also knows exactly where the 7-11 logo is, or where the IHop sign should be framed so as not to interfere with the action on screen. Seriously, Man of Steel suffers some of the most blatant product placement I've seen in recent memory, especially during the Battle of Smallville, which appears to have been sponsored by Sears.

Unfortunately, Snyder’s decisions to portray Superman as a hesitant savior keep the hero at an arm’s length from us, the audience. He isn’t sure if he’s ready to save us, so we’re not really sure we’re ready to embrace him. I cared little for Superman as the movie raced to its “breathless” conclusion, so the wanton carnage and the digital-heavy window dressing of Man of Steel’s final act resembled the latest techno-playgrounds of the bombastic Michael Bay. As skyscrapers tumble and Zod tries to fry innocent citizens – before Superman murders his enemy before the very people he’s sworn to protect – Man of Steel becomes the angry, jaded Revenge of the Fallen in a recognizable red cape.

Summer blockbusters are supposed to be fun. Even Nolan’s Batman movies, which are being heralded (or blamed) for this rash of darker, edgier superhero movies, had a sense of comic-book escapism to them. Batman Begins is a roller-coaster ride with a valuable sense of humor. And The Avengers, in comparison, looks like Airplane! next to the deathly serious Man of Steel. Never once did I have fun during Snyder’s movie. Is that my fault, or his? I’ll have years to think about it. Reports say the director will be back for Man of Steel, and that Justice League is his project to lose. That should give D.C. fans some sense of stability in their often-rocky film community. All I feel is disappointment.

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