A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.
Spoilers. Pretty much.
So… yeah, another incarnation of the super boyscout guy. And, amazingly, they seem to have done it right — at least, in my opinion, but I’m not super “AMG! They destroyed the version in the comics” kind of person.
I mentioned this in my Twitter timeline, but I’ll repeat here: Man of Steel is a movie about the little things. Not that it talks about little things, but the little things make this a great movie.
For example: Jonathan Kent puts Clark in a hard position of showing his powers or staying hidden. His preference is to hide his powers so people won’t be afraid of him. But suddenly is Jonathan that needs Clark powers to be saved and what does it do? With a small gesture, he tells him “you shouldn’t show your powers, it’s ok”. It’s small, but it tells a lot. Even smaller is when you look directly at Kevin Costner’s face and see a little smile in his lips, like a father proud of his son, but with sadness in his eyes, like saying “I’m sad ’cause I’ll never see you go full power”.
It’s one of those defining moments for me. When an actor goes beyond lines and simple movements show everything. I said before, in “Marley & Me” that it was the best work for Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, ’cause you can see the light fading in her eyes when Jenny realizes she lost her child and Owen losing his voice when John thinks Marley will not survive. All of this kind of “going beyond the lines in the script” happens here, over and over again.
Jonathan’s “stop” and “I’m proud of you son, and I’m sorry I’ll never see you grow up” face is one; Zod/Michael Shannon face when the hologram of Jor-El disappears, showing regret to have the image of his old friend disappear forever’ Jonathan (again) chocking when saying “You are my son” when Clark asks if they can keep pretending he’s his son; Clark/Kal-El/Henry Cavil face when he’s faced by a hooligan in a bar and have to control himself (three times, nonetheless); the way Faora falls on her knees seeing that she’s free ’cause her planet was destroyed… And that’s only acting, you still have how the music and the sound mix when Metropolis is being destroyed (the sound is part of the music and the music is part of the sound); the way the fire vision is shown and how the Kryptonians react to its use… And, in the very end, the way they put Christopher Reeves over Cavil face to pay an homage to the most well-known Superman.
This all show the incredible vision Zack Snyder had for the movie.
But surely small touches can’t make a movie. The way David Goyer and Christopher Nolan wrote the movie allowed Snyder to go into this. And the story is good and flows magnificently. You’d keep watching and then suddenly realize
A lot of people complained about the level of destruction. It seems to fit well here, since just now Clark is fully exploring his powers; he’s not the one that learnt how to hold his powers to protect everyone. In the animated series, there is one scene when Darkseid is about to destroy Metropolis and when Superman finally appears, he comes with lines like “What we have here is an unique opportunity. I can finally use my powers without any restrains.” I think Snyder tried to do something around those lines, although in reverse: He didn’t know restrain yet; and he wasn’t fighting some human with lots of money, he was fighting people with the same powers as his that would not stop till they kill everyone.
Music is a weird issue to me. I heard the music in the trailer and absolutely loved it, bought the whole album and found it absolutely boring. It follows a tendency these days of making a single theme for the movie and then twisting it to fit everything else. The hero theme is a slower version of the original theme, with a single violin; the villain theme is, again, the same theme, but with guitars, drums and lots of distortion.
Also, as I mentioned to a friend, surely the original Superman song, by John Williams, is way more “wristlable” than the Hans Zimmer version. On the other hand, Zimmer’s version have a lot more impact than Williams’ version.
But no matter how I feel about the soundtrack, it sits perfectly with the movie — although one can say they stretched a bit too far in the last scenes. The fact that could mix the music itself with the movie sounds makes it even more spectacular, making it “organic” to the general aural experience of the movie.
Acting is largely a hit. Cavil absolutely kills as Clark/Kal-El. Not only that, but he uses two different tones when talking: One is when Clark, the adopted son of two farmers in Kansas, is talking; the other, when Kal-El, the alien that wants to help everyone, talks. You can clearly see those two voices comparing the tone when he talks to his mom or Lois and when he talks to the military people (and I think Snyder will use this tone change as part of the disguise for Superman in the next movie).
Amy Adams is alright as Lois, although the script really fails with her (fall from a plane exactly when it blows up? Really?)
Costner, as I mentioned, has his moments. His acting is ok, like most of the movies, but there are a couple of scenes in which he absolutely kills.
Russel Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni… All seem to be still be doing the same characters over and over again. Seriously, pick Morpheus and put him as a newspaper editor and there you have Fishburne acting in this movie. Meloni is still doing the guy in uniform. And Crowe… well, Crowe still is the Gladiator, although he talks more than fight.
Diane Lane, on the other hand, seemed completely off the movie. She completely lacks the empathy needed for playing Clark’s mom in this movie. It’s weird seeing an actress like Lane doing such bad acting in a movie where Costner kills twice.
Although not as bad as Lane, Michael Shannon is also not that good as the evil Zod. But, then again, it’s hard to pinpoint if is his acting that’s somewhat bad or it’s simply the way Zod is. (Back to the story,) In Krypton, all people are engineered since conception to be something and Zod is engineered to be a military person — the though, in control, military type of person. So, let’s take that to the side and just mention that his lines like he burned his whole tongue with a hot potato are… bleh.
But really, I think Snyder/Nolan/Goyer did an amazing job in finally bringing Superman to a more realistic role, even if most the fights seemed like parts of a high quality video game. Now instead of being the invincible being, the guy that simply was born to save everyone, they put him with a teacher (his father) on how to be good, they put him in a training position… He finally have space to grow up instead of just appearing ready for everything.