Man of Steel Review
Director :Zack Snyder
Cast Headliners: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fisbourne
Original Release Date: June 14th , 2013
Superman is perhaps the most iconic superhero of all time in both comics and movies. His career has had ups and downs, but no movie so far as been able to fully accomplish the powerful capacity this guy has. Man of Steel, named ala The Dark Knight and even moreso Batman Begins from which it gets inspiration (helped by the fact that Christopher Nolan helped with producing this), does true justice to this character.
This reboot goes even farther back than anything else has before, beginning literally with Superman’s birth as baby Kal-El on Krypton to Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara. This segment on Superman’s alien home world is much longer than expected, and gives Jor some heroic screen time of his own. One of my favorite aspects, which I’ll elaborate on later, was this part as this aspect of Superman’s life has pretty much been unknown in film and even other media. It resembled a cool alternate science fiction world that is usually only seen in movies like Star Wars. This beginning gives the film a long epic tone, as one of the reasons for Krypton’s problems is the extremely evil General Zod (Michael Shannon). He is ejected into exile in the Phantom Zone, and infant Superman is sent on a spaceship to sanctuary on Earth. Its worth finding out for oneself, but Crowe’s performance as Jor is certainly not brief and he is involved in more than just the prologue of and does a great job as a powerful mentor.
It jumps to present Earth, and Kal is now Clark Kent. Superman is played in this movie by Henry Cavill, and he is a great choice. Cavill is perfect as both a charming everyman citizen, and a Superman who comes to terms with his incredible powers and destiny. The supporting characters are all very good as well, with a heroine in Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and her interesting boss Perry White (Laurence Fishbourne) who both have side-plots you really care about. The Lois Lane/Superman romance was a better one than most recent comic movies for sure. Clark Kent’s adoptive mother Martha (Diane Lane) was decent, but praise should be given even more so to Jonathan (Kevin Costner). Costner is stellar as ever here, and the talks between him and Clark about the destiny of Superman are great. There are some genuinely emotional moments in the story and interesting use of flashbacks, a new thing for the director.
Man of Steel tries to bring up questions of deeper meaning in this, but sometimes it falls flat. The story was interesting, but then it seemed like it fast forwarded to a long finale when Zod comes back into Superman’s life. As I said earlier, this movie is all about the science fiction spectacle. That is the awesome main strength of this. Zod is a scary villain, and Shannon makes his performance especially fearsome. I’d also like to give a shoutout to one of the main henchwoman’s Faora (played by Antje Traue) who is nearly as powerful as Zod and equally terrifying. Zack Snyder was a great choice as director since he knows how to create big explosive set pieces. A problem with some past Superman material is that there has been little action or he has faced simple human enemies. Facing a worldwide invasion of evil Kryptonians is more than enough of a challenge for Superman. The action must be seen, the speed and ferocity of it is awe-inspiring. Skyscrapers are thrown around and cities demolished. It makes the Avengers seem slightly tame in comparison. This alien threat really showcases the action power of Superman as a hero, letting him fly and lazer eye many things. That is one aspect I felt was done mostly well, however sometimes the CGI appears….off which ruins it. The flight sequences also felt cheesy sometimes as well. Snyder tried hard, but the influence of Sucker Punch has bled through into this a bit sadly.
Nonetheless, now that Batman has had his time to shine Superman has taken the same approach to a mostly grand success. The epic, dark tone melds well with Superman thanks to the inclusion of a big sci fi tonality. It isn’t Batman-dark considering the title character is Superman; it feels more like a grand comic book arc. I’d also like to point out some extremely subtle references to the extended DC universe. Fans expected more world building for a future Justice League, but remember this is just Superman’s origin tale. There may be more heroes out there, and if Man of Steel is the new DC paradigm, then I am looking forward to what is to come. 8.7 out of 10