Movie Review: Man of Steel

We all know the story, the legend, the riveting tale of the soaring red-and-blue man of steel, but I don't think we've ever experienced Superman like this before. In this year's newest superhero film, Man of Steel, Clark Kent aka Kal-El (Henry Cavill) faces the struggles of adapting to life on Earth after his home planet, Krypton, implodes because of its unstable core. After landing on Earth, Clark is taken in by the Kents (Diane Lane, Kevin Costner) and grows up learning about his true birthplace and his new-found abilities. Once he becomes an adult, Clark discovers a Kryptonian ship in the Arctic (aka "The Fortress of Solitude), where he meets his murdered father (Russell Crowe). His father, Jor-El, tells Clark about his true identity and warns him of Krypton's military commander, General Zod (Michael Shannon), who seeks revenge and the capture of Clark. Zod eventually tracks Clark to Earth and begins his invasion to reconstruct Krypton on Earth. As his army deploys onto the planet, Zod's second-in-command, Faora (Antje Traue) dukes it out with the Man of Steel in a long, explosive battle. When Zod and his army move the battle to the city of Metropolis, Clark and the U.S Military work to destroy Krypton's terraforming "world engine" in hope of sending Zod's army back to their imprisonment in space. Inevitably, Zod and Supes end up in a battle of strength and wits as they fly and race though the skies of Metropolis, obliterating buildings and tossing massive objects at each other. DC really brings the heat in this new adaptation of the famous comic superhero.
The last film I saw of this legendary superhero was the fatal Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel. Due to bad reviews, no one seemed to enjoy this lighter version of the Superman saga. While it was a good take on the character, it didn't live up to the reputation of the classic films. Envisioning a darker, more serious take on the hero, director Zack Snyder and Dark Knight creator Chris Nolan took on the Man of Steel in a whole new way. Bringing dazzling effects and an eye-opening origin story to the table, Snyder and Nolan pull off something many directors have tried and failed for years. The darker tone to the film makes you truly believe Nolan was behind the wheel because of his amazing work on the Dark Knight Trilogy, re-imagining the dark caped crusader. Watchmen and 300 director Zack Snyder returns to the topic of superheroes as he brings the audiences an action-packed thrill-ride through the struggles of Clark Kent as he becomes the superhero he was born to be.           

Being the visionary director that he is, Zack Snyder fails to disappoint his audiences as he delivers a visual masterpiece to his fellow movie-goers. From a truly beautiful landscape of the war-torn Krypton to the number of explosions caused by Superman and his foes, Snyder and his team of visual effect geniuses have created a brand-new world in the DC universe. Showing the darkness overcome the city of Metropolis, Snyder envisions a darker world among the heroes of this comic dimension, connecting greatly to the Batman world of the depressing Gotham City. While bringing these characters together seems like an impossible idea, it is very well possible as long as they can get it right. Both the Batman films and newest Superman film have this dark tone to it, which makes everyone wonder why this isn't happening already. Yes, I know that Dark Knight star Christian Bale probably wouldn't come back as Batman, but that doesn't mean you can't get someone to fill his shoes for the rumored Justice League film at least. But, that's not until the near future, so I'll let it rest for now. Now, back to the topic of Snyder's dazzling visuals, while he may explode and even melt our brains to mush with all the zipping and blasting of Superman fighting his alien foes, Snyder does maintain a good focus on the film's true purpose: Explaining who in the world this strange human-looking alien with superpowers is exactly, and why he's punching everyone around. The visuals in the film are breath-taking, but the back-story behind this amazing hero is even more "super" than anything in the film. Acting as a backbone to the film, Clark's childhood and heritage are basically the most important thing in the plot. Utilizing the power of flashbacks, Snyder breaks down Clark's childhood struggles as he becomes aware of his growing alien abilities. Once his father shows him the ship he was found in, Clark begins to realize that he was sent to Earth for a greater purpose, and that's to save the people of Earth from whatever harm they may face. And he does exactly that when he's pushed over his limits to face his greatest enemy: The burden of keeping the earth safe from evil, which in this case, is named Zod.

The actors in this film, I thought, were utterly perfect for their roles. At the head of it all, we have the newest Clark Kent, played by British actor Henry Cavill. Cavill had everything in this film perfect: The emotion, the look, and of course, the stature. While Superman may get emotional at times, the only thing that really matters is if he has the right look, and that's why Cavill had to give it his all when becoming the strong, muscular hero he was meant to be. Now, on to Lois Lane, played by the talented Amy Adams, who to some people's unbelief actually pulled off the role that so many women have played through the years. Adams, who brought a new red-headed Lois Lane to the screen, also brought a new kind of spunk and attitude to the role that accented her journalist career in the film nicely. Back-talking her grumpy boss Perry White (Hannibal's Laurence Fishburne) made her role even more entertaining as she struggled to construct a story about Clark and his secret identity. Another amazing duo I want to talk about is the feuding foes of General Zod and Jor-El, played by the scary Michael Shannon and the wise Russell Crowe. Shannon, who I last saw battle Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a city-wide bicycle race in Premium Rush, is a very talented actor with his villainous look and scary way of keeping you on the edge of your seat. Shannon kept me reeled in the whole time with his hateful threats and eagerness to save his own kind by killing the humans. Crowe, who I last saw singing his way though the streets of France in order to catch an old prisoner in Les Miserables, never disappoints in his films as he plays genuine role-models that inspire people to do great things, or in this case, become a superhuman to stop an evil general from taking over the world. Crowe is an equally talented actor as Shannon, and they both do an amazing job in this film.

Beginning with the great Dark Knight trilogy, DC Comics has begun to slowly rebuild its nearly-ruined film franchises by bringing their famous superheroes to film. While the horrid Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds still lives in our brains, begging for us to enjoy its weak plot and weird CGI suits, we can easily forget about that now, and enjoy DC's rebirth with this new Superman film. With the release of this film, I hope it has sparked something at DC Comics about the Avengers kind of team-up for DC, known as the JLA, or Justice League of America. With its founding members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern (No Ryan Reynolds, please!), and so on, the JLA would bring in a boat, or even ship, load of money DC's way and boost their competition with Marvel, who has already released the blockbuster, The Avengers, and already working on a sequel. With Batman already here, all we need is a few more Superman films like this one, maybe a Wonder Woman film, and maybe two more members, and we've got a decently paved road towards the team-up the world has been waiting for. As much as like Iron Man and Thor in Marvel, I would like to see DC Comics have a chance at glory when their time comes.

Overall, Man of Steel delivers nothing but greatness to the audiences of the world and creates a new platform for DC to build off of. I would love to see Cavill as Supes again and again until he meets his end to Doomsday, or some other fatal death. Either way, Snyder and Nolan should remain behind the wheel of this ship as it guides our way into the new world of darker superheroes.
I gave this film a 10 out of 10 because of the great visual effects, interesting back-story of Superman, and amazing portrayal of the villainous General Zod (Shannon is one scary dude, indeed)

I would also like to congratulate composer Hans Zimmer on another job well done doing the music for the film. He did the music for films like Inception, Gladiator, and the Dark Knight films, and did an amazing job on the music for this film. Zimmer and John Williams will always be my favorite music guys.

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