So, Man of Steel has finally been watched. After months of anticipation that had my hairs standing on the back of my neck, I finally attained closure from all the excitement after the end credits started to roll. And boy, what a huge payoff Man of Steel has been for all that time I had invested in getting involved with the film.
When a Superman reboot was announced with Zack Snyder at the helm and Christopher Nolan producing it, there was always a question of whether the darkness and realism that was found in Nolan's Batman universe will be married to Snyder's grandiose visuals. Would Clark Kent stumble his way before he finds his true purpose, much like how Bruce Wayne did? It was never an easy task for the makers to have the audience relate emotionally with Superman, an alien from another planet who keeps to himself for the fear of being labeled a freak. We have after all known him to be a flamboyant ass-kicker who breaks sound barriers, and has X-ray vision. But behind all those superhuman strengths lies a confused, tormented soul that just wants to belong.
My knowledge of the Superman comics were limited to Lex Luthor, his arch nemesis, Clark Kent his alter ego, Metropolis the city where he lives, and Lois Lane who is Clarke's love interest. And that "S" on his vest which was for Superman, or so I thought.
But David S Goyer and Christopher Nolan have made sure that non-Superman fans do not feel out of place. Heroes are for everyone, you do not have to be a comic book geek to stake claim for the love of a colossal comic book figure.They give us a quick introduction on the circumstances under which Kal-El (Supes' Krypton name) was born. A natural birth in centuries in his ravaged planet Krypton, that is now under threat from General Zod, an anarchist who has the noble intention of saving his planet and its people, but only through violent ways.
To help his son have a better life, Jor-El sends away his newborn in a space cradle to planet earth where he is raised by humble farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent, the emotional core of the movie, who ingrain a sense of morality into a teenage Clark. Some of the best scenes in the movie are where Clark tries to come to terms with who he really is, whilst being guided by the genial Jonathan Kent, a salt of the earth kind of man. Probably the scene that feels like a punch to the guts is the one where a young Clark Kent holds himself back and looks on helplessly because it is not time yet to reveal his true self to the world.
Being a movie about the Granddaddy of all superheroes, the action set pieces do full justice in making the movie feel larger than life. From one jaw-dropping action sequence to another, the movie shifts gears to full-on action mode in the second half. While the first half was all about setting up Superman's ideals, and him choosing his way of life, the latter half shows him taking full flight. Snyder is a past master in directing unreal action scenes, we have seen enough of those in 300 and in Watchmen. In Man of Steel he brings his A-game to the table in the large scale mass destruction that takes place right after the lights go down post interval.
Buildings are reduced to rubble, men break through walls punching each other, choppers and fighter planes are swatted to the ground like they were flies. There might be an overdose of action, more than what the eyes can take at times, also, it may seem to have stretched the run-time. Yet, it would be foolish to expect realistic action sequences when it's a fistfight going on between men from a different planet. All the time that was spent in building the drama and setting up the high stakes finally comes to an end with a whirlwind of an action sequence that leaves you gasping for breath.
Zack Snyder sure knows how to make a blockbuster, with stunning visuals of course! He is ably supported by his writers who add an emotional depth to the story, without which MoS would be seem like one of Marvel's facades in the name of a superhero film. Hans Zimmer's pulse pounding background music is as good as The Dark Knight, and ably compliments the action sequences. The intensity of the soundtrack leaves your spine tingled, complementing the grandeur in the visuals that make you jump out of your seat. And the scene where we first see Clark Kent walking out as Superman, that would give goosebumps to anybody !
Henry Cavill is not the Superman of the Christopher Reeves' mold, he seldom smiles nor does he give witty repartees which has been the reason for many a critics to gripe. We are introduced to a humanoid with an identity crisis, with him having found his feet we may see a lighter version of Superman in the forthcoming sequels. Michael Shannon, however is brilliant as the megalomaniac Zod, armed with a motive that you would support only if he weren't attacking our own people, Shannon is menacing and a worthy adversary to Superman. Russell Crowe with an impeccable Brit accent is a solid Jor-El, who educates Kal-El on the planet to which he owes his roots, and is the guiding light in Superman's quest to defeat Zod. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane pitch in with dignified restraint performances as the Kent couple, never sounding melodramatic nor too preachy. Amy Adams as Lois Lane has a poorly written role, and is a cliche as the seemingly independent yet starry-eyed go-getter who conveniently falls for the hunk who saves the world, yet gives an earnest performance.
The "S" in the Superman logo stands for "Hope", having given new life to a superhero, on whom we had given up all hope of seeing on the big screen after the previous debacle in 2006, the "S" in the Krypton glyph may as well stand for Snyder.