Plot in 4 Sentences…
Krypton is destroyed. Superman learns to use his powers. Zod and his army threaten earth. Superman saves the day.
My Small, Non-Spoiler Review…
“Man of Steel” is a well developed story with some flaws that don’t glaringly ruin the feature film. It is an origin story that we already know. Krypton is doomed and in a last ditch effort Jor-El and Lara send their infant son, Kal-El, to Earth where he will grow to be Superman. He has many trials and tribulations and in the end he comes out on top. Yes, we know the story but in this case it isn’t the story, it’s the journey. How he gets from point A to point B is similar to the original, but developed with a far more rougher edge than the original. It is violent. It is brutal. Superman is the hero Metropolis needs, but he is not the warrior he will come to be. Is it perfect? No. Is it a helluva way to kick start a franchise? Yes. It is just like every other superhero movie-it is setting up for a more fantastic sequel.
Those Who Would Be The Cast…
Superb! Everyone in this movie is fantastic. Henry Cavill takes the role and runs with it, or flies with it, whatever you wish. He IS Superman… At least he is for our new generation. Christopher Reeves will always be the quintessential Superman, but again, it was a different era and actually a different character who wears a suit and red cape. He plays the character with far more demons than Reeves’ did. This is a Superman who could use therapy.
Amy Adams rocks it as Lois Lane. This is not the Margot Kidder we know. She is gritty. She gets involved. She has a bite to her and knows how to hold her own. You can sense this a few lines into the movie when she makes a single comment to Colonel Hardy sets the tone for where she is taking Lois Lane as a character. She’s not just a damsel in distress (though she is in distress often). She actually comes off like an investigative reporter.
Michael Shannon is good at playing villains and he is great at playing crazy. He is fantastic in “Boardwalk Empire” and I was certain he would bring just as much zeal to this character as he has in the past. Zod is now more of a one dimensional villain. He has layers. It is not that he wants to kill humans, it’s that he MUST because he was bred to protect Krypton not matter the cost. You don’t get angry at a lion for killing a zebra. You can’t really get angry for Zod attempting to rebuild Krypton on top of Earth. It is simply in his genetics. Does that mean you are rooting for him? No, of course not. But he is more than a character who brings chaos. He brings a purpose.
Crowe and Costner were perfect actors for the roles they were given. Jor-El and Jonathan Kent are pivotal characters in the development of Superman. You need actors who can take little screentime and make the most out of it. Remember, these two men shape Clark Kent into becoming Superman. Without that strong connection, one could get lost into why Clark Kent becomes Superman. It is not the case here. You see Costner setting Clark up for greatness. I am not sure any other actors could do so much with so little. Like them, Diane Lane is a heartfelt, emotion mother who has to do a great deal with little screentime. There is also far more of a connection to their relationship. You can really feel that she is his mother.
Finally, the bit characters. Lawrence Fishburn was good as Perry White though he really didn’t have much to do. Christopher Meloni did what he could with Colonel Hardy. He has some great lines, though. Antje Traue was spectacular as Faora. Some have said that Shannon was not menacing enough. Well, she took up the slack. As Zod’s right hand woman, she was vicious, and mean and seemed to loved doing her thing.
…and here… We… Go… (Spoilers)
Let me first begin by saying that I am one of the few people in the world who actually enjoyed “Superman Returns.” Yeah, it was cheesy at points and it was more a love story than a superhero movie, but in the end it got the job done with regards to the original series. It was neat hearing John Williams score play over the movie and it was neat seeing little homages to the original Christopher Reeves’ movies sprinkled here and there. Never the less there was a lot missing and it didn’t quite live up to all the hype that surrounded it. It was a shame, but it was pretty much a failure.
Lets now fast forward seven years. “Man of Steel” has had a ton of hype building since it was filmed in 2011. At first people were skeptical. Yeah, Christopher Nolan was onboard to develop the story and produce, but still. It was the second remake of Superman in the last ten years and I have not been an avid fan of quick remakes of superhero movies (The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man). Still, the closer this movie got to being released, the more and more I got excited. It looked fantastic. The action looked spectacular. It just looked liked everything came together. Could we possibly get the Superman movie we have longed to have?
I can say now that I have seen it that everything did come together.
“Man of Steel” is a fantastic Superman movie. Is it the greatest superhero movie of all time? No. That honor still sits with “The Dark Knight.” Did it come close? Eh, not really. Maybe it is because I am a Batman fan. I just can’t get over “The Dark Knight Trilogy.” Beyond that was it the best superhero movie? I would say it is up there. To compare Marvel movies to DC is like comparing apples to oranges. Marvel has made fantastic superhero movies. But they are just that, superhero movies. They never try to go beyond what they are. DC has tried something a bit different with taking their heroes and dropping them in a more realistic world. They ask the question of what our world would be like if these heroes actually were apart of it and I like that. I think it gives an edge to the stories that lack in the cartoonish Marvel movies. Please, don’t think I am saying that the Marvel movies suck. They don’t at all. It would be like comparing “Forrest Gump” to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” Both fantastic movies, but neither in the same realm.
The action in the film is superb. It is loud like a Michael Bay film, but it has somthing that Michael Bay never really had-good emotional acting. Tranformers was amazing, but did you ever feel any heartfelt connection to any of the character? I sure as hell didn’t. Here you get the destruction, but you get the love too. None of that slow-motion grasping of someone’s hand in the debris or the waving of the American flag amongst the destruction. I will say the action does get a bit tedious at points, but I ate it up like yesterdays pizza. People complain that Superman wouldn’t do this sort of destruction. That he would do all he could to avoid collateral damage… Uh, he’s been Superman for like two days. He has not grown to be the hero of the world yet. Perhaps now that the damage has been done, he can move forward and become the hero that everyone looks towards but as of now he is still trying to get use to all of this.
The plot is cookiecutter. If you didn’t gather from the title of this section, I am going to talk a lot about the plot that is spolierish. So look away! Krypton is not the crystal loving jerks they once were. They were geneticists. They bred their population to perform a single job, similar to the common bee. Jor-El was bred to be a scientist. Zod was bred to protect Krypton. Kal-El was a natural birth, the first in centuries, which means he has the right to choose his own destiny, a concept that I thought was friggin’ awesome. With the planet dying, Zod wants to rebuild Krypton utilizing the codex of their ancestors so that he can rebuild Krypton the way he wants… Which is right on top of Earth, but I’ll get to that later. Jor-El uploads the codex into Kal-El’s cells which means Zod needs Superman’s blood to regrow Krypton. Has it been done before? Yes to some extent. Did it fit in the story? Yes. I wasn’t looking for a groundbreaking story. I got enough to push the story along and I was fine with that.
HUGE SPOILER!!!! LOOK AWAY NOW!!! Going into this movie I heard that Superman is forced to make a decision and that his choice will drastically set the tone for this series. I had no idea that the choice was between killing Zod and saving bystanders. Everyone feels that Superman is a force for good and can not kill. Well, he kills in this movie. Just once, and it’s amazing. He begs. He pleads. But in the end, he snaps Zod’s neck and then screams at what he had done. It is not like he enjoyed it. He had to do it and I loved it. Everyone complains that Superman can’t kill, just like Batman. People claim that this concept is ridiculous and should have never been in the movie. Have you seen the earlier flicks? When Superman takes care of Zod in “Superman II” he throws him into a foggy abyss where I don’t think he’ll be eating tea and strumpets. No, he killed Zod then, he just did it in a more graphic way now. Batman killed in the earlier movies as well, but did anyone complain then? He throws one guy down a bell tower and blows one guy up with a bomb. Did anyone care? No! He did it. It’s done. Move on.
My gripes on this movie are few, but powerful.
Lois Lane knows who Superman really is. Does this bother me? A little. I liked the ignorance of Margot Kidder. Does it really make sense in today’s society? I mean, Margot Kidder went on a date with Superman and couldn’t figure out that Clark Kent was him because he wore glasses and played corny? Yeah, its funny, but it doesn’t fit, especially if she is a hotshot reporter. She can’t be that fantastic of a reporter if she can’t deduce who Clark Kent really is, but I still liked the playfulness of the concept.
The revelation of the Fortress of Solitude was too coincidental. It is explained that it has been lost in the ice for twenty thousand years and they luckily they find it while Clark is doing his walkabout? Too far fetched for my taste. The explanation of the suit? Well, there isn’t any. Yes, it is the undergarment for the armour on Krypton, but there is no explanation why Clark’s is on the ship, why it holds the symbol of the house of El and why it’s blue and red when everyone elses looks black. Perhaps they’ll explain in the sequel. If they do, I’ll let this gripe go, but for now it stands.
My last big gripe is how Superman reveals pretty much everything about his past. He tells the government in two separate conversations that he had been on the planet for 33 years and that he grew up in Kansas? You mean to tell me they can’t figure out which families had children 33 years ago in Kansas? Even those who may have adopted children? Hell, Superman and Zod’s cronies fight IN SMALLVILLE. Could that be where he grew up? It’s a little too much for me to ignore, but does it ruin the movie? No. Just leaves a little bitter taste in my mouth.
“Man of Steel” is a good movie. Is it great? No, but then neither was “Spider-Man”, “Batman Begins”, or any of the other kick starter movies. They had their flaws, but they were great nonetheless. It paves the way for what could be a great series and starts the ball rolling for Justice League. If they maintain this grittiness with it’s other heroes, this sense of reality, I think it will work out just fine.