Friday, June 14, 2013

Man of Steel

Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane
I will admit off the bat that I've only seen one of the Superman movies - Superman Returns, in 2006, starring Brandon Routh. I've been meaning to watch the Christopher Reeve movies - I love him in Somewhere in Time, which was also filmed in Michigan, at the Grand Hotel - but never got around to it. That being said, I appreciate a good superhero/action movie, and Man of Steel is that, to the max. Rabid fans of the Superman movies may feel compelled to contrast and compare with the older versions, but Man of Steel stands out on its own as a fun movie, with great 3D.

The action starts on Superman's home planet, Krypton. His parents, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Faora-Ul (Antje Traue), know that Krypton is crumbling around them, and make the difficult decision to send their newborn son, Kal-El, into space, towards a planet to which they've never been. At the same time, Krypton's leaders are being overthrown by General Zod (Michael Shannon), a former friend of Jor-El's, who is angry that Jor-El sent Kal-El, the only "traditional" newborn to be born in Krypton in hundreds of years, into space; Zod - SPOILER - kills Jor-El for his actions. Zod is also punished, however, and he and his henchmen (and women) are sent to a black hole of sorts, banished from the planet - even though Krypton soon ceases to exist.

Back on Earth, the newborn is found and adopted by the Kents, Martha (Diane Lane) and Jonathan (Kevin Costner), and they soon figure out that he has special abilities. He's aboard a school bus with classmates one day when the bus plunges into an icy river, and he manages to drag it to safety, saving his classmates. Jonathan tells Clark that he needs to hide this part of himself because the world isn't ready to see it ... but when that day comes, he will be able to use his powers for good, and impact many people.

The movie flipped back and forth between present-day (helloooo Henry Cavill and those abs!) and Clark's childhood in Kansas. Once he's an adult, Clark realizes that he shouldn't stay in one place for too long, and he takes various odd jobs, such as on a fishing boat and in Alaska or some cold weather climate. I really liked how the movie set this up, where it revealed part of his childhood and then went back to present-day (and/or his adult life, in the past), although they could have given more backstory, in my opinion.

Yes, see this movie, and see it in 3D. I was very surprised to learn after the movie that the film was shot in 2D and converted in post; the 3D made me feel like I was inside the story, but at the same time it wasn't "too much" either. Henry Cavill and Russell Crowe do very well here, and Michael Shannon, who I recently saw in The Iceman, makes a great villain. Another critic told me he didn't like the movie because Superman is compared too much (metaphorically, of course) to Jesus - he's Earth's salvation, he has a beard in one scene, etc. - and that the whole movie was filled with religious themes; to that, I say, it's a summer movie. It's got action, great acting, and beautiful cinematography, and personally, I don't require anything more from a movie than the ability to entertain and awe me; Man of Steel does just that, and does it better than any other action film released this year, to boot.

Man of Steel is in theaters today, June 14th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 143 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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