Review: “Man of Steel” is more sci-fi, more action

June 19th, 2013 at 10:20 pm by under Entertainment
"Man of Steel" poster courtesy Warner Bros

“Man of Steel” poster courtesy Warner Bros

“Man of Steel” (2013)
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language
Runtime: 2 hours, 23 minutes
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Superhero

My spoiler-free review:

“Man of Steel” is great, with more science fiction and action than before… its also a smart modernized version of the Superman tale with a good story and great cast!  For me its an 8.0 out of 10.

Superman (aka Clark Kent or Kal-El) is not human.

Despite that fact, Hollywood is constantly trying to make him human… and even more of an American Patriot.

That is, until Zack Snyder’s take on the most well known superhero on this planet.  From the beginning his movie embraces the hero’s outsider and alien status.  His home planet (Krypton) is very different from ours in look and feel… the spaceships, technology, and even outfits are very different from anything we’ve really seen before.  That lends more credibility to his outsider status when – in flashbacks -  as a 9 year old and 13 year boy, he’s having trouble fitting in, more trouble than the average kid his age… and we know its more than just his abilities.

To really get us to accept it all, Snyder’s film is much more heavy on the sci-fi than any of the other Superman movies/TV shows we’ve seen.  The guy comes from space… another galaxy… we have to digest that… and when the villain comes to fight… it also makes sense that there’s a sci-fi CGI heavy aspect to the battle.   Sure, it might have been a little too much CGI in the last 1/4 of the movie, and the final battle might go on a little long, but it never ruined the movie for me.

The other thing about Superman – he’s  a humble/kind/caring superhero.  And Henry Cavill nails it.  Cavill is totally believable portraying the strongest yet most humble man in the universe with such ease, its easy to buy into him as the ‘Man of Steel’.  He’s strong yet compassionate, superhuman yet humble… a man of high character… he’s the opposite of most of all the other ‘supers’ because he is not cocky, not a braggart, not a ‘pound his chest’ or ‘look at me’ guy.  Not only does the story from David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan give us that version of superman, so does the man playing him.

Cavill’s Superman learns these traits from his real parents Russell Crowe (Jor-El) and Ayelet Zurer (Lara Lor-Van) plus his adoptive parents Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) and Diane Lane (Martha Kent).   The talented supporting cast is lead by Michael Shannon (as General Zod) and Amy Adams (Lois Lane) as the two new polarizing forces in his adult life plus Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni, and Laurence Fishburne add miles of depth and credibility to their characters despite their limited screen time.

But… “Man of Steel” is significantly more high-tech than any previous telling (which makes sense, since he comes from an advanced civilization) however much of the technology whizzes by so fast its hard to digest it all.

And… some of the CGI was also “noticeable” – which it shouldn’t be on a big budget movie like this – if you can’t make it clean between real and computer, then don’t do the shot.  Using ineffective CGI tactics of wrapping someone in CGI and/or putting a floating head on a stunt actor failed in the Star Wars Prequels with Christopher Lee’s action scenes – why repeat that B-movie stuff?

Also… the movie could have benefited from about a 10 minute cut down… a few of the scenes, like other Snyder movies, made this theatrical version feel like an extended Director’s cut.  I understand they are trying to get a lot of things in to setup sequels and an eventual Justice League movie, but please put these scenes in the credits or in the extended cut.

I’m glad the movie explained things like the yellow sun, the “S” on his chest, the destruction of Krypton and crimes of General Zod.  I like that it showed us more of his laser beam eyes, super hearing, and X-ray vision and less of his freeze breath and perfect hair.   I also enjoyed the references/easter eggs of Lex Luthor, Jenny Olsen (we assume sister of Jimmy Oslen), Major Carrie Farris, and the one I should have caught – Wayne Enterprises.

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

“Man of Steel”

Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne

Director: Zack Snyder  [Sucker Punch (2011), Watchmen (2009), 300 (2006), Dawn of the Dead (2004)]

Writers: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan

The Plot: A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

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