A Soaring Epic Graces Our Planet with Man of Steel


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Let me start out by saying that I have never been a fan of Superman. I always thought the Christopher Reeve Superman  films were hokey and childish, with no real sense of wonder nor intrigue into the psyche of what it means to be Kal-El/Superman. I’m in the minority when I say that I really enjoyed Superman Returns & have watched it several times since it came out. It was the closest to a “modern take” of Superman that we had, aside from the superior comics that had better stories to tell. Then the superhero movie genre changed, with Marvel’s

The hype for this film, for me, all comes from my friend Tony, to whom I extend my hand in thanks; I probably wouldn’t have seen the movie, let alone been excited for it. But since he got me motivated for this, I have read many penultimate Superman comics, including All-Star Superman, Superman For All Seasons, and most relatable to new movie, Superman Birthright.Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Thor, etc) and most importantly, The Dark Knight trilogy. Having set the world up with these marvelous (no pun intended, for once) tales and linking them to our lives while telling a relatable story AND having characters the audience could relate to, it was only a matter of time before the most well-known superhero of all would “re-enter our atmosphere.” I will do my best to keep this SPOILER-FREE.

 Man of Steel would never have been this good if it weren’t in the hands of Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight trilogy, and David Goyer, writer for The Dark Knight trilogy. Having Zach Snyder on board was a plus, but a wary plus, since his track record hasn’t been the strongest. When he was announced as the director, I was excited for one reason: he knows how to make movies look epic. Take by example 300 and Watchmen: both had incredible visuals, strong attention to detail (a little too strong in Watchmen’s case?), and an interesting color palette  Having this trio of sweeping cinema gather together to reboot the man of steel, how epic could this tale get??

Man of Steel starts off with one of the most inventive, engaging, and thrilling beginnings in recent memory: it begins on Krypton, with Jor-El and his wife Lara-Lor, both played strongly by Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer, giving birth to Kal-El amidst a civil war and the planet collapsing on itself. In a valiant effort to save their newborn son along with the Kryptonian legacy, both find themselves having to make tough choices to make sure their son survives, through fighting with General Zod while he is trying to take over Krypton, even if the planet is about to be destroyed. Throughout this beginning, there is a relatively subtle message for the audience about why Krypton is dying, that speaks volumes to what we humans are doing to Earth, which all good Sci-Fi and comic book stories do. After Kal-El leaves his home planet near the moment of its destruction, the story jumps ahead roughly 30 years, on planet Earth.

The story unfolds brilliantly of Kal-El/Clark Kent’s backstory through a series of flashbacks that are triggered by an emotional beat in the main narrative rather than caking all the backstory at the beginning of the film. Audiences have been thoroughly exhausted with origin-story superhero movies and I’m glad to see a fresh take on the origin-story style. The only gripe I have with this movie is that we spent more time with Clark Kent’s childhood and teenage years before he became the incredibly muscular and incredibly bearded Clark that we see throughout the film. As his journey of discovery unfolds, with some brilliant and inspiring acting by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Ma and Pa Kent, we discover what it means to be human through Clark’s eyes, through humor, trust, restraint, sorrow, and sacrifice. It was the strangest, yet most comforting feeling of watching, through Clark’s eyes, how to be human and what it means to be human. As his journey takes an interesting turn with an important discovery that may relate to Krypton, we are introduced to Lois Lane, which starts her relationship with this mysterious man that does blossom by the end of the movie. This relationship of Lois & Clark has been the best version I’ve ever encountered and one that stuck with me the most. As Clark slowly begins to learn about his history, through a clever plot device involving something from his past, and when he finally dons the suit and learns to fly, my heart had caught up with the Clark, feeling like I could leap a tall building just like him.

Now onto Clark’s huge challenge: General Zod. Michael Shannon captivated me in his transformative performance in the completely overlooked 2011 filmTake Shelter, so when he was announced as Zod, after I saw Take Shelter, I was overjoyed by this great piece of casting news. Michael Shannon knocks it out of the park, playing a truly vengeful and incredibly powerful villain that should rank in the Top 20 best villains of all time. Zod, a man who will do ANYTHING to protect his home & Kryptonian way of life, even from the moment it’s about to be destroyed, his drive is something the audience can relate to, which makes him a formidable foe (since we’re rooting for Clark) and a great conflict for Clark: side with his (relatively unknown) Kryptonian race or side with the humans? This conflict brews near the end of the second act, but is the catalyst for one of the most epic, climactic, and edge-of-your-seat third acts that will be tough to follow, let alone beat. Finally, we get to see Superman battle a worthy adversary in a no-holds barred match that spans multiple locations and for the first time ever (in my opinion), we get to see what Superman is REALLY capable of when battling enemies and trying to save the world. Although MANY people have a problem with this 40+ minute-long battle, I won’t get into spoilers on why I think they’re all missing the point, but I will say this: Superman is trying to do many things at once while learning his limits and fighting style, with some level of restraint due some personal conflicts he has. That’s all I’ll say for now.

The last great point about this movie I want to make is the score, from the always-awesome Hans Zimmer. He certainly had a daunting task to score this movie after what John Williams had done before him and I think he truly succeeds. I’ve listened to the entire deluxe edition score once before I saw the movie and at least 4 times since. It is, in one word, sweeping. His sound has a slight resonance with what he did for The Dark Knight trilogy, but it’s largely fresh. The score that we heard from the third trailer is so dramatic, heartfelt, and again, sweeping, it convinced me the movie would soar.

This film is an incredible wonder to see (IMAX again, being the best way to experience this film) that let me feel like a kid and like Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman all at once. The story is riveting from beginning to end, the special effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen (complete honesty), and the score is quite transformative. While the “S” stands for hope for humanity, I also think it stands for hope in the sense that we get to see more Man of Steel films in the future.

 

book stories do. After Kal-El leaves his home planet near the moment of its destruction, the story jumps ahead roughly 30 years, on planet Earth.

The story unfolds brilliantly of Kal-El/Clark Kent’s backstory through a series of flashbacks that are triggered by an emotional beat in the main narrative rather than caking all the backstory at the beginning of the film. Audiences have been thoroughly exhausted with origin-story superhero movies and I’m glad to see a fresh take on the origin-story style. The only gripe I have with this movie is that we spent more time with Clark Kent’s childhood and teenage years before he became the incredibly muscular and incredibly bearded Clark that we see throughout the film. As his journey of discovery unfolds, with some brilliant and inspiring acting by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Ma and Pa Kent, we discover what it means to be human through Clark’s eyes, through humor, trust, restraint, sorrow, and sacrifice. It was the strangest, yet most comforting feeling of watching, through Clark’s eyes, how to be human and what it means to be human. As his journey takes an interesting turn with an important discovery that may relate to Krypton, we are introduced to Lois Lane, which starts her relationship with this mysterious man that does blossom by the end of the movie. This relationship of Lois & Clark has been the best version I’ve ever encountered and one that stuck with me the most. As Clark slowly begins to learn about his history, through a clever plot device involving something from his past, and when he finally dons the suit and learns to fly, my heart had caught up with the Clark, feeling like I could leap a tall building just like him.

Now onto Clark’s huge challenge: General Zod. Michael Shannon captivated me in his transformative performance in the completely overlooked 2011 filmTake Shelter, so when he was announced as Zod, after I saw Take Shelter, I was overjoyed by this great piece of casting news. Michael Shannon knocks it out of the park, playing a truly vengeful and incredibly powerful villain that should rank in the Top 20 best villains of all time. Zod, a man who will do ANYTHING to protect his home & Kryptonian way of life, even from the moment it’s about to be destroyed, his drive is something the audience can relate to, which makes him a formidable foe (since we’re rooting for Clark) and a great conflict for Clark: side with his (relatively unknown) Kryptonian race or side with the humans? This conflict brews near the end of the second act, but is the catalyst for one of the most epic, climactic, and edge-of-your-seat third acts that will be tough to follow, let alone beat. Finally, we get to see Superman battle a worthy adversary in a no-holds barred match that spans multiple locations and for the first time ever (in my opinion), we get to see what Superman is REALLY capable of when battling enemies and trying to save the world. Although MANY people have a problem with this 40+ minute-long battle, I won’t get into spoilers on why I think they’re all missing the point, but I will say this: Superman is trying to do many things at once while learning his limits and fighting style, with some level of restraint due some personal conflicts he has. That’s all I’ll say for now.

The last great point about this movie I want to make is the score, from the always-awesome Hans Zimmer. He certainly had a daunting task to score this movie after what John Williams had done before him and I think he truly succeeds. I’ve listened to the entire deluxe edition score once before I saw the movie and at least 4 times since. It is, in one word, sweeping. His sound has a slight resonance with what he did for The Dark Knight trilogy, but it’s largely fresh. The score that we heard from the third trailer is so dramatic, heartfelt, and again, sweeping, it convinced me the movie would soar.

This film is an incredible wonder to see (IMAX again, being the best way to experience this film) that let me feel like a kid and like Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman all at once. The story is riveting from beginning to end, the special effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen (complete honesty), and the score is quite transformative. While the “S” stands for hope for humanity, I also think it stands for hope in the sense that we get to see more Man of Steel films in the future.