After a gazillion movies being rebooted these days, finally the moment has come to place the spotlight back to this iconic superhero everybody loves. Hey! Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No! It’s S—! (Through the course of this movie, you will only get to hear his trademark name once, I think.)
Superman is undeniably one of the most popular superheroes ever graced on comic books and to make a grandiose take on a story that may seem to be well-known by almost everyone is a great undertaking for director Zack Snyder. Snyder, who works include other stylistic movies like 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch, may have a big chunk of pressure over his shoulders, luckily he gets a tremendous help from no less than master mind-bender himself, Christopher Nolan. Together they co-wrote and co-produced the whole thing, but Nolan gives an ample amount of his magic, dark-toned touch to the superhero genre. Yes, Man of Steel is the Dark Knight-ish version of Superman.
In case you did not know the origin of Clark Kent, Man of Steel begins in Krypton, a planet that is about to explode because the government and people failed to manage their natural resources. Prior to Krypton’s destruction, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara (Ayalet Zurer), launch their baby Kal-El to Earth, where Kal-El grows up to be Clark Kent and eventually Superman. Interestingly, to add a little twist to his origin, Kal-El is a product of Krypton’s first “natural” birth in centuries, because the newborns on their planet are brought up artificially—like aberrant, programmed babies.
Meanwhile, General Zod (Michael Shannon), Krypton’s military leader, responds to this planet destruction by a rebellion. The government sentenced General Zod and his minions to an imprisonment in a black hole.
Fast forward to Earth, 30-plus years later, and we get to witness Kal-El (Henry Cavill), now known as Clark Kent, a middle-aged hairy nobody, who keeps himself busy doing Samaritan helps here and there, while embarking on his own journey to discover his beginnings. He eventually finds this Kryptonian ship, but so does a reporter named Lois Lane (Amy Adams). She then discovers Clark Kent and his intriguing abilities. He pleads to her to keep everything a secret.
Alas! An alien ship comes forth in our midst, searching for Kal-El – it’s General Zod and his minions (I love saying ‘minions’ and no this is not a review for Despicable Me 2)! After announcing their evil intentions to our beloved Earth in exchange of Kal-El, Clark Kent has now a dilemma whether to reveal himself or put the humankind in danger.
What can I say? The story may seem simple; however, the execution was made to perfection, thanks to a rather imaginative effort by both Snyder and Nolan and co-writer David S. Goyer. The flashbacks to Clark Kent’s childhood work wonders to me, personally. Imagine a young boy who has the ability to see right through the skin of his teachers and fellow students, as well as the ability to hear everything around you at once. How would you surpass the growing up part, right? The visuals are awe-inspiring—from the magnanimous set in Krypton, to the gutter-dirt environment in the countryside, to the epic explosions in Metropolis—everything is truly majestic. The best sequence for me: when Superman becomes a punching bag of two Kryptonians, one of which, a lady. I have to say she (Faora, played by Antje Traue) is my favorite character in the movie! The battles between Superman and the Krypton rebel armies look too over-the-top, but hey, it’s Superman we are talking about! On the downside, one particular cinematic moment—when the alien ship landed on Earth blasting the opposite ends of our planet—may be reminiscent to the alien battle in The Avengers, creating an unoriginal, seen-that-already feel from the audience. In addition, soon after this magnificent sequence comes yet another battle, this time between Superman and General Zod, something that looked similar to the final battle between Neo and Agent Smith in The Matrix Revolution. This time, the action becomes overdone, leaving the audience exhausted.
Henry Cavill looks the part as this generation’s Superman. On a side note, did you know that Cavill was supposed to play James Bond in Casino Royale, but came up short because he was too young for the role? And did you know that Twilight author Stephanie Meyer considered him as the “Perfect Edward Cullen,” but again he was not able to get the role because he was deemed too old for it? Anyway, I really loved how they perceive a more realistic and human-like Clark Kent in the movie, and Cavill delivers.
Chemistry between Cavill and Amy Adams seems to be a little tad forced. Adams does a good job, but I think she does not fit the character well. Other than that, the cast is a remarkable ensemble – from Laurence Fishburne to Diane Lane – overwhelming cast brings their characters to life like wildfire. After a lackluster performance in Les Miserables, Russell Crowe bounces back and does an incredible job as Kal-El’s father Jor-El. I particularly like Kevin Costner, who portrays Clark Kent’s foster father effortlessly and with conviction.
This movie receives quite a mixed review from the critics. As for me, I want to put it this way: again I have to repeat myself that this is a movie about SUPERMAN. Nowadays, people seem to forget on how to just sit back, relax and enjoy a movie. Man of Steel is a very interesting, effective and a modern take on the origin of Superman, starring a very convincing and commendable Henry Cavill, that goes a bit overboard towards the end, but all in all, a pretty damn good film.
4.0 out of 5 stars