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The Man of Steel: A Review

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Man of Steel is the best sort of movie and the rarest sort as well, in that, it creates an expectation and then completely meets it. I wanted a Superman that I liked and could root for, unlike the misanthrope from Superman Returns. (BTW, two people that cannot be blamed in any, way shape or form for that travesty. Brandon Routh and Parker Posey.)

I’ve heard it described as the greatest superhero movie ever. Preposterous. Spiderman 2 is quite nearly flawless. On a visceral level, nothing will ever match The Dark Knight. But this is a way better movie than I hoped it would be.

Man of Steel  was hatched from the Nolan-Goyer writing team. Goyer is a comic book encyclopedia, but he’s been responsible for reprehensible films like Blade: Trinity, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Unborn, and The Crow: City of Angels. This is a list of films that should be read during a trial at the Hague.

When he collaborates? Alex Proya’s Dark City. Nolan’s Batman Franchise.

The further the degrees of separation between Goyer and the finished product, the better the results. Superman has fewer degrees of Goyer-ration than the Batman movies, and it shows. This is a silly movie, played very straight.

But that works for Superman. Superman has consistently headed a silly, silly book over the decades, and this movie understands that. At one point, a world destroying machine spews tentacles from its core, and I never batted an eyelash. The entire beginning on Krypton played like an Avatar sequel. Russell Crowe seems to be as miscast here as he was in Les Mis. It doesn’t matter.

Still, Zach Snyder is a better director visually than Nolan. And Man of Steel has the greatest action scenes in the history of superhero movies. Man of Steel has a healthy dollop of Superman 2 obviously, and the action is bottom heavy, but when it happens, its incredible. If you watched the recent Justice League Unlimited cartoons there were probably moments where you wished you could see those sorts of fights in a real movie.

Well now you can.

The plot is rather straightforward. We begin on Krypton, with one major tweak in the Superman mythos. Krypton is a rigid republic, and children are not born naturally, but specifically crafted for their role in society. Kal El is the first naturally born child in centuries, but no one can really focus on it because Krypton is falling apart.

The only man that cares is General Zod, in a magnificent performance by the great Michael Shannon. (The greatest flaw of this film is that it gives Zod no screen time and nothing to do. When you look at the great action/superhero films, there was a dominating villain that was an opposing force.)

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The rest you know, the baby comes to Earth, where he is raised by Kevin Costner and… and … Diane Lane. (I didn’t know it was her until the credits rolled, and then I got the same feeling I got when I saw Karen Allen in the Perfect Storm, or Linda Hamilton in pretty much anything. Jesus!)

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His powers make him an outcast wherever he goes, a bit done much better than in Superman Returns. Also, he is stalked by Lois Lane, who for the first time in human history is a decent reporter and quickly figures out that he’s Superman by simply following up on every lead about him.

Zod and his crew survive because they were imprisoned in the Phantom Zone and the two meet up. Everyone fights. Superman puts on tights. Everyone fights some more, in the most spectacular fashion.

Everything that you wanted to happen or see happened in this movie. I cannot think of anything better to say than that.

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