By Skip Chatterson - June 14, 2013
It is no secret I am a huge Superman fan, which does not bias my opinion but probably makes me a little more discerning. After Superman Returns (2006) I was disappointed, telling everybody, the entire franchise will have to be rebooted if they attempt to make another Superman movie.
I will start this review by saying I don’t believe Zack Snyder (director for Man of Steel) had any political statements to make in this movie. A Superman novice could look at the destruction of the planet Krypton as liberal, since they had depleted their world of all natural resources which indirectly causes the implosion of Krypton. That, however has been the traditional story behind Krypton’s destruction for decades.
This movie is full of action from start to finish, but it isn’t just an action film. This is a story about the man, Clark Kent/Kal El (Henry Cavill) who is trying to find his place in a world he has known all his life, but has felt distant to because he is gifted with powers and abilities far beyond those of normal men. There is the father/adopted father, son relationship played out very heavily, which is very appropriate given this weekend is Father’s Day. Jor El (Russell Crowe) Clark’s birth father and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) Clark’s adopted father play their roles with such perfection it makes a person forget about the great performance by Marlon Brando in the Christopher Reeves “Superman”. This relationship is as important as any father/son relationship should be, the father helps to form the young boys moral compass that will direct him throughout his life. Anybody who knows the story of Superman, knows this is what makes Clark Kent, Superman and the movie does a good job of portraying that development.
The movie switches gears when the bad guy, General Zod (Michael Shannon) finds earth. Zod’s character is defined in the opening minutes of the movie, during Krypton’s approaching doom, then as a result of Krypton’s dramatic implosion Zod and his crew, who have been imprisoned, are set free. Zod is not necessarily bad in the same way the Joker was a bad guy in The Dark Knight. Zod is committed to the survival of Krypton and is bound and determined to resurrect it, no matter how many insignificant humans he has to kill (which is all of them). This sets up the moral struggle in Kal El’s/Clark Kent’s life: Are Kryptonians or humans more important to him.
The battle scenes are phenomenal, bringing as much realism to the battles as possible with flying men endowed with god-like power, pounding each other into the earth, numerous buildings and a grain elevator. Special attention was paid to how different military weapons would affect Superman (who has been absorbing the sun’s radiation (the secret to his powers) for 33 years) verses Kryptonians relatively new to earth’s atmosphere.
Zack Snyder filmed this movie over a year and a half ago, so he couldn’t have known about the current scandals hitting the Obama administration with the IRS and the NSA spying, but there is a scene in the closing minutes of the movie that would make all of us who worry about government over-reach, cheer. I won’t say anything more about it, for risking a spoiler.
This movie was a great reminder of how we should hold on to hope and maybe again aspire to be Supermen (and women). The message was clearly about having strong morals. If you look carefully you can see the influence brought to the movie from the bible (think Garden of Gethsemane).
Man of Steel is a great movie, worth the price for a 3-D ticket. I give it a 9.5 out of 10. Can’t wait for the sequel.