We don’t usually talk about media outside of the games industry, but last night I attended a sneak preview of Man of Steel. What I saw exponentially exceeded my expectations, so I felt compelled to make a special exception and review Supes’ latest cinematic outing.
Superman hasn’t had any real cinema cred since Richard Donner’s Superman 2, and though Bryan Singer made a decent effort to continue the film dynasty laid out by Donner, it fell far short of expectations. With that said, this is not that version of the Big Blue Boy Scout.
Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) and producer Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy) gracefully accomplish what I can only imagine the DC executives behind this film hired them to do in the first place: creating a fresh take on Superman with real consequences, relatable characters, a large-scale showcase of the hero’s abilities, and an unparalleled sense of action and scale packaged with an adult-oriented edge.
And the short version of my reaction to how well these challenges were handled — “Aces.”
Michael Shannon’s Zod is not only a terrifying villain, but also a being with real purpose, a reason for doing the terrible things he sets out to do. That’s my real problem with many of the comic book movie villains of the recent past. Take Loki in The Avengers for instance. What exactly is his motivation? He is mad at his family who treated him like a prince his whole life? What was he going to do after he enslaved humanity? Who knows? He was bad and the good guys had to stop him, the end. On that note, The Avengers is a great film for what it is and I would never speak ill of its and Joss Whedon’s accomplishments. Still, Zod is a more “real” character, with a past and purpose other than to just be beaten.
Henry Cavill is great as Clark/Kal/Supes. I really don’t feel like I need to go into more detail with the rest of the characters, other than to say the casting was near-perfect.
Hans Zimmer’s score for this film may very well be his best work. The emotion conveyed through the weaving strings and pounding drums is astounding.
The plot showcases the consequences of what a superhuman alien living on our planet could be, especially in the case of what type of bedlam it would cause. Other than a few rough edits in the early part of the film, I felt the narrative flow was superb. I don’t really want to go into detail to avoid spoilers, but I will tell you not to expect your standard origin story. Those familiar with how the Arrow TV series handled Oliver Queen’s road to becoming the “Hood” will know what I mean. Some may have a problem with the film’s non-traditional structure, but I happen to think that it’s one of Man of Steel‘s strongest points.
Man of Steel is exactly the film that DC and WB had hoped it would be. A fresh take on a classic character with plenty of room for expansion. I personally can’t wait for more, and I believe this is the shot in the arm that the big-screen DC Universe so desperately needed.