Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Man of Steel"... Fairly Super

     As the temperature rises and the summer months progress, the big budget movie blockbusters keep on coming. Opening June 14th, 2013, Zack Snyder's Man of Steel is sure to draw in hoards of loyal geeks to their local multiplex, dying to see the latest retelling of Kal-El's origin. The question is though... how does it hold up to previous Superman films and incarnations?

    In my opinion, the short answer is... not bad. (Undoubtedly better than the 2006 travesty, Superman Returns.)

  Do a quick search on Rotten Tomatoes and you can see that reviews have been mixed on MOS. As with many super hero movies, some critics are showering it with praise, while others are quick to point out it's obvious flaws. I firmly believe that your final opinion of the movie will greatly depend on the type of geek/film fan you find yourself to be.

  While I have never particularly been Superman's biggest fan, (I was a Batman kid myself)  David Goyer, Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder may have made me reconsider my stance on DC Comics's #1 Boy Scout. While the film had it's flaws, overall I enjoyed the modernized telling of the Superman origin story enough to ignore some slow paced scenes found scattered throughout the movie. (The opening scene depicting the destruction of Krypton and the final battle scenes are what come immediately to mind.) Not to say that Man of Steel wasn't action packed, but it seems that Snyder may have a hard time figuring out when enough is enough, as many special effects laden battle scenes continue on for what seems like an unnecessary amount of time.

   Flaws aside for now, let's take a look at the positives...

  One thing is for certain, the casting was superb! English actor, Henry Cavill, portrays a darker and more brooding Superman/Clark Kent then we have seen in the past, but manages to stay clear of a repeat of Tobey Maguire's emo-Spiderman. Some may say that this darker "Man of Steel" lacks the humor and inspiration that often accompanies the classic American hero, but I feel that as Clark Kent continues to transition into the role in future films, we will see the character grow to become the symbol of hope that he is meant to be. Rounding up my thoughts on Cavill, I am happy to say that he wears the suit, it doesn't wear him!

  A strong lead is important for an iconic character, but the supporting cast cannot be forgotten. As the first lady of superherodom, Amy Adams brings a certain amount of sexiness and moxie that I feel was lacking in previous incarnations of Lois Lane, and I look forward to seeing her reprise the role in the guaranteed sequel. Russell Crowe presents a powerful performance as the Kryptonian Scientist and biological father of Superman, Jor-El. Crowe's Jor-El displays an intense optimism and wisdom as a he guides a struggling Kal-El in an Obi-Wan Kenobi style fashion, and leads his wayward son to his true destiny. As Jor-El's polar opposite, Michael Shannon portrays the over-zealous General Zod, who comes to Earth in hopes of some prime terraforming real estate, and the intent to wipe out the human race, so that the Kryptonians may live once more. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, round out this all-star cast as Jonathan and Martha Kent (the Smallville, Kansas based adoptive parents of Kal-El). Both Costner and Lane deliver exceptional performances that will warm the cockles of your hearts, and make you wish you were found in a crashed space capsule in rural Kansas.

   As I mentioned briefly earlier in the review, some movie goers/Superman fans may feel that there is a certain amount of familiar lightheartedness and humor absent from Snyder's take on the classic caped super-hero. I personally was too engrossed in the compelling story to notice the lack of outright humor. In fact, I for one, never expected anything with Christopher Nolan's name attached to it, to be lighthearted. We are living in the age of darker and edgier DC films, and it seems unlikely that we will be seeing the comedic undertones of Superman's past feature films anytime soon. Gritty realism worked well in revitalizing a Batman film franchise, and Warner Bros. has plans to keep moving forward with this cinematic overhaul until they have a comic book film catalog to rival that of Marvel.

   Man of Steel, like most most movies of this type, relies heavily on special effects imagery and fast paced cinematography to keep up with the hero who is faster than a speeding bullet. While I normally find this type of camera action/on screen imagery to be annoying/unbearable, I feel that Man of Steel presented it in a manner that I could not only swallow, but enjoy as well. The battle scenes between the Son of Jor-El and Zod and his cronies was reminiscent of Michael Bay's explosion packed "Transformers" franchise, without the usual accompanied nausea.

   Wrapping up my review, I must touch on the fact that, like any adaptation, things were changed for the big screen. However, in the grand scheme of things, it was done so in a manner that was tasteful and as non-disruptive to canon as possible.

I give Man of Steel 5 out of 6 beers!

- James Laird (1/3 of The 3 Drunk Geeks)

Man of Steel comes out Friday June 14th, 2013 in theaters nationwide!

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