Man of Steel tells the origin story that we all know so well (or at least think we do?) of Kal-el, the last son of Krypton, who was sent to Earth from his dying home-world to eventually become Superman! It begins with the birth of Kal-El to parents Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara (Ayelet Zurer) on Krypton. While their planet dying from the inside, the ambitious General Zod (Michael Shannon) has staged a coup to overthrow the council and set up a new world order. Even though Zod asks Jor-El to join him, he denies him as he prepares to send his only son to Earth, saving him from their fate. Zod is stopped by Jor-El, arrested, and sentenced to the 'Phantom Zone'. Krypton is destroyed! Kal-El arrives on Earth and is raised by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent in Smallville, Kansas. Now named Clark Kent, he slowly discovers his powers and realizes he is destined for greatness and he wants to help people. He is conflicted in dealing with his ever-increasing powers and their limitations. So much so, that he eventually leaves home to find himself and his purpose.
|Henry Cavill IS Superman!|
Through much of the second act of the film Lois is searching for the mysterious man who rescued her and has been spotted at several other locations. In the third act we find out that Zod has returned and is looking for Kal-El and if the people of Earth do not surrender him he will destroy the planet (which he will most likely do anyway)! Superman learns of Zod's true purpose, and begins is a non-stop battle for Earth's fate as he must stop his fellow Kryptonians (who now have almost the same powers as he does) from destroying the Earth and killing the entire human population.
Man of Steel is an impressive and fast-paced superhero movie that barely gives you any time to catch your breath! While it does have a somewhat darker tone like The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel retains much of the optimistic and hopeful themes to which the story has always been known. Although very special-effects driven with over-the-top action and especially intense fights and destruction scenes; Man of Steel is the Superman movie many fans have been waiting for but not necessarily the one they expected. Director Zack Snyder has been known for his involvement in several recent comic book adaptations (300, Watchmen) including movies with heavy CGI special effects (Sucker Punch). He is well suited to direct Man of Steel.
|Kneel before Zod?|
While there are many differences with the original classic Superman, both in comics and movies, this version presents the audience with a much more realistic view of the Superman story. With its strong elements of science-fiction and fantasy, Man of Steel feels very grounded in reality, addressing what our world would be like if there was someone who had superpowers and how would he use them. Stylistically, the scenes of Krypton borrow heavily from the 1980's comic designs of John Byrne with a little bit of James Cameron's Avatar thrown in (Jor-El riding atop a 4-winged dragon into battle!). While the technology of Krypton has a much more "organic" style in this one as opposed to the original shiny, crystalline structure of the original movies.
As for the redesign of the costume; this has more in common with the new comics than tradition. His new, somewhat-darker and streamlined costume, sans outside underwear, has created a lot of controversy. Some issues with the movies over-the-top action and particularly with its over-use of the "shaky-cam" and featuring scenes of ultra-destruction have been panned. Some may criticize that Man of Steel has too much violence and destruction, most don't seem to realize that this IS what a super-hero comic book is all about! Finally, we get to see Superman in an all-out super-fight with an actual super-villain and all the chaos that comes with it! One of the oddest features of the movie comes from its obligatory usage of product-placement. Everything from Sears, 7-11, IHOP and U-Haul are featured in this film. In one of the major fight scenes between Superman and Faora-Ul (Antje Traue), Zod's right-hand woman, takes place primarily in an IHOP! This is not a new-concept in movies, or even superhero movies, as there has always been products featured in movies. Even the original 1978 Superman featured a very commercial-like scene with a box of Cheerios on the Kent's breakfast table. Man of Steel may not be the "best" Superman movie in the last 35 years, but it is better than the last attempt and it certainly tries harder than some of DC Comics previous attempts (i.e. Green Lantern) to bring super-powered superheroes to life.
Man of Steel is an impressive, equally entertaining and enjoyable movie experience. Unlike some of the other Summer superhero blockbusters like the inadequate Iron Man 3 and especially laughable special-effects driven disasters like Star Trek Into Darkness. Even after 75 years, Superman still manages to inspire and entertain each new generation. Superman lives on! Although he may change along the way, like in the comics with DC Comics' recent "New 52!" line, the basic spirit of Superman stays true as continues to fight for "truth, justice, and the American way!"