Disclaimer: Spoilers are within. So if that bothers you, then watch the movie. Cool? Cool.
Your favourite Kryptonian is back. Well, not technically since this is a reboot. But you know what I mean. Superman is hardly unknown. He is THE superhero. So this had to be THE superhero film. No pressure.Going in to the film, my expectations were high. I had seen the trailer quite a few times and loved the tone that Snyder and co were conveying. Superman Returns with Brandon Routh (anyone remember him?) was forgettable. I had genuine hope for this one. With a brilliant cast, including Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner and Laurence Fishburne, Not forgetting a rising star in Henry Cavill. I knew this film would take itself very seriously.
With David S. Goyer penning the script and Christopher Nolan producing, it was a given that people would compare Man of Steel to Batman Begins. A DC heavyweight’s origin story with these two at the helm makes perfect sense given their fantastic track record with The Dark Knight Trilogy. But with Zack Snyder in the director’s chair, I was a little anxious and hoped for a 300 as opposed to a The Watchmen situation.
We begin with a near-apocalyptic Krypton. Jor-El (Crowe) is present for the birth of his son, who is the first natural birth Krypton has seen in a long time. Jor-El and his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) decide to send their son to another planet, as Krypton is on the verge of implosion.
For those of you who thought Lex Luthor would be the bad guy in this one; sorry, that’s not the case. He does not even feature in the film (although there are references to him which we will get to later). General Zod (Michael Shannon) is the big bad guy who is a fellow Kryptonian and Military leader who wants to continue the Krypton race with the help of the Codex – which is a Kryptonian device that decodes the genetic makeup of the artificially incubated babies on Krypton. And given that Krypton is no more, he needs a new planet. Earth seems like a nice planet to take over.
I really enjoyed what they did with the Clark Kent character and his search for answers regarding his true identity. He is a drifter at the beginning of the film. Moving from town to town and getting the odd job here and there, while occasionally saving lives. All very mysterious for the boy from Smallville.
Clark finally makes a break-through and finds the Fortress of Solitude, which appears as a scout ship which crash landed in the arctic. Clark converses with a hologram type version of his biological pops, who of course gives him the run down and introduces him to that suit. They’ve finally figured out how underpants work, given that it’s not on the outside anymore. For some strange reason, the moment I heard that his suit wouldn’t have his undies over the pants, was the precise moment I knew this movie was not playing around. Shit just got real.
Having flashbacks portray Clark’s trouble adjusting to his powers as a kid was an excellent choice in terms of the story-telling and they didn’t linger on each flashback for too long. And it does shape his persona. He just wants to be a hero and use his abilities for good. Jor-El knew what Kal-El could achieve and only wanted him to reach his full potential.
Earth dad Jonathan Kent (Costner) tells Clark that maybe he shouldn’t save people because of the questions being asked. He says that the people on Earth wouldn’t accept him because they fear what they don’t understand. He even goes so far as to die before letting Clark save him from a freak tornado because there is a crowd of people around and he would be exposed.
Talk about taking one for the team.
I found the whole thing a little too unnecessary to be honest. Clark is faster than a speeding bullet. He could save his dad, take him back to the farm, hang the washing and make it back to the over-pass before anyone would notice he’s gone. But his father had to die to make his origins story more compelling.
No matter how wise Jor-El is, I felt like there was just too much of him. Never before has a dead guy been on screen that much since Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense. Also, being on screen that much made me realise that Jor-El with a heavy Australian accent is slightly amusing.
One aspect of the film that cannot be faulted in the slightest is the score. Hans Zimmer, who scored Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy teamed up with Nolan and Goyer once again and the result was sheer brilliance. I found myself humming to the official theme long after the movie ended.
An exciting part of a film with such a rich history is picking up on some of the references that were sneaked into the film. Smallville, the TV show starring Tom Welling as Clark Kent was referenced quite a bit in the film, with several actors who appeared on the show, appearing in this film as well. One Easter Egg I also noticed was the “Sullivan’s” truck and tractor repair shop in one of the flashback scenes. Chloe Sullivan was an important character in Smallville and one of Clark’s best friends on the show. One of the more obvious Easter eggs is the use of the LexCorp building (Lex Luthor reference of course) as well as a LexCorp truck. Leading us to believe that the bald-one will be the main antagonist for the sequel. Choosing not to introduce Lex now is similar to how Nolan chose not to feature The Joker in Batman Begins, despite him being Batman’s main villain.
Some of you might have seen the Easter Egg in the film alluding to Batman, or rather, Bruce Wayne with a Wayne Enterprises logo seen on a satellite during Superman and Zod’s final battle. The Justice League movie is supposed to be released in 2015 to compete with Marvel’s The Avengers 2 and this is a nice way to get things started. Even if it’s a subtle, blink-and-you-would-miss-it Easter egg.
It is at the final battle scene that we see Superman being pushed to his limits. Zod threatens the lives of a few Earth citizens by using his heat vision, but Superman with his hands around Zod’s head, proceeds to break his neck. A much darker tone for the film indeed. How Superman will cope with this is something that will definitely come into play in the sequel.
Of course we would be amiss if we didn’t talk about Clark and Lois. I love Amy Adams as an actress, but I didn’t find the romance between the two very noteworthy. I suppose that wasn’t the point of the movie at all. But their kiss at the end did not seem to have any place in the film. I liked that a bond was forming between the two, but too soon perhaps?
Overall, I think this take on Clark as someone trying to find himself and learn his true identity is something that has been touched on before but has definitely received a lot of focus in Snyder’s film. The action sequences were thrilling, and this is something Snyder is really well known for.
A solid film all round and an origin story that I believe sets up the rest of this Man of Steel as well as a Justice League emsemble. I cannot wait to see where DC and Superman go from here.
Notable scene: “You are not alone” – General Zod’s message to Earth. And I do mean Earth. Asia and Africa were even getting the transmission on their screens and in their native tongue. Very considerate. But that aside, this scene is pretty chilling. The whole world is watching, the message arrives across static and the lights go off. When the transmission ends, the lights go back on and everyone on Earth is rocked by the news that not only are there Aliens out there but one has been living among them.
Notable performance: Diane Lane as Martha Kent really surprised me in this one. She particularly impressed me in the flashback scene where she talks Clark out of the bathroom at school. Another good performer was Christopher Meloni as Colonel Hardy who actually sacrifices himself at the end and shows true bravery even without super powers. I’ve always found him to be a very talented actor on Law and Order: SVU. Hoping for big things to come from him and watch out for him in the new Sin City movie coming out this year.
Favourite Quote: “You just have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be, Clark. Whoever that man is, he’s going to change the world.” – Jonathan Kent
Trivia: The majority of the action scenes use a CGI cape for Superman.
About the author: Dean is co-founder of BTG Lifestyle, and an aspiring filmmaker who once wore his underpants over his pants. But he’s not Superman. So many people laughed at him.