“Man Of Steel” Grittier, Darker Tale


HOLLYWOOD—The 2006 reboot of the Superman franchise “Superman Returns” was a terrible movie.  Not only did it not have any action in it, it was a complete misfire on the story front.  When news arrived of another reboot to the franchise, many were skeptical including myself, but with Zack Synder helming as director and Christopher Nolan as producer “Man of Steel” is a well-balanced chapter in the Kryptonian superhero.

Spectators heading into the multiplex should be well aware that “Man of Steel” has a more serious tone compared to previous pictures in the franchise.  It’s quite dramatic to say the least, as we learn a bit more about the social isolation that Kal-El/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) encounters. Cavill does a superb job bringing the emotional side of Clark Kent to life, especially in his adult years as moves from town-to-town in hopes of discovering his identity and purpose in life.

He has a supportive family who adopts him after crash landing in Kansas.  Those parents are portrayed by Diane Lane and Kevin Costner. There is a professional level of respect for both actors who resonate on the big screen as actual parents to the tot.  The opening of the picture will put fans in a tizzy as a explosive battle takes place on the planet Krypton which sees Kal-El’s father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) doing battle with General Zod (Michael Shannon).  It’s during that battle, where our superhero in training is shipped to Earth to ensure his survival.

Shannonis a force to be reckoned with, almost unrecognizable as the villain in the picture.  He does indeed scream and shout a lot throughout the picture, which is a bit of deterrence to a degree, but he is a villain that is able to go toe-to-toe with Superman himself.  That was the key problem with the previous chapter in the franchise, as the villain was so dismal and unappealing.

An important relationship worth highlighting is the dynamic between reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Clark Kent.  I particularly am a fan of Adams who brings an intensity and powerful character to life on the screen.  Lane has always had a unique telling in the comics as well as in the movies. Adamsbrings her acting chops to give our feisty reporter even more flare, which was a treat to experience on the screen.  I will say the chemistry between Cavill and Adams isn’t quite where some would expect it to be.  Chemistry is something that can’t be faked and you’ll know it when you see it. With “Man of Steel” its not quite there yet, but I’m almost certain both actors with a few more heart-to-heart scenes can collect the magic on camera.

Director Zack Synder presents this Superman tale in all of its epic glory, capturing epic action sequences with grander as well as the softer moments to impact the emotions on the viewer. The spectator gets a wide arrange of emotions in the picture, one of the notable ones being isolation, as we see it from the title character’s point of view.  On the writing front, screenwriter, David S. Goyer does a fairly decent job presenting a different tale on the highly praised superhero.

The problem with “Man of Steel” is its failure to decide distinctly the overall tone of the picture.  There are some comedic moments and than there are the serious moments.  It attempts in its own way to tackle what Nolan did with “The Dark Knight,” but doesn’t quite get there.  If a picture plans to go dark, it has to fully go dark without teetering. So many superhero pics have attempted to emulate “The Dark Knight” and that’s problematic.  That’s a picture that knew clearly the direction it was planning to go without deviating or apologizing for doing it.  No movie and I mean no movie; can strike that same type of magic twice.  Why?  Superman and Batman are two different characters in different worlds with limitations.

“Man of Steel” is indeed one of the best Superman pictures in the franchise.  Is the flick perfect, no, but it does reenergize a franchise that so many had lost HOPE in.

By LaDale Anderson