“He’ll be an outcast. They’ll kill him.” – Lara Lor-Van
Swift shot: Superman is back, but this time he isn’t some peeping-tom who has abandoned Earth. In this re-launch of the franchise, with British actor Henry Cavill donning the cape and boots, we are shown the civil unrest on Krypton and how the planet’s politics led to its ultimate implosion. In fact, unlike the 1978 version with Marlon Brando, that whole opening sequence is almost one mini-movie. It probably took about thirty minutes of non-stop suspense! Zack Snyder is no slouch on the action, and the film really only slows down a few times to allow the audience a quick respite. Man of Steel is powerful, emotional, with a solid script and some incredible fight sequences that must be seen in theaters!
Russell Crowe plays Superman’s father, Jor-El who has to come to terms with the fact that some of his decisions, as the planet’s lead scientist, have led to her demise. Defying authority, he and his wife Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) have conceived a natural child. In Krypton, the government has outlawed such natural births, and all children are essentially hatched for a sole-purpose. They are genetically designed for that one job, but the nature of their society is driven through conquest. This conquest ultimately leads to their downfall. Determined to make sure that their planet’s line doesn’t completely expire, Jor-El and Lara painfully decide to jettison their son, along with all the genetic material of Krypton’s hatchery, to a planet where he will most-likely be a freak to them. This is nothing new, folks. And it is no spoiler to say that Kal-El, their son, makes it to Earth. This you all know.
When we first see Kal-El though, he isn’t where you might be expecting him on the “Planet.” In fact, the Chris Nolan/David Goyer script doesn’t stick to the traditional story-line of Superman. But, well, you’ll have to see how they manage to not piss off die-hard fans. They did a great job of trying to appease the traditionalists and the folks who like when an origin is thrown into a Magic-Bullet and blended a bit. I didn’t mind this slightly varied origin one bit. It had a lot more credibility as well.
Cavill delivers an impeccable physical performance as the Man of Steel. I could actually hear women swooning next to me at times when he really got to show off his machismo. You know my philosophy for men and women when it comes to that: “If you got it, flaunt it. It ain’t gonna last forever.” Also, it takes a lot of hard work, so I would be remiss not to point that out. But, fret not, men and women seeking women, we get Amy Adams as Lois Lane. She is a lot less plucky and annoying than any other version of Lois that I can remember . . . which was fine by me! When Lois and Clark meet for the first time, when they really “meet” – things heat up in a very real sense. Right away, Lois knows there is something different about this guy. It becomes an obsession that Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) has to deal with at the Daily Planet.
The Superman origin story is told through some really well placed flashbacks, as we learn all about how Clark grew up a freak in Kansas. His Earth father, Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Earth mother, Martha Kent (Diane Lane) try to keep his abilities a secret. For the most part, they do. But when a crucial moment of life faces Clark, will he still keep the secret as Jonathan has implored? Or will he reveal his existence to an always-on-edge Earth? Are some secrets worth dying for?
Clark is forced to finally come to terms with his past, the past that was always hidden from him by the Kents. But even that was only the tip of the non-proverbial iceberg. With his discovery, he has ushered in a new horror on Earth.
Remember that civil-unrest on Krypton? Well, it catches up with Clark/Kal-El and even the ghost of his father, Jor-El. One of those hatched creatures from Krypton is the infamous General Zod, and his sole purpose is to defend Krypton. Michael Shannon is one of my favorite actors, and when I heard he was going to be Zod, I was thrilled beyond words. He has the ability to play a sympathetic villain, which is not as easy as you might think. Think about the 80’s Zod, there was no sympathy for that monster, but Shannon manages to be as monstrous, if not more so, and still eeks out a semblance of . . . humanity. His soldiers are many, but the stand-out for most will be the East-German born Antje Traue (who first caught my attention in a short role in Pandorum) as Faora-Ul. She is the most bad-ass villainess, physically speaking, of many in a long time. She doesn’t have a lot of dialog, but you don’t need much to determine her motivation, as she pretty much just kicks butt the whole film. And, man, are the fight sequences loud, painful, and crushing . . . not to mention devastating to any observers in the area. The sheer scale of the fights will leave a mark on you.
Man of Steel is one of those films that isn’t just a “movie” – it is an event. There are films like that from time to time, where you will be recalling with friends in the years to come what your Man of Steel experience was like. You will definitely remember this story, you will be drawn into the characters and their world, because it is very much your world. Man of Steel reminds us all that the choices we make have consequences. Political, personal and even the choices of our parents have consequences we might not yet understand. Ultimately, we will have to face those consequences. If even Superman can’t hide from the sins of his fathers, there’s little hope we stand a chance ourselves.
Check out our other reviews for Man Of Steel: