The the perspective of the fans is just as important as those of critics or the general public, especially when pertaining to comic book related films. When I found out loyal THINKMCFLYTHINK.COM reader and Superman fan Adam Davis was going to provide his thoughts and write a review after seeing Man Of Steel I immediately wanted it to be published on the site.
“We’re approaching this as if there are no other Superman movies.”
With that rule in place, Man of Steel is off and running. Director Zack Snyder paints with a large brush, deftly handling all aspects of one of the most well known origin stories and updating it for today’s ever demanding and critical audiences. Beginning with the birth of Kal-El, who will grow to become mankind’s savior, the film does a great job of showing Superman fans a scope and scale they never thought possible.
Watching it for the second time earlier today, I realized just how happy this film makes me. I can’t remember when I first saw the original Superman, it’s one of those movies that has always been a part of my life. Christopher Reeve has not only been my Superman, but a role model in the strongest sense of the word. As I grew older, I began to not only realize the flaws the four original movies have, but also the fact that Reeve himself elevated the material.
That realization helped me come to terms with the idea of a rebooted Superman franchise. Seeing Spider-Man and Batman experience huge success on the big screen over the last decade or so drove home the fact that it was time for the king to reclaim his throne. I’m sure that everyone reading this knows the story of the film, the hiring of Zack Snyder, the casting of Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and the rest of the cast. There is also no reason to re-hash the plot. What I wish to focus on instead is how the movie makes me feel. It’s one thing to walk out of a movie thoroughly entertained, happy you spent the money. It’s another to feel as though what you just spent the previous two and a half hours watching is the realization of a cinematic dream.
While the beginning twenty minutes or so on Krypton is very sci-fi heavy, it never feels like it’s gone overboard with it’s complexity. In my opinion, that has a great deal to do with Russell Crowe as Jor-El . He grounds the film in believability from the very first frame and adds a new dimension to the character, played previously on the big screen by Marlon Brando. Within the first few minutes on screen, it’s easy to feel his desperation and the love he feels for his newborn son. The film needed an actor of his presence for the role and he handled it flawlessly. His interactions with Kal later on and especially his scene with Lois are among the best parts of the film.
At it’s core, this is a movie about fathers and sons, destiny and choice and being comfortable in your own skin. Sure, the action is great, and it’s a sci-fi superhero film, but it’s really the heart of the piece that transcends the genre. The early scenes deal with a young Clark who is trying to get a handle on his powers. Whether it’s learning how to control his x-ray vision or his super hearing, they add a new layer that’s never been explored on the screen. The autism overtones are very apparent, intentional or not, and it made me consider for the first time, just how hard life would be for young Clark Kent.
This is driven home in an exemplary way by Kevin Costner’s heart-wrenching turn as Jonathan Kent. When all is said and done, he may be my favorite character in the film. He has one goal, to keep his son safe and that goal colors every decision he makes. The scene where he shows Clark the ship he was found in contains a line that encapsulates all that Pa Kent stands for. When Clark asks if he can just continue to pretend to be his son, Jonathan replies “You ARE my son” and his voice cracks as he pulls Clark close. It was at this point that any fear I had going into the film melted away. They had me by the heart and the movie never let go.
I’ll be honest. When Zack Snyder was announced as director, I was scared. I’ve never enjoyed any of his previous work, and I even considered walking out of Watchmen. I thought that he was the absolute worst choice for a job as important as Superman. This was a property that deserved to be handled with care and reverence and I was afraid Snyder, with his constant slo-mo and overly masculine take on cinema would rip the heart out of the character. I have never been more happy to be wrong in my life. As perfect as Richard Donner was for the ’78 version of Superman, I feel Snyder is the perfect director for this take on the character. It may seem to be hyperbole, especially from such a huge fan of the original, but there is nothing I would change when it comes to the style of the picture.
Is the film perfect? Not at all, but I feel as though I have reached a point in my life where I can no longer pick apart every detail of any film. As I mentioned at the beginning, I never thought I’d get a Superman film of this magnitude. I sat in the theater during the midnight showing and couldn’t get my head around what I was seeing. In a sense, Man of Steel is the cinematic equivalent of Superman The Animated Series.
I couldn’t imagine any actor taking up the cape in this story other than Henry Cavill. He’s able to embody the strength and majesty of the character while also infusing the Last Son of Krypton with a tremendous human heart. Reeve was Superman for an entire generation and his performance will never be forgotten. That said, I’d put Cavill’s take toe to toe with Reeve’s when it comes to being strong enough to carry the character on his shoulders. Cavill is able to be incredibly caring and understanding but also strong and forceful. He’s very serious but also balances the ability to allow his human side to shine through. I immediately bought him in the role and believed in every action he took. His immediate reaction to taking a life at the end of the film sells the moment as being one of horrible regret. It’s handled with incredible care, he makes a choice which is the only one he feels he can make. It doesn’t bother me that he doesn’t have everything figured out. As humans, we are not perfect, and I expect him to learn and grow as the series progresses and I cannot wait to see more of him in the role.
Amy Adams is truly my favorite Lois Lane. It’s fantastic to see her as an actual headstrong reporter that stands for something. I love that she is willing to give up her entire career to protect Clark. As her reaction to Kal’s story of losing his father shows, there is a genuine feeling of empathy she has for him. I’m not sure what it is about Adams, she’s adorable, but I totally buy her as a tough, investigative reporter. Much like with Cavill, I couldn’t imagine anyone but her in the role.
I could go on and on about Michael Shannon’s General Zod and his multifaceted performance. I love this movie with all my heart and Zod is one of the main reasons why. From the beginning, it was easy to understand his motivations, even in the twisted way he approached it. A hero is only as good as his villain and Shannon is just perfectly cast. He always plays an odd, slightly off putting character and there is so much going on behind his eyes. He is able to convey so much emotion with only his facial expressions. It was nice to finally have a villain who I feel is worthy of Superman on screen and not another land grab real-estate scheme.
It’s fantastic that Superman is back on top of the box office heap and I’m glad to see that audiences have responded in large numbers. The sequel cannot come soon enough for me and I hope to have a chance to talk more about the movie and this review in the future.