Man of Steel pretty super
Many people are familiar with the origin of the oldest and most popular of super heroes, Superman. "Man of Steel" is Warner Bros. attempt to reboot the franchise so we start at the beginning. The origin told in "Man of Steel" runs along the same lines as "Superman" the 1978 film with Christopher Reeve as the title character. But "Man of Steel" decides not to skip over Superman’s earlier days when he was coming to terms with who he was and where he came from. Written by David S. Goyer ("Batman Begins," "Jumper") with the story being credited to Mr. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, who also produced "Man of Steel," we watch a young Clark Kent navigate his way through life with some freakish abilities that makes him odd and different. And, you know, kids can be cruel.
The genesis is the same. The planet Krypton is on its last legs. The scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is the only one prepared for the end. He builds a spacecraft and places his newborn son, Kal-El, in it and sets the coordinates for Earth. Knowing his race will be extinct, Jor-El places a genetic codex with Kal-El that contains the genetic code of the Kryptonian race. Meanwhile, General Zod (Michael Shannon) attempts a failed coup. He is arrested and banished to the Phantom Zone. When Krypton explodes General Zod and his cronies are freed. They begin their search of Kal-El and the genetic codex.
Director Zack Snyder ("300," "Watchmen") starts the story of Kal-El (Henry Cavill) on earth when he is a young man traveling the country taking odd jobs. Every once in a while he is forced to use his mysterious powers which are witnessed by the locals forcing him to move on to escape unwanted attention. Mr. Snyder intercuts segments of Kal-El’s youth with his Earth parents, Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), as he tries to contain his overwhelming super powers. We see his insecurity as a child but also the love and encouragement from his parents that make him the man he is to become.
This human side of the man who will become Superman was never explored before and makes for an intriguing story. When he finally understands who he is and his place on this world he puts on the suit and goes about doing good for the world. Of course we are in the twenty-first century and a man who can fly in a blue suit and cape with certain powers makes those responsible for our national security a little nervous. This is another interesting aspect about a modern day Superman that the filmmakers explore. In earlier stories his goodness is taken for granted.
The movie runs into trouble when General Zod finds his way to Earth. A battle between Zod and Superman is only inevitable and this is an action movie but the execution is poorly done. The fight itself is boring. Also, these two warriors have similar powers and the fight happens long enough that one begins to wonder whether it will ever end. You also realize how big Metropolis is. When the fight does conclude it is anti-climatic.
Mr. Reeve was cast as the original Superman in part for his resemblance toward the comic book character. Mr. Cavill doesn’t have the same impression but his acting covers a wider range. It helps to watch a man called Superman struggle with what to do with himself and although he isn’t human Mr. Cavill makes him so.