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Movie Review - Man Of Steel---Spoilers Alert

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Movie Review - Man Of Steel---Spoilers Alert

Post by Mojo on Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:20 pm

SPOILER ALERT
 
 
First of all, I am a huge Superman fan.  When I was a kid it was Superman comics that helped a shy dyslexic kid learn to read.  I grew up to the great 70's writers like Elliot S! Maggin and Cary Bates and the iconic Superman artist Curt Swann.  I also love the charm of the 1st Superman movie with Chris Reeve even though the movie itself was formulaic and played less serious than I would have liked.  The sequels got progressively worse until it was almost as bad as the Adam West Batman series from the 60's.  Then came the Brian Singer reboot that looked fantastic but gave us this emo version of Superman and a Lex Luthor still obsessed with land deals and tried to tie too much into the Donner Superman series.  That, plus the wooden acting made me really want a fresh new take on the character.
 
When I heard that Zack Snyder and David Goyer were doing the reboot, I was overjoyed.  Zack had just done one of the hardest movies based on a comic in Watchmen and though it failed commercially, it was everything I could have hoped for in a Watchmen movie.  David Goyer is a well respected comic book nut known for writing books like JSA and was a major influence in the Batman Begins trilogy. If anyone would get Superman, they would and Snyder immediately promised a break away from the Donner movie with Chris Reeve and a Superman that would actually throw a punch and defer away from the campiness.
 
That said now we get to the review.  This isn't your father's Superman for sure and it paints a much darker world than most people will be comfortable with.  It is a dark and grim movie with very little joy in it.  It is action packed to be sure but the action comes at a cost with more emphasis on destruction scenes and less on character development or actual story.
 
The story basically starts with the destruction of Krypton and his father Jor-El's death.  Here they stray away from the common telling that Jor-El died in the explosion of Krypton and in this version he is killed by Zod moments before the actual destruction of Krypton.  I was OK with that revision as it doesn't really change anything.  Then comes this convoluted story of how Zod and his soldiers survive Krypton's doom that didn't really make much sense and actually dragged the scene a bit in my opinion.
 
The movie then jumps to Clark Kent basically wandering the world in search for his identity and where he fit in the world.  It goes back and forth in flashback scenes showing very little about Clark's past other than he was a lonely kid that never fit in.  At this point, we're introduced to his stepfather Jonathan Kent as played by Kevin Costner who is determined that Clark not openly use his powers for fear that he'll be taken away.  I get that part but the character takes that fear to the extreme even suggesting that Clark let a kid die to safeguard his secret.  For my 2 cents, that is not the portrayal of Jonathan Kent that I wanted to see.
 
We then jump back to the present where Clark continues his journey which finally leads him to learn his origins from a really stupid virtual reality hologram of his father.  We're also introduced to Lois Lane as a reporter investigating Clark's heroic deeds who deduces his identity and eventually confronts him thus nullifying the whole Clark, Lois, Kal-El dynamic.  But wait, Clark's activation of the Krypton ship has alerted Zod to his location and like the evil guy he is tracks him to Earth and threatens to destroy Earth if they don't surrender Clark to them.  From there the movie builds up to the battles between Zod, Faora, and Clark which ends with massive destruction in Smallville and Metropolis.  Oh and let's not forget that Clark holds the DNA of his people in his genetic makeup (sigh).
 
Then comes the most damning part of the movie.  To prevent Zod from killing innocents, Clark snaps Zod's neck killing him.  I know Superman in his 75 history has killed before but the way the scene played out was horrifying and a slap to a character who's very own moral code tells him that killing is not acceptable unless there is absolutely no other way.  I really felt this was a slap in the face to longtime Superman fans although I may be in the minority here.  I do however like the way they portrayed the consequences on Clark and hope they explore that aspect in the sequel.
 
Now as far as the acting goes, I was impressed by most of the actors in the movie.  Henry Cavill makes a great Superman and I found his character to be the most likeable in the movie.  Amy Adams was a good Lois Lane even if she wasn't quite the Lois we've seen before.  Russell Crowe made a great Jor-El and he'll quickly make you forget Marlon Brando.  I just wish they would have done more with his character than they actually did.  Kevin Costner did ok with Jon Kent even though I really hated how they portrayed him in this movie, I was OK with his acting.  The rest of the supporting cast was pretty forgettable as Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane have tiny parts as Perry White and Martha Kent.
 
The real meat of the movie is Michael Shannon's portrayal as General Dru-Zod.  I believe his portrayal was nothing short of fantastic.  His portrayal shows a flawed man who will never relent and will kill anyone who stands in his way.  Forget about Terrence Stamp's "Kneel Before Zod" nonsense, this Zod is out for blood and to preserve his people.  Sometimes Shannon goes over the top a bit but with this character it wasn't that much of a stretch.
 
To summarize, I went into this movie with high hopes that the character would be done seriously with out the Donner campiness and for the most part Snyder made the Anti-Donner/Anti-Chris Reeve version of Superman and although the acting was very good, again the movie was just depressing and bleak and mostly joyless.
 
It wasn't a terrible movie and now with this out of the way maybe the Batman Superman sequel can put the bad things about this movie behind them.  I hope they do because I believe they have all the pieces to make a great sequel (yes even Ben Affleck).
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