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Man Of Steel

My Friday evening was spent in a sold out IMAX movie theater with my husband to see Zack Snyder’s latest film, Man Of Steel.  We had planned to make it a double date, but SOMEONE didn’t preorder tickets and we were split up in the theater.  After a very unimpressive Superman Returns in 2006, I was thrilled to see Clark Kent redeemed on the big screen.  When word of Man Of Steel first broke, I was very unsure of how this film would play out, as the cast seemed a bit strange.  Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Diane Lane as Martha seemed like two very odd choices.  Russell Crowe as Jor-El was another strange one.  Michael Shannon as Zod seemed all right, but not the perfect fit it should have been.  The only casting choice that made sense was Henry Cavill as Clark, and that was mainly based on the fact that he had the Superman look.

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When I learned that not only would Christopher Nolan be producing this film, but Zack Snyder would be directing, I began to feel hope.  Snyder gave me Watchmen, one of my favorite movies of all time, so surely he could make Man Of Steel into something amazing.  Surely Nolan wouldn’t put his name to something that would be subpar.  As June 14th came closer, my excitement grew.  [TINY SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK]  Man Of Steel opens on Krypton, which is dangerously close to destruction due to an unstable core.  We see the birth of Kal-El, which is the first natural birth on the planet in centuries; other Kryptonians are artificially created through genetic engineering and given a very specific purpose in life, which makes Kal-El even more different because of his free will.

General Zod doesn’t waste any time rebelling against the council, prompting Jor-El to alter his plan to send Kal to Earth.  Jor-El steals the codex, which has the ability to preserve the entire Kryptonian race, and sends it in the ship with his infant son.  This act infuriates Zod, who murders Jor-El.  Luckily, the council is able to regain control and banish Zod and his troops to the phantom zone.  We all know what comes next; the Kent’s discover Clark, raise him as their own, and struggle to explain to him why he is different from the other children.  But rather than give the audience a linear story, we see Clark living a nomadic life and get to see his childhood through flashbacks that relate to his current situations.  From his confusion in elementary school about being different to his need to use his abilities to help anyone in need, we see some incredibly emotional moments that help shape Clark Kent into the man he is today.

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Meanwhile, during Clark’s travels from job to job, the U.S. Government has discovered an anomaly frozen beneath layers of 18,000 year old ice in Canada.  This attracts reporter Lois Lane as well as Clark, who gets a job on the site under an assumed name.  The mysterious object, which Clark accesses using his heat vision, turns out to be a ship from Krypton.  Using a key from the ship that brought him to Earth, Clark is able to activate the newly discovered ship and bring it to life.  This unfortunately results in Lois, who snuck away to see what Clark was up to, to become injured and learn about both the existence of aliens and of Clark’s amazing abilities.  After using his heat vision to cauterize Lois’s wound, Clark leaves the area in the ship.  The device used to activate the ship also summons the essence of Jor-El who explains to Clark that his name is Kal-El, his home was Krypton, and that the ship was present on Earth due to a failed attempt by Kryptonians to colonize other planets.

While Clark enjoys a reunion with his father, quickly relaying the newly discovered information to Martha, Lois works diligently to pen a story about what she witnessed in Canada, what she knows Clark can do, and the proof she knows she has of life on other planets.  Lois’s story was quickly shot down by editor Perry White, but that does not stop her from leaking the story and from tracking down Clark to his home in Kansas.  She insists that the world needs to know of Clark’s abilities.  To counter her argument, Clark tells her the heartbreaking story about how his father Jonathan died.  Rather than allow Clark to save him from a tornado, Jonathan allowed himself to be swept away by it.  His father knew that his abilities being kept as a secret was more important than his own life.  I never thought Kevin Costner could make me cry, but I wept when Jonathan Kent took his last breath, making the ultimate sacrifice for his child.

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Activating the ship was a benefit for Clark, but also gave General Zod (who was freed from the phantom zone after Krypton was destroyed) a clear path to Kal-El, who he had been searching out for years.  Zod makes his presence known to the entire world by leveling a threat at Clark; turn himself over to Zod and his troops or witness the destruction of the human race.  The United States Government is as suspicious of Clark as you can imagine, eager to turn him over after he has turned himself in and allowed himself to be cuffed and detained.  Lois’s leaked story has grabbed the Government’s attention and she is also detained in the same facility.  Clark agrees to be released into Zod’s custody so long as Lois is allowed to go free without consequence.  Zod has other ideas and requests Lois join Clark as a prisoner on their ship.  Before the pair are separated, Clark slips Lois the key that activated the ship from earlier.

General Zod welcomes Clark aboard the ship and makes a seemingly genuine effort to explain his intentions for Earth.  His mission is to rebuild Krypton and restore their race.  This goal will be attainable regardless of Clark’s actions, but Zod would prefer that Clark join him.  We all know there is no way that Superman would be okay with the destruction of the human race, so his refusal to join Zod is no surprise.  While Zod is busy with Clark, Lois is busy with Jor-El, who has gained access to the ship thanks to the key she received earlier.  Jor-El’s instructions allow Lois and Clark to escape the ship, but not before Jor-El relayed information to Lois on how to stop Zod and his team for good.

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What follows is a series of epic battles to rival the ending battle in Avengers.  Clark is stronger on Earth and has a slew of abilities, but so does Zod and his team, who quickly learn to adjust and take advantage of their abilities.  The armed forces, who eventually quit acting stubborn and realize that Clark is on their side, do what they can to assist Clark but their weapons do little against Zod’s supernaturally strong team.  No one really goes into a Superman film thinking that Superman will lose, so I was surprised at how nerve-wracking the battles were.  I was afraid for Clark, afraid he would not be able to defeat Zod and afraid that Zod’s plan to terraform the planet into a new Krypton would be unstoppable.  I sat on the edge of my seat as Metropolis was torn apart by the battle, feeling pretty pessimistic about a positive outcome.

As I said, the outcome is pretty predictable because this is Superman and he must win.  But HOW it happened was a shocker.  My jaw literally dropped and I’d be a terrible person if I ruined the surprise for anyone on here.  It was the second time this film brought tears to my eyes; the sacrifice that Clark had to make and the raw emotion in the scene was simply beautiful.  I’m still a bit shocked at how it all concluded.  After Superman saves the day, we get a few more minutes that provide the perfect set up for the second movie in this series that is definitely a go considering the financial success of this opening weekend.  There is nothing after the credits, but stay and wait if you insist.

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Some critics say that the plot of this movie was too weak, the special effects too overwhelming, and that explosions and violence were put in simply because there wasn’t anything else to do.  I couldn’t disagree more.  This two and a half hour movie flew by, holding my attention for every second.  It was stunning in IMAX, but honestly did not need to be in 3D.  The characters were perfectly cast, but none was better than Michael Shannon as Zod.  He was terrifying, a force to be reckoned with, and he put so much raw emotion into the character that I forgot I was watching a work of fiction.  He’s evil incarnate, but he still managed to make me sympathize with him at the end.  Shannon did a beautiful job and I hope he is widely recognized for this role.

Obviously, I highly recommend you see Man Of Steel, but you can forgo the 3D and stick with 2D IMAX without missing anything except some 3D dust particles and other silly things that don’t add to the viewing experience.  The story is wonderfully told, especially the non linear fashion in which Kal-El’s origin is explained.  Amy Adams and Henry Cavill work well together, forming a bond that will likely be important in the future film(s) and will be of help to Clark in his troubled moments.  I didn’t want to like Diane Lane as Martha, but she plays her small role well and comes off as a very loving and understanding mother.  This is a solid film that successfully redeemed Superman.  I’ll be going back with my husband in two weeks to watch it all over again.  Happy viewing.

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on June 17, 2013, in TV/Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Did you see the Wayne Satellite and Lexcorp tower? There’s buzz that we’re getting a sequel here and an eventual Justice League movie (which honestly doesn’t look too impossible now, what with Faora’s almost Flash-like movements when she was fighting soldiers and all the other special effects we’re seeing now).

    It’s about time DC stepped up their game to match what Marvel has been doing. Now to get hyped for Pacific Rim (because as badass as the fights in Man of Steel were, I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen anything yet).

    • I did see that!! Very excited! I hear that the sequel has already been approved, the main characters are signed on, and the Justice League movie is a go, provided that the sequel does well. Very exciting 🙂 DC needs to get themselves close to the level Marvel is at now, and I think they’re on the right path

  2. I’ve always kind of thought Superman was a super pussy. Will this movie convince me he’s not? Also he’s a bit of a cunt if you discount the Christopher reeve portrayal.

    Have you seen/heard/read the nutty suggestion that superman is really responsible for saving the day in the last batman flick?

    You said don’t bother with the 3d because it’s only a few pointless bits….so is there not the immesive 3d that gives depth to scenes? I ask because that’s the often over looked purpose of 3d; it’s not just about cheesey cliche 3d gags…. I dunno what camp you fall into on that but im much more impressed by the viewmaster depth effect than crap flying at my face.

    • He’s a very strong character in this movie… definitely different from the previous few.
      I haven’t heard that theory about Batman… kinda weird.
      There’s really no added depth to the scenes, but I’ll know for sure when we go back and see it in 2D. I like 3D when it’s purposely cheesy, like in horror flicks with blood flying at the audience. The best 3D during this movie was before it even started, when the theater was bragging about their technology and doing a countdown to the start where numbers flew at the audience 🙂

    • I’ve always thought the best portrayals of Superman were in collected stories like Birthright, Red Son and All-Star Superman, myself. The guy is an alien trying to walk the fine line of helping/protecting the world he was raised on without taking things too far and crippling human development by babysitting too much (which was a big plot point in Red Son).

      In this movie, you get the sense that he’s still not quite “Superman”, what with him literally just getting started, so he’s not this morally superior asshole that you’re probably familiar with (yet). He fucks things up and you see him upset about it, but the time-skip cuts in the movie make it look like he gets over things too quickly if you aren’t paying attention.

      I’ve heard that the sequel will mainly be dealing with the aftermath of this movie and the rise of Lex Luthor as the kind of villain he was portrayed as in the old cartoons (and not the Hackman/Spacey nonsense we’ve had so far). An intellectual villain that sets things up to pit against Superman, but always keeping his hands clean so Superman can’t put any evidence against him to put him in jail (when not straight up bailing himself out of trouble with massive amounts of money).

      It isn’t a perfect Superman movie, but I think it’s the best we’ve ever had so far.

      • I’m curious to see how the sequel deals with the way the movie ended things with Zod and Superman. There are a lot of angry and/or confused fans.

        • They clearly never read or paid attention to the comics, then. Superman has killed Zod many times (mainly due to reboots/retellings of the story).

          Basically, if the threat isn’t human and if it stands a good chance of killing what Superman is protecting, he doesn’t hold back.

          Superman has killed:Zod (and all the other Kryptonians helping him), Doomsday, Multiple versions of Brainiac, Darkseid, lots and lots of parademons (invader minions working for Darkseid), many alternate universe versions of himself that were evil for some reason, A couple different Suneaters, the xenomorph Aliens and dreadlock Predators (in the hilariously bad comics where he runs across them) a few different hosts for Parallax and universe-threats like the Anti-Monitor and Superboy Prime.

          Like I said, anything not human basically gets zero chances to surrender before Supes says “Fuck you, I’m Superman!” and tries to punch their skull off their neck.

          The fact that a lot of these threats keep coming back from the dead doesn’t mean much, as Superman’s intent is to destroy them every time he fights them.

  3. Zod soon discovers that Jor-El had imprinted the codex onto Kal’s cells, and the main objective becomes to reform Earth’s landscape and capture or kill Kal. Zod has the World Engine activated in Metropolis and the Indian Ocean. After a large-scale battle between Zod’s army and the Earth military, Zod’s plan is stopped when his ship and crew are sucked into a black hole , Superman destroys the World Engine, and the unborn Kryptonian fetuses on board an ancient Kryptonian scout ship are destroyed. Enraged over the loss of his people, Zod and Superman engage in an even, catastrophic fight throughout Metropolis and briefly in space; Zod having an advantage due to his combat experience and training and Superman having an advantage due to his superior solar-energy supply (having spent nearly his entire life on Earth). Eventually, Superman gets the upper hand, driving Zod to attack a family in revenge with his heat vision, but Superman is forced to snap his neck, killing Zod and ending his threat.

  4. Zod was obsessed with restoring his lost powers and the powers of his fellow soldiers. His partnership with Tess and his building of the solar towers were key elements of his plan to do so. Ironically, although the solar tower was destroyed, Zod was able to gain Kryptonian abilities through a drop of Kal-El’s blood.

  5. Meanwhile, during Clark’s travels from job to job, the U.S. Government has discovered an anomaly frozen beneath layers of 18,000 year old ice in Canada. This attracts reporter Lois Lane as well as Clark, who gets a job on the site under an assumed name. The mysterious object, which Clark accesses using his heat vision, turns out to be a ship from Krypton. Using a key from the ship that brought him to Earth, Clark is able to activate the newly discovered ship and bring it to life. This unfortunately results in Lois, who snuck away to see what Clark was up to, to become injured and learn about both the existence of aliens and of Clark’s amazing abilities. After using his heat vision to cauterize Lois’s wound, Clark leaves the area in the ship. The device used to activate the ship also summons the essence of Jor-El who explains to Clark that his name is Kal-El, his home was Krypton, and that the ship was present on Earth due to a failed attempt by Kryptonians to colonize other planets.

  6. Thirty-three years later, Zod arrives at the planet Earth and threatens its people into handing over Kal-El, who now goes by the name of Clark Kent . Zod reveals to Clark how he and his team refit the Phantom Zone projector into a ship called “Black Zero”, acquired a “world engine” device, scouted unsuccessfully for surviving Kryptonian colonies, and traveled to Earth due to Clark’s triggering the distress signal of the scout ship he found in the Arctic. He then reveals his plan to terraform the planet with the world engine and use the codex (that Jor-El placed within Clark’s individual cells as a baby) to repopulate the world with genetically-engineered Kryptonians, bringing an end to the Human race. When Zod arrives at the Kent Farm and threatens Martha Kent for the location of the codex, Clark, who escaped Black Zero, attacks him in a rage and defeats Faora and another Kryptonian in a destructive battle in Smallville , driving them to retreat.

  7. Thirty-three years later, Zod arrives at the planet Earth and threatens its people into handing over Kal-El, who now goes by the name of Clark Kent. Zod reveals to Clark how he and his team refit the Phantom Zone projector into a ship called “Black Zero”, acquired a “world engine” device, scouted unsuccessfully for surviving Kryptonian colonies, and traveled to Earth due to Clark’s triggering the distress signal of the scout ship he found in the Arctic. He then reveals his plan to terraform the planet with the world engine and use the codex (that Jor-El placed within Clark’s individual cells as a baby) to repopulate the world with genetically-engineered Kryptonians, bringing an end to the Human race. When Zod arrives at the Kent Farm and threatens Martha Kent for the location of the codex, Clark, who escaped Black Zero, attacks him in a rage and defeats Faora and another Kryptonian in a destructive battle in Smallville, driving them to retreat.

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