MAN OF STEELRelease Date: June 15, 2013
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne
Official Synopsis: A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
I need to get this sentence out of the way at the start because I'm going to start analyzing some aspects of this film that may come off as negative but they aren't really intended like that so...here goes:
MAN OF STEEL is a successful reboot and reenergizing of the very dead SUPERMAN film franchise.
I was hooked from the start of the film right through the end primarily because of 2 factors: (1) it is a fantastically imaginative science-fiction action film and (2) Henry Cavill completely captures the essence of the introspective messiah archetype that they remake Superman into for this film and for the modern era.
I mentioned it to some friends online immediately after viewing the film that this really is not a super-hero movie. This is a science-fiction movie first and foremost. It is also a character study of Clark Kent more than Superman — yes, for purposes of my discussion here I will separate the two. To appreciate this film you really need to check all your preconceptions at the door and stop trying to impose your idea of who and what Superman is. This is not the social-activist arrogant brute that appeared in 1938 with no real respect for life. Neither is this the all-powerful demigod of impossible perfection he evolved into. This is not the smiling get-lost-cats-out-of-trees and wink at the camera Christopher Reeve version. This is not the Clark from SMALLVILLE running around in a world surrounded by secret super-heroes and monsters. Those are super-heroes grounded in the commonly expected tropes of super-hero stories. This movie is more about Earth and humanity's first known encounter with extraterrestrial aliens and Clark Kent/Kal-El is the set of eyes through which this story unfolds.
|Russell Crowe as Jor-El on Krypton|
This is not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned.
|Henry Cavill as Clark Kent|
|Henry Cavill as Superman|
|Henry Cavill as Superman|
The heart and soul of the film itself is the deep-seated integrity and inherent goodness in Clark and Henry Cavill really pours himself into the part. Not only does he look perfect for the part, but his deep, deep thoughtful expressions and tender smile really make Superman into someone who feels real and unthreatening. And let me tell you, when you have an alien on your doorstep with the power to lay waste to your entire planet with his bare hands....you want to feel that he is completely trustworthy and safe. Cavill accomplishes this while maintaining an aura of strength and masculine virility I don't believe I've really seen in a super-hero movie. Fantastic casting. His onscreen chemistry with Amy Adams as Lois Lane is very strong as well. Lois in this film is played very smart, feisty, and an integral part of Clark's transition into mankind's modern-day savior.
For me, this is what the movie is all about. However, I know others want to know about things like General Zod (Michael Shannon) and the action sequences and other aspects. So, I'm going to touch on those. Let me start with the minor things and then build to the more important and then I'll address some of the criticisms I might have with some aspects.
|Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Amy Adams as Lois Lane|
|Russell Crowe as Jor-El|
|Antje Traue as Faora|
|Michael Shannon as Zod|
I think the film was structured very well for telling this story. It really did bring a new perspective and approach to the character that will hopefully clear out everyone's preconceptions a bit and open the door for a successful new franchise. There's a bit of a lull in the 2 1/2 hours between Clark's appearance on Earth and the appearance of Zod where the pacing gets a bit stilted. And Kevin Costner is so freaking depressing I couldn't wait for him to die. But other than that, I thought the movie was very good. It wasn't great. Picking up the pace a bit and adding a sense of humor to the proceedings would've pushed it to great. The Marvel Studios movies all have a strong sense of fun and humor to them and have just embraced the trappings of a world full of super-heroes. This film takes the subject seriously and recognizes that this is more than a super-hero movie. MAN OF STEEL is about crafting a myth for the modern day and it succeeds at established the first of the demigods pushed to his limits. Oh yeah, that reminds me of another aspect of this interpretation of Superman that I really enjoyed. He has to work at it. His strength and even his flying is a product of his will and determination — a reflection of the strength of character and goodness within him.
Yeah. I really enjoyed MAN OF STEEL, wish it had included more humor and fun, but I will be back to see it again probably this weekend or next week.
I give it ★★★ 1/2 out of ★★★★★
(I know it's shallow but I would've given it ★★★★ but I'm punishing the filmmakers in my own immature way for not buying Michael Shannon better dentures so he could make his "s" sounds without making a distracting "sh" sound.)