What made Nolan’s Batman Trilogy so special was the liberties that he took to retell the modern day mythos of The Dark Knight in a different light. It had the perfect tone and themes radiating through each episode that was undeniably enthralling and engaging. Every sequence was based in another reality but a believable one. How can Nolan take that magic that resurrected Batman into a fan favorite into one of the most unrelatable characters in comics? Somehow he did.
Man of Steel begins on Krypton, a planet destroying itself, where Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) makes the decision to send their new-born son, Kal-El, away to survive on an alien planet. When General Zod (Michael Shannon) tries to save Krypton by overtaking the government, he’s soon arrested and encapsulated for his treason. Director Zack Snyder makes the interesting choice to tell Clark Kent’s upbringing in a past/present switch between scenes which is a fresh way to tell any origin. When Zod and his crew escape from their prison their manhunt for Superman and their quest to rebuild a planet similar to Krypton ensues. Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill) (whatever you want to call him) must discover his purpose on earth, become their protector and form himself into the man he is destined to be.
The themes tap into is the power of the individual. Like Superman, we all have potential to become greater than what we are designed to become. Nolan and Synder turn Superman into a Christ-like figure (Superman is 33 for goodness sake) and allows us to either look to him for an example or put ourselves into his position. Just like Nolan’s Batmans, the deeper meanings is a huge strong suit that binds the film together.
Now, a lot of creative liberties were taken with this interpretation of a very well-known superhero; some may say the most recognized. But that’s what I love about it; it takes what is recognizable (the suit, symbol, communication with Jor-El) and gives them reason. These elements that seemed so far-fetched are brought down to a level of believability. I guess Snyder couldn’t do that with his red underpants and that’s why he ditched them. As a movie as a whole, I enjoyed the reforming of expectations; it was cleverly done and intriguing.
But Man of Steel is not without its flaws. For one, except for Shannon’s Zod every other character was void of character. Everyone seemed so flat, boring and uninteresting. Also, the last half (at least it seemed like it) was non-stop exhilarating action sequence one right after the other. I could hardly catch my breath. Not saying they weren’t well shot or fun to watch, it just got tiring after a while. Lastly, there were about 2-3 real laughs in the whole two and a half hours. To have a real crowd-pleaser it needs to have more of a light personality. Throughout the whole movie it was all about business.
Although there are a lot of things to nit-pick and criticize the parts make up a wonderful whole that makes the cinematic experience not too much fun to watch but definitely worth watching this re-envisioning.
Summer’s Best of List (So far)
1) Star Trek
2) Iron Man 3
3) Man of Steel
4) Now You See Me (Review coming next week)
5) The Great Gatsby