Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel Review

Snyder delivers on his modern day take of the Man of Steel in a large way. For years fans of Superman have been pining for a chance to see The Last Son of Krypton be pitted against a villain that didn’t require trickery; someone who could go toe-to-toe with a man who is a god, for all intents and purposes, and give as good as they got without the gimmick of a certain rare and precious element showing up magically by the truckload. You can rest assured that this is the case in this summer’s second comic book flick.

Michael Shannon shines as General Dru-Zod. He creates a villain who you can understand the motivations of, as well as feel the depths of his despair and the fire of his anger. He has a commanding screen presence that exudes the authority that Zod is meant to carry and delivers his lines with gusto. However, Shannon is only half of the equation to this story. A story we wouldn’t have without Superman.

I am unfamiliar with any of Cavill’s work other than Immortals, which failed to impress many back in 2011 when it was released. However, I can safely say that Cavill makes for a stunning Superman and is far from just the beefcake in a suit that some feared he might be. He exudes power, charm, and awe in varying amounts and seems to wear the costume like a natural, but--most of all--he inspires. There are more than a few moments in the movie where I found myself looking on in a child-like wonder that I can only imagine many have felt in regards to Superman as a character.

And then there is Lois Lane. Amy Adams sets the tone for Lois to be a ballsy, take no crap, star reporter who will not rest until the truth is told from the very start of her appearance. Adams and Snyder do an admirable job of separating Lois’s character from falling into the trap of being just another love interest or damsel of the week for Superman to save, and manage to give her a purpose for spending so much time on screen. Though I will say that the premise of her purpose, beyond being a messenger, in the last half is a little shaky.

The rest of the cast is serviceable in their performances with a few breakouts among them, I’m looking at you Antje Traue (Faora-Ul). Costner is impactful as Jonathan Kent, lending weight to the speeches he gives a young Clark Kent to mold him into the man he will one day become. Russell Crowe makes for an impeccable Jor-El, the other half of the father-equation, too, but I was off-put by the amount of action Jor-El (a scientist) found himself in the midst of. And Diane Lane does a fine job as Ma Kent.

Snyder does take some liberties with the characters, origins, and motivations which hardcore fans of Superman may be uneasy with, but I was willing to forgive in the name of artistic vision. The core of the characters remain largely the same and you certainly won’t have the rug pulled out from under your feet like another comic book movie that was released earlier this year. The action sequences are in a fashion that has become trademark for Snyder, broad and grandiose, but in such a way that it enhances rather than cripples the movie. We are talking about a man who has moved planets in the comics after all. One issue I do have is the pacing. The way the story is delivered, through flashbacks, can be jarring at times and break the flow of the movie, but they are never so long that it totally pulls you out of the immersion.

Overall the Man of Steel is a critical success for DC Comics and WB. It creates another foothold for them in the movie industry outside of their Batman property and gives moviegoers an endearing, action-packed take on Superman while not falling in danger of being too gritty, grim, or dark. I didn’t see the film in 3D to comment on whether the extra money is worth it, but there are a few scenes which I found myself thinking that I wish I had forked over the cash for it. It’s definitely worth seeing.

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