MAN OF STEEL is a Superman for all seasons

Superman’s latest film incarnation “Man of Steel” gives us a modern superhero that everyone can get behind across the seasons.

“Man of Steel” retells Superman’s origin story, for the first time I think since the 1978 “Superman.” We are taken to the planet Krypton at the dawn of its sociopolitical and planetary breakdown. Then we witness the birth of Kal-El, the future Clark Kent. From there, the movie deviates from standard Superman origins and heads into a different direction — the mild spoilers detail some of the surface changes.

Mild spoilers

Lois Lane discovers Kal-El’s true identity, powers develop across the film and not all during childhood, and there is no mention or sight of billionaire magnate Lex Luthor, however his company LexCorp exists, as does Wayne Enterprises…. (ed. note: Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg, will feature in the sequel “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”)

[End spoilers!]

The story is about a man ultimately that striving to be a good person through his actions and use on a moral code to help those in need. Henry Cavill plays Clark well enough as that man. Clark is accessible to us regular people. He seemed stiff in the role at times but when the sequels hit, maybe he will be more assured. I will chalk it up to nerves of being Superman. I am sure Christian Bale was nervous in being Batman at some point too.

Amy Adams, from “Julie & Julia,” plays a good Lois Lane as a world trekking investigative reporter instead of being a city beat writer as in past versions. Special hats off to the parents of Kal-El/Clark: Jor-El (Russell Crowe), Lara, Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane). I think these are the most well-acted roles of the entire film because they brought emotional weight to doing the right thing.

Oddly enough, Marlon Brando was only in the first two films for about a few minutes between the two, but Crowe in the same role is in up to half the film. He never overstayed his welcome.

The performances enhance the insane action that breaks whole cities!”

Michael Shannon did a good job as Zod however, though comparing other villain roles this year, we think “Star Trek into Darkness” had a better villain than in this movie. Yeah, I compared apples to oranges, but I thought Zod was just decent here but nothing that made me tremble in fear like a Bane or John Harrison.

Nonetheless, “Man of Steel” has strong performances across the board such as background roles like Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet editor Perry White. My sister pointed a great scene late in the film where some side characters, amidst chaos and danger, stop what they’re doing to help others in peril, carrying the themes we talked about throughout.

The performances enhance the insane action that breaks whole cities! We witness earth shattering fights we have only seen in “Dragonball Z.” I haven’t seen a Hollywood movie comes capture the anime and comic style scale of destruction like “Man of Steel” did. The damage could be assessed to over a trillion dollars. “Man of Steel” had set a new standard for super powered fight scenes and just action scenes like it overall. Yet it keeps things fairly grounded.

“Man of Steel” holds a distinct advantage of highlighting Superman’s alien origins more than other live action interpretations. The past Superman stories rather frame the hero as a white bread, patriotism symbol that leaps tall buildings in a single bound. Only the Reeve era to an extent, the animated series, and “Smallville” get into the interplanetary nature of Superman tagger than fighting underwhelming criminals or delusional real estate sharks. The way the real world reacts to aliens is explored too with great effect for what we saw though I hope to see more in the upcoming “Batman v Superman.”

“Man of Steel” flies in with very likeable characters, resonating themes that touch people to their hearts and pulse pounding action. A great summer movie and is a really good film.

 

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