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Jun 15

Man of Steel {Film Review}

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*WARNING – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!*

 

This week is Warner Bros./DC Comics turn to bring up the heat for summer blockbuster season. It has been seven years since we had Superman on our screens with Superman Returns and the results were incredibly underwhelming (considering we had Batman Begins the year before, which was a critical and financial success). So a reboot was green-lit and Zack Snyder takes the helm to deliver Superman with watchful eyes from Christopher Nolan (serving as co-writer and producer). The end result is not as soaring as one would hope but flies rather valiantly.

 

Superman’s origin story remains the same; Kal-El (Henry Cavill) is one of the last remaining beings from the planet Krypton. Both his parents, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), sent him off on a spacecraft as the planet was becoming unstable and would soon lead to its imminent destruction. His spacecraft crash lands in Smallville, Kansas and is raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Coster and Diane Lane). Though the interesting aspect that writers David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan decided to focus on this Superman movie is asking; how would we react to a super-being? Would we welcome it with open arms or would we feel threatened? It’s certainly interesting to the fact none of the previous

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movie iterations even remotely decided to focus on that aspect. Although the story can feel a bit too cold for a Superman film and comes to no surprise it mostly has Chris Nolan’s stamp all over it. It was understandable for his Dark Knight trilogy to contain such a grim tone and featuring such dark themes. Superman really is a Moses story through and through but really delves into his alien heritage. There are amusing one-liners here and there but the cinematography all felt bleak with shades of blue and grey (with exception of scenes in Krypton).

 

Henry Cavill dons the suit really well, and he also brings the character quite a bit of charm but also some weight to the character. He brings such emotions as isolation and frustration, trying to blend in but there’s always a reminder that he will never be one of them. Although one scene that I felt was too forced on the religious symbolism is when he confesses to a priest in a church (whilst sitting in-front of a window with Jesus on it, subtle movie!) and he tells Kal-El to take a leap of faith. Amy Adams makes Lois Lane an active character this time round, rather than just solely being the damsel-in-distress that has Superman saving often. The chemistry between Superman and Lois is a bit weak but hopefully will expand in future sequels. Both Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play their characters really well, though there’s not much to work on as Jonathan is along with the many motivational parent/guardians to our heroes (Aunt May in Spider-Man and Alfred in Batman). Though the spot-light is Michael Shannon as General Zod, a great character actor but he completely chews the scenery and yet makes him quite intimidating which brings the fun to this film. You really believe this is a man motivated and dedicated to his genetic upbringing as a military leader.

 

As expected from Zack Snyder, he really delivers the spectacle and makes you believe a man can fly again! You feel the ferocity when Superman is flying for the first time, the sense of wonder from Superman’s reaction on roaring through the clouds. We finally get to see super-beings beat the living daylights out of each other. The scale and action sequences is spectacular, raising the bar to the extreme on what Superman has to handle. Zod’s soldiers really do put up a fight and you feel every blow they make is a devastating one! Though it does concern me that Zack Snyder causes this much destruction more on looking cool than taking into consideration the death toll would be extremely high (not to mention the amount of damage and lasting impact would leave upon Metropolis’s citizens). I was genuinely enthralled by WETA Digital’s creation of Krypton, clearly the filmmakers made sure they distanced themselves from Richard Donner’s Krypton. You feel that everything had a purpose and the planet felt alive with its inhabitants (I especially liked the silver projections when Lara is giving birth and Jor-El is giving Kal-El a history lesson about Krypton). Hans Zimmer’s score really captures the awe and wonder of Superman but also the menacing threat from the villains. There’s a lot to live up to than being under the shadow of John Williams’ iconic theme tune but Zimmer completely makes it his own.

 

Overall; a great stab on the Superman icon and really succeeds to make its own than trying to be a copy with what has been already established. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams play their respective characters faithfully and supported by a terrific cast. I really am looking forward to seeing more of this Superman series.

 

4 out 5