Thursday, 13 June 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel, similar to Batman Begins, is a serious, realistic, visually stunning, modernised take on Superman and his origins for the new generation, which is a solid step in the right direction for the character.This is the second Superman film in 25 years, as there hasn't been a Superman movie since 2006 (Superman Returns) and before that, not since 1987. Safely to say, this is the Superman film most DC fans have been waiting for.
A straightforward, character-driven story about a boy, who was not born of this world, who had the power to change the world, being taught by his protective adopted parents to limit himself, pressured to control his powers along with his emotions and use them responsibly since young - to not be so fast, not be so strong, not be so powerful, in fear that he will hurt others or even himself. As a result of that, psychologically, he's afraid of himself, feel isolated and alone, self-doubt, being ashamed of what he's truly capable of. On the other hand, his biological parents see his son's potential to be the symbol of hope for all mankind - a source of inspiration and goodness, and not fall into the same footsteps as them (Kryptonians). He needs to make a choice.
This is what most fans had been waiting for ages - to see a relatable, realistic modern age superman that 'can' exist in the real world. A story that truly defines Superman's modern age persona, his core essence - searching and understanding his purpose for being here on Earth...Another rare comic book film which deals with some profound questions, ideas, perspectives and makes us think.All the actors and actresses deliver their best performances for the film(heck, what do you expect?...some of them are either Oscar winners or nominees).
Most of the film critics made a huge mistake for comparing Donner's version of Superman (which is loosely based on the Golden and Silver age of comic book history of the character*), with this new take of Superman (which is loosely based on the Modern age of comic book history*).Although the character's core essence may be roughly similar to each other, but they are not identical. The modern age Superman still retains his charms and wits (in a different way), but he is not meant to be light-hearted or joyful as Donner's Superman. Snyder's Superman is loosely based on All-Star Superman, The New 52, Superman: Earth One and Superman Birthright.
It is worth noting that all of the special effect sequences in the film, combined with Han Zimmer's epic scores are superb and managed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the film - the scenes where Clark soars through the sky, breaking the sound barrier...the sheer scale of the fights between the Kryptonians...etc, simply fits how a Superman should be portrayed on the big screen.It shows that the filmmakers have a perfect understanding of Superman's powers and abilities.However, considering the overwhelming wide-scale urban destruction happened as a result of Superman fighting Zod...What's next? How they're going to introduce Superman's far more deadly adversaries - Darkseid, Doomsday or Brainiac in the future? The decimation of the entire planet?
The weakest aspect of this movie is the Lois/Superman relationship. Since the movie is too focused on Superman, the relationship between Superman and Lois felt a little rushed and underdeveloped.The on-screen chemistry between them is simply not convincing enough to be believable...since there's not much on-screen interaction between them in the film.
Many of the supporting characters are not fully developed (Perry White, Jimmy Olsen,Dr. Hamilton...) as a consequence of fitting in more epic, jaw-dropping action sequences. I'm not particularly fond of the gloomy outlook/darker atmosphere that surrounds the entire movie (the choice of using dark muted colours and high contrast for the film), it's acceptable...But, I wished they could have brighten up the colours in the next sequel (Possibly to make the special effects looked more realistic I suppose). The non-linear story-telling worked well, the film never drags and it managed to transition effectively from current time to flashbacks as we see the character is slowly developed. But, there's a drawback to this as it occasionally hurts the flow and pacing of the story as well.
After a 2nd viewing of the film, it is found out that there's a major character flaw in the film as a result of Snyder's direction...he was too focused on delivering the action spectacle to the audience that he forgot one of the core essence of Superman's character - his commitment to save and protect as many innocent lives as possible during battle. He always trying to prevent or minimize civilian casualties while fighting with his adversaries at the same time...which often costing Superman the strategic advantage he had for the fight. While fighting with Zod in the film, Superman's utter disregard for the collateral damage, the lack of concern to millions of lives remained in the city as he kept crashing through buildings full of survivors or provide any assistance to people who are still buried under all that rubble, dead or dying during the destruction is simply not him...
Another important point to address: there seems to be controversy that Superman doesn't kill. The answer is no. Although some Superman comic book writers will disagree with this, but in general, when the inevitable situation comes and he was forced to do it, unlike Batman, he will do it.

Overall, it's astounding, epic, spectacular. It's the most anticipated movie of the year and it delivers. This new cinematic take on the Superman mythos is a worthy interpretation of the 75 year old icon.(The character was created in 1938). The Man of Steel may failed to win the hearts of critics, but it certainly won the hearts of many fans. Many thanks to writer David Goyer and director Zack Snyder for bringing back Superman his long-lost coolness, re-establish him in today's modern world and make him more relatable. Finally, the origin depicted in the film will let people have a better understanding of who Superman is. Finally, the people know what the 'S' symbol stands for - the symbol of the House of El and Hope. From now on, no one will ever think of Superman the same way again. Finally, the man of steel reclaims his title as the world's greatest superhero.
Now, just as Man of Steel is to Batman Begins, I'm extremely hopeful for a groundbreaking, phenomenal sequel that transcends the superhero genre to become one of the best films of the decade...much like The Dark Knight, for the Man of Tomorrow.

NOTE: Watch out for the easter eggs...Bruce Wayne might be ok about it, but I bet Lex Luthor would be extremely pissed considering most the properties he owns are either damaged or non-existent now. :)

Rating: 7.5/10 

**For better understanding, the following are the periods in the history of American comic books, each of them features socially relevant storylines based on real-world issues on that particular time span:
  • Golden Age of Comic Books (c.1938 — c.1950)
  • Silver Age of Comic Books (1956-c.1970)
  • Bronze Age of Comic Books (c.1970-c.1985)
  • Modern Age of Comic Books (c.1985-Present)

"You were sent here for a reason...and even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is...You just have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be, Clark. Whoever that man is, he's going to change the world..." - Jonathan Kent

"You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They'll race behind you. They'll stumble. They'll fall. But, in time, they'll join you in the sun. In time, you'll help them accomplish wonders." - Jor El

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