I Saw A Film Today… Man of Steel

ManofSteel-JohnHouzerSmithIt’s no secret that Superman is my least favorite major comic book hero. There is, at his core, no humanity in him. He is a representation of the Judeo-Christian god Jesus and the Jewish prophet Moses essentially. All the best comic book heroes have weaknesses. This is so we, the reader, can understand that we’re all weak and will stumble blindly but with perseverance we can find the strength within ourselves to succeed. Bruce Wayne/Batman is merely a masked detective, no super powers. Peter Parker/Spider-Man has spider abilities, but is merely a gawky teenager. Tony Stark/Iron Man is a man in an expensive suit. Superman’s only weakness is a radioactive ore from his home planet of Krypton, which does show up on Earth a lot somehow. But the latest adaptation of Kal-El’s origin, under the helm of Zach Snyder, may just inject the hero with some humanity, considering it is partly based off of Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman.

Krytonian scientists Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) know that their home planet is dying. And to protect the future of their race from the hands of General Zod (Michael Shannon) , they send their son, Kal-El, to Earth. Landing in Kansas, Kal-El is adopted by the Kent’s (Kevin Costner, Diane Lane) and raised as Clark.

Now 33 years of age, Clark (Henry Cavill) is ready to show the world his abilities but first must learn how to completely harness them. But when nosey Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) starts investigating his past, Clark plans on hiding more until a mysterious spacecraft appears above Earth.

The ship is helmed by General Zod, and he wants Kal-El’s blood (literally). Zod wants to turn Earth into a new Kryton, but that would require the extinction of humanity, which is not really kosher with Clark.

While this is a good step forward for the rebooted Superman franchise, and I would go so far as say the best Superman live-action film, that doesn’t necessarily make this a great film. If anything, when Man of Steel really had the chance to shine, director Zach Snyder decides to go the route that other blockbusters have ventured before.

This is again another reason why I believe that Snyder was not the best choice for this film. Someone with a little more control would have been better, such as producer Christopher Nolan, although his influence can be felt. Maybe Snyder will see this when the directors chair is chosen for the sequel.

With that said, Man of Steel is still a greatly enjoyable film. This origin story is more in-depth than any of the previous films. Sure, the CGI-ness of Kryton is a bit overwhelming, but it also rather beautifully done CGI. If there is one thing that I will concede to Snyder is his ability to make dazzling computer generated landscapes. His action sequences may be the weakness I mentioned above but they did add an energy that was missing from the previous stories.

This Superman, with respect to Reeves’ and Roth’s performances, is the best yet. Henry Cavill is a reluctant hero mostly, one who is worried how the world will respond if they ever discovered the truth. Amy Adams on the other hand, as great an actress as she is, just isn’t cut to be Lois Lane. When you think of Lois, you think of someone with a lot of vigor. Adams isn’t that. She’s rather meek.

Michael Shannon has in the past been a brilliant villain, and here is no exception. This will probably in the years to come be one of his most memorable. He is completely ruthless, hellbent on a bringing back something long-lost, and everything you would want out of a baddie. And his second in command, Faora portrayed by the lovely Antje Traue, is just as scary. As for the rest of the cast, ranging from Russell Crowe to Lawrence Fishburne, is great as well but receive less backstory. Minus Crowe, Costner, and Lane.

It may sound like I’m being overly harsh on this film, but I really did enjoy it. Maybe Snyder was not the best choice as a director, but it still should not stop you from seeing this film. Although I’m guessing you already have.

Verdict: See it!

*Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action, and destruction, and for some language. 143 minutes. Directed by Zach Snyder (Watchmen, 300)

**Poster by John ‘Houzer’ Smith.

*** Thanks to Cody, Charlie, and Hollie for sharing this cinematic adventure with me.

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