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Man of Steel (2013 film)

Director Zack Snyder's 2013 film based on the DC Comics character

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The Last Son of Krypton....His Heritage, His Humanity and His Destiny

  • Jun 14, 2013
Rating:
+4

I don’t ask much when filmmakers go for comic book adaptations. I just hope that A) the filmmakers would preserve the essence of the character and source material. B) I don’t mind changes as long as they serve to expand and apply the mechanics and elements to modern times and fans, and C) they should be able to create a story all their own without cheapening their goals. Comic Books are one of my main sources of entertainment, together with movies and so I care about its characters.

Writer David Goyer and co-producer Christopher Nolan fresh from their success in the Dark Knight trilogy and director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) now takes on one of the most enduring, most well-known comic book archetypes of our time. I was both excited and at the same time, a little concerned. Superman had been adapted so many times to the big screen. The early Superman films were a product of its time, and Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” was just a failure since it limited itself a little too much. Zack Snyder is one director that I always saw as a ‘fan boy’ and despite his less than stellar resume, he may be the right man to bring the last son of Krypton to the big screen once again. Well, “Man of Steel” was everything that I hoped for as it fulfilled my small requirements for a comic book adaptation.

                     Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel."

                    Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Dylan Sprayberry as Clark Kent in "Man of Steel."

Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) have given birth to a boy whom they named Kal-El. This birth is the first ‘natural birth’ in Krypton for centuries and they mean to safeguard this child by any means necessary. This birth comes at the eve of a rebellion led by General Zod (Michael Shannon) to overthrow the council during which time, Jor-El succeeds in rocketing his child to a distant planet at the cost of his life. Soon after, due to the Kryptonian’s abuse of their natural resources, their home planet’s core is set to explode, ending all Kryptonian life. Kal-El lands on Earth and is raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), a kindly couple who lives in Smallville, Kansas and is given the name Clark. Here Clark grows up learning just who he is and learns to adjust to his rapidly growing powers and strength. Always staying under the radar even as he tries to help people whenever he could that his feats have created some ‘urban myth’ across America. Clark’s search for his heritage and origins bring him to the close attention of a reporter named Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and may caused an ancient Kryptonian threat to rise again. Kal-El must now embrace his Kryptonian roots and his humanity to fight off the threat set forth by Zod….

                    Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel."

                   Henry Cavill as Superman and Christopher Meloni as Colonel Hardy in "Man of Steel."

                   Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van in "Man of Steel."

Finally, after the misfire which was Superman Returns, Zack Snyder and David Goyer seems to have gotten the right flow of storytelling that captures the essence and tempo of the man of steel. It is a little darker than most portrayals of Superman with its rather fragmented style of storytelling in its first half. It does have deviations from the source material for storytelling purposes, but none of it bothered me. Snyder had created his vision of the man of steel and he has made it his own. Some may mistake Snyder's love for the material and the character as a form of cinematic weakness, but his hand is perfectly visible in the film and his flair for the visually dramatic just shines through. The film’s screenplay has nods to past Superman story arcs such as “World Engine”, nods to “Superman Earth One” and the major storylines concerning Zod. What I liked most about the film is how Snyder knew how to render a movie with Superman, and was bold enough to get rid of what was expected by commercial fans. He wisely kept the film from becoming lighthearted and campy, and instead he goes for a more serious tone, and with Hans Zimmer’s marvelous soundtrack, “Man of Steel” is epic and a spectacle.

The direction and script concentrates on the character, his heritage and just how much more human this immigrant from another planet truly is. I enjoyed how it goes deeper into his origins and captures the current mood and tone of current comic book continuity. I liked how Kal-el was presented as a conflicted character; he wants to help but he is also filled with concern as to how he should go forth with his choices to achieve his destiny. This world that Kal-El moves around in felt more real; there is no far-fetched hero worship and this is a world that may fear the unknown and trust must be earned. True, it can be criticized for coming a little closer to how Marvel did its “Supreme Power” comic books, and truly left most of what had been established in the past Superman films (and classic stories). But I thought this was a mature undertaking and ambitious in scope. I loved the manner that it developed the Kal-El character as he became Clark Kent. Henry Cavill was able to make the character stand as a conflicted hero; the emotions were alive within both the Clark Kent and Kal-El personalities, as someone who belonged to a different world and yet, came from a different galaxy. I loved the way the flashbacks were handled, as it gave Clark the needed growth within the screenplay. From learning about his powers and what it meant to use them, the writing was quite solid and steady in its execution.

                      Michael Shannon as General Zod in "Man of Steel."

                      Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel."

Much of Snyder’s focus lay within giving the Clark Kent character development. I really enjoyed the way that the script went to show just how war-like the Kryptonians really were. I know this is a departure from the early original stories in the 30’s-70's but it worked well for modern fans. Russell Crowe was great as the enigmatic Jor-El. Jor-El is a man of strong principle, a man who wants to go beyond what had been established in Krypton, and wants to go for something different. Krypton is a place where the birth of its citizens is more scientific where destinies had been assigned and decided, and he gives his son the freedom to choose who he wants to be. It was also nice to the see the past relationship between Jor-El and Zod developed since it served to make the villain much more compelling. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane played the Kents as they became the root as to how Clark is shaped, and his principles are birthed. I do have to say that I liked the way the Lois Lane-Clark Kent dynamic was developed. This was no starry-eyed reporter who just wanted to know about this mystery man, but rather someone with a conscience. It may cause purists to question it, but really, it made more sense. Lois Lane is destined to be the character who would work closely with Clark and Superman, and so Snyder sidesteps the stupid notion that “she does not know who he is with those glasses?!” and instead develops it in a different way that is definitely fresh and innovative.

The screenplay also did not forget to include the concept as to how the military would react to a “Superman” and an alien invasion. It was such a wise move to see the military fight side by side with Superman. This is a threat that encompasses the entire planet after all, as Zod threatens not just Superman but his adopted world. The battles were a little too much on the CGI-side, but that factor never truly bothered me. The battle between Superman and Faora (Antje Traue) with one another Kryptonian muscle man was intense, hard-hitting and used all the PG-13 violence it could muster. I liked just how someone who had little training in fighting faced off with Kryptonian soldiers fit for war. It was someone ‘adapted’ for powers against someone who are just getting used to them, as they used those powers for optimum damage. It could be a chore following the action sequences, as the Kryptonians had super-speed, but the intensity and the full interactive sequences captured the power, the force of each punch as they were felt through the surroundings. The battle between Zod and Superman was spectacular, and was exactly how two god-like beings should be (a superior rendition than what was seen in the Thor-Loki battles in Thor and The Avengers).

                   Antje Traue as Faora-Ul in "Man of Steel."

                   Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel."

                  Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel."

The character designs were good especially the new uniform worn by Cavill as it appears to have been influenced by DC's "New 52!" line. I thought the machine designs and Kryptonian battle suits fit the film’s story. It made the environment a factor as to how they moved around our planet. I saw some rather curious references to Brainiac and how just this machinery/tech worked, and I am hopeful that that may be in line for a future sequel. I liked the idea of the metallic liquid pebble-like computers and machines, as they made the Kryptonian tech look ancient at the same time advance yet relatable to its viewers. Set pieces were very well-thought out, as the ships looked like they were truly inspired by the comic books. Familiar characters such as Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), a young girl named Lana, Pete Ross, Prof. Hamilton and Steve Lombard made appearances, and they set the film’s supporting cast. They served to give the Clark Kent and Lois Lane characters depth and dimensions that were necessary to advance its plot.

There are so many things I’d like to say about this film. But I think I am close to rambling that I think I’d like to stop here. “Man of Steel” is a comic book lovers’ dream. It succeeds where most comic book adaptations have failed, it brings a promise of things to come while truly re-introducing the Superman character for old and new fans of the comic books; as Krypton's last 'true' son. While it can be argued that Snyder’s direction leaned a little on the angst angle, it worked for its development as a character study. New viewers would have a peek as to how an alien immigrant would feel and live in this planet of ours, while old fans of the comic books can celebrate just how it handled the character and made its main antagonist as mean and cruel as he should be because he believed he was in the right. “Man of Steel” is the Superman movie for this modern age (I appreciated that the name "Superman" was only said once). Hey, I am a comic book fan, and I admit that proudly. After the disappointing “Iron Man 3”, I breathed in a sigh of relief. This was a breath of fresh air that I hope Snyder will stay on to bring the Man of Steel to the path of greatness he deserves....that is to become the "Man of Tomorrow", Kal-El must first become the "Man of Today"...

Highly Recommended! [4 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

                        Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel."



Poster art for "Man of Steel: An IMAX 3D Experience." Poster art for "Man of Steel: An IMAX 3D Experience."

                                        Poster art for "Man of Steel: An IMAX 3D Experience."
 
The Man of Steel....His Heritage, His Humanity and His Destiny The Last Son of Krypton....His Heritage, His Humanity and His Destiny The Last Son of Krypton....His Heritage, His Humanity and His Destiny The Last Son of Krypton....His Heritage, His Humanity and His Destiny The Last Son of Krypton....His Heritage, His Humanity and His Destiny The Last Son of Krypton....His Heritage, His Humanity and His Destiny The Man of Steel....His Heritage, His Humanity and His Destiny The Last Son of Krypton....His Heritage, His Humanity and His Destiny

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June 18, 2013
Excellent review! For you and I this film was good because we already know every facet of the Superman lore that this was in fact a fresh take. Some people have pointed out the biblical similaries. He is kind of the savior to his people who is cast off by his parents to a new place (like Moses being cast off in the basket). Zod is kind of like Caiphus trying to kill Jesus. Kal-el is like the savior to his people (like both Jesus and Moses). Also, through a good part of the movie he has a beard (how did he shave it off?). It is tough to have a good discussion about the movie on this board because people will complain about spoilers.
June 18, 2013
Thanks! I believe he used his heat vision and it was kind of hinted at..I am sure Snyder may have a director's cut for this one. I also saw some of the Biblical similarities, but it did not bother me since they were just too small. I think he isn't a savior but rather the last true son meant to represent his people. I know what you mean about spoilers in discussions....maybe we should begin a board here?
 
June 17, 2013
"to become the "Man of Tomorrow", Kal-El must first become the "Man of Today" - That is an excellent ending to the review WP. I was wondering how this would turn out. I will be seeing it of course.
June 18, 2013
I was so happy to see a comic book adaptation that actually tried to be an adaptation rather than the stupid comedies as Marvel has been releasing recently. Marvel had gotten worst in their movies after Spidey 2 and Capt. America.

Thanks for the read. I am getting ready for WORLD WAR Z
 
June 17, 2013
Will, came back to Lunch.com specifically to read your review. I had already seen it and loved it, but I wanted to get your thoughts on it. I agree with literally every point you made. Nice work!
June 17, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to read it, Julian. I have to say, I am very glad that DC is not afraid to go a little dark and deep, rather than stooping to the same elements as Marvel with their comic book adaptations. It was a relief that this had no comedy at all (light humor yes) and it took its time build the character--that it followed the tempo of the Dark Knight films.
 
June 15, 2013
Looks interesting although the character of Superman is not the Clark Kent of old! Excellent pictures too!
June 15, 2013
thanks. that is what I liked most about it....
June 16, 2013
Agreed.
 
1
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   OK, let's get this out of the way right up front. Superman is 80 years old. (Not the character, the franchise.) That means there are 80 years of history and tradition surrounding the character, spanning multiple mediums (comics, radio, TV, movies) and any filmmaker who wants to take on Superman must find a way to deal with all that history. Zack Snyder, director of "Man of Steel," has chosen to mostly just ignore it. Aside from a few basics - the emblematic "S," …
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About this movie

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Man of Steel is an American superhero film project, slated to be produced under the development of Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, and David S. Goyer. Based on the DC Comics character Superman, the film is a reboot of the Superman movie series.

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Details

Director: Zack Snyder
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Release Date: 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: David S. Goyer, Jonathan Nolan
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Studios
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