YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Man of Steel Warner Brothers
"You have to keep this side of yourself a secret."
"What was I supposed to do? Let them die?"
"You have to decide what kind of man you want to be, son. Whoever that man is, he is going to change the world."
Warner Brothers Man of Steel is a full-length prequel to all other Superman films, devoting its two-plus hours to the backstory of the caped crusader who leaped skyscrapers in a single bound as the star of DC Comics, numerous short subject serials, television shows, and those many movies over his 80-year lifespan as a cultural hero.
Ever since Achilles, Ulysses, Jason, Beowulf, and King Arthur strapped on their broadswords and set out to battle whatever the current avatar of evil might have been, people have loved their super heroes. And Director Zach Snyder and screenplay writer Christopher Nolan check all the classic hero boxes here, beginning with a special birth as Kal-El, the only naturally born baby in planet Krypton's recent history, cast forth, Moses-like, in a protective spacepod as an ecological Armageddon destroys his parents and planet. Taken in and guided by wise surrogate parents, suffering from the burden of his abilities (x-ray vision and super hearing can be a drag in school), scorned by the usual brainless peers, an itinerant laborer/knight errant, drifting from one menial job to another, saving the odd victim, while coming to grips with the meaning of his unusual powers, Kal/Clark follows a familiar path. As a oil rig roustabout, Clark Kent saves the crew from an massive explosion and floats, in crucifixion pose deep in the ocean, (presumably breathing underwater in a nod to Rick Riordan's demigod Percy Jackson) long enough to escape being identified as the savior who walked through fire.
Enter perky Lois Lane, this time a sturdy blonde, a young reporter who accidentally witnesses another superhuman rescue. Lane's editor seems to believe her story but refuses to print it, which only goads Lois to use her journalistic skills to track down the illusive hero and confront him with her research going back to the teenaged Clark's rescue of a submerged school bus and with it the beefy bully who tormented him back in Kansas.
Meanwhile, back in Krypton, or rather, frozen aboard a Kryptonian prison spacecraft, General Zod zooms in on Earth as a possible new Eden for the homeless Kryptonian culture. And poor Clark, who possesses all the corporate DNA of Krypton in his body, is the lure which leads Zod and his minions to Earth's atmosphere. Blacking out the worldwide grid, Zod takes over everyone's electronic devices, from home TVs to iPhones, with his ominous message:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Having received The Charge from his foster father, the mature Clark Kent ultimately has to make The Choice, between the survival of as-yet unborn Kryptonians (Zod makes it clear they take no prisoners) or the survival of the humans on his adopted planet. Clark the drifter is reborn as Superman the superhero savior.
For pre-teens who love seemingly-never-ending explosions and superhuman fights to the death, the last third of the movie will be perfect. For the rest of the moviegoers, it's a time to put in earplugs and zone out until the dust settles and Clark and Lois fall into each other's arms. Bold hearts do win fair maidens--at the old cineplex anyway, and The Kiss promises a sequel to this prequel.
Personally, I miss the old Superman from the last century--the one who looked like he was having the time of his life, tossing carloads of gaggling gangsters into space and quipping while he crushed locomotives and stopped airliners dead in flight, not to mention his old nemesis, Lex Luthor, who also seemed to be having a heck of a lot more fun than the snarly Zod. Even Superman's costume is all drabbed down, his cape a dull red and his physique-modeling bodysuit a dusty gray-blue, and actor Henry Cavill is going to require advanced cosmetic restoration on the frown lines he appears to have acquired in this role. About the only real humor in the film comes in under 200 decibels in the last couple of minutes with a nice bit of camp, in which Clark dons office garb and his retro-black-rimmed glasses and is introduced as the new intern to his mentor, Lois Lane, who wryly dead-pans that subtly layered last line, "Welcome to the Planet!
It's not a bad summer film if you crave your summer portion of brain-numbing mayhem and ear-splitting volume which flattens some unfortunate city and mostly overshadows any meaningful moments. As supercritic Christopher Orr puts it, "Man of Steel" is an audacious undertaking, a stylistic and thematic mash-up of Avatar, The Matrix, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Independence Day, The Thing, Thor, and (especially) Bryan Singer's X-Men films. What is open to question—and I confess to finding myself uncharacteristically ambivalent on the subject—is whether the resulting heavyweight summer blockbuster is very much fun." (The Atlantic, June 14.)
Man of Steel lasts two hours and twenty-three minutes and is ranked PG-13 for violence.
Labels: "Man of Steel" Movie Reviews