Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review: Man of Steel

                                         Not Just Made of 'Steel', But Pure Gold

                       When it comes to DC Comics, I'll admit, I have always been Team Batman. But with Man of Steel, I was actually able to be invested the character of Superman thanks to how the filmmakers are able to take this powerful character and ground him in reality.

                      Man of Steel follows Clark Kent, aka Superman (Henry Cavill), as he struggles to hide himself and his powers from the world. But with the arrival of a new enemy from his home planet named General Zod (Michael Shannon) and a bond forming between him and reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), he must decide he should reveal himself to the world by trying to save it to become a symbol of hope for mankind.

                      What I Liked About It:
                     First off, I really liked Henry Cavill's portrayal of Superman. Before I watched this, I saw his performance in Immortals, which is a film I didn't particularly care for even though he was solid, but he was leaps and bounds better in this. He is not only charismatic but also showcases the character's darkness as well since Superman undergoes a conflict of whether or not he should hide himself from the world. Amy Adams is also brilliant as Lois Lane and I loved how they didn't reduce the character to being a yelping damsel for Superman to save, as there are a few scenes where Lane gets in on the action. Michael Shannon is quite chilling in the villainous role of General Zod and creates unflinching menace through the use of his eyes. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Superman's adoptive father and mother Jonathan and Martha Kent and they both pull off some solid and low-key work as the stern yet supportive parents. One of my favorite scenes is when Jonathan is talking to a younger Clark Kent about Clark's past and Clark says "So I just keep pretending that I'm your son?" and Jonathan says "You are my son". That is a very tender moment. All the other actors, that include Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe, and especially Antje Traue, who plays Zod's right hand woman Faora, are all astounding as well.

                     Another thing I liked was how they were able to take the multi-powered Superman and completely ground him in reality. Zack Snyder is able to do this by his gritty direction, especially during the action scenes where he uses long takes and unlike some of his previous work, doesn't use the "slo-mo" technique. It worked for 300 and Watchmen, but if he had done that here, it wouldn't have really worked. Plus, I thought it was interesting how Kent is at first portrayed as a drifter going from place to place, which to me represents the whole conflict of Clark Kent trying to find his place on Earth. After he saves one life or many lives, he retreats to a different place as a way of possibly concealing his identity while still saving others and still struggling on whether to hide his powers like his adoptive father told him or become a symbol of hope and mankind like his biological father tells him.

                   Since I am still on the subject of the action scenes, one complaint that I keep reading is how in spite of all the destruction happening, there are plenty of deaths going on as well. But the truth of the matter is that despite how powerful Superman is, he isn't going to save everyone. He may be superhuman, but he is not a god, and if the writers had Superman able to save everyone, it would've taken away from the realism they were going for. Another complaint I've also read is that (*possible spoiler alert*) Superman never kills and there is a scene in this film where he does. But, in that particular scene, he yelps in agony after he did, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't a cake walk for him to go through that decision. Plus, as I recall when watching Smallville, Superman did take a few villainous lives, so I'm just going to disregard that argument.

                    What I Didn't Like About It:

                   Overall, Man of Steel is an astonishing and realistic adaptation of the famed superhuman character. It is not only the whole package, as it features brilliant direction, writing, and acting, but it also provides fun "turn-off-your-brain" action. This is one I highly recommend to everyone, as it might have something for everyone, especially hardcore Superman fans.

Grade: A

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