It’s probably no surprise that I rushed out to see Man of Steel, DC’s newest superhero film, the day it opened. Given the wild success of Marvel films like The Avengers and Iron Man 3, there’s a lot riding on this movie. Rumors of a Justice League film have swirled since the announcement of this new Superman movie a few years back, but if this movie doesn’t succeed, it may never materialize. Also, given the failures of both Superman Returns in 2006 and Green Lantern in 2011, some have wondered if Warner Brothers can have any hope of a superhero success outside of Batman.
As a big fan of Superman myself, I had high expectations for this film. How did it turn out overall?
Man of Steel begins on the doomed planet Krypton, where we witness the birth of Kal-El and meet his parents, Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. Jor-El informs the ruling council of his planet that there is no hope for their world, before the malicious General Zod attempts a coup. Ultimately, Jor-El and Lara manage to place Kal in a rocket and send him on a course for Earth, ensuring at least one member of their race will survive. Meanwhile, Zod and his underlings are captured and sent into exile in the Phantom Zone.
Flash forward to years later, when Kal, having been raised under the name Clark Kent, finds a lost relic of Krypton and begins to learn more about his heritage. Interspersed with flashbacks to his youth, we learn of the difficulties Clark faced trying to find the balance between hiding his gifts and saving those around him. Ultimately, a modern Clark embraces his destiny to defend the people of Earth, just in time for an old enemy to appear.
The plot for Man of Steel is fairly straight forward, and contains everything a good Superman story should possess. We see Superman in various stages from his life, from his birth, to his childhood, to his heroic exploits. I like that Superman questions his past and how, or even if, he should use his powers. This choice felt realistic and, while such a deliberation could easily have dragged on, the movie never feels slow. Furthermore, while the movie is long, it is told in an effective manner, giving ample time to not only character development and dialogue, but also amazing action sequences. Some people dislike Zach Snyder’s work, but it’s undeniable that he knows how to direct great moments of action, and this movie is his best work to date in that regard. I do admit that the beginning of the movie is a tad slow, but things get quickly underway. I honestly wondered during several scenes how the movie could get any better, and then ten minutes later I’d watch as an even more exciting scene unfolded.
Man of Steel’s cast is great, with each character portraying their role effectively and exceptionally. Henry Cavill portrays both the strength and doubt of a young Superman with skill. Michael Shannon, as the villainous General Zod, was the high point of the film; the emotions he portrayed through both his line delivery and body language drew me in, and I felt his character was well developed. Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, and Diane Lane as Martha Kent were also notable members of the cast, portraying their characters in manners that reflected their comic book origins yet breathed new life into the classic characters. I actually have to commend one actress in particular: Antje Trau as Faora, Zod’s Second-in-Command. While she did not receive a ton of dialogue or character development I loved her stone-cold military commander character, a fact she communicated especially well through he nonchalant style of fighting.
Man of Steel’s soundtrack is another remarkable aspect of the film. Composer Hans Zimmer, known for notable work on films such as The Dark Knight and Inception hits the high mark once again with a powerful series of songs. The music of the film flows along with every scene, completing Zach Snyder’s directorial work to a wonderful degree.
Though not necessary for overall enjoyment of the film, I like that there were references to the Superman mythos in Man of Steel. We see brief appearances from the likes of Lana Lang and Pete Ross, while trucks from LexCorp show up in the background of several scenes. I also like that Warner Bros. allowed this movie to stand on its own; before release, rumors swirled that DC would put hints towards a Justice League film into Man of Steel, but this was not the case. It’s nice that this film allows Superman to have his day in the Sun, acting heroic without the need to add unnecessary bridges to future installments.
Overall, Man of Steel is the must-see action movie of the year so far. With an exciting plot and a great cast it’d be hard to find someone who didn’t find at least one thing to enjoy from this film. While watching it, I admit a child-like joy filled at certain moments, especially in the scene where Superman first takes flight. This is the Superman movie, giving everything a good Superman story should have and more. I honestly cannot recommend this movie enough. If a Justice League movie is in the cards, this is an excellent way to initiate the route to such a feature. To take a line from earlier Superman film promotions: when you see this movie, you will believe a man can fly.
-great cast who excellently portray their characters
-awesome action sequences
-enjoyable story that gives the audience everything they could want in a Superman story
-beginning of the film is a little slow
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He’s glad Kryptonite didn’t show up in this film.
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