Man of Steel (2013)
Writer: David S. Goyer
Director: Zack Snyder
Viewed: Friday 05 July 2013 @ Event Cinemas Chermside, Brisbane.
Poor Man of Steel. There is so much hate out there for you at the moment. Who cares though, right? As they say, all publicity is good publicity! You’re still making shit loads of money. Everybody is talking about you. There are murmurs you’ll be coming back to us in sequel form. Just remember all of this, MoS, and block out all the haters. You’re a good movie. A good, good movie. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
When the Kryptonians destroy their own planet, quite literally from the inside out (advanced species indeed!), their top scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe, redeeming himself immeasurably for Les Miserables) packs his newborn son, Kal-El, into an escape pod and sends him off to Earth with a lot of wise words about being their protector and savior. The Kryptonian’s are in to genetically engineering their offspring to fill certain roles in society, but Kal-El is the first naturally conceived and born Kryptonian child in centuries and Jor-El believes he is the key to Krypton living on in co-existence with Earth. Krypton’s military leader, General Zod (Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road) is incredibly unhappy about all this. He thinks Krypton should just take over another planet as their own and rebuild their race. Only problem is the codex with all future Kryptonian DNA stored on it is sent to earth with Kal-El. This makes for an angry Zod, sentenced to The Phantom Zone after his failed coup, and a dead Jor-El. Flash forward 33 years (and then flash back again occasionally) and Kal-El is now Clark Kent, Kansas farm boy, Deadliest Catch fisherman, and just all round general nice guy saving human lives while trying to discover the truth about who he really is. When General Zod returns it’s not exactly to give Clark the answers he is looking for, but rather to cause some extreme shit to go down.
I’m not the biggest Superman fan. I’ve only ever seen the Christopher Reeve movies once or twice, never read a single comic and haven’t been able to sit though Superman Returns in it’s entirety. Watching Lois & Clark as a kid and a few seasons of Smallville back in its day are about as fan boy as I ever got. Maybe that’s why I don’t understand the negativity surrounding Man of Steel. I loved it. LOVED it! Yes it has it’s issues, but the good far, far, FAR outweighs the bad. Starting with Henry Cavill (Immortals) as the man himself. Perfect. Inspired casting. Cavill manages to simultaneously give us the innocent, lost, lonely Clark while also easily convincing as the super-powered, ridiculously ripped, towering Kryptonian. His line delivery is exceptional and only furthers the unsure, alien nature of Clark. There is just nothing negative I can say. I’m going to put my controversial opinion out there and suggest he’s the best Clark/Superman. Ever. Yep. I said it.
“Joyless” is a word being thrown around a lot when describing MoS. “It’s too dark.” “It’s too much like Nolan‘s Dark Knight movies. Superman should be more of a light, happy, funny character than Batman.” WTF? Why?? Bruce Wayne lost his parents, yes, but Kal-El lost his entire race and planet! He knows nothing about his heritage and he’s an alien on Earth. Why should this make him “light” and “happy”? Sure it’s serious, but there are quite a few LOL moments thrown in that work seamlessly within the tone of the movie without feeling like they’ve only been thrown in to draw a laugh. This isn’t so much a superhero story, it’s the story of Earth’s discovery that there are not only aliens out there, but some of them want to destroy us. Adding schlocky or slapstick humor would have been all wrong.
There’s plenty of action to keep audiences entertained in between the more “heavy” scenes. It’s even action you can discern. I’m sure with characters moving and flying at super-speed the temptation would have been there to use the crazy, hand-held, shaky-cam, quick-edits that have become the current norm, but instead you can actually tell what’s going on. It’s a relief. Issues with the final climatic battle where both Smallville and Metropolis are almost completely destroyed? What do you think would happen if all these super-beings were waging battle? Throwing each other in to buildings, bringing down planes and helicopters, changing Earth’s atmosphere. All this shit would cause damage. Catastrophic damage! The realism is a great touch. It’s done well and it looks awesome.
Finally there’s the *MAJOR SPOILER* “Superman would NEVER kill Zod” people. Please. Ok, I accept that it’s against the superhero norm, but I think in the context of MoS the killing is completely justified. Clark has grown up on Earth, has a Earth family, has all-American ideals. Zod is trying to destroy Earth, has already caused the death of thousands of people in his battle with Clark/Superman, is trying to kill Clark/Superman AND is about to maliciously murder a family right in front of him. The circumstances validate the kill and Clark/Superman’s reaction to it provides the emotional high of the movie and just another reason for my “best Superman ever” claim above concerning Cavill. I may have even had a tear in my eye.
So what doesn’t work? While I do love me some Amy Adams (The Muppets), she’s a bit too cutesy and nice to be playing the Pulitzer Prize winning, war correspondent, go-anywhere-for-the-story, Daily Planet reporter, Lois Lane. The blossoming love between Lois and Clark is also woefully underdone. Their first kiss at the end of the movie is supposed to be a big moment, but there’s a gross lack of chemistry (and how could you NOT have chemistry with Henry Cavill??). Lois also seems to insert herself in to the military operations against the Kryptonians a bit too easily. Oh, and the 3D, as usual, isn’t anything special. That’s about it though. The rest of the casting is spot on and the characters act and react in ways you would expect when in this kind of situation. They’re smart and real. Yes Lois knows who Clark is (because really, how could she not?). Yes people who have been saved by Clark know he’s not your average Kansas guy (because really, how could they not?). Yes the military reacts to the realisation that there are aliens among us, but I almost cheered when Chris Meloni‘s (Law & Order: SVU) army colonel says “This man is not our enemy.” and they work with Clark. Have I gushed enough? I could go on all day (because really, how could you not?).
I can’t help but think that hatred (too strong?) for Zack Snyder (thanks Suckper Punch) by a lot of people has translated to hatred for MoS that is simply unwarranted. He’s done an exceptional job breathing new life into a character and franchise that sorely needed it (yes, much like Nolan with Batman. Comparisons are impossible to avoid). MoS succeeds as an origin story, a sci-fi story, a superhero story and the story of a great character discovering their purpose in life, all rolled in to one. With the final scene of Clark donning his glasses and beginning work at The Daily Planet, along with obvious Lexcorp sightings thrown in to MoS, I for one hope Man of Steel 2 (or will it be Superman Rises?) comes along sooner rather than later. Hell, I just can’t wait to see THIS MoS again! For all these reasons I give Man of Steel 4 ½ Rant and Rave Points.
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Read my friend Ry A’s review here: http://enterpriseofgeeks.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/review-man-of-steel.html
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