I am not a comic book aficionado, but I will gladly see just about any film based on their stories and characters. Considering that I have no idea if some detail, large or small, is changed, it makes it much more enjoyable. I am probably one of the few who thinks Superman Returns is a decent flick. I gave Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, and Kevin Spacey a chance.
The Superman fans got riled up again when word came that the series was being made again into a film. Rather than the film being a continuation, it is a complete reboot of the film series. I went to see The Dark Knight Rises, and, like many others, became transfixed by the teaser trailer for Man of Steel that ran before the film. Could this be our replacement for The Dark Knight films? It boasts a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. What could go wrong?
The answer is not much goes wrong. Man of Steel is almost greatness.
The first act of Man of Steel will pretty much get you hooked on this reboot. Before ever seeing Superman as a boy or a man, we see his beginnings on Krypton. The film explains his origins better than any other film. This is not a five minute origin story, but a well thought out and truly remarkable foundation for the rest of the film. This serves to tell some details that many non-comic fans probably never knew about the people of Krypton including how they came to be and how they survive.
Along with showing the birth of Kal-El, General Zod’s (Michael Shannon) fury is explained. This so-called villain is fully-fleshed out, more so than any other comic villain in recent memory. Doing so gives the audience more than the usual “bad guy” background which comes into play when General Zod just will not give up. It is not about him winning, but the survival of his Krypton.
The film is told in a nonlinear fashion. After the first act, the film goes immediately to present day Clark Kent. The poignant parts of his childhood are told in flashbacks. The parts that involve his human family are the best parts of the film in my opinion. Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent is pure perfection. He gets the struggle between protecting his son and wanting him to become what he is destined to be. The most emotional scene involving Clark and his parents is told so well and through not so much words, but actions. Diane Lane as Martha Kent is the warm, loving mother, but also a spitfire willing to stand up and not be afraid of Clark’s enemies.
The cast altogether are exactly what each character needs. Henry Cavill does a remarkable job taking on such an iconic comic book character and making it his own. Not many people are familiar with him (unless you are a fan of The Tudors), but after Man of Steel, he will likely have a burgeoning career. Russell Crowe embodies Jor-El well, and we get to see much more of his character in this film than in previous adaptations.
My only complaint is the catastrophic action climax of the film. I am all for a good showdown, but when the battle has supposedly been won, it starts all over again. The sequence is too long and becomes tiresome. It is almost like director Zach Snyder wanted to show just about every way super-aliens could fight and destroy a city.
Man of Steel is not a Marvel film. It does not have a somewhat comedic tone like Thor or Iron Man. It can be put in the same category as The Dark Knight trilogy, but the characters of Batman and Superman are so different that it is hard to put them on the same level. Man of Steel centers on the struggle of Clark Kent/Superman/Kal-El to find out who he is, his legacy, his morals, and what he wants to become to the people of Earth. The fans will hopefully be pleased with what Zach Snyder and company have done with their beloved comic book superhero. Man of Steel is poised to become a great franchise with hopefully a few more films to follow in the coming years. This film is far from a disappointment and for once the hype is validated a few times over.
Quick thoughts: The score is greatness and some Soundgarden is in the mix. The product placements are way too overt. Smallville and Lana Lane are in there. No Lex Luther, but his presence is there. Maybe in the next film? Similarities to The Matrix and Thor jumped out at me. And there is nothing after the end credits.
I give Man of Steel 4 “Superman S”s” out of 5.
by Sarah Ksiazek