Mania Grade: B-
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- Rated: PG13
- Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner
- Written By: David S. Goyer
- Directed By: Zack Snyder
- Original Year of Release: 2013
- Studio: Warner Brothers
- Extras: See Below
Man of Steel: Blu-Ray Review
Superman moves into the 21st Century
By Tim Janson
November 18, 2013
Henry Cavill in Man of Steel
© Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
So apparently there is some controversy over the Man of Steel and Superman killing General Zod…But what a minute! Didn’t Superman kill Zod way back in 1980’s Superman II? Superman uses the molecule chamber to take Zod’s powers away, essentially turning him human. He crushes his hand into mush, picks him up then tosses him into a seemingly bottomless pit of ice and snow. (and don’t give me any crap about the Donner Cut). Did anyone think Zod survived that? Ok so having your neck snapped like a twig might be a bit more in your face than being tossed into a ravine but dead is dead.
Seems to me Man of Steel pits long time Superman purists against modern day fans who grew up in the post mid-1980s era of The Dark Knight Returns, anti-heroes like The Punisher and Lobo, and The Death of Superman storyline. Man of Steel is very much a Superman film for the modern age, delving far more into socially conscious subjects like bullying and individuality than the Christopher Reeve films of 1970s and 1980s which were pure comic book cheese…but good cheese.
Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer give a new take on the planet Krypton and its destruction. They design Superman’s home world as one that is a mix of the high-tech and the primitive. This isn’t the stark, emotionless world of the Reeve films but rather one of great passion and angst. The Kryptonians have sealed their planet’s fate by stripping their world’s resources and destabilizing their core. The ruling council is overthrown by General Zod (Shannon) and the military but not before Jor-El (Crowe) can blast his newborn son off the dying planet, infusing him with the genetic codex of the entire Kryptonian race. Zod kills Jor-El but he and his followers and captured and banished to the Phantom Zone. However when Krypton explodes, Zod and his soldiers are freed and track Kal-El to Earth where he has now grown into an adult.
Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent/Superman is one who is very unsure of his place in the world. He lives as a loner, travelling from place to place working odd jobs and saving people quietly and under the radar. He infiltrates a military operation in the artic that is investigating an ancient Kryptonian ship found in the ice. The ship’s activation sends out a distress call leading Zod to Earth where he demands that Superman surrender to him.
People may still be unfamiliar with Michael Shannon but he is an incredible actor. His portrayal of Zod is many layered. Zod is a tragic and sympathetic figure. He’s not motivated by a lust for power but rather the desire to see his race survive and who can argue with him for that? Man of Steel is laden with performances that work on many levels and depth which the Reeve films often lacked. That’s not a criticism against the Reeve films. Those films accomplished what they set out to do in making pure comic book magic come to life. It’s just we see these familiar characters doing things we haven’t seen before. From Diane Lane’s caring and vulnerable turn as “Ma Kent” to Lawrence Fishburne’s caring portrayal of Daily Planet Editor Perry White.
The battle in Metropolis between Superman and Zod results in the kind of wholesale destruction that you’d expect to see. Snyder doesn’t candy coat the resulting devastation. Entire city blocks lie in ruin and while we don’t see it, no doubt thousands had to have perished in the battle. It’s a grim picture to be sure. But here is where Man of Steel falls somewhat short. It doesn’t feel heroic. It lacks those rousing moments that made you cheer such as when Superman catches Lois Lane freefalling from a building or challenging Zod to “step outside”. Those moments accompanied by the unforgettable score by John Williams have become the stuff of cinematic legend. This is one time when a big hunk of comic book cheese was sorely needed.
Journey of Discover: Creating the Man of Steel (2:54:00) – this nearly three hour feature is integrated into the film itself and features pop up split screen and even triple screen commentary by Snyder, the cast and crew breaking down just about every scene in the film. The actors discuss their roles; the special FX guys provide split screen comparisons from green screen to finished product; we look at stunt work and training regimens; and costume and set creation. Truly a highlight feature!
Planet Krypton (17:00) – This is a faux documentary that covers the invasion of Metropolis invasion by the Kryptonians.
Strong Characters, Legendary Roles (25:00) – A look at Superman history, mythology, and his placed in pop culture.
All Out Action (26:00) – A look at the training that the actors went through for the action-oriented film.
Krpyton Decoded (7:00) – Dylan Sprayberry who plays the young Clark Kent hosts a look at the Kryptonian equipment used in the film such as the spacecraft, weapons, and armor.
Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short (2:00) very cool little animated film that traces Superman’s history from comic books to films, TV, and animated shows.