By Mike Huntley
Superman, an alien from another planet yet raised here on Earth to become the greatest hero that the world would ever know. We feared his presence in the beginning, but have come to know him and love him as if he were one of our own. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster really created something epic when they gave Superman life on the printed page all those 75 years ago. Ever since, the Man of Steel has captured our imaginations, our hearts, and showed us the kind of people that the Human race can and should strive to be. Kal-El gave the world his gifts when his rocket ship flew across our sky and landed in Smallville. He was taken in by a loving farmer and wife who could not have any children of their own and they gave baby Kal-El the love and warmth as if he was their own biological son. Kal may not be one of us, but he is one of us in his heart. The character has been played in many cartoons and TV shows, but the man who truly brought the last son of Krypton to life was the late Christopher Reeve. To many, he is Superman. Back in 2004 when he died, it was like that last battle with Doomsday from "The Death of Superman". A legend may have fallen, but he still lives through those movies (yes even III and IV). He showed us that a man can fly and gave the adults and children of all ages hope for the 20th Century. In 2006, Brandon Routh tried his best to restore that feeling, but the world was in a new century, a new generation. This world has seen its share of despair, beginning with 9/11. In this darker and more cruel world, we need someone to look up to. Many superhero movies have come since Superman The Movie. Batman gave us hope that one man could make a difference in The Dark Knight Trilogy. But with all of these great superhero movies, Superman (considered the Granddaddy of the superhero genre) was missing besides that average last effort at making Superman cool again. But, director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David Goyer have done it. They have taken our beloved savior to new heights in a way that is mind blowing and the ultimate thrill ride of emotions, action, and sci fi epicness. Christopher Reeve was the Superman for the 20th Century, but Henry Cavill is the MAN OF STEEL for the 21st Century and beyond!
The planet Krypton is nearing its final hour. Jor-El and his wife Lara have kept the news about their baby a secret from the others since baby Kal-El was naturally conceived where he could choose his own destiny. The people of Krypton are born artificially to be either a scientist, part of the council, or a military warrior. Jor-El wants his son to be the shining hope and example for the people of Earth by giving them an ideal to strive towards. He has built a rocket ship to save his son. When General Zod, Krypton's fiercely devoted military leader, discovers that Lara had a baby naturally, he wants to kill Kal-El to protect Krypton and carry on its legacy. Zod and his warriors are sentenced to the Phantom Zone inside a ship. Kal-El was found by farmer couple Jonathan and Martha Kent. Naming him Clark, Kal grows up in Smallville experiencing super hearing and X-Ray/heat vision, causing problems at school. He's an outcast and the other kids pick on him. When he's 13, Clark's school bus crashes into a lake and he saves young Pete Ross, the kid who picks on him, from drowning. This freaks out both Pete and Lana Lang who was also on the bus and saw what Clark could do. Pete's mother expresses her concerns to Clark's parents. This causes Jonathan to show Clark the space ship in the barn and telling him the truth. In the present, Clark is on a quest to find out who he is and where he came from. He's taking jobs like being a fisherman or a bus boy. Clark discovers a ship in ice and finds that it is from Krypton. There, he is greeted by a computer version of his father Jor-El who tells him what he wants to know and gives him a special suit that is Kryptonian. Clark puts on the red and blue suit with a cape and realizes that he has the ability to fly. Meanwhile, investigative reporter for The Daily Planet, Lois Lane, has been on Clark's trail to find out more about him to tell her story even if it is against her editor's (Perry White) demands. Clark realizes that he can confide in Lois. Then, General Zod and his army show up on Earth demanding for Kal-El to surrender himself over to them or Earth will suffer the consequences. This of course reveals to the people of Earth that aliens exist and one has existed among us for decades. Clark has to not only face General Zod and his army to save our planet, but he must also prove to the people of Earth especially the United States military that he is not our enemy. Kal-El and Zod go to war in the most epic Extra-Terrestrial war you will probably ever see captured on film!
WOW! Man of Steel, to me, is not just the best superhero movie so far or even just amazing, but it is THE superhero movie! Never in my life have I seen a superhero movie with this much action and this much mind blowing special FX. If you thought that the last fight in The Avengers was amazing, you ain't seen shit till you see the battle between Superman and Zod! Holy shit! These two flying through the air punching each other across the city of Metropolis just put the biggest smile on my face! And while Zod is a monster and is definitely up there with the best of the superhero villain Hall of Evil, his femme fatal warrior Faora was a ruthless monster. She was probably even more of a villain than Zod was! I'll never forget that part where she holds up Martha Kent by the throat. You could feel the viciousness in her character. I absolutely loved the take on Superman in this film. Him being an outsider was briefly touched on in Superman The Movie, but it is fully explored here.
Also really dug this Lois Lane. It was refreshing seeing Lois actually right there in the middle of all the action. She's a strong willed woman who will do whatever it takes to get the story. Clark's idealism is what really attracts her to him. They just have this instant attachment to each other. While not love (yet), they are on that path which will more than likely be explored in the sequel. Yes, Superman has to save Lois but it is only like two times. Lois is not just sitting around The Daily Planet and trying to figure out if Clark Kent is Superman. SHE KNOWS! Thank God they didn't try to make this film around her trying to figure it out. She put the pieces together and helped him. I loved that! They didn't try to make her the love interest. She is just a good looking woman searching for an amazing story and of course a woman is going to be attracted to a man that puts others before himself. I think the biggest difference with this film and all the other versions of Superman aside from a more serious and slightly darker tone is that we, the audience, really feel like we are in the movie. I can't remember the last time I ever felt that way about a movie. When Zod attacks both Smallville and Metropolis, I felt like a bystander. I felt like I drifted out of the theater seat and right smack dab in front of Superman and Zod going to war with one another. It was breath taking! I liked that we got a little more time in Smallville this time around and got more of Jonathan and Martha Kent who were basically cameos in Superman The Movie. Jonathan's lecture to his son was heartfelt when he tells Clark, "You ARE my son." I could feel the tears in the back of my eyes. Jonathan Kent is the perfect Dad and the kind of father we all wish and want to have. Then the scene where 9 year old Clark keeps hearing sounds from everywhere and his mother helps him through it. Just these little moments. Yes, Jonathan and Martha aren't huge characters in the film, but they play their role and we know what kind of people they are and how much they love their son and fear what others will think of him. It's interesting because Clark's birth mother Lara tells Jor-El, "He'll be an outcast, they'll kill him", so she too was worried about how the people of Earth would view her son.
The opening on Krypton is beautiful! The scenery is just amazing. I don't know how else to describe it. Man of Steel has some crazy special FX that will blow the minds off many Superman fans and superhero fans in general. There's also a couple of references. One is the LexCorp building which was seen in the trailer. Another is a logo on a certain satellite. I wonder what that W stands for. I love that Jor-El actually has a large role in this movie and even gets to fight! This film just hit me from all angles and will take several viewings to be able to process completely.
The music by Hans Zimmer is just amazing. I'll say it could end up becoming almost just as iconic as John Willaims' epic Superman score. Everytime I hear it, I believe I can take off and soar through the clouds and over the moon. Just epic!
I already know that two parts of the movie are gonna stir up controversy among the die hards. One involves a tornado and the other is how Superman is able to defeat General Zod. I did have a small issue with one character's death simply because he is a big Superman character and I had figured that he would become a bigger character in the sequels and a possible Justice League film. But, this is a new and fresh interpretation so I can kinda forgive that and plus the guy went out a hero in his own right so I can grow to be cool with that. The scene that you see in the trailer with 9 year old Clark running around in the yard with the red towel tucked in his shirt just about made me cry tears of both joy and sadness. Joy because most boys grew up doing that, pretending they were Superman so it was a pleasure to actually see the little boy who would grow up to be Superman pretending he was a caped hero and sad because of what the scene represents for Jonathan Kent. As many fans know, Pa Kent dies in the comics and in Superman The Movie. Let's just say it deals around that with Martha talking to Clark about his father by his grave. Really emotional and heartfelt.
The Kryptonian outfits in this film were cool and I love that the Superman suit actually came from Krypton. I know people are funny about the suit not having the red undies, but you know what? The suit was better off without them. It looked alien yet very iconic. I dug it. Zod and his army had some slick battle armor suits with this mask thing. Dug it all.
The casting of this movie was perfect. Henry Cavill IS Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman! We finally have a Superman who can guide us through the much darker 21st Century. Amy Adams was a great, fresh, and different kind of Lois Lane. So what if she's a redhead this time around? She took Lois to a different level that matched this movie and I can't wait to see her and Clark's relationship blossom in Man of Steel 2 or whatever the sequel will be called. Michael Shannon was a great General Zod, bringing a ferociousness to the character that could rival Terence Stamp's iconic portrayal in Superman II. He kinda reminded me of Callum Blue's Zod in season 9 of Smallville. Russell Crowe IS Jor-El! I love that Crowe actually had a large role and not some small cameo at the beginning of the film. Plus, him and Shannon fighting was great. Antje Traue was evil as Faora. Plus really hot! Diane Lane was great as Martha Kent. Kevin Costner IS Jonathan Kent. He plays a great Dad and it was sad to see him go like that. Laurence Fishburne was really good as The Daily Planet's Editor-In-Chief, Perry White. Richard Schiff did good as Dr. Emil Hamilton. He actually looks the role too. Too bad his character wasn't as big as I think he should have been. Christopher Meloni was good as Colonel Hardy and Harry Lennix was good as General Swanwick. Both Dylan Sprayberry and Cooper Timberline were great as young Clark Kent. And Ayelet Zurer was great as Superman's biological mother Lara. There were also two actors who played on Smallville in small roles. Great ensemble cast and I hope it gets even better once we move into sequels.
While David Goyer has crafted a great story and pretty good screenplay, Zack Snyder brought this epicness to life in ways that I never could have imagined. Snyder always gets slammed by critics and fanboys, but I have always loved him as a visionary artist. The man is a genius at visuals and doing these heavy special FX movies. I really hope that WB gets Snyder for Justice League. Hell, I think he'd make a great Green Lantern movie. The dude knows how to show epic science fiction action and makes us feel like we are in his movies with the characters. I want that for Justice League and Superman movies going forward!
Overall, Man of Steel is THE superhero movie. It reminds us of who Superman is and where the superhero phenomenon began. Superman is a hero for all ages. So, do yourself a favor and see this movie. Got kids? Take your kids with you! Take your parents! Take your grandparents! Take your aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, nieces, nephews, or whomever to see this movie. It's a film to be seen several times in the cinema then again and again on Blu-Ray on a giant television set. By the way, there is no during/after credits scene so you can leave when the movie is over unless you just love to read all the credits or are so floored that you can't get out of your seat yet. 2012 was a pretty dark year for me even though I got three awesome superhero movies in The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Avengers. In August 2012, I lost my grandfather who was basically a real life Jonathan Kent and a big influence in my life. But, he was my hero and so is Batman and now Superman! Christopher Reeve made us believe that a man can fly. Man of Steel made us believe that this man can exist among us and be the symbol of hope to inspire us to aspire to being a better race of people!