Review: ‘Man of Steel’ Ressurects Superman

teaser-man-of-steel-shannon-e1365999108756Man of Steel director Zack Snyder had a daunting task ahead of him – how to re-launch a Superman film (and hopeful series) that stands apart from the Richard Donner classics and stands on it’s own. With the help of executive producer Christopher Nolan and writer , Snyder has pulled off what many people doubted – a grounded and realistic Superman.

Superman inherently isn’t realistic. He’s essentially a god on Earth, but that’s ok, because his Kryptonian origin provides the reasoning behind it. The real issue was establishing a realistic world for him to exist in. As Marvel has reveled in the success with their recent film franchises (very much based in a comic book world), DC Comics has followed the path of Nolan’s Batman trilogy which was set as much as possible in a world of realism. Man of Steel follows suit.

The film begins on Krypton with Jor-el (Russel Crowe), trying to convince the High Council of their errant ways. This is where we’re introduced to the brooding and angry General Zod (Michael Shannon). Thanks to Goyer’s story and Snyder’s balanced direction, we’re allowed to witness and understand the motivations for General Zod and why he’ll eventually end up at Earth in hunt of Kal-el (Superman). The Kyrpton sequences are stunning, albeit heavy CGI. The audience is given a far more detailed looking into the famous planet than in any previous film installment. It gave time to establish character motivations and time to strike home the vastly different aspects of Krypton vs Earth. This is not the world of realism – but it never was supposed to be.

Man of SteelOur true sense of realism comes at home on Earth. Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is 33 and trying to find his place in the world. He uses false identities and struggles to figure out who he is and why he’s here. The flashbacks to his past with Martha and Jonathan Kent (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner respectively), are well done and properly spaced out in the context of real-time events unfolding in our story. Kent’s early introduction to Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is refreshing, as is their relationship. Adams’ Lois Lane is only a glimmer of the classic damsel in distress. She’s a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and for the most part plenty capable of defending herself. It’s a great take for a modern and strong Lois Lane.

The film is wonderfully acted, in particular from Crowe, Costner and Cavill. Shannon plays Zod with the appropriate levels of brood, anger and although he at times is over the top, we at least understand the reason for his motivations. Cavill gives a fantastically balanced performance of internal conflict, courage, morality and heroism. He never seeks out to be a hero, he just accepts that he can and has to be when called upon. Kal-el/ Clark Kent’s Christ-like storyline is hard to miss, as are the obvious parallels, and Snyder has even admitted that the parallels are there and very much intentional.

What Man of Steel says about religion is up to you decide, but what it says about faith is clear-cut. Faith in Man of Steel isn’t intended to carry religious overtones, although they are there, it’s meant to support Superman’s convictions. Jor-el and Jonathan Kent both teach different sides to the same coin of parenting. They inspire greatness, but from different approaches. They both have faith that Kal-el/ Kent will realize his greatness, but both push for that moment at different paces.

Ultimately Man of Steel is a blast to watch. There is more action in the film than nearly all other Superman movies combined. The pacing is handled well, the visuals are stunning and the CGI is top-notch. Thanks to strong performances from the all-star cast, Man of Steel has brought Superman into a modern and realistic world. One with traces to the DC film universe which Nolan established (I won’t spoil those for you now). It’s a fun movie and absolutely nailed what it tried to accomplish – entertain and resurrect Superman for a new generation.

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One Comment

  1. No doubt the movie was entertaining but I’d stop way short of saying it was good. The writing choices in the movie was odd at best and the plot was incredible dumb.

    There were way too many plot holes like:

    How does Kal-El’s father know the effects Earth will have on his son before getting there? Is that information the scouts had previously gotten when the colonized the planet?

    Why the movie explain away the fact that no one tried to get off of Krypton, by saying that the impulse wasn’t built on their dna/nature?

    Why is Kal-El the first live birth in years? Were Kryptonian programed to be sterile? In fact why was there population control on Krypton to begin with, especially if Kryptonians were already colonizing other world?

    How come they just stopped colonizing planets? Why does no one address this major plot detail?

    Is Kal-El’s father speaking to him in English or Kryptonian or is there a universal translator going on? Does anyone in the movie ever speak Kryptonian?

    Why is Perry White black? Would it change anything about the plot at if Perry was Frank Langella

    Why doesn’t the government (ANY government) just attack the ominous looking spaceship when it first appears in the sky?

    Why isn’t that Superman didn’t experiment with his powers until he was 33?

    Why didn’t Kryptonians just terraform Earth 18,000 years ago? Why is it that Kryptonians died off on the colonized planets simply because they lost communication and supplies? Isn’t there food, water and air on Earth?

    How long does it take for superpowers to kick in?

    How is General Zod a general when he’s clearly not a military genius in any way shape or fashion? How is it that Jor-El killed like 3 of Zod’s men AND promptly whooped Zod’s ass but Jor-El’s the scientist and Zod’s the general? Jor-El clearly is the smartest, toughest Kryptonian on the planet.

    How is it that Zod basically shot what may have been the queen of Krypton and was not promptly executed upon capture?

    Why was there no one guarding the codec in the beginning of the movie? It’s the most important object on Krypton and Jor-El just grabs it without having to sneak pass any security cameras.

    Why does Zod ask for Lois to go with Clark in the ship? It seems like the only purpose of her being on the ship is for the screenwriters to have a way for Lois to fuck up the ship and rescue Clark?

    Speaking of which, couldn’t Jor-El just crash the ship as soon as he was downloaded into the mainframe? Clearly he had the controls, right?

    So wait, in this Superman universe Clark is alergic to Kryptonian atmosphere? If it’s just the air that weakens him, how are the writers going to explain kryptonite?

    Why does Zod need change the atmosphere to colonize Earth? Not only is Earth not dangerous to Kryptonians, they get superpowers. So basically Zod plan is to spare Kryptonian from what….superhero puberty?

    Why was it that when the military was flying toward Zod’s ship with Clark space capsule in tow, Zod’s men shoot down all the plane protecting the ship…but the not ship itself. Why did Zod’s minion decided it was necessary to engage in hand to hand combat with army personnel she could’ve just shot down? Was it to give the Air Force officer exactly enough time he needed to run to the front of the craft and crash it into Zod’s ship? How convenient.

    How does the scientist on the ship determine that the key won’t slide into the hole, because it’s just needs to be tilt 45 degrees? How the hell does he guess that?

    Why doesn’t Zod pass out when he’s in a SUPERMAN SLEEPER HOLD? It only takes 2 seconds.

    Why doesn’t the family just run away when Superman’s holding Zod in place but they suddenly aren’t in the room when Zod’s dead?

    How does heat vision work? I get Superman’s holding his head in place, but couldn’t Zod had just glanced in the family’s direction and still fried them?

    How the fuck those Clark become a reporter at the end which basically no past or relevant work history? It must be awesome to be a handsome white guy. LOL

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