Action Movie Fanatix Review: Man of Steel

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Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Russell Crowe

Director: Zack Snyder

2013  |  143 Minutes  |  PG-13

“You’re a monster, Zod and I’m going to stop you.” – Superman

Superman is easily one of my least favorite super heroes.  He’s a character that has never gained my attention the way Batman, the X-Men and others did.  That said, I couldn’t help but get excited by the trailers for Man of Steel.

When Krypton is destroyed Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sends his son Kal-El to Earth and sends General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his to the Phantom Zone.  Kal-El is raised by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent in Smallville, Kansas.  When General Zod makes his way to Earth and begins transforming its atmosphere into that of Krypton, Kal-El becomes Superman and defends the human race that adopted him so many years ago.

Before I go too far into this, I want to take a moment to point out that this review will be far from spoiler free.  Odds are you’ve already heard all about this movie or seen it yourself but just in case I wanted to warn ya’ll.

We open with a Krypton in shambles.  The planet seems to be enormous in scale.  Unfortunately we are thrust immediately into battle, never giving us a chance to marvel at this presumably amazing world.  We get to see their technology and weapons and armor but in situations like this we should be given more of a sense of the scale of the planet, more of the architecture and the ecosystem of the planet.

The first few flashes of Clark’s powers are appropriately awe-inspiring.  Saving the kids on the bus.  Saving the men on the oil rig.  There’s a real sense that these are the first time that Clark has really tested himself and nothing like this has ever been done or seen on this planet.

Jonathan Kent’s death felt cheap.  Not quite meaningless but definitely forced.  I didn’t like Clark just standing there watching his father die when he fully knew he had the power to save him.

The idea of a lowly drifter pre-Superman Clark Kent didn’t quite jive with me either.  From a very young age he seemed to have a pretty clear definition of right and wrong and a desire to do what is right.  Nothing against fisherman or waiters but someone with his power and

Once Clark became Superman his personality came across perfectly.  It’s a little bland but Superman kind of is.  He’s the ultimate goody two shoes giving the exact right answer at every turn.  But this is what makes Superman unique in the world of super heroes

Amy Adams does a fair job with Lois Lane’s character but her look just didn’t feel quite right.  At the very least she could have dyed her hair darker.  I kept seeing her as more of a Pam from The Office character rather than Lois Lane.

Normally I really, really enjoy Michael Shannon but I found him to be, at times, a little over the top… even for a comic book villain.  I think it was the voice.  He seemed to be trying to have a slight accent or something… I don’t know… I didn’t care for it.

Faora is plenty badass for a character that isn’t the main focus of the movie by any means.  She’s a great example of a strong female, proof that they can make Wonder Woman work.  And how awesome is it that Superman fights her in an IHOP!?!

I often found the framing and movement of shots to be a bit jarring.  Battles are often filmed at too close of a range, especially early on.  It becomes difficult to determine what is actually taking place in the battle which results in a sense of confusion rather than the correct feeling of excitement and tension.

The special effects are really spectacular to behold with Supe’s laser vision being the most impressive looking and the many flight effects falling close behind.  A lot of thought seems to have been put behind the pseudo science of Superman’s flight.  The jet streams, the shockwaves the “blast radius” upon takeoff… all so awesome.

The big, mega blowoff battle is insane.  The level of destruction is just crazy.  City blocks are literally leveled.  And in the middle of it all Superman is having a super-powered battle royale with his fellow Kryptonians.  Snyder and his cronies did such an amazing job putting these fights together.  Some super hero movies don’t know how to properly create a super-powered battle, often  making it feel like the people in the battle have never used their super powers before.  Not so with Man of Steel.  Superman and Zod are flying all around Metropolis, punching each other through buildings, blasting away with their eye lasers.  It’s awesome!

The big controversy surrounding Man of Steel upon its release, at least among comic book fans, was the big neck snap scene.  Honestly, it didn’t bother me the way it seemed to with many other nerds.

And who in their right mind could hold back a smile when Lois says… “Welcome to the planet.” at the tail end?  I loved it.

Man of Steel is epic in every sense of the word.  And this is coming from someone who is admittedly not a Superman fan and absolutely hates the word epic.

Now, while I know that Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman is coming I have to wonder how can they create a threat larger than what we witnessed in Man of Steel.  Zod & Co. destroyed most of Smallville and Metropolis and nearly destroyed all of Earth.  I’m sure they have something big in plan and, quite frankly, I’m very much looking forward to seeing it.

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