Think about Comic books, who’s the first superhero that comes to your mind? Its always been Superman. Since the day I could speak, since the day I could figure out things for myself, Superman had been a legend. A true SUPER-superhero, an icon of sheer courage, justice. Haven’t we all draped a towel on our back and pretended to be him. And then came the movies, the beloved Christopher Reeves’ Superman. It had been etched in my mind since then. The accompanying John Williams theme, Superman soaring through the chroma-keyed skies, the visuals stuck in my head even now. Thanks for Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns for unmaking a Superman fan out of me. On paper Superman Returns felt like a brilliant idea, people were already familiar with Superman’s origins and setting the stage for what could have been the best Superman movie sounded very good but lack of somethings made Superman Returns one of the worst Superman movies I could ever imagine. Fans have ever since yearned for a proper Superman reboot especially when Christopher Nolan had made the near-perfect Batman trilogy.
I was in ecstasy when I heard Nolans name linked with a new Superman reboot and at the same time I was a bit skeptic when Zack Synder’s name got attached to it as the director. Agreed, Zack Snyder is a talented director with his rep billowing with Watchmen, Dawn of The Dead and 300 but the same couldn’t be said about the ambitious-yet-disastrous Sucker Punch. David S Goyer & Christopher Nolan providing the story for the reboot came as a much needed relief.
Enter Man Of Steel, Zack Snyder’s take on Superman. I have to say by the time I walked outta the theater I had a smile on my face, I was glad it was way beyond my expectations, my suspicions regarding Zack Snyder washed off. Zack Snyder proves that he could handle both touching sequences as well as loud, insane action sequences with the same prowess. Henry Cavill drapes the cape here playing Kal-El/Clark Kent. Things like Clark Kent constantly in conflict with himself and his identity-masking issues was beautifully handled. A ton of credit also goes to Henry Cavill for being the best Superman since Christopher Reeves. He was both adorable and unstoppable as Clark Kent/Superman. Believe me this aint the Henry Cavill you’ve seen in The Immortals, he oozes that charm as well as the bravado that Superman needs. Believe me you’ll be rooting for him, clenching your seats in awe by the time he takes his first flight.
Man Of Steel’s first half was very emotional/touching, call it ‘butterflies in the tummy’ or ‘mere convulsions or heaves’ there were many touching scenes that did make you feel that lump in the throat. Seamless flashbacks were another thing I loved connecting Clark Kent’s present to his younger days. Kevin Costner, was just great as Jonathan Kent especially considering he’d got comparatively less screen time than Russel Crowe’s Jor-El. Costner’s Jonathan was very heartfelt and those handful of scenes he were in, he made it inevitably memorable. Tell me you didn’t gasp when Costner delivered that “You’ll always be my son!” dialogue. Tell me you didn’t feel your eyes getting wet during Jonathan’s ‘farewell’ scene. Diane Lane also brought forth that sincere motherly instinct that Martha Kent needed. Anyways coming back to Russel Crowe, he was just as bad-ass as his son, sharing around 45 minutes of screen-time, he had his fatherly moments as well action. Amy Adams as Lois Lane was, as always, a pleasure to be seen onscreen, fitting the role perfectly. I wasn’t convinced with her handling those alien guns btw.
Michael Shannon’s General Zod was way different than Terence Stamp’s. Where Terence’s Zod was more calm and scheming, Michael’s was in constant rage, in constant aggression and it was very well suited given his urgency to create a new Krypton and as we all know from Boardwalk Empire, there’s no one better than Shannon when it comes to showing rage. Then again Shannon wouldn’t be the talk of the day after you’ve seen Man OF Steel, unlike Heath Ledger’s Joker. Faora-Ul seemed much more lethal than General Zod. Where Zod has true motives to do villainous acts, Faora-Ul was just pure evil and Antje Traue, soon to be seen in Riddick, does it well.
Where the 1st and 2nd act promised true immersion the same couldn’t be said for the 3rd act which was squeezed, every inch, with action. But its not like Michael Bay-ish action where we couldn’t figure WTF was going on on-screen, in Man Of Steel, each punch Superman delivered could be felt. I’ve heard people complaining about the OTT action, but that’s what you get one when one super power meets another. This is Superman for chrissake what did you expect?
Man of Steel undoubtedly has a dark tone to it, I’d never seen a Superman movie this grim but I suppose it was to blend in with the current gen of superhero movies. The movie’s color palette had a vague blue-ish tint to it reminiscent of The Dark Knight and at times a dusky tone, it was very soothing to the eye. I watched this in IMAX and it was worth every penny especially towards the climactic battle I felt seats rumble, the sounds detonative. 3D was meh but there were some sequences where it did stand out.
I was bound to allot a separate paragraph for Hans Zimmer being the true hardcore fan I am. The John Williams’ theme was sorely missed but Zimmer’s score had the right recipe for a superhero blockbuster. Of course he’s no stranger to composing for superhero movies having composed for The Dark Knight trilogy. The movie wouldn’t have been the same without Hans Zimmer’s splendid score. Much before the movie’s release I was anticipating the OST release but it was delayed until the movie’s release. But what I heard in the previews and the Nokia trailer had me revved up for the movie. Zimmer’s composition here, I felt, wasn’t as varied as his previous works including The Dark Knight or The Dark Knight Rises, nonetheless he composed a steady stream of awe-inspiring tracks bringing the core theme of the movie to our ears… themes had consistent vibes of Hope, Heroism and it did sound awesome. Tracks which I loved came straight from the previews itself, “What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving the World?”, “I Will Find Him” & “Flight” stood out of the album.
Apart from all the pros there were indeed a few issues that I wasn’t too happy with. Visual Effects towards the finale were not entirely convincing, I don’t know if its me but I could clearly make out the CG counterparts from the real actors. Neither was I too into rapid cuts from one scene to another, it totally broke the continuation making myself as a viewer think “Did I miss something?”. And as I previously mentioned, the first half of the movie which I rooted for was a bit, if not entirely, not in sync with the second half of the movie. Multiple references to WTC, religious undertones and shameless product placements were unnecessarily added, I have no issues with it but making a Superman movie, a vessel to spread word sounded to me as cheesy. And lastly, amidst all those destruction and carnage I cant help but think about the human causalities. Superman was always supposed to be a savior to all not just his love interest.
All said, done and anathemised, Man Of Steel is not a movie to cash in on the superhero genre. It did meet a Superman fanboy’s expectation and as Jor-El said “You will give the people an ideal to strive towards” and that ideal could very well be a Justice League movie. Quoting once again, at one point Superman says about his glyph “It’s not an “S”,on my world it means “Hope”. It does bring hope to the Superman franchise long thought to be dead, comaparisons with Christopher Reeves’ Superman movies aside, Man of Steel is the definitive Superman for the new generation. Take a bow Henry Cavill/Zack Snyder team. Last year, almost at the same time, I remember I had bunked work to go for The Dark Knight Rises and I ended up watching it four times on the big screen. Man Of Steel is one of the best summer blockbusters and it does make me wanna see it more than once. What I Thought! was never about numbers but had I to give Man Of Steel a number it would be a solid 9.
Ah and talk about shameless self promotion, here’s something extra for the Superman fans out there. Its a wallpaper pack I’d designed in anticipation of Man Of Steel.