Man of Steel (2013)

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In life, we have the opportunity to experience many types of special “nights”:

  • Guys night
  • Devils night
  • Hockey night in Canada
  • Girls night
  • Karaoke night
  • Dollar beer night
  • Amateur night(a close relative of guys night)
  • Fight night (Boxing, UFC etc)

Nevertheless, with all the above listed, the best type of night is none other than ‘opening night’ at the cinema. It’s like Christmas morning; however, the main difference is that everyone is opening the same gift, at the same time, and in the same room. On opening night, everything seems to be that much more enjoyable, and maybe even more tolerable. The colours seem brighter, the smells more potent, and the fact that you are not bothered by the $13.99 Cineplex Burger Combo (tastes like a $6.00 combo) all point to signs that you have contracted ‘Opening Night Fever’. Furthermore, Man of Steel was the big CGI fantasy action film that was appropriate for such a night.

Overview

Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Fantasy

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This review was a difficult one to write because there was so much to discuss/get off my mind about this film. When I came home from the cinema, my screening pad was a mess of jumbled talking points along with a robust section on Kevin Costner’s well expected display of ego gratification( I was not disappointed-it was hilarious and one of his best). So, I did what any normal person would do: I had three pints of Mill Street Ale, took a shower, read a book, got a good night’s rest, and made plans to tackle the review in the morning. It’s called productive procrastination, and it gets the job done.

How do you give human characteristics to a superman? That had to be the question that made this type of hero so difficult to write and cultivate. Clark Kent (Kal-El as he is known from his home planet of Krypton) is both an All-American farm boy and alien savior to man-kind. This unique duality is what first defined him some seventy-five years ago. In the Man of Steel film however, Clark for the most part is MIA since the plot and storyline focuses on how Clark first found his way, and how the world met Superman. Director Zack Snyder and his team take us on a journey from the tragic demise of the planet Krypton, through Clark Kent’s childhood, and through high intensity action scenes between Superman and his Kryptonian counterparts when Clark reveals himself to the world.

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For all of this films sophistication and stunning computer generated action, Superman gets pulled under the sober and ponderous tenor that director Snyder strikes with his audience. To make sense of this direction, we need to remember Snyder’s past works from the chiseled Spartans of 300, and the explicit female soldier fantasies of Sucker Punch.  His preference has always been towards the glossy and spectacular, rather than a humble experience. So it is no surprise in this film that Superman appears to be more extraterrestrial than approachable. Superman in Man of Steel is a bit too perfect and clean. If every generation gets the hero they deserve, this one made me call out for Christopher Reeve. Reeve was a Superman with imperfections, stitching on his suit, and an easy smile that gave him his humanity. It’s quite a different picture with Henry Cavill, but nonetheless it was an interesting and enjoyable one to experience.

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Amy Adams filled the role of Lois Lane with class and warmth, along with a fire-cracker attitude that she is capable of for the scenes that involved her with the Kryptonian villains. Adams is also very easy on the eyes. I am sure the male audience would agree that the running time of 2hrs 30 min was appropriate (or not long enough).

Michael Shannon (best known for his performance in Boardwalk Empire) did a fantastic job playing the desperado, General Zod. His dead pan delivery, and undeniable frankness that he is known for, was suitable for his role; he did it with conviction.

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Russell Crowe as Jor-El, even though alien, was the real and truth warmth that so much of this film lacked. Where the relationship between Lois and Clark seemed like a thumbnail poster sketch, the father-son dynamic is where the true heart of Man of Steel lies.

Last, but certainly not least, we must discuss Kevin Costner’s role as Jonathan Kent. There is nothing really important to say about his role- Costner had all the qualifications to play Superman’s earth dad- I honestly just want to talk about what I expected from Mr. Costner in this film, as in all the films he is in.

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If you have seen Costner in action (and have read the entry The Postman on this blog) you will have come to an understanding that Kevin has a certain modus operandi when it comes to his role in films. This usually takes some way shape or form of his ego being proudly showcased to the viewing audience in some form of dramatic fashion and fanfare. His “calling card” in Man of Steel was one of his best performances and ode to his ego (not as good as The Postman-but up there for sure). At 58 years old, you would think Kevin would stop. No my friends, he won’t. And if you think he will, you just don’t know Costner well enough. For this we thank him; because I, like many, look forward to these moments in cinema history for the sheer hilarity of it.

The scene where this glorious spectacle takes place in Man of Steel is the “highway tornado” scene. Without going into details (since this movie just came out), it is crucial scene between Clark (Calvill) and his terrestrial father (Costner). It was a serious and somber scene, and any unsuspecting person in the theater would react with appropriate empathy. I, however, was the only one who laughed since I knew that Costner was up to his old tricks again. The very end of the scene is where you see Costner in all his glory with a metaphorical flag draped around him. The whole context of the situation is classic Costner, with a slice of cheese. The man is a genius and is unapologetic about his love affair with himself. I could talk about this all day, but I’ll leave it at this and let you watch the film and scene for yourself to understand (Costner’s antics need an entirely separate blog post)

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In closing, Man of Steel gets a solid B rating. It wasn’t terrible nor was it fantastic. It honestly lacked the heart and warmth to which the original Superman exuded, however Snyder directed it; so it is to be expected that the film portrayed a sensationalist yet somber tone. Man of Steel was thus a perfect title for the film. Essentially, the film met my expectations as to what the action, the CGI, cinematography and direction by Zack Snyder would be like. In addition, it is a film to which needs to be seen in Ultra AVX with 3D visual and sound since the stunning effects and action would not receive justice otherwise. With that said, I am looking forward to future installments in the Superman franchise.

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