On the Cast and Crew
I don’t think a comic book movie has ever seen such a cast. Superman’s father is played by Russell Crowe, stepfather by Kevin Costner, stepmother by Diane Lane, love interest Lois Lane by Amy Adams. The main villain is played Michael Shannon, one of the most gifted actors of his generation – who is better known for awesome low-budget films (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter).
The special effects are pretty spectacular-to the point of being overdone, but then again it’s Zac Snyder (300, Watchmen). The story is written by David. S. Goyer (Dark Knight trilogy) and Christopher Nolan (Memento, Inception, the Dark Knight trilogy…)
As a fan of the 70s/80s Superman series, (as horrible the effects seem today and the story isn’t cool, it holds a tremendous nostalgic value for me . After all, it was my first superhero movie, and Christopher Reeve was my first Superman). And it is hard to fill in Reeve’s shoes as an actor (and as Superman)- he had this uniquely suave look about him, and he stood at 6′ 4″ (1.93 m). So you hardly questioned Lois being head over heels, or him being an alien with super powers
But then Henry Cavill came, having worked out so much that he could have been the next choice as Wolverine (pay attention to his look and mannerisms in the first rescue scene.) He looked the right amount of innocent, frustrated and otherworldly. Something I don’t think Brandon Routh was able to bring.
Yes, with such cast and crew, you’d keep your expectations high. And I’m thinking you are more likely to be impressed than disappointed. Let’s go over the plot before moving on to other thoughts:
Man of Steel Plot
Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife (Ayelet Zurer) manage to have the only naturally born son (Kal-El, later to be named Clark by his stepparents) in a long time in the dying planet Krypton. General Zod (Michael Shannon) tries to take over, hoping to save the planet under his rule. His hostility and betrayal aren’t approved by Jor-El, and he sends his son to earth, a plan he came up with his wife.
He sees that his baby leaves the planet safely, but ends up being murdered by Zod. Eventually Zod and his men are captured, sentenced to a very long time in a black hole.
Their capture doesn’t prevent the planet from ultimate destruction, however.
Later we meet the adult Clark (Henry Cavill) who has managed to keep his special abilities secret by working the odd jobs, and not staying in one place for too long.
Through flashbacks, we get to see how Clark struggled as a young boy to control and hide his abilities, but managed somehow through the guidance and support of his stepparents, Jonathan (Kevin Kostner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane).
Jonathan explains him that he came from another planet, though he doesn’t have a lot of details. He encourages him to keep his powers secret for the greater good of his planet’s and the earth’s.
The adult Clark’s final gig lands him in Canada, where Louis Lane of The Daily Planet is also on a case. When Lois follows Clark into the spacecraft (a vehicle that the army was trying to figure out), Clark gets to save her – revealing his powers, but not before having gotten the message of his biological father.
He leaves soon, and Louis writes about the mystery man. But when her boss (Laurence Fishburne) refuses to print it, she makes sure people hear her story via a conspiracy theorist. She later decides to track down the mystery guy herself. But when she finally finds him, he tells her about Jonathan and his doubts about the world being ready for someone like him. After this, Louis decides to keep his identity a secret, strengthening the bond already formed between them.
But things get out of her control when Zod announces that he’s coming to the earth with his men, and all he wants is the alien. And of course he won’t accept “no” in peace. This puts Lois at risk, and Clark knows better than to trust Zod.
And the real action/effects feast part of the movie start after we find out that Krypton’s demise has freed Zod and his men; and he intends to recreate Krypton on earth, while destroying humans…
Man of Steel provides solid entertainment with substance.
It does a good job explaining the backstory and answering the questions of the superhero’s fans who don’t necessarily read the comics: Where does the name/costume come from, why there is an S symbol on his costume (and a lot of other places), how he “officially” became a hero among others.
It starts presenting Krypton in all its different glory and giving Crowe a piece of the action.
Then we move on to an adult Clark who has nothing to do with newspaper reporting or glasses, which is refreshing.
The movie does a fine job of balancing drama with action, though I have to say I prefer to part of the movie before Zod arrived in our world. Because the fight sequences between Clark and Zod’s two soldiers took a bit too long for my taste- and as Transformers showed, too loud and long can be a major turn-off. And I can also say it for the final battle between Zod and Clark. However these are my only two complaints about the movie. I had a great experience. I can’t wait for the next installations.
I’m also happy to announce that the movie made more than half its budget at the box office on its first day. May Nolan and Snyder collaborate on more features.
How did you like the film?
Also on Kevin Costner:
Also on Russell Crowe