Man of Steel
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Just watched the latest Superman movie, Man of Steel, last night. The movie was directed by Zack Snyder, and starred Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. Russell Crowe played Jor El, Kal El’s father. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner played the Kents, the couple who adopted our hero upon finding him on Earth.
The movie focused on the journey that the main character takes into becoming Superman. The focus is solely on that journey, so we don’t get to see much of “Clark Kent” here, which was a disappointment. I came away from the movie largely unimpressed with the directing and the lackluster story, but I am always hoping that Hollywood will get it right the next time around.
The movie begins with the fall of Krypton and a civilization doomed to die due to its own mistakes. Jor El sends off his son and the codex of their race in the hope that their people will live on through his son on another planet. At the same time, Zod attempts a military coup, but is defeated and banished into the phantom zone. While Clark lands on Earth and begins his life there, Zod and his people are freed by the destruction of Krypton and begin their decades long search for the codex and Kal El.
We then flash forward to a grown up Clark, who has run away form home and is working on a fishing boat. We get that he is out here to discover himself and find his place on this planet. Clark is inept at fishing, but is at the right place at the right time to save men on an ocean oil rig as it explodes. He then comes out of the ocean to work at a diner, which he then leaves and somehow arrives in some snowy region in Canada (?) as the US Air Force and sundry others find a Kryptonian ship. While Clark is exploring the ship, he has his first “real” encounter with Lois Lane, who is there doing a story on that find. Clark saves Lois, drops her in a discoverable location and takes off with the ship. As he spends time in the ship, he meets a remnant of his father, learns of the doomed history of Krypton and his own destiny in the shape of his suit and what the “S” means on that suit. (It means hope).
Lois Lane does not give up on finding out about her mysterious rescuer. She actually uses her deductive powers and her interviewing skills to go looking for him. She ends up tracing him all the way to Smallville, and Clark comes out of hiding long enough to tell her that he hides his identity because he does not know how the people of Earth will react to his presence. He reveals to Lois that he let his own father die because his father signaled to him to not use his powers. We get a flashback of Jonathan Kent dying during a tornado, sacrificing himself rather than allowing his son to reveal his secrets to the world. Throughout the movie we have seen flashbacks of younger Clarks saving a bus full of kids, bending a fence pole rather than fighting back, all so he can hide his secret. Up until the end, his father told him to hide himself until it was the “right” time. Lois leaves, deciding on keeping Clark’s secret from the world.
General Zod and his band of officers come to Earth, discovering that Kal El was there when he activated the ship and the ship sent out a beacon. They demand Kal El’s surrender. Zod promises that if Earth turns over the alien, he will leave. Clark thinks about it and surrenders himself and enters their ship with Lois Lane. It is there we find out that Zod plans on adapting this world to create a habitat for Kryptonians. The end result being that humanity will die so that the Kryptonian race can thrive. We also discover that the codex for the entire Kryptonian race is in Kal El’s blood, and Zod plans on killing him and harvesting his blood. Clark and Lois Lane escape, with Jor El’s help and the two return to Earth to plan a way for saving Earth based on what Jor El has revealed.
The American military and Superman eventually work together to save humanity by sending Zod’s people back to the phantom zone. Superman is forced to kill Zod to stop him, but does not like having to do that.
Lois Lane and Superman kiss.
We then see Superman begin work at the Daily Planet as Clark Kent.
The movie wasn’t well made. While we were watching the movie, my brother said that this director was well known for creating “pretty” movies but nothing more. I tend to agree.
The use of flashbacks and use of cutaways/time skips to different scenes was disorienting. Additionally, the dreamlike quality of this movie did not fit what it actually was. This was a superhero movie, and they have their own charms. I did not enjoy getting the story piecemeal and out of chronological order. Not when I wasn’t expecting it. The idea to skip those iconic scenes of the discovery, and Clark’s Smallville life and relationship with his parents being thrown in haphazardly took away from the viewing experience. Jonathan Kent dying in a tornado when he could have been saved was ridiculous! What son would let his father die only so his own secret could be protected? No one. Especially not the man who becomes Superman.
The story they did choose to focus on, namely what happened on Krypton, was interesting for the most part. But I think the scene where Lara stands at the edge of her home and watches her world self-destruct around her is a powerful one. Here’s a woman who has been left behind by both of the males in her life, not by choice mind you, but left nonetheless . . . and I can just imagine how frightened she must have felt. The grief she must have been suffering for those lost and the hope in her heart for the son that might yet survive. That is one moment that tends to stand out in my mind.
I also really like Clark Kent, and I wanted there to be more of the Clark Kent that we all know and love, rather than Superman’s journey. But regardless, I did like the Superman that we ended up. Initially, this mopey Clark wasn’t too enjoyable to watch, especially because we didn’t know why he was so depressed. The Superman he becomes I guess is a bit more charismatic of a Superman but we hardly get to enjoy this version when all of the action starts. This Superman also kills. When Zod is killed by Superman, I was okay with it because in this darker world, some people needed to be killed. After all of the damage, deaths and sacrifice that the movie showed, I don’t think it would have been enough to neutralize a threat that really cannot be neutralized. Zod would have always been a threat. That darker aspect of this movie was acceptable, but I still wanted to see more of Clark Kent.
Amy Adams made a capable Lois Lane. Initially, I was uncomfortable with her being chosen because she doesn’t look like Lois Lane, but I grew to like her. I also liked that she actually used her brains to figure out who this mysterious man was! That has never happened. I did think that the romance between the two moved too fast, but then again when has Lois Lane ever been slow to fall in love with Superman?
We didn’t get to see enough of Perry White and we didn’t see Jimmy. The movie seemed too slow at some bits but also went by too fast, if that makes any sense. I guess I have been spoiled by watching dramas/shows and need that longer format to fully enjoy a story.
The movie was an okay watch, but it could have been better. It was still better than the 2006 Superman Returns, in which we had Brandon Routh’s Superman and a story that made me fall asleep.
I still have hopes for the next one! 🙂