Whilst I might not be the biggest fan of comic books themselves I have always been a fan of comic book movies, so it was a no brainer that I would definitely go to see Man of Steel as soon as possible… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0348150/ Even manlier than driving a car fast is flying fast.
But the movie industry has had many problems as a business. With really big losers they find they often wish to limited their liability.
The last time we saw a Superman film was in 2006 with the release of Superman Returns and whilst the film did well at the box office it was criticised by many fans for its lack of action and lack of adherence to the traditional Superman tropes (*Warning Nerd Rage* SUPERMAN CANNOT LIFT A CONTINENT OF KRYPTONITE (A MATERIAL HE IS COMPLETELY ANEMIC TO WHICH CAN KILL HIM!) AND THROW IT INTO SPACE NO MATTER HOW MUCH DIRT IS BETWEEN HIM AND THE KRYPTONITE!).
It is because of these problems that many believe that Superman Returns never received a sequel. After the success of the Christopher Nolan Batman films DC began to look around for another franchise to reboot and decided to have another go at the Superman series, bringing Nolan along as producer and hiring Watchmen’s Zack Snyder to direct.
Man of Steel begins on the planet Krypton (Superman’s home world) with couple Lara-El (Ayelet Zurer) and Jor-El (Russell Crowe) delivering the first naturally born child on the planet for centuries, who they decide to name Kal-El.
After Kal-El’s delivery we switch to a scene of Jor-El, who it is revealed is the head scientist of Krypton, arguing with the ruling council of Krypton. During this discussion we learn that due to the resource mining operations Krypton’s core has become unstable and the planet is about to tear itself apart. As he begins to explain his plan to save their race he is interrupted by the intrusion of General Zod (Michael Shannon) whose forces have begun a coup for control of the planet. Zod, a former friend of Jor-El’s urges him to join him, but when Jor-El refuses Zod orders his arrest.
Jor-El manages to escape and retrieve the genetic codex of Krypton (which contains the genetic code of every Kryptonian who has and will ever live inside of it). He returns home to his wife and son and transfers the codex into the infant boy’s bloodstream, then beginning preparations to send his son in a small ship to another planet to escape the destruction of Krypton (thousands of years before Krypton had been a space-faring race but had since become isolated from the rest of the universe).
Zod learns of this and comes to confront Jor-El but is unable to stop the launch of Kal-El’s ship. Zod’s forces fail in their coup and they are banished to the Phantom Zone (a black-hole like singularity) before his banishment Zod swears revenge and promises to track down Kal-El. Shortly after Zod’s banishment the planet Krypton explodes…
From then on the film follows Kal-El who crash lands on Earth in Kansas and is raised by Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) and his wife Martha Kent (Diane Lane) who decide to name him Clark. Due to his Kryptonian physiology and Earth’s yellow sun, Clark receives superhuman abilities. While at first confused by these powers and ostracised because of them Clark learns to use them for benefit of others. Jonathan eventually reveals to Clark his extraterrestrial origin but urges him not to use his abilities publicly, due to the fear of how the public will react to him.
After the discovery of an ancient Kryptonian scout ship in the arctic a now older Clark (Henry Cavill) discovers the truth about his origins from a holographic AI likeness of his father. Clark is followed into the spaceship by intrepid Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams). He saves her from the ship’s automated defence systems and drops her off in the arctic. After having her story rejected by Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) she decides to track Clark down with the intention of writing an expose about him. After hearing his story she decides not to reveal his secret.
Unknown to Clark the discovery of the Kryptonian ship on Earth sent a distress beacon into space. We then learn that shortly after the destruction of Krypton, General Zod and his fellow prisoners were released from their prison in the Phantom Zone. Seeking a place to re-colonise over the course of 33 years, they visited each of Krypton’s former colony’s but find that all of them have failed due to being cut off from the home planet. After receiving the distress call from Earth they discover that this is the planet that Kal-El crashed on. They demand that Kal-El be returned to them or humanity will suffer the consequences.
What follows is an action packed explosive adventure that I believe will satisfy the hunger of comic book fans everywhere.
In terms of cast I believe every single actor in this film played their parts perfectly. Henry Cavill plays the part of Superman exceptionally well (especially since Cavill is a British actor and up until his casting every other Superman had been American) playing the down-to-earth home grown salt of the earth Clark Kent perfectly.
I also enjoyed Amy Adam’s performance as Lois Lane. She embodied the spirit of intrepid reporter Lois Lane perfectly and I believe she is a vast improvement over the Superman Returns casting of Kate Bosworth.
Michael Shannon’s performance as General Zod was also excellent. Whilst not as iconic as Terrence Stamp, he still played the part of the villain excellently (although I was a little disappointed that along with all the other references to the films and the comic books in this film that they didn’t decide to include Zod’s iconic line “kneel before Zod”).
I was especially impressed by Russell Crowe’s performance as Jor-El. I felt that his performance as Jor-El blew Marlon Brando’s portrayal out of the water (an opinion that I guarantee will earn me the ire of fellow nerds worldwide). Crowe’s performance (especially the badass first 20 minutes) was actually more enjoyable to me than the whole of Superman Returns itself.
It is obvious that Christopher Nolan’s presence as producer on this film obviously brought a greater degree of realism than normal (whilst also staying more true to the comic books than any other live-action Superman film yet). Whilst this works well within the film and is something I congratulate the filmmakers for doing this might irritate fans who enjoy their Superman with a little more camp.
As previously stated Superman Returns contained almost no fight scenes. Man of Steel more than makes up for this by including a plethora of them (almost as if this film is trying to make up for its predecessor’s lack of action). The fight scene I most enjoyed was the Superman II inspired brawl that takes place between Superman, Zod’s forces and the American military in Smallville.
Man of Steel also turns some of the traditional Superman tropes on their heads (such as the boy in blues costume etc… and certain aspects of his origin) which is something I applaud it for doing.
There was also a few scenes that I enjoyed which feel were included for the extremely hardcore fans (the polar bear Scene etc…) who understand what obstacles the films have had to go through in order to get made (Jon Peter’s anyone?:
I also enjoyed the sly hints towards who will be the villain of the next movie (I won’t divulge what these hints are and who they refer to but if you are a diehard fan you will know them when you see them).
There are one or two problems with the film however. For example it contained a number of glaringly obvious messianic over-tones which it could be argued were not particularly needed. It was also clear that a number of advertisers had paid to have their products featured prominently in the film (Nikon and I-Hop anyone?) and this continues a worrying trend in the film industry which I believe could lead to films becoming nothing but gloried product advertisements.
That being said, I really enjoyed this film and am immensely looking forward to the sequel (which it has been revealed has been fast-tracked for a 2014 release). I feel like due to the overwhelming success that was The Avengers that DC have stepped up their game and Man of Steel definitely shows this. I urge cinema-goers everywhere to go see this film which is sure to be one of the biggest summer blockbusters of this year (if not the biggest!).