Sunday, June 16, 2013

Nerdtastic Review: Man of Steel

Superman. How do you make someone relatable who has almost no weaknesses and almost no similarities to ourselves? How can we understand someone who can shoot laser beams out of his eyes and fly? Zack Snyder's Man of Steel tells the hard truth that Superman adaptations have been trying to avoid for years. Superman is not like us. He is not meant to be relatable and he is not meant to feel like one of us. He is meant to be our savior; a being from another planet whose power so greatly dwarfs our own that our only hope of existence lies in his hands. Superman has finally been given the respect he deserves.

For those of you who are not sure what to expect, Man of Steel is an origin story. Throw away any previous ideas that you have about the man in tights, because we are starting from square one. While yet another origin story of Superman could have felt horribly redundant, Man of Steel manages to feel fresh by focusing heavily on Kal-El's Kryptonian heritage. If words like those confuse you, it might be a good idea to brush up on some basic Superman terminology before seeing Man of Steel. In short, Clark Kent, otherwise known as Kal-El, otherwise known as Superman, will have to save the human race that he loves from his own kind.

That brings us to General Zod. Brought to life through a wonderful performance by Michael Shannon, General Zod has been bred to do one thing and one thing only, ensure the survival of the Kryptonian race. Thus, when Krypton is destroyed, his hopes lie in cultivating a new start for his people on Earth, a process that would eliminate humans from the planet. The plot is fairly straightforward but it can become more complex than it needs to be when explained through the confusing jargon of the Superman universe. This is one of the few faults I found in the movie and it's something that won't be a problem if you're at all familiar with this type of story, but for the casual viewer it may be a little much to swallow.

But no matter how science fictiony or gorgeously bombastic Man of Steel becomes, it remains grounded by a solid cast hitting just the right notes. Both Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner are wonderful as Superman's alien and earthly fathers, respectively. While Amy Adams brings an edge to Lois Lane that has been missing in past Superman iterations. But Henry Cavill leads the way as the Man of Steel himself, effectively capturing both the tormented human and heroically alien sides of our hero. When Man of Steel falls out of stride, and it certainly does at times, the actors are there to reel it back in and keep us on the edge of our seats.

And once you get to the edge of your seat, you'll stay there. I guarantee you there will be people who complain that the action is overlong and over the top. But that is exactly why I loved it. With Metropolis being brought to its knees and machines blasting through the Earth's core, I couldn't help but feel like we were finally seeing just how powerful Superman and his foes really are. When the Man of Steel and General Zod go toe to toe, there is literally nothing the humans can do but pray that Superman comes out victorious and that the planet isn't destroyed in the process. This is how it's supposed to be. Remember when I said we aren't supposed to be able to relate to Superman? This is what I meant! His power is so great and so devastating, we are left to do nothing but stare, awestruck, as his war rages around us. This will, undoubtedly, be where Man of Steel loses a lot of support. People like rooting for a hero they can see themselves becoming. A snarky kid like Spiderman or a resourceful mortal like Batman are much easier to hop on board with. But Superman is not like the other heroes, he is the one true SUPER hero and his greatness is finally on display.

I could go on for so much longer as to why I loved this movie but I won't. To me, it was everything a Superman movie should be. Deftly bringing together the two very different worlds of Krypton and Earth, giving us a villain to hate and a hero to love, and blowing us away with some of the most amazing action sequences brought to the big screen. Let's just say, Superman is truly super once more.

My Rating: B

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