Film Review: Man of Steel (Superman Returns…..Again)

Well, after years and years of promises, negotiations, hype, rumors, and overestimation in the DC Comics’ movie universe, Man of Steel is finally out. Directed by Zack (300,Watchment) Snyder and produced by Christopher (Dark Knight Trilogy) Nolan, this movie is a FAR cry from the Richard Donner Superman: The Movie and the franchise it began. This movie is darker, more realistic (as much as a movie about a super-powered being from space can be), and of course the special effects are much, much better. The special effects are so good, in fact, that for much of the movie I have a very hard time figuring out what’s going on. Things happen, and I have to just take it for granted that the director knew what he was doing. The opening scenes center on the doomed planet, Krypton, and the birth of Kal-El (Oh, sorry if that was a spoiler for anyone who doesn’t know the origin story of this somewhat well-known superhero). Maybe my head is in the gutter, but I refuse to believe I’m the ONLY one who didn’t watch this movie thinking everything on that planet kind of looks like a reproductive organ. No, seriously, look closely at Kryptonian technology- you’ll start to feel kind of dirty after a while. Anyway, the not-as- evil-as-Terrence Stamp General Zod, played by Michael Shannon, leads a rebellion against the government of Krypton, and is captured and sentenced to being frozen as a Zodsicle in the Phantom Zone. Meanwhile, Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe, has sent his only son to Earth to escape the destruction of Kyrpton and to save the people of Earth from themselves.

Finally, we are given several Batman Begins-type flashbacks featuring Kal, renamed Clark Kent, played by Henry Cavill to quickly explain his life on Earth before finally getting his familiar costume. We are introduced to his Earth allies, the underused Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White as the reporter and editor of the Daily Planet, respectively. Eventually, just as Clark is beginning to embrace his role on this planet, Zod’s army thaws out and finds him on Earth and comes to reclaim the last living remnant of his lost planet, Krypton. After a SHORT period of soul- searching, Clark decides to defend humanity from this alien invasion and fight alongside the US military, as they seem to be the ONLY military in the world that actually cares about the destruction of life as we know it on this world. This leads us to the epic, special effects-heavy showdown between Superman and Zod’s forces, which leaves most of Metropolis in ruin and a moral dilemma faced by the hero that the movies have yet to portray in Superman lore: Does this superior being fight to save Earth or side with his own people?

It’s no secret that DC and Warner Bros. are desparate to release a Justice League movie to compete with Marvel’s Avengers’ success. It’s also no secret that this comic book movie craze will have to come to an end eventually, and time is of the essence if they want to capitalize on this popularity of the characters. Unfortunately, this rush to get JL made is felt throughout Man Of Steel. It almost felt like an entire trilogy was crammed into one movie. The opening scenes on Krypton alone could have been stretched out into one whole movie leading up to Kal-El’s arrival on Earth. We are barely given any time at all to develop an emotional investment in any of the Earth characters. Before you can utter the words, “wait, what the hell is happening?” we are onto the next scene and something is blowing up or someone is being punched into orbit. I’ll give the filmmakers credit, though, if you’re able to keep up with what’s going on in this movie and you keep your eyes WIDE open you will notice several references to DC Comics and the TV series, Smallville. I won’t give any of that away, though. I want people to be able to pat themselves on the back the way I did.

Also, in Warner Bros.’ desparation to remind you that you liked the Dark Knight Trilogy, Christopher Nolan’s production influence can be felt throughout the whole movie. Hans Zimmer’s score is fantastic. Where John Williams’ original score was epic and other-worldly, Zimmer’s was sympathetic and touching. Superman’s powers are even explained in this movie, giving it a more realistic feel than the original movies. One thing that bothers me about Nolan, however, is his hatred of color. I think Superman’s cape is the only thing in this movie that’s not muted. I’m sure that’s by design. But I’m beginning to picure Nolan as the villain from the old Rainbrow Bright cartoon that wanted to erase color from the world. Seriously, everyone in his movies look like they’re suffering from hypothermia.

I enjoyed this movie, but kind of the way I enjoyed Avatar. It looked cool, but it just didn’t seem to live up to the hype to me. As I said, this movie rushes to the finish and almost feels like the studio was just saying “yeah, yeah, here’s Superman- now go home and please come back for Justice League!!” I have also come up with a bulletprrof defense for this movie against all critics who say it was bad: At least it’s not Green Lantern!

Over All Score7.5

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