Saturday, June 15, 2013

Man of Steel (2013) Review:

When it comes to portraying a comic book character like Superman, an icon with high popularity, it's hard not to feel the pressure of millions of fans. Seven years before was Superman Returns (2006) directed by Bryan Singer which didn't gather spectacular reviews by most and before that were the dreaded Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). So it’s no surprise that fans are skeptical on what to expect. But to be honest, even though I found things to knock on, it’s difficult not to enjoy it. I mean, how could you go wrong with Zack Snyder directing and Christopher Nolan producing right behind him?

Henry Cavill as Kal-El
Since this movie is jump-starting the Superman franchise again, its important to understand that the writing will cover the back-story but will also continue with the current story to keep things moving. David S. Goyer's screenplay is written quite skillfully but it does have a flaw I'd like to address and that's the villain's plan. Again, the plan is involving slaying the human race in place for an older race. It reminded me too much of other movies. Most recently that came to mind was Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011). Same concept, to a point.

But what I did feel to be very deep about Goyer's writing was the back-story. Viewers will have the experience of understanding the physical and mental pain that Clark Kent (Kal-El) had to endure while growing up. Whether he was 9, 13 or 33. It'll hit viewers hard because we all can relate to what it's like to be rejected by others. To feel like the whole world is looking down at us, it's a scary feeling, especially when one feels like an outcast. But, as explained Jor-El (Russell Crowe), this is why he sent Kal-El to earth, so he could choose his own path. The rest of the children on Krypton were all predestined for a certain job in life and Jor-El didn't want that for Kal-El. That part of the writing was great.

Casting was another great aspect to this movie that played a significant part of the product. Henry Cavill is by far the most accurate embodiment of the Kal-El. His voice is smooth yet powerful. Cavill is also able to convey a lot of emotion in his role because of how bound he is by his upbringing. Isn't it also coincidental that he's also from the UK just like Christian Bale is and he played Batman, another DC comic hero. Amy Adams as Lois Lane was a great choice too, but I am curious to why her hair could not have been colored in slightly darker. Would it have taken up that much more time? Diane Lane and Kevin Costner who play Kal-El's parents also did a great job. When they're on screen it is easy to see that they are the reason why Clark Kent is the way he is.

As for the Kryptonians, Russell Crowe's interpretation of Jor-El had a royal and noble feel to it. Perhaps not as memorable as Marlon Brando's take but inventive all the same. Lastly, General Zod played by Michael Shannon was the most interesting for me. It's not often that I pity a villain but I did. According to the story, General Zod was one of the predestined children, which means he didn't grow up with the choice of what he wanted to be. Which should lead viewers to understand why Zod won't give up. Shannon has ability to instill that into his audience it feels quite real. Zod is not one to be messed with.

Michael Shannon as General Zod
Since we live in an era where technology is much apart of our lives, there's not much to say about the special effects or action. The special effects were well integrated into the movie and nothing stuck out like a sore thumb. And since this is a Superman movie, don't even think that there WON'T be any action. There's plenty. However, depending on viewers’ preferences, some of the camera shots in this movie may annoy people. For example, there were a few scenes that seemed like it was shot with a handheld camera. The camera just didn't stay steady. I don't know if that was to make the picture seem more real (or raw) but it wasn't necessary.

Finally, the component that is needed to make any film compelling, especially a comic book hero adaptation, is the film score. Contributing to this is Hans Zimmer, best known for creating intense, high octane, downbeat pounding music and its no different here. Horns will blare and string instruments will sound. Sadly though, I did not find Zimmer's score to be as powerful when it came to the main theme. There definitely was a theme, which is great but the crescendo of notes never seemed to finish, leaving the theme at somewhat of a cliffhanger. It's important to finish because it conveys that sense of power and presence. Zimmer knows what makes a good score and all this needed was a little more push and it could have knocked this out of the ballpark. But all in all, it's obvious that a lot of effort went into this work.

There are only a few things that were off with the movie but they are so tiny that it’s not much to get upset over. The cast and music drive the story which leave a very enjoyable experience for viewers.

Points Earned --> 9:10

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