Hey gang, Valkor here. Back when TOV first launched, my very first piece was all about a Superman reboot; at that time, directors, writers, producers, and scripts were being tossed around and the end result was Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns", where Supes faced off against Lex Luthor and… a giant rock of kryptonite. The film did well financially, but fans all but dismissed it. That was seven years ago and the folks at Warner haven't given up on Superman and they've sent in some heavy hitters to ensure a proper reboot of the franchise; with Zack Snyder at the helm, script written by David Goyer and they're all kept in check by the man who saved Batman from Joel Schumacher hell – Christopher Nolan. The film is called "Man of Steel" and it's the film I've been waiting many moons to see and trutheshly? Snyder and Co have nailed it… with a few hiccups. MAJOR spoilers ahead.
Man of Steel parallels two stories – Superman's origins and his current timeline, bringing them to a close in one explosive ending. The film opens with a much broader look at Krypton as it's on the cusp of destruction. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) send their only son, Kal-El off into to space, to save the bloodline of all Kryptonians. At the same time, General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his minions have orchestrated a coup to overthrow Krypton's leaders. They ultimately fail and as punishment, they're banished to the Phantom Zone. And of course baby Kal-El lands safely onto the farm of the Kents - Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane).
Fast-forward, Kal-El now known Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is wandering the planet, trying to hide his superhuman identity. However his urge to help others in their desperate time of need supersedes all that, putting him and his abilities to the forefront and forcing him to move on soon after (think Bill Bixby's Incredible Hulk). In his wake, he leaves behind an urban legend trail of the mysterious hero with amazing abilities. Intercut between his travels (which aren't many), we see Clark as a boy, when his powers first kick in, and also the scene from the bus where he saves his classmates from a watery grave. Clark clearly doesn't fit in and he's suspected of being different, causing a rift amongst his peers to the point of an altercation. Though Clark could have easily taken on the bullies, he holds back.
This brings us to investigative reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who has been following the exploits of the mysterious hero and is about to unleash an article that proves there are aliens that walk amongst us. However her editor, Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) shelves the piece as he believes it will be cause for alarm and that the public isn't ready for such news. However Lois isn't about ready to drop the story all together and goes so far as to visit a spaceship that was buried under ice some 20,000 years ago. It's during her time on the ship where she meets Clarke, who rescues her from one of the ships robots. This is one of many confrontations between the two as Lois doesn't give up finding out just who this stranger is, going so far as to follow that urban legend trail he left behind.
Back to the ship, turns out when Clark visited the alien craft he somehow sent out a distress signal that was picked up by Zod, who has now escaped his phantom zone prison (pretty genius way of escape too). He sends a message back stating "you are not alone" and also issues an ultimatum – he wants Kal-El or the planet will be laid to waste. And from then on it's all out chaos. Not all chaos as we do get that interview between Lois and Superman, but the level of action, destruction, mayhem when it kicks in is completely off the chain.
Man of Steel is a definite reinterpretation of the character that steers clear of his comic book roots where he jumps from Smallville to Metropolis, puts on this goofy persona, fights crime and the people accept him. Here there is always a level of uncertainty and a clear divide between the human and the Kryptonian. You can sense it straight away and it carries throughout until the very end. Now I jump around a bit in my synopsis, but the basis for the film is still there, not spoiling any of that climatic ending, because you need to see it to believe it. While Zack Snyder's prints are all over this film, you can see the influences of Goyer and Nolan as the way the story is told, it almost matches that of Batman Begins. Mental note: must watch Batman Begins.
It feels good to lay witness to an awesome live-action Superman story that embraces the source, yet does enough to stand out on its own. From start to explosive finish, Man of Steel was the film fans have been waiting for. Forget that! It's the film "I'VE" been waiting for! I loved the first two Supes films, the second two were disappointing, and as far as Returns go? Superman vs. a Kryptonite Island? Come on, son! Man of steel? Bad ass!! If the action had been weak, I would want the story to be strong and MoS doesn't disappoint in either case. As far as the story goes – I think Goyer nailed it! I never thought I'd see a Superman grounded in reality and actually work, but we have it and it works perfectly! I don't know if many of you caught this, but Superman's story almost matches Nolan's Batman Begins beat for beat, especially with the back and forth between adult and childhood. Is this a hint of things to come? I really hope so! Krypton – loved how it was represented and given such life, plus I really enjoyed the technology. HUGE PLUS POINTS: Not wasting such talent as Russell Crowe and making Jor-El such a bad ass. That was unexpected and really heightened the experience. But the icing on the cake – the final battle between Supes and Zod; it's big, REALLY big and beautiful, I mean talk about no-holds barred! The final battle left me breathless and I enjoyed every minute of it. The acting – very well done and Cavill has earned his right to the tights, though I will admit I still think Christopher Reeve's Superman is better. HOWEVER, Cavill has the natural build and he put on an amazing performance that shouldn't be dismissed. Amy Adams gives us the Lois Lane I know I've long for on the live-action front (Dana Delany owns it on the animation side), but Amy's Lois is tough, scrappy, and persistent. Michael Shannon? Awesome; the dude is amazing and owns the role of Zod. OWNS IT! Finally I wanna talk real quick about the end battle between Supes and Zod. It was totally unexpected and I feel it needed to be done. It was such a jaw dropper, but given the situation… I'm glad Clark made the decision he did. Overall, Man of Steel is the Superman film we've needed and I'm glad it's finally here.
OK Man of Steel isn't perfect, but most of what I'll say here is definitely nitpicking. Right off the bat, I felt Lois discovering who Superman/Clark Kent was just too damn easy and I honestly didn't like that one bit. She just followed the trail back to Smallville and BAM! Found ya! No! I didn't care for the death of Pa Kent (Kevin Costner); I get why he died, but killing the dude in a tornado? That was just silly. I also felt the overall film was a little too choppy; I read a few reviews that said the pacing was off and it's definitely not the pacing, it's the editing as the transitions from some scenes to others just felt weird. Now I know Nolan doesn't do director's cuts but Snyder does and I feel there has to be a director's cut of the film to make it flow better. Finally I know I mentioned how I loved the final battle, but at the same time I thought it was over the top on the destruction. It's big, maybe a little "too big", but still enjoyable nonetheless.
There are rumors floating around that Man of Steel 2 is being fast-tracked for a 2014 release. I highly doubt that's possible but should it happen I look forward to it as Man of Steel was such a treat; action-packed, great performances, and highly entertaining. And even with its faults I'm giving Man of Steel a 5 out of TOV 5 stars.