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10.0 out of 10
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8.25 out of 10

Friday, June 14, 2013

Man of Steel


Return to Greatness

8.5 out of 10 | Movie and DVD

Rated: PG-13  Intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language
Release Date: July 14, 2013
Runtime: 2 hours 23 minutes

Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Davis S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan, based on a character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Christopher Meloni, Antje Traue, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne

SYNOPSIS:  A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.

REVIEW: Zack Synder, the visionary director of 300, the Dawn of the Dead remake, and Sucker Punch, takes on a 75 year old alien super being that has had its own share of triumphs and failures. Based on a story from David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight trilogy) and Christopher Nolan (Inception) from the character created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, we are granted access to a familiar hero with a brand new look and feel.

On a planet name Krypton, scientific advisor Jor-El pleas with the council to save the planet's citizens by expanding out to the stars. When his words go unheeded and the planet continues to deteriorate, Jor-El and Lara fight to save their infant male child from the imminent destruction of the planet. General Zod (Michael Shannon, Premium Rush), in an attempt to take over rule, fails and is sentenced to exile in to the Phantom Zone with several of his officers. Infant Kal-El is jettisoned off-planet in an escape ship, making its way to Earth to be found by Jonathan (Kevin Costner, Hatfields and McCoys) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane, Secretariat) to be raised under the name Clark (Henry Cavill). As Clark grows up, the Kents realized that he is a special child and teach him that he must keep his powers and abilities a secret until such time that the world would come to accept and embrace him. 33 years later, Clark is searching for his heritage and clues to what to do next. Eventually Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams, Trouble with the Curve) finds out about his alien nature and abilities. As Clark learns more of hi past from a hologram of his father, General Zod and his soldiers arrive on Earth and demand that the son of Jor-El be turned over to him or the planet will suffer. Clark must decide whether to give himself up for the sake of the planet citizens or fights against superior forces to save his adopted planet.

David S Goyer, Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder take the story of Superman in a new direction from the earlier more charming films by the Donner or Singer. What we have is a more grounded and realistic portrayal of the man in the red cape. Just as Nolan deconstructed and rebuilt Christian Bale as a more urban and tangible Batman, Snyder and Goyer creates a superman who is accessible and just this side of fantastic. As you watch Superman hover in midair with his red cape flowing behind him, you get a sense that his abilities are almost possible.

Coming in at 143 minutes, Man of Steel is a lengthy portrait of of Kal-El / Clark's genesis and journey of self-discovery. With clever use of flashbacks, the audience get glimpses of moments in Clark's childhood – including the manifestation of his powers, saving a school bus full of classmates with the repercussions that follow, and an adult Clark out on the road doing good deeds while staying in the background shadows.

Michael Shannon's Zod is as ruthless and driven as the Terence Stamp version in the classic Superman II. Shannon's Zod is not crazy by any stretch, simply driven to fulfill his genetic destiny. Several unknown cinematic myths about Kal-El and Kryptonian history is explained, including that all Kryptonians are genetically created for a specific role in the class system a la 'A Brave New World'. From the purpose and initial donning of the blue and red suit, to the planet's landscapes and animals, to the advanced sciences and technology that Kryptonians use to expand their colonization of the galaxy and the destruction of their own world, Man of Steel takes the superman in a different direction from the previous films.

With a stellar expanded origin that leads into a completely different adulthood of the man we know as Superman, the movie introduces other character in the middle of the film that tend to lag just a bit. But once General Zod and his soldiers come to the planet to claim their exiled citizen, the story and action rises to the next level. The batte scenes between Superman and Zod's henchmen - then Zod himself - seem to go on forever. Some of the action sequences look like they came straight out of the DC universe mass online role play game prologue. The level of mass destruction is epic as these two titans - Kal-El and Zod - fight in and above the Metropolis cityscape

Zack Snyder does a great job keeping the film seamless, adding an alien perspective to the films plot lines and making Man of Steel much more then a battle of brawn versus brains. Finally, we have a villain that does not include Lex Luthor at its core. Luthor's name only comes into play on the side of some gas tanker trucks.

The film could be a little tighter, meandering a while in the middle with some of the storyline development. And some of the dialogue and action sequences seem repetitive. But the actors are perfectly cast throughout. The storytelling, although trying to tell too much at times, is a breath of fresh air for the renewed franchise. In a word, Man of Steel is super!

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