MAN OF STEEL (PG-13)

Henry Cavill as Superman

Man of Steel Soars to Epic Proportions

On opening night I found myself lining up (yeah really) at the local IMAX Theater for one of 2013’s most highly anticipated films. The place was packed full of eager S-Man fans and expectations were flying high (forgive the pun). So I kicked back in my seat and readied myself for a 2 hour 30 minute ride of cinematic surround-sound splendor. What a thrill - it was like medicine to my action/adventure soul to see Superman the way he should be with strong doses of adventure, a generous helping of action, a huge dollop of butt-kicking galactic fight scenes, and a spoonful of romance. All delivered with a real plot and a Hans Zimmer score to wash everything down. With so many renditions of Superman over the years, it is power for the course to compare this to the previous versions. So, sorry ahead of time, folks.

You can throw out almost everything you remember from previous Superman adaptations; this one is the definitive re-boot bringing a fresh vibe to the familiar story. It was more like the retelling of the tale and packed a cast of solid Hollywood vets. The three-years-to-make epic starred British actor, Henry Cavill (Immortals) as the caped hero, along with Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Lawrence Fishburne, and Diane Lane.

Man of Steel felt like a sci-fi movie; it was a merging of mythology and science fiction instead of an on-screen comic book rendering. It was like opening your eyes and seeing Superman for the first time. This was a film that took itself seriously (no campiness here), revealing a deeper look at the Man of Steel’s life. It was akin to having a V8 moment to realize he really was an alien from another planet (hello) who had to find his place among men without being one of them. Cavill was perfectly cast for the part, and this up-and-coming actor gave us a slightly darker, brooding and complex hero who realizes the two paths of his life as alien-born and human-bred, are swiftly colliding and he must choose which side will dominate his destiny.

The film grabbed me from the first moments as his two parents (played by Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer) grappled in a Moses-type fashion with sparing their child from the coming destruction of Krypton. Their decision forfeits their lives and catapults their son Kal-El towards another civilization carrying with him their hopes and dreams. Kal-El faces difficulties and temptations to conquer while holding fast to his adoptive father’s mandate (played by veteran actor, Kevin Costner). But intertwined with the adult Clark Kent are flashbacks to his childhood and the lessons his earthly father taught him along the way. But as we all know Clark does discovers his true identity and just in time for an exhilarating ride of action adventure as he faces off with Zod the fugitive ex-General of Krypton.

Amy Adams gave us never-before-seen Lois Lane. This was no sissy big city starry-eyed gal-pal, but a woman who is strong, savvy, and a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter ready to research out her story. The fact that she figures out Superman’s identity early on does not detract from the plot one bit. Unlike previous versions, the tale does not become romantic sap, but weaves their fledgling relationship into the greater story line of the hero.

Crowe as Jor-El, Superman’s father delivers a solid performance as a leader on his planet grieved by the simultaneous biological and apocalyptic demise of his world. Formerly friends with General Zod their lives take different directions when Krypton begins to self-destruct. Michael Shannon played General Zod hell-bent on destroying the son of Jor-El. Shannon’s Zod was a clean-cut maniacal tyrant blazing a path of earthly destruction and pathological self-exaltation.

Yet it was Cavill who made me a believer in Superman again – he was the embodiment of the Man of Steel from the classic, impossibly handsome features to the 1000 kilowatt smile, and a physique that rocked out the redesigned costume. Speaking of that slamming suit, Director, Zack Snyder decided to update it to go along with his Superman reboot - an excellent call. After seeing the aura and power of the design minus the red briefs I wondered why we ever liked those red thingy’s anyway. The revamped look fast-forwarded Superman into the 21st Century and unleashed a believable hero. After a quick 2 ½ hours I was ready for more of Cavill and that ‘I-just-won’t-quit’ suit. Let me put it this way; Henry Cavill did for Superman what Christian Bale did for Batman.

Chris Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy) co-wrote and produced this picture and you could see his influence throughout the film. After the unappealing 2006 Bryan Singer version I had my doubts about another crack at the big screen Superman. After all, he is an icon that has soared through 75 years of our culture always the embodiment of the American ideal. But Man of Steel returned us to those ideals – truth, honor, integrity and personal sacrifice for the greater good. Yeah, it may sound corny, but it’s still ringing true for me and I have a feeling it will ring true for millions of other S-Man patriots as they flock to the theaters in the coming weeks to see what is sure to be a run-away hit. Uh oh, do I hear the word sequel?










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