Man of Steel – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

MV5BMjI5OTYzNjI0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzM1NDA1OQ@@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_Man of Steel – 3.5/5 – Origin Stories; they are films that are filed with a lot of back story and character development.  All of this in a film of this type will ultimately lead to either a great narrative experience or a lackluster attempt at providing entertainment to the most basic need; appeal.  When it comes to origin films, they are a dime a dozen.  Many are prefaced in one of the following: comic, sci-fi, action or traditional powerhouses.  Some of these films stand out at being phenomenal (Iron Man, Batman Begins) while others are just, not worth thinking about (Green Lantern, Fantastic Four).  Man of Steel, brought to us by the director of 300/Watchmen, is a film that fits in the ‘above average’ mark.  As much as there is a bombardment of great value on some entertainment and storytelling, it does string a feeling of overabundance, drowned in very common film tactics traditional to comic book films.  Overall, Man of Steel is a great take on an origin story, bringing Superman to the modern era.

Premise:  In a town of Smallville, a young boy comes to learn that he is an alien of extraordinary powers. As a young man, he journeys all around to figure out, where he came from and what he was sent here to do.  Along the way, he learns that a hero in him must emerge.  He must become the symbol of hope to save the world from annihilation.

In the lead role of Clark Kent/Kal-El, we have up and coming actor, Henry Cavill.  In this role, he gives us someone that is stern and endearing.  Through his interaction and dialogue with his fathers, humans and other characters in the film, he gives someone that has humane quality, even though he is alien.  Through basic storytelling techniques of his introduction, he shows us a person that is confused and ashamed with what he is.  He is a lost soul in this world, trying to find a purpose to why he has all these ‘powers’, and also should he use them for the good of all.  The layering of his humanity with his ‘powers’ is wonderful, as you are able to become attach to his journey in finding the truth.  Outside of the character development, he is also built for how superman looks like.  When he puts on the suit, and has to take on the challenges of the film, he is equally as great as a ‘comic book’ character.   When it comes to the villains of this film, at the forefront we have General Zod and Faora-Ul.  Zod is played by Michael Shannon, and Faora-Ul is played by Antje Traue.  As Zod, Shannon gives us a vicious, strong but very hard-nosed character.  He is visceral in his approach, as he provides someone that is very commanding when he interactions with either people of Krypton or Earth.  Against Superman, he is very astute, formidable opponent.  He is well versed on the history that brought him into confrontation with a fellow Kryptonian, as he provides that great opposite intent to the light.  Traue does great as Zod’s second in command, but doesn’t give us as stern of a presence as much as Shannon does as Zod.  She is calculated and on point with her actions and dialogue, but nothing in the film is brought across as a great villainous performance.  When it comes to Clark’s two fathers, Jor-El is played by Russell Crowe and Jonathan Kent is played by Kevin Costner.  These two great actors give nothing less than stellar performances as two ‘figure heads’ in the role as the fathers to Cavil’s Clark Kent/Kal-El.  Each are in a more of a supporting role, but do enough to provide wise and precise information that helps molds Clark’s back history, as well as give his character a backbone to become something great in the present day.  Costner’s Kent character helps provides the humanity side aspect, as Crowe’s Jor-El provides his ‘alien’ side aspect.  Outside of these actors, the supporting roles for the other characters in the film are Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Harry Lennix as General Swanwick.  They give us decent quality to their roles, but they only do enough acting to move the story along, instead of giving us performance worth gravitating towards.

The direction of this film can be seen as a tale of two halves.  Within the first two acts, Snyder provides a film that has the perspective of back story exposition that builds-up towards the confrontation between General Zod and Clark Kent/Kal-El.  Within the first act, we are introduced to how Kal-El is born, how he left Krypton on a ‘low’ note, and how living with the Kent’s molded him into the man that he would become.  Here, I believe the true strength of the movie’s lies.  Here, we get great value of ‘story’ and enough ‘action’ that helps mold a sort of heartfelt tone on the story of Superman.  The introduction to how Kal-El became Clark Kent is done very methodically, as we are shown much of it through flashbacks and dialogue between the son and two fathers.  This helps build an attachment to a character that has no general characteristic at being human.  Zac Snyder (director) helps create a figure that is both a sign of hope and human at the same time.  He provides us with depth, perspective and entertainment within something that is modeled as a ‘blockbuster’, but is (for this first half) is a true ‘down to earth’ dramatic character film.  Once the film get’s pass the thick origin retelling in the ‘first half’, we head full force into the second half.  This is when the film becomes a full fledge linear comic book film.  From the point of General Zod’s arrival on Earth till the end, it is an action scene extravaganza.  Basically, the second half of the film is the Superman vs. General Zod’s forces show, as they fight everywhere around the world (from Smallville to Metropolis).  The action scenes are over-the-top, but are a pure adrenaline rush, as we see the true powers of Superman unfold on screen.  Everything is a ‘dull of the sensation’ moment, as you have to turn off any thinking capabilities and just watch the spectacle onscreen.  Once we hit the final act and climax, everything turns overly dramatic and sensational, as we are drawn in by the display of the battle, even when the linear telling is cliché, marked with convenient plot devices and traditional comic book ploys.  Once the credits role, you feel exhausted, but don’t have any doubt that you watched an intriguing and great summer blockbuster.

The visuals of this film are beyond amazing.  From the vast and colorful creation of Krypton, and all the inhabitants, to the raw and riveting look at Earth, Smallville and Metropolis, you feel drawn in by the vision created by Snyder.  The emphasis of CGI is predominant, but it doesn’t distract you from the world’s creation, as you see a great blending of the two.  Snyder is a whiz when it comes to cinematography, and he does well in making you feel the emotions in the visual displays of this ‘superman’ world.  The score is also great, as it gives you an outstanding and encapsulating feeling, providing another depth to the story, from beginning to end.

Overall, Man of Steel is a wonderful blockbuster film, that helps build a great ‘origin’ story for a new Clark Kent/Kal-El.  All the characters are wonderful, the visuals are top notch, and the story is well developed because Snyder gives us both great depth of the origin with amazing action sequences.  If you have been waiting for that Superman film, the one that will do him justice, this is a film for you.  You will not be disappointed.

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