Thursday, November 21, 2013

Man of Steel (2013)

JohnnyTwoToes critiques this bombastic but fun re-imagining of Superman

The latest reboot of another superhero series has made its way through the theaters and is now on DVD and On Demand; Zack Snyder's long awaited Man of Steel (2013). As a fan of the Christopher Reeve version of Superman, I was dubious of how good the remake (if you can call it that) could possibly be. I was surprised; somewhat. 

Man of Steel is not your daddy's Superman. The film opens on Krypton, Superman or Kal-El is being born amidst a dying planet. Natural resources gone and an imploding core have left Jor-El (Russel Crowe), Supeman's father little time to convince the planet's elders to seek life in the outer posts and start anew. Zod, a one time friend of Jor-El wants to take over the planet and rule with an iron fist, but Jor-El wants no part of Zod's blood lust for power. The two were once friends but, now, have nothing to say to one another. I loved that the first thirty minutes or so stayed on Krypton and we see a once glorious planet in its last days in a vivid display of visuals. 

Crowe is very good as Jor-El and I could see his point of survival. Zod is played with ruthless zeal by the terrific Michael Shannon and he tears up the screen with his rage and thirst for power. After the attempted coup d'etat fails, Zod and his minions are banished to the outer limits for all eternity. Once on planet Earth Kale-El knows he is different, knows what his powers are but not much else about his past. A kind couple (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) pick him up after he crash lands as an infant in a corn field. They raise and love him as their own, but Clark as he is now called does not seem to fit in. After a series of odd jobs from all over, he finally gets a line on a mysterious site that has been discovered and travels there to get a job and find answers. It is there he meets the lovely Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Once Zod and his gang of thugs have found Earth and demand the turning over of Kal-El or else, the action begins. 

Man of Steel is nothing like the originals. The originals were fun, lighthearted and Christopher Reeve was terrific as the title character. He was super enough to be accepted as Superman and bumbling enough to be Clark Kent. The whole while his performance willfully acknowledged to the viewer to not take these TOO seriously. Man of Steel, wants to be taken more seriously and it is a much darker and bleaker look for the franchise. That is not entirely a bad thing. 

The film was written by David S. Goyer and with some help on the story by Christopher Nolan and the script is intelligent however, the humor is sparse throughout the film. I particularly liked Kevin Costner's performance as Kal-El's Earthly father. It has a quiet peacefulness to it and, although he is not in the film that much his character stayed with me. Diane Lane is also solid as Kal_El's Earthly mother, as is the beautiful Amy Adams as Lois Lane. 

We don't get to meet Jimmy, yet but I think that will come in the upcoming sequels.Henry Cavill is a decent actor and he does do what is required of his character, but he does come across a little flat. But there is a strong supporting cast with Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Richard Schiff as the kindly doctor who helps analyze what the discovery is, Harry Lennix as the lead General that wants to protect Earth at all costs, and the sexy Antje Traue, a cold hearted snake and Zod's right hand, so to speak. 

Much of the first half of the film is told in a series of flashbacks and some of the best moments in Man of Steel are the quieter ones with Henry and Costner, surprisingly. Man of Steel is a good film and I am going to recommend it. It has a compelling story, terrific visuals and is well acted. It is also a stark and bleak look at the man from Krypton, still there has been a lot of thought into how to make this film different.

Director Zack Snyder has delivered a bold and adventurous film that is a lot of fun. Snyder has re imagined this franchise and, for the most part it is a good film. I guess if I had any problems with it, they were the fact that the visuals tend to overshadow the story and the final climactic fight scene is a little too much over the top. But if you get a little weary of skyscrapers falling and trains being cast about like toys, just hone in on Hans Zimmer's wonderful score. I have been critical of his music for films recently, and thought he was scoring too much and not letting his creativeness regenerate between films,but he has composed a majestically gorgeous score that is worthy of a nod from Oscar. At almost two and half hours in length, Man of Steel might seem a little long but it is time well spent, mistakes or not. Man of Steel-*** out of 4


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