Director Bryan Singer tried to bring him back to the big screen. For the most part, he failed miserably. Now Superman is getting another shot, and Director Zack Snyder has taken a very different approach to one of the world's most well-known comic-book characters.
In Man of Steel, Superman's origin story is retold. But this time around, we get a much more detailed look at the world he is from. We also get to know his father Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe, much better than ever before. The film starts out with the birth of Kal-El, which we soon find out is the first natural Kryptonian birth in ages, as natural birth is considered illegal on Krypton. Apparently, the race had been engineering embryos to fulfill specific societal needs. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) doesn't believe in this and wants his son to have free will.
Meantime, General Zod, a patriot who is struggling to ensure his people's survival - makes a traitorous move for what he considers the greater good. This directly links to Kal-El since he possesses the key to a rebirth of Krypton elsewhere in the universe.
On top of this, Jor-El also knows that their planet's core is about to collapse on itself. This is where the Superman origin we are all familiar with comes into play, as Kal-El's parents decide the best chance for his survival is to send their new son to Earth.
The film spends at least the first half-hour on Krypton, showing us the alien wildlife, futuristic buildings and air ships that make up the world. Crowe's Jor-El is also surprisingly a much bigger character than he's ever been on film before. He takes up at least 45 minutes of the film and becomes a key character when the action intensifies at the end of the film.
As far as Henry Cavill's Superman is concerned, he comes off fine in the role. At his core, Kal-El is a man who strives to be a good person. He is an alien who refuses to give up his search for home and his battle for peace. There's a particular scene at the end where we truly see the anguish Kal-El goes through for the greater good. He makes a sacrifice that goes against the character and it shows painfully. Cavill also comes off as a very intense and serious Superman. There were concerns going in that the character could have come off dark and brooding considering Nolan's hand in the film. And while the goofy side of Clark Kent isn't apparent yet, the movie perfectly sets up the possibility for more humor in sequels.
Another big role that seemed to work out perfectly in the film was the casting of Michael Shannon as General Zod. Portrayed by Terrance Stamp in the first two Superman films, Shannon brings some much-needed empathy to the character. While in Superman II Zod is portrayed as simply evil, with only hunger for power, the Zod from Man of Steel, as stated earlier, is a patriot. He loves his planet and his people and tracks down Kal-El hoping to save his people. However, creating a new race of Kryptonians on Earth would mean the people already inhabiting the planet would have to be wiped out. Kal-El/Superman will have none of that.
If there were concerns about a lack of action after Singer's Superman Returns, fear not. This movie is full-throttle. At a run time of more than two-and-a-half hours, this movie certainly does not drag. Snyder brings the action hard, and it rarely lets up. That said, there are some moments where the CG effects seem to weigh down what we are actually seeing. Still for the most part, the special effects work well and don't become too distracting.
One other aspect of the movie that felt a little off was the amount of collateral damage. When Superman and General Zod really go after one another, they essentially annihilate Metropolis. The two throw each other through countless buildings, sending structures crashing to the ground with no thought of those inside. Streets are devoured in flames, vehicles hurled through the air. Now for a character well-known for being strongly against killing anyone else, being this careless during a fight seems a little ridiculous. Then on the other hand, this is a movie based on a comic-book character, so finding a middle ground can be understandably difficult.
Overall, if a summer blockbuster is what you were hoping for in Man of Steel, you will not be let down. The movie is long but it does not feel it. It is rated PG-13, so moms and dads worried about taking your child to something too intense should probably check the movie out for yourself before bringing your young ones to see it.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was written by KCTV5 It's Your Morning Show producer Jason Ridder and is separate from the video review by Eric Melin of Scene Stealers.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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