I am not going to sit here and tell you all how fondly I remember the impact that director Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman: The Movie had on the world when it was released. Why? I was two years old.
What I can say is that growing up as a kid, Christopher Reeves’ Superman movies were my first introduction to Superman, and what a hell of an introduction it was. I must have watched the first two films a million times. Superman represented to me a superhero God who never loses, never gets angry, never kills, and will alway’s save the day. That is what truly made Superman “Super”.
To this day, out of all of Christopher Reeves’ Superman films, the first sequel is still my favorite. General Zod was the ultimate villain for me. A true equal to Superman, the only difference between them was the very definition of good and evil. One thing about the 80s Superman films, was I never got to know more of these characters before the end of the destruction of Krypton.
I never got to see how loving and noble Kal-El’s parents were, how evil just was General Zod prior to his imprisonment. Surely being a general, he must have been in the good graces of the people of Krypton at one point? These are geek questions that the casual movie fans that don’t read comics like myself would ask.
Not even the 2006 Superman Returns touched on these topics, which makes sense because that was a nod to the Richard Donner films and was meant to be a true sequel to Superman 2 while attempting to erase Superman 3 and 4 from our memories. Zack Snyder’s and Christopher Nolan’s Man Of Steel is just as powerful and somewhat flawed just like the films portrayal of our new breath of fresh air Superman himself that ask the question, would Superman take a life to save billions of lives?
The film gets off to a great start by giving us a real introduction to not only Krypton itself, but Superman’s parents and Zod’s character as well. Unlike the original 1978 Superman, where we get a few quick moments of these characters prior to the destruction of their planet, Man Of Steel spends a good 30 minutes of the film giving us a fresh perspective of just how noble and honorable Superman’s parents — Jor-El and Lara — truly were.
This is as well as giving us insight on why General Zod was evil and honestly some may even understand the villains reasoning about why he became an enemy of the entire Kryptonian race. Again, this was a true breath of fresh air. I finally got to know and understand more of these characters in 30 minutes than I ever had in any of the previous live action and animated Superman films.
The film’s plot is told through present day and very well done flashback scenes that work together cohesively. The flashback scenes (again in a breath of fresh air) focus on Clark Kent’s upbringing that begs the question, IF you really were a secret alien from another planet with super powers, how would that truly effect ones mental health? Would you feel alienated? Would you feel depressed or angry? These were some pretty interesting questions the film offers the viewer, especially when you consider that this boy would one day become our “savior” that would one day do anything to protect us humans…who can be so cruel at times.
There is a scene in the present day where Clark Kent is being abused by a customer at a diner where Kent is employed. Never before in any Superman film did I ever ask “why the hell isn’t Superman a villain?” Surely he has many reasons to hate us humans by taking such cruel abuse. To truly understand Kent’s pain as he travels the world from one odd job to another in a lonely and bitter effort to hide himself from the world.Then again, I also understood why Superman IS good and honorable. Thanks in large part to his adopted Earth parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent.
Again, the character development in Man Of Steel is like nothing I have ever seen in any of the previous Superman films. Specifically Kevin Kostner‘s portrayal as Jonathan Kent. He was by far one of the highlights in the film for me as he raises his adopted son to know why the world is not ready for a “Superman”, and that he must hide his powers…even at the cost of lives if need be.
Without spoiling any of the plot, the bullet points revolve around General Zod (pencil in a very solid performance by actor Micheal Shannon) being imprisoned in an epic battle early in the
film after an attempt to over throw the Kryptonian Government, which ironically was the best thing that could have ever happen to Zod, considering little did many know, that planet was on its final days and once the planet exploded, Zod would be set free.
Fortunately for newborn son Kal-El, his parents were Kryptonian scientist who were aware of the planet’s life expectancy and in a pretty cool battle with Zod, were able to send their son to Earth in the planets final moments with the Codex (DNA code of the Kryptonian race) infused with Kal-El’s body for safe keeping of the future of the Kryptonian race. Fast forward a few decades later, Kent accidentally triggers a distress signal from a lost colony abandoned Kryptonian spacecraft in the arctic that will eventually lure Zod to Earth with the mission to capture Kal-El and the Codex.
It is during that scene that we get to see Clark Kent’s first introduction to Daily Planet journalist, Lois Lane (Amy Adams), while trying to cover a story on the military’s top-secret project in the arctic. After Lane uncovers the story of not just the spacecraft, but her mystery alien hero as well, she sets out to find Clark in hopes of doing a story. However after meeting Clark and hearing his story as well as some good advice from the Daily Planet’s editor-in-chief Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), decides to not do the story.
I thought the chemistry between both Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) was perfect. Not too forced nor not too little. Just enough to lay the foundation of their romance for future sequels. The rest of them film truly kicks starts the action as we witness the true birth of Superman as he defends his new home Earth from his own invading Kryptonian forces. What I love about this film was director Zack Snyder pointing out that Superman was not a warrior…he was never trained to do battle, unlike his enemy, General Zod. All Superman has is the will of honor and bravery to step in front of an entire army-both Earth and Kryptonian to defend and protect Earth.
If you thought the special effects were awesome in the theatre, then you are going to delighted to see this blockbuster in sparkling HD Blu-ray. The special effects almost stole the show, especially in the beginning of the films early Kryptonian planet. Almost on par with the imagination and detail of a Star Wars film. With the special features clocking in over four hours, I could almost spend more time talking about the features than the film. In a time when most home video releases just cruise control the usual “making of and deleted scenes”, Man Of Steel truly delivers the goods on your hard-earned money.
One of the stand outs is a featurette that breaks down almost everything on the history of Superman and how the director and producer used that history in the film. In addition, the featurette titled “All Out Action” gives some cool insight on the cast daily routines while on the production set. There is quite a bit of special features content to go into detail, but trust me when I say that there is plenty of it. My only complaint would be that the film is quite long. Be ready to push that pause button a few times for a bathroom break. Keep in mind, you hardly notice the length of the film while watching incredible super hero action fights that put the Matrix Revolutions Neo vs. Mr. Anderson climatic final fight to shame.
I give Man Of Steel a very entertaining 3 1/2 out of 4 throwing stars!