Man of Steel
Man of Steel 2013
More than any other movie this summer, the one I’ve been looking forward to the most was Man of Steel, and at least right now just getting home from the theater, it did not disappoint. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but my hopes were high coming off of all the glorious trailers and the incredible cast. Even though it was treading on yet another origin story, I was willing to go with it. With Zack Snyder behind the helm, I was hoping for some visually amazing battles, and with Christopher Nolan overseeing the story, I was hoping for some real character depth. In my opinion, I got both. There may be some problems that come into my head after the fact, but at the moment I just had an amazing time at the movie theater, this review will likely have some spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie. Go see it! Then come back and read my thoughts on it.
The opening sequence starts off with a bang, spending a lot of time on planet Krypton before it’s destruction. Russell Crowe as Jor-El is absolutely fantastic as the Kyrptonian scientist warning the council of the planet’s impending doom and even has a few great fight scenes. The visuals on Krypton itself are gorgeous. I loved the not-so-little creature designs and the look of the floating metal computers. Crowe’s later portrayal as the pseudo-holographic Jor-El was also just as great both with his moments with his son as well as the funny sequence in Zod’s ship with Lois, and his sort-of showdown with Zod at the end.
In these superhero movies, the strength of the movie is often determined by the strength of the villain, and this movie has two great villains. Technically there is essentially the same three generals as there were in the first two Superman movies. But instead of being named Ursa, the female second in command was name Faora, and Non was essentially just a large Kryptonian who was never even seen outside of his armor, he was just much larger than Faora. And like in Superman II, I think I enjoyed Faora more than Zod, especially the little face-offs with the Colonel. But Zod, while a little over the top at times had a great presence about him, and his actions felt justified based on the way Krypton was presented in the movie. Zod was born and bred to protect Krypton and its people as a soldier. I initially thought that the entire plan of terraforming Earth to become more like Krypton was an odd choice considering that it would reduce their abilities. But as a soldier with a singular focus, it makes sense that he would want Krypton back as close as possible to the way it was, because that’s what he knows and that is what he was sworn to protect.
The one thing that this movie gets right head and shoulders above any previous movie, and even many superhero movies in the past several years is the fight scenes. This is how Superman rolls yo. The super speed effect used here looks beautiful and feels more accurate. There’s no long motion blur, and yet there’s still a sense of movement from one place to another, it doesn’t feel like they’re teleporting, it looks like they are movie as fast as a Kryptonian should. On top of that, the level of collateral destruction is that of a Roland Emmerich disaster film. But where those movies were just about the spectacle, this movie has the spectacle as well as the story and characters to back them up.
There are a few changes to the Superman mythos in this movie, and I have to say that I agree with them. At least at this point in time. The first big one is that Lois Lane lives up to her star reporter title immediately. She tracks down Superman’s secret identity before he even has his superhero identity. I really like the way that the early part of the movie handled his young adulthood as a drifter who can’t resist helping people in danger with his abilities thus forcing him to move on. There was also the matter of Jonathan Kent, which was hinted at during the moment in the trailer where young Clark asks if he should have just let the kids in the bus die rather than reveal his strength to them and he says “maybe”. For this Jonathan Kent, the most important thing is to protect his family, and in order for him to do that, Clark must keep his secret at all costs. And that even comes into play during a later emotional flashback which I thought fit perfectly with the way Pa Kent was set up.
There is a bit of non-linear storytelling, though I felt it was kept to a minimum. It’s generally just several flashbacks at various points in his childhood. I also really liked all the little touches that fans of Superman can spot, like his childhood friends Pete Ross and Lana Lang, as well as various Lexcorp trucks in the background. I even recognized Lumbard as one of the reporters at the Daily Planet who was also in All-Star Superman. There were also a few other names that sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place my finger on them. I really hope that this movie does well at the box office, because I feel this is a very strong start for a franchise. I loved it and can’t wait to see it again. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.