Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie Review: "Man of Steel"

There's a moment in many superhero movies when the main character first realizes they possess special powers that set them apart. The joy, surprise, and feeling of power that crosses their face when they start trying out their newfound abilities often fuels the movie with a few minutes of entertainment and exhilaration.

It's hard to say for sure, but the segment where Kal-El/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) finally realizes who he is and why he has always been different than his friends and neighbors is probably one of the more uplifting moments in Man of Steel, Zack Snyder's brooding, introspective take on Superman's story. But despite the movie's dark, soul-searching nature, it's well-done and well-acted, although a tad slow and perhaps a bit too long.

If you're familiar with the story of Superman or have seen the original movie (which is 35(!) years old this year), you probably know the plot. The planet Krypton is on the verge of destruction, but noble Jor-El (Russell Crowe, less taciturn than in Les Mis) and his wife, Lara (Ayelet Zurer) make the decision to send their infant son, Kal-El, to Earth, the only hope for Krypton's (and his) future. This makes General Zod (Michael Shannon, playing yet another character who is utterly unhinged), who has staged a coup against Krypton's leaders, very unhappy, and he vows to one day find this little child.

Fast forward, and Kal-El has become Clark Kent of Smallville, raised by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane—is she really old enough to be Henry Cavill's mom?). Clark knows he has special abilities and wishes he could just be a normal boy, and is warned by his father that the time will come for him to show the world his powers, but he needs to hide them away until then.

Clark becomes a mysterious drifter, saving those in crisis and quickly moving on before he is discovered. But when he follows a trail he hopes will lead him to his true self, he runs into Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams, less shrill than usual), who knows something is just a wee bit different with our hero and is determined to find out the truth. And then things get pretty cray-cray for all involved.

The fighting scenes are tumultuous but the villains are almost annoyingly super-powerful, and the fights lasted a little too long for me. As I've commented before, I get a little tired of the scenes of destruction of a big city—still too eerily like 9/11 for me—and while the explosions and throwing people into buildings is cool, wouldn't people have been killed all over the place because of these fights? (Maybe I think too much.)

There's no doubt that Henry Cavill looks the part of Superman (an understatement, in my opinion) and handles the brooding nature of his character—as well as the suit—quite well. And Michael Shannon gives good evil, although I always love the point in these movies where the villain delivers a long monologue about why they're bent on destruction. Amy Adams gives a bit more sass to her Lois Lane than Margot Kidder did, although her chemistry with Cavill doesn't quite heat up until the end.

This is a very good movie, but perhaps not as good as I had hoped. I guess it is, in essence, a Superman for a more introspective time in our lives. And given the box office success, I'd imagine we'll see the return of Superman after Zack Snyder finishes the follow-up to 300.

1 comment:

  1. Great review Larry. Nowhere near perfection, but a fine superhero flick that’s released during the best time of the year for them.