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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Man of Steel Movie Review


A word of caution: this is not the Superman you grew up with.

Bur in some ways, Man of Steel it’s all the better for it.

With Krypton in the brink of destruction, Jor-El (Russel Crowe) sends his infant son Kal-El to a distant planet to save him. The baby lands on Earth, and is found and raised by the kindly couple of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent. Through the years we see the baby grow up to be Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), who feels torn between his human side and his Kryptonian lineage. But when another Krypton survivor by the name of General Zod (Michael Shannon) threatens the world he has grown to call home, Clark has to make a choice that could change the world forever.

That's the keyword there: choice. If anything, Man of Steel is surprisingly brilliant with this. The choices superheroes make in comic books carry little to no consequence, confident in the fact that things will always work out for the best. In Man of Steel, the choices Clark/Superman make isn't always so easy and carry consequences so dire, and what results is the kind of gravitas you don't often see in previous Superman movies, giving us a Superman that's all too human despite being able to literally carry the world on his shoulders.

Man of Steel has a surprising amount of heart, mostly stemming from the performance of Henry Cavill who, despite being in the unenviable position of being measured up to Christopher Reeves’ shadow, manages to successfully make the character his own. Cavill’s range is great, able to go from sensitive and vulnerable as Clark to heroically imposing as Superman, and is believable as both. The rest of the ensemble cast (aside from the brilliance that is Michael Shannon, who turns in a performance so scary good) is regrettably forgettable, relegated to collateral damage status when the punching starts...something the movie has copious amounts of.

Of course, this is Zack Snyder we’re talking about here. If there’s action of any sort, and it’s Snyder’s job to direct it, you can be sure he can crank it up to insane levels. If anybody wanted to see Superman being actually super for once, they won’t be disappointed with Man of Steel. Here, Superman lets loose on his enemies with a flurry of blows that could shatter buildings and level towns.  Unfortunately, though Snyder may know how to direct exciting action set pieces, he just doesn't know when to stop, and it gets to a point when all the wanton destruction (and there is a LOT of it!) goes on for too long and it takes away from the moment, chucking suspension of disbelief out the window.

But a funny and surprising realization dawned on me even as the final fight raged across the screen in a blur of smoke and rubble: I can finally relate to this Superman, this Kansas-bred mama's boy who just happens to have more power than he knows what to do with. I shared in his grief during his lowest times, and I shared in his boyish glee when he first learned how to fly. That feeling alone was worth the 190Php I spent to watch this, and it was worth every centavo.

I was awed, I was teary-eyed, I was blown away by all the power on display. Man of Steel may not be as superheroic fun as Marvel’s The Avengers, but at least it wasn't trying hard to be. It's a superhero blockbuster with a very human heart beating in the middle of it, and I think that's where the movie's, and Superman's, strength lies.

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