Thursday, June 13, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

***** out of 5
143 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language
Warner Bros. Pictures

Article first published as Movie Review: Man of Steel on Blogcritics.

For someone whose expectations weren’t too high to begin with, I was completely blown away by Zack Snyder’s brilliant reboot of the Superman franchise. Backed by producer Christopher Nolan, I should have been expecting this as an end product. But in all honesty, I was never a huge Superman fan to begin with. But I have to say, with the new Man of Steel, Warner Bros. and DC Comics finally has someone besides Batman to contend with the ever-expanding Marvel Universe. A film that breathes the much needed life back into a superhero that seemed burned out after Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. But if this is the new “Supes,” I’ll take it!

ManOfSteel2The planet Krypton is on the verge of destruction. Jor-El’s (Russell Crowe) wife, Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), has just given birth to the first naturally born infant in centuries. At the same time, General Zod (Michael Shannon) is busy committing high treason in his search for the Codex that can save their people, which has been taken by Jor-El. Jor-El manages to send their newborn son, Kal-El to Earth, along with the Codex, sending Zod into a fury, killing Jor-El before he’s sentenced to 300 cycles of reconditioning — aka frozen.

Next we get caught up to speed with the now grown Kal-El, living in Smallville, Kansas, under the name Clark Kent (Henry Cavill). After being found by his Earth parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent (Diane Lane, Kevin Costner), he was raised to hide his alien powers because the world would be changed forever if they knew what he was and what he can do. But leave it to The Daily Planet’s Lois Lane (Amy Adams) to track him down, right before General Zod makes his way to Earth, along with his badass sidekick Faora-Ul (Antje Traue), in search of Kal-El with a maniacal plan to wreak his havoc.

ManOfSteel3The biggest surprise Snyder gives us with Man of Steel is its ability to tug at the heartstrings. The relationship between the Kents may be shown in flashbacks, but always with the most critical timing for the biggest emotional payoff. There is a very particular scene that may seem too soon after the devastating recent events in Oklahoma, but this only serves to make the scene hit as hard as it’s supposed to and is in no way disrespectful of what’s happened in real life.

Packed with enough dazzling special effects to boggle the mind, they pulled off some of the stunts and a knock down drag-out finale that gives the Avengers a run for their money. Everyone involved with Man of Steel — from Snyder to Nolan, DC, Warner Bros. and scripter David S. Goyer (who’s far better with a pen than behind the camera, Blade: Trinity anyone?) — deserves a round of applause for giving us one of the summer’s, and the year’s, best pictures. Man of Steel is a Superman that even I can believe in.

Photos courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

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