Skip to main content

Movie Opinion: Man of Steel (2013)

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that reading reviews and listening to other people's opinions of any superhero film will detract from your enjoyment of the film, rather than enhance it.

Too often the loudest voices are those who wish to vent that a film isn't their version of the character or even the version of a character they've read about for years in the comic book source material.

As such they denounce the entire film as nothing short of an abomination. If you actually enjoyed the film, too many of these types of rants can really make you wonder if you even watched the same film as they did.

I get that, particularly with a character like Superman, everyone has their own expectations of what the character is, what he's capable of and what moral standards guide him but lighten up.

If Man of Steel isn't your Superman, that's fine. Maybe in your opinion the film makers got it wrong but one thing is certain, the film makers hoped you'd like it. They didn't set out to to personally offend you.

By all means criticize and discuss what didn't work for you and why but don't be a baby about it. Yes there are details that should be discussed and worthy of debate but overall Man of Steel delivers a thoughtful interpretation of the character.

Personally I think Man of Steel is the best depiction of a Superhero character on the big screen since Iron Man. It's not a perfect film by any means but in terms of an epic cinema experience, and creating a Superman that I can believe could exist in our real world, I think it succeeds.

Warning! There are spoilers ahead!

I went into Man of Steel with a very cynical attitude. My first thoughts on seeing Krypton, and particularly it's wildlife was that it looked like the grunge version of Pandora from Avatar - mostly thanks to whatever that creature was that Jor-El was riding. Then we saw all the babies being incubated and my head went straight to The Matrix.

Jor-El and son.
I also raised an eyebrow at Jor-El being the only one to assist with the delivery of his own child? Advanced culture and all that (don't they have doctors etc.) but this was explained a short time later as natural child birth being a definite exception to the norm and implied that it may even be illegal.

However the new technology of Krypton with the almost liquid-like monitor screens on Jor-El's robot assistants grabbed my attention as something I hadn't seen before. This helped draw me in, along with a story that did gain momentum very quickly.

I liked Russel Crowe's Jor-El. Much less enigmatic than Marlon Brando's and much more committed to ensuring his son's survival. It was a little bit of a stretch that a scientist was also an action hero but no one ever calls Tony Stark out on his ability to fight, even though he's mostly an engineering genius.

As much as I liked Terrance Stamp's General Zod, Michael Shannon's Zod in Man of Steel has a much more defined purpose and reason for tracking down Kal-El. The fact that Zod also agrees with Jor-El's point of view on the state of Krypton is a high point too. They just have different ideas for a solution.

The Codex, that Jor-El steals, is a little like the Tesseract in The Avengers. We know it contains the blue print for the Kryptonian's DNA but how it works and why something that looks like a burnt out skull is so unique is unclear. Couldn't they just get another Kryptonian's skull? What makes this skull so special and how is it possible that it could become fused somehow with Kal-El himself so that it needed to be 'extracted'? Alien technology is mysterious like that.

I'm not going to go through the film and mention every little detail. What was important to me was that, for Superman's origin story, it pretty much had all the same key moments as 1978's Superman the Movie. Though they were fleshed out much more, and tweaked in some cases, to better serve this new Superman's need to be cautious with revealing himself before the world is ready.


Jonathon & Clark.
I particularly like the angle that Jonathon Kent (Kevin Kostner) highlights for Clarke that "you are the answer to, are we alone in the universe?"



Perry White & Lois Lane.

I liked that Lois Lane (Amy Adams), for the first time actually felt like a real, globe trotting journalist and not just a reporter. (I'm also one of the few who think Margot Kidder was miscast and is the most unlikable Louis Lane on film). You actually get to see this Lois' process of tracking down a story. A big story that required a fair amount of investigation.

The only other thing that's really important to me in a Superman film is how his power and abilities are handled. To date, every previous Superman film has forgotten that, whilst Superman is incredibly strong and seemingly indestructible, the rest of the world is still subject to the laws of physics. In my post The Trouble with Superman I wrote how mishandling his powers can really take you out of the film.

Thankfully, Henry Cavill's Superman never obviously breaks the laws of physics when interacting with his environment. Most notably demonstrated in the scene where he tries to stop an oil rig tower from falling. He's strong enough to delay the fall but ultimately the tower structure still fails and falls into the platform.

Damaged Great Wall of China,
Superman IV.
All of Superman's powers seemed to be handled really well with a fresh take. From how he flies to his super speed, strength, x-ray and heat vision. No wacky made up or unexpected powers either - like rebuilding walls with some kind of mind control in Superman IV.

The only thing that took me out of the film was Superman breaking General Zod's neck. Not because of any stupid idea that Superman doesn't kill. Though this idea may be cemented into the sequel. In this movie, it's Superman's first official day on the job and he's fighting someone hell bent on continuing the carnage indefinitely. I can give him a pass this time.

Why the neck breaking thing took me out was because, if Superman can break Zod's neck with his bare hands, then why can't he break his neck by throwing concrete blocks at Zod's head etc. Or why can't Zod break Superman's arm by snapping it over his own leg perhaps? These two are supposed to be indestructible under Earth's yellow sun. Just because they're both Kryptonian it doesn't necessarily follow that they are strong enough to damage each other.

That aside I don't have a problem with Superman killing if that seems to be his only option at the time. I also don't have a problem with a Superman that makes mistakes and doesn't always make the right choices. Like it or not he's more human than alien and even Jonathon and Martha Kent made mistakes.

Superman for me has never been about an ideal to strive for or aspire too. He may be a great protector but he's not a savior of the human race. He's not Jesus, or a God - no matter how many parallels are made to our own religious iconography. He's an immigrant from another planet, who's chosen a path for himself that enables him to put his abilities to good use for the benefit of others. It fits with the ideals and values taught to him by Jonathon and Martha Kent.

He was sent to Earth with the purpose of preserving the Kryptonian race and perhaps bringing two races together in harmony. A task which he fails to fully achieve in this film thanks to Zod throwing a spanner in the works. At best he manages to achieve one Kryptonian living in peace with the human race on Earth.

George Reeves as Clark Kent.
As with Batman, I'm not married to Superman's history. I've enjoyed the quietly confident Clark Kent of the George Reeves TV series and the Bumbling comedy of Christopher Reeve's Kent. There's enough in this film for me to know it is Superman and it will be interesting to see how the changes will inform future films.

For example, just how many people at the Daily Planet will see through Kent's deceptively simple disguise. Does Perry White know? What will the dynamic be between Lois and Clark whilst at the Daily Planet given she knows Clark is Superman?

Mixing things up provides new dynamics to explore. To me that's a good thing. When you have a character as old as Superman, you don't want to keep exploring the same tired relationships time after time between the main cast of supporting characters.

I'll leave my final words on the fight scenes within Smallville and Metropolis, particularly Metropolis, which reminded me a lot of similar fight scenes in the Superman Doomsday animated feature. Superman fights Doomsday in an epic battle in Metropolis and, unlike Man of Steel, the city hasn't made any attempt to be evacuated.

Incidentally Superman kills Doomsday in both the movie and the comic it's derived from (though it does show Doomsday survives in the comic but as far as Superman knows he killed him). It would not surprise me if the scenes of Superman and General Zod fighting in Man of Steel were inspired by Superman Doomsday.

Although I thought the final fight scene possibly went a little too long (just like they do in Superman Doomsday) ultimately I thought, it's about time! Superman being part of a proper fight and fighting back with everything he has.

I enjoyed this film and will not only be buying it on Blu-ray but will be looking forward to its sequel - and hopefully a Justice League movie sometime within my lifetime please.

Comments

Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Transfer Any Line Art to Your Griptape - Easy Skateboard Griptape Art Tutorial

Dog Star Griptape Art by TET Griptape art is once again gaining popularity amongst modern skateboarders. For those of us who have tried to create our own griptape art, using paint pens, you'll know reproducing your design onto the grip, without making any mistakes is incredibly challenging. Mostly because you just have to go for it and draw the design freehand, with paint pens, directly onto the griptape. You can make the odd mistake here or there but if you get the proportions of the design completely wrong, it can be very difficult to fix. Often you just have to live with the mistake. To address the problem I've come up with an easy way anyone can transfer a line art design to their griptape, removing almost all the anxiety of getting the proportions wrong. In fact, you could do this with any line art design, even if you have no drawing skill at all. Watch the video below to see my technique in action and/or skip past the video where I highlight the basic steps to get your de

Skateboard Trick Tips: Two Ways to Ollie North (Ollie One foot)

You have to be quick to see my Ollie Norths! Ollie One Foots, otherwise known as the Ollie North, is one of those skateboard tricks you learn and then tend not to do very much as more interesting trick challenges grab your attention. However it does look really cool if you learn how to kick your front foot well past the nose of your skateboard. Still shot from Braille Skateboarding's Ollie North tutorial. I was inspired to make my video below, showing two different techniques to achieve a successful Ollie One Foot, when I not only saw that Braille Skateboarding's Tutorial used a different method to the one I had learned but also, when I looked at various other video tutorials, I discovered yet another technique, with no one using the method I had originally learned. Braille's method is to simply Ollie and drag your front foot past the front of your board. The second method I came across in several video tutorials is to Ollie, drag your front foot and tap your

Are Ion Thrusters the Future of Flying Cars? Spoiler - Probably Not But... Hover Boards... Maybe?

Undefined Technologies Ion Propulsion Drone prototype 3D concept image. You may have heard of Ion engines or, more likely, Ion thrusters. NASA uses them on their spacecraft to help maintain a craft's position or to propel them through space.  Upon hearing that you might think they're big, powerful engines, but actually they are not. They work well in the vacuum of space but, once any kind of atmosphere and gravity is involved they'd be hard pressed to launch you off the ground if you strapped four of them to your lawn chair and yelled "up, up, and away!" I am no expert on Ion thrusters - they're basically magic that science has an explanation for. If you want to know the details, The Space Techie website has a layman's explanation .  Build Your Own Ion Thruster Earth based Ion Thrusters work a bit different to their  space based cousins by Ionizing the same air that we breathe to create thrust (an effect known as Ionic-wind ).  While they sound highly soph

I'm Joining the Illuminati Brotherhood By Personal Invitation of Hiltom Rothschild... Wait, What?

How special am I to have finally come of age (53 years young) and am now eligible to participate in building the world alongside other members of the Illuminati Brotherhood... Yes I've received the call by way of an email, which I'm sure is real because I had to translate it from the Dutch language and it was personally written by Hiltom Rothschild, one of the non-existent members of the Rothschild family (or perhaps deep undercover because Google has never heard of them?). A Transcript of the email below: To: etourist From: Illuminati Brotherhood  Subject: Illuminati Broederschap (Illuminati Brotherhood) I am Hiltom Rothschild, a member of the Rothschild family, one of the 13 families of the Illuminati brotherhood. I'm here to let you know that you've come of age and are eligible to participate in building the 🌎 world. It is a calling and a privilege to honor him with pride and gratitude as not everyone will ever be chosen by the LIGHT, many are called but few are ch

Book Review: Brand It Purple by Ashley Knoote-Parke

Ashley Knoote-Parke. Image: Facebook It seems almost redundant to review  Brand It Purple  given you probably won't find a hard copy edition without digging into the second hand market. The book's author and publisher, Ashley Knoote-Parke, seemingly, disappeared off the face of the Earth around about 2015. Which is a story in itself. However, the book is still a very informative guide and, while not specifically targeted at women, many may relate more to a book written by an experienced female entrepreneur. Brand It Purple is a personal marketing and branding guide released in 2009 by then, star on the rise author, Ashley Knoote-Parke, an English born, South African expatriate, who made Adelaide, South Australia her home. There she started her own publishing company releasing a photographic, coffee table book of South Australian sights, along with books showcasing female, then male, entrepreneurs. As well she published 'Brand It Purple'. I came across the b

Is AI Art 'Art'? The Say NO to AI Art Movement, and Why Human Artists Will Adapt

AI Art No T-Shirt by TET Also available on other items . Right now there is a big debate over not just whether AI art is 'art' but whether AI's are actually ripping off the work of actual human artists, without their consent, to create their images - particularly images 'in the style of' specific artists. From my own observations this debate started to get more traction when artist's signatures began appearing in the output of AI Art  image generators. Is It Art? Cool Froyd the Cat Sketch by TET. My style is very much influenced by classic Disney and WB character styles. To get some clarity on how real human artists work (of which I am one)... we, that is all of us... take influences from the art that has come before. i.e. whatever artists we like, have studied, seen etc. we are influenced by. It shows up in our work, intentionally or not. If you really study my own cartoony art style you'll see I'm heavily influenced by early Disney and Warner Bros cart

Skateboarding @50+ Reigniting the Learn Kickflips Battle

My skate coach, Oscar dog. O ne of the things I'd like to do before I get too old to do much more than roll around on a skateboard is relearn kickflips. Not that I ever had them on lock. I maybe landed a flat ground stationary kickflip no more than a handful of times, and I only remember landing one rolling kickflip because I had it on video tape for a second (recording over it because I only had a few Video 8 cassette tapes back in the 90s). I actually had a higher chance of landing a kickflip into a trick, on a curb, than landing just a stationary kickflip. Kickflip to; 50-50, to blunt, backside kickflip to tail, and even kickflipping out of a blunt. None of which I had on lock nor can do currently. Getting back into skateboarding again, after a year's break to let my sore feet heal, I started to try kickflips again and discovered I'm actually closer than ever to landing them. I'm able to commit with both feet staying in the air as the board flips. As opposed to tryin