Review | Man of Steel

3.5

ManofSteel
The king’s new suit: Superman’s finest outfit yet

Unquestionably the most iconic superhero of all time, Superman is also a complicated figure to be dealt with work on film. His invulnerability is one of the main factors responsable for the public’s emotional deattachment with the character (just look to Batman, whose personality is much more accesible by the fact that Bruce Wayne is a human being), and that’s exactly what director Zack Snyder tried to fix with Man of Steel: the hero’s “human” side.

Following an idea from director Christopher Nolan, David Goyer’s script re-tells Superman (Henry Cavill)’s origin since the departure of his doomed planet Krypton, to his arrival on Earth. While learning to control his powers and uncover leads about his past, he’s is stalked by fierce journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and the ruthless General Zod (Michael Shannon), one of the remanescents of his kind that comes to Earth seeking to destroy it.

It’s nothing less than ironic that this new movie chooses to focus on Superman’s emotional side, proposing a much more realistic approach regarding his position in society, at the same time it embraces heavy doses of science fiction. Goyer goes deep on Krypton’s mythology (Alex McDowell’s production design impresses with the dark look and clear references to H.R. Giger’s work) and offers an intriguing alien tone to the hero, Zod and his tugs: the scene where the militar promves a global transmition claming that humans “are not alone” works surprisingly well for referencing grand movies about alien invasions. On that matter, the cinematography from iranian Amir Mokri best on a predominantly cold, dirty coloring and elegan flare lights (watch and learn, J.J. Abrams), while director Zack Snyder puts the slow motion aside to adopt the handheld cam technique during the entire film – a smart decision that allows him to explore the spectacular action scenes on a creative way.

Snyder and Goyer are also fortunate on the structure chosen to tell the hero’s origin. Even that the constant use of flashbacks breaks the linearity one can expect from a first movie, it plays well as an efficient way to narrate Clark’s development without simply copying 1978’s original movie (as was the major problem with The Amazing Spider-Man, heavily affected by the similarities with Sam Raimi’s trilogy) and by positioning each cut back in time with key points. Editor David Brenner is worthy of applause, since his work provides the movie an appropriate rhythm and even delivers creative scene transitions that can be funny, such as the scary “Alert” panel that reveals itsel as harmless printer demanding more toner cartridges.

What leaves us to protagnist Henry Cavill. Known for his work on TV series The Tudors, the british actor makes a great job with a Superman “on development” stage, full of doubts and far from becoming the kind, boy scout figure for which he is known (here, Clark even uses his habilities to get revenge from a stranger), and the lack of a clear sense of responsability: the hero practically destroys the city amid his epic battles. Also worthy of recognition are Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner for playing Clark’s patternal figures and Amy Adams and Diane Lane as strong, protective women (even if Adams didn’t really had to fire a gun to prove her guts). Last, by not least, Michael Shannon creates a memorable villain by providing real justifications for Zod’s destructive actions, even if his plan is a shameless copy from Sentinel Prime’s one in… Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Not good.

Man of Steel offers an interesting reboot for Superman. It doesn’t quite achieve the mark left by Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but represents a major step for DC Comics on the big screen, re-igniting the franchise of a character who simply shouldn’t be forgoten. We want more!

Obs: Watch out hard core DC fans: we have several easter eggs throughout the movie, wheter is a certain bald villain or a little small company called Wayne Enterprises.

Obs II: The 3D conversion is horrible.

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