My movie review: ‘Man of Steel’ takes you into the suffering of Superman we rarely ever see

They actually referred to him as Superman only once throughout the entire film, shifting the focus away from his powers.

They actually referred to him as Superman only once throughout the entire film, shifting the focus away from his powers.

If you’re looking for a fantasy version of Superman, then Man of Steel is not the movie for you. If the romantic relationship between Superman and Lois Lane is what you’re hoping to rediscover in this film, you’re looking in the wrong place.

Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan, along with a powerful score from Hans Zimmer, gives us the Superman that we rarely see in mediums of years past. Instead of the joy and praise from the earth for their new savior, we venture into the tortured soul of an outsider looking to find his place in a world where he knows he doesn’t belong.

The focus of this film shifts away from the super powers that made him the Man of Steel. In fact, the best scenes from this movie comes from Clark’s upbringing in his hometown of Smallville with his earth parents Jonathan and Martha.

Trying to harness in his power, a young Clark wonders why he exists and how come he’s so different from everyone else in the world. It is from that early struggle in the life of Clark that opens up the relationship between a lost son and his adopted father.

Kevin Costner gives us an amazing performance as Jonathan Kent, a father who knows he has to say farewell in order for his son to find his true potential. It is with that father’s love we see the burden manifest inside Clark during his quest to find his identity.

Lois Lane’s part, played by Amy Adams, is also different from what we’ve seen from Lois in years past. They don’t meet in the newsroom of the Daily Planet in Metropolis. They first encounter each other as Clark struggles working at another dead-end job, this one as a gofer for the US military during a recovery mission of what appears to be an alien submarine. And maybe seeing Superman at his lowest point was what allows Lois to understand him better than himself.

No longer is Lois the affection of Superman’s heart, but instead she becomes the heartbeat of his self-discovery. The romantic relationship between the two is replaced with a fragile trust between two strangers borne out of fear and uncertainty. It isn’t ideal and it really isn’t very memorable, but in the big picture of this film, it was what he needed to survive.

Much like Superman films of the past, the story begins with the origin of Kal-el in Krypton, as he’s sent to earth from his birth parents to avoid death from a dying Krypton. Jor-el, Superman’s birth father, sacrifices his life to save his son — another wrinkle in Superman’s fabric and another burden he has to carry through in his life.

Even though Superman’s epic battle is with the fallen servant General Zod, the film’s highlight isn’t in its finality, rather it’s the journey to that showdown. Clark’s questioning of his existence, his power and purpose leads to his realization of why he is Superman. And ultimately, that’s what makes this film special. His biggest struggle is something we all have experienced before in our lives: finding acceptance.

This is the rare approach to the side of Superman since his creation in the late 1930s. But within this view, Superman is reborn in our eyes as not just this all-powerful hero. For the first time in a long time, we are reminded that he was raised as one of us and continually desires to belong with us.

And that’s why we continually draw ourselves toward him. He’s more like us than we seem to realize. This film tells us that story.

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And here are five thoughts that I couldn’t fit elsewhere in my review:

  1. This was the second time ever Kevin Costner has made me cry. His portrayal of a loving father, willing to sacrifice himself for the protection of his son, is something that got to me personally. What’s with Costner and these father-son relationship roles in movies that make me cry?
    (Also kudos to Diane Lane for her amazing portrayal of Martha Kent.)
  2. Speaking of Superman’s father, Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Jor-el isn’t as powerful as I would hope, but Jor-el’s presence in this film is way more expansive than previous Superman films. And because of that, his character gave an element of Superman that we too sometimes seem to forget.
  3. Michael Shannon’s Zod wasn’t as good as Terence Stamp’s version. However, this Zod’s conviction to overtake the world and capture the son of Jor-el is way more powerful than I was expecting. I really enjoyed this evil.
  4. I was asked to compare this movie to the Dark Knight trilogy by a friend and it was hard for me to come up with the answer. Much like the Dark Knight movies, this too was a dark film that tore into our souls and exposed our most inner fears. It’s incomparable in my opinion, but if you liked the Dark Knight trilogy and the emotion it evoked, I think Man of Steel will be right for you.
  5. I didn’t know a sequel would be in the works prior to watching the film. The final scene to me didn’t really set itself up for that. But in a very cheesy, geeky way to me, the final scene was kind of perfect. I look forward to what the next movie will bring us.

I’ll give this film 4 out of 5 stars. It’s different, but I like this kind of different. I think I’m going to watch it again this Friday. But probably not in 3D. 3D was good, but it didn’t enhance the film. It was just a nice add-on.

5 thoughts on “My movie review: ‘Man of Steel’ takes you into the suffering of Superman we rarely ever see

  1. My reference to the BAMF moment is when *SPOILER ALERT* Superman snaps Zod’s neck. Uhh… last time I checked, Supes doesn’t kill people — especially in such a violent manner (proper use of an emdash?).

    On a geekier note, did you notice Bruce Wayne’s satellite up in space? And what about Major Carrie Ferris, the assistant to General Swanwick? Could she be THE Carol Ferris via Coast City’s own GL? Lastly, all of the Lexcorp trucks, but that should be the most obvious one for a tie-in.

    I am a fan of the Bat, but if we can expect more badassery from the boy in blue, I will be very excited for a much-more-epic-than-the-Avengers Justice League movie. #fingerscrossed #WBdontscrewthisup

    • Ohhh… that BAMF. I don’t know if it’s not the boy scout version of him, but then again, Zod isn’t people. And yes, that emdash looks to be in the right place.

      Yes I did. You know, I don’t know what they’re hinting at. They could just be doing it to give us geeks a little giddy. I do know that the second movie is already in the works, so they might have a chance to tie in all the current cast members for it.

      I just like the fact that our superheroes are more human in a way, they deal with bigger things. It works and it fits our generation. I am #hopeful the sequels do it right.

      • 2nd film was green-lit sometime last week and if this one does well, David Goyer will be penning the JLA movie. Also, what did you think of the Jesus undertones in this movie?

        As long as the men currently at the helm of WB’s superhero franchises, I think we’re going to be in great shape with the JLA finally hitting the silver screen in 2016.

        I personally want to see a Flash movie. I also would not mind a Wonder Woman one either… for 2 obvious reasons. O_O

      • I think they’re booked for the sequel and JLA, so I think we are good there. This one didn’t flop so I think we will have a string of some goodies to come.

        Flash… Ah-AHHHH. Savior of the universe!!!!

      • As for the Jesus thing, well, people for years have found similarities between Superman and Jesus. this was cheesy, but I liked it

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