Celebrity Critics Corner: ‘Man of Steel’ Reviewed by James Franco, Jason Alexander and More

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

When a movie makes $116 million in its opening weekend, you know a lot of people are going to have opinions about it.

Not only are critics and movie buffs weighing in on the blockbuster Superman reboot "Man of Steel," but some A-list celebrities are sharing their thoughts on the movie as well. Actors James Franco and Jason Alexander have post posted full-length reviews on line, and both seem to like the film quite a bit, though they also have their reservations.

James Franco wrote about "Man of Steel" for the irreverent news and satire magazine Vice, and as befits a man who takes honors-level college courses for fun, Franco's essay is as much a think piece as a review. Over the course of nearly 1300 words, Franco talks about the nature of the movie business, his role in Sam Raimi's "Spider Man" trilogy, the place of superheroes in our culture, director Richard Donner's body of work (including his 1978 "Superman"), and his uncomfortable relationship with "Man of Steel" star Henry Cavill. (Franco and Cavill worked together on 2006's "Tristan & Isolde," and Franco says, "My hunch is that he didn’t like me very much … I know that I wouldn’t have liked myself back then because I was a difficult young actor who took himself too seriously").

[Related: 'Man of Steel' Controversy: Does Superman Go Too Far? (Spoiler Alert)]

As for the movie, the very analytical Mr. Franco says, "So, what did we watch? A great film. But what makes me say this? Is it the nerd revolution that has brought our public taste to the point where comic-book characters and video games are now cool? Are these huge comic-book films the way for the world at large to embrace the subjects of these forms that are traditionally relegated to the nerd niche? Yes, in a way. But in another way, we are just wowed by the money that brings them to fruition."

In short, Franco enjoyed the movie, but doesn't seem to feel good about it. Though he has nicer things to say about "Man of Steel" than the rebooted "Spider-Man" franchise, which he says "arose even before there was time to bury the corpse of the old one and enshroud it in the haze of nostalgia." Ouch.

Alexander, on the other hand, published his "Man of Steel" review on the blogging site TwitLonger, and it reads like the work of a world-class Superman fan weighing the pros and cons of this new interpretation of the iconic hero.

Alexander is best known for playing George Constanza on "Seinfeld," where Jerry and George would often discuss the hero from Krypton, and Alexander begins with the lines, "Now, as a Seinfeldian, clearly Superman is in my blood." And Alexander proves it, talking about Superman's previous screen incarnations and Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy with the zeal of a geeky fan boy.

[Related: Superman’s New ‘Man of Steel’ Costume Inspires Giggles and Grandeur]

As for "Man of Steel," Alexander says, "So much good, so much right – but some enormous opportunities missed. " Alexander likes the ideas but not the execution of the scenes on Krypton, and was genuinely enthusiastic about the way the film used flashbacks to cover Superman's early years on Earth. But he was let down by the length of the final battle sequence and the confrontation between Superman and Zod. Alexander sums up his thoughts like so: "'Man of Steel' is well worth your time – whether you're a Superman nut or not. It's an often great, always worthy and fabulously fun piece. I just wanted it to live a bit more in my heart and gut. Instead, it's more of a smile on my face."

Not bad, Mr. Alexander. Have you considered doing some critiquing on the side?

While few celebs were writing thousand-word-plus reviews of "Man of Steel," plenty were sharing their 140 character opinions on Twitter. "Family Guy" star and "Robot Chicken" creator Seth Green tweeted, ""Well guys, #ManOfSteel is pretty freaking awesome. Congrats @ZackSnyder – hope you have a great weekend." NBA star Dwight Howard (whose skills on the court have earned him the nickname "Superman") also liked it, posting a one-sentence rave: " Jus saw Man of Steel. Great movie. #amazing." And supermodel Heidi Klum was also representing for Superman with her tweet: "Movies and popcorn .... Man of Steel .... 10 out of 10!"

[Related: That ‘Man of Steel’ Sure Has a Lot of Swag]

But not every celeb was bowled over by "Man of Steel." Melissa Gilbert, the former "Little House on the Prairie" star who gained comic fan cred voicing Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl) on the cult-favorite "Batman" animated series in the 1990s, posted four (count 'em!) tweets on the film. "Great first half hour. So promising. Then the effects went into overloaded hyperdrive and became distracting ..." Gilbert said, though in her final post, she showed some love for the cast, especially the leading man: " Michael Shannon is perfectly menacing. Henry Cavill is some kinda handsome ... woof!"

And comedians were having a field day with the movie. Monty Python legend Eric Idle tweeted, "Man of Steel, Ironman, Tin Man: Now comes Pewter Woman: she molds, bends and is full of beer." Well-known comic book and fantasy film geek Patton Oswalt posted: "MAN OF STEEL spoiler: Baby Kal-El is saved from Krypton's destruction by a screaming @johncusack in a limo with a missing door." And Eli Braden, like many comics, turned to the star of the ill-fated "Superman Returns" for a gag: "Brandon Routh earning some good overtime taking tickets at a 'Man of Steel' midnight screening tonight." Again … ouch.