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“Man of Steel” – Review (POSITIVE)

June 14, 2013

Screen shot 2013-06-14 at 9.16.44 PM

LOOK! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No it’s…THE MAN OF STEEL! The man in blue isn’t referenced as “Superman” through most of the film, until one army Sergeant nicknames him the famous name for target identification purposes. Perhaps in the sequel we’ll come to know and love Kal-El simply as SUPERMAN.

Zack Snyder is a tricky horsy when it comes to making a big budget comic book movie. When it came to “Watchmen” many folks were somewhat split on his take of the famous Alan Moore graphic novel. Me, I loved the movie, and I even loved the ultimate director’s cut. Sure, in a perfect world I would love to have the giant squid, but then again, we don’t live in a perfect world…or do we? Christopher Nolan and his “Batman Begins” co-writer, David S. Goyer, found a way to bring Superman into the modern 2012/2013 world. Snyder’s background in the heavy action fueled comic book adaptation was something I think the DC studio really needed, after the lackluster “Green Lantern”.

To sum it up simply, “Man of Steel” is the Superman movie fans of the popular cultural hero have been yearning for since “Superman III/IV/Returns” tainted their taste buds. With it’s issues, the movie as a whole is a whopping good time, and is a testament to the character, the universe, and the summer movie blockbuster. Snyder gives us a relatable Superman for modern audience, or as I like to put it, The Dark Knight Generation, and also finds a reasonable balance to give us some familiarity of the characters past incarnations.

We open on Krypton, the planet is dying, and the well-respected representative of the planet, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) have given the planet its very first naturally born son, Kal-El. Krypton’s military leader, General Zod (Michael Shannon) commits high treason and subsequently murders Jor-El. However, before his demise, Jor-El sends his son far away, with a secret that is the key for saving Krypton’s genetic history. Baby Kal-El travels an ocean of stars and lands on a planet known as…Earth.

33 years later (which is the first of many Jesus references this movie gives off), we find a loaner Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), traveling the world, changing his identity, performing extraordinary acts of bravery, and then disappears on & off again. Clark catches wind of a possible alien artifact being found in the Arctic, which could lead him to the answers about where he came from and who he really is. Daily Planet reporter, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) investigates the phenomenon and learns of Clark’s secret. Zod, makes his way to Earth, and plans to annihilate the entire world unless Kal surrenders. And so, the true testament of what makes a hero, and what sacrifices he shall make to better mankind begin!

As far as superhero movies go, this movie is up there all right, but it doesn’t come close to “The Dark Knight” or “Marvel’s The Avengers”. The movie has a large majority of goods to share, but it lacks in the script department. The biggest issue the movie has is it’s too convoluted for it’s own good. There is A LOT going on here, so much so that I found myself lost quite a few times. Act III is all over the place and it’s deliberately setting up for a continuation to explain more in a sequel. David S. Goyer scribed the film, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks this, but he’s not the best screenwriter, for crying outloud his dialogue is piss poor, it was bad in “Batman Begins”, and it’s bad here.

Screen shot 2013-06-14 at 9.17.02 PMNow, where the movie lacks in script issues, it does make up for in the broad acting abilities, the mind numbing special effects, and a powerhouse score by Hans Zimmer. Elephant in the room, how was Henry Cavill? Henry Cavill? Who’s this Henry Cavill you speak of, because all I saw on the big screen was SUPERMAN! Cavill is the Man of Steel! Without question this movie wins lead casting choice of the year. Henry gives a brilliant nuance performance to the character, which makes him, as I stated before, the most relatable superhero to this day. Many people complain that they cannot connect with Superman, because…well, he’s a God. But here, we’re given a different take on the film; he has certain weakness, physical (non-Kryptonite) and mental.

The supporting players are all very good; the two that stand out the most were Antje Traue as Faora-Ul and Kevin Costner as Pa Kent. Traue made a great female villain, more so than Shannon’s Zod, I wish there was more of her, and being drop dead hot along with being a bad ass helps a great deal. Costner, who I’ve never really been much of a fan of, does a wonderful job as Clark’s Earth father, Jonathan. He gives Clark a sense of purpose, and guides him on how to be the best person he can be, and saving his gifts for when the world will really need him. Amy Adams made a good Lois, don’t get me wrong, but the character development between her and Clark was stiff at best, perhaps it’s all being saved for the sequel.

I’ve been reading up on some of the critic’s reactions, some I agree with (minor at the very least), and some I highly disagree with. There was plenty of action, and well-paced beats between the next action sequences. The runtime, for me, didn’t feel like 2 hours and 23 minutes, if anything it felt shorter. I liked what Zack Snyder has done with the character and the world he lives in and I hope to see more from him. All they need to do for “Man of Steel 2″ is replace the writer with someone a bit stronger in the summer blockbuster field; get the dynamic duo of Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Oraci to scribe the next film, and everything will be air tight.

GRADE: B+

Special thanks to Sergio Enamorando’s input after attending the screener.

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