HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Man of Steel
HTS Overall Score:91
Superman is one of the oldest and most well-loved superheroes in all of comic book history. He has been an American icon for almost a full century and along with Batman, is the most popular of DC’s lineup. With the rash of super hero origin stories floating around it was only a matter of time until the Man of Steel got his chance at a reboot. With a mediocre showing for Brandon Routh’s “Superman Returns”, we get a story that takes us back to the drawing board and revists Kal-El’s first outing, but with a much different flair. With Zack Snyder at the helm directing you can be assured of a visual stunner here, the man can’t do a film that ISN’T engorged with fantastic visuals. Also with Christopher Nolan co-writing and producing you can also expect some of the dark, gritty “realism” that Nolan likes to employ in his films. With the wildly kinetic Zack Snyder and the reserved and cerebral Nolan behind him you can expect a film that is unique, and unfortunately a bit of an up and down ride.
Instead of starting with Clark/Kal-El’s (Henry Cavill) young days, start out with Jor-El (Russell Crowe) trying to talk some sense into the ruling body of Krypton, begging them to escape the dying planet while they still can. Realizing that it’s useless Jor-El steals the coded, a dna encode for the ENTIRE planet of Krypton (It appears that natural birth is a thing of the past and that every Kryptonian is genetically created in a lab to serve a purpose on Krypton), and runs off with and sends it with his newborn son Kal-El on an escape vector from Krypton. Kal-El barely escapes the planet, with the brutal General Zod hot on his tail. Zod (Michael Shannon) has been staging a coup on the planet and wants that Codex that Jor-El stole from the council. Killing Jor-El in a failed attempt to retrieve the codex he is captured by the loyalists and sentenced to eternal damnation in the phantom zone.
Fast forward to a young Clark Kent, grown up and struggling to deal with his powers, he moves from place to place, working blue collar jobs until sooner or later he’s forced to display his powers helping people and moves on to protect his identity. This attracts the gaze of one Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who is determined to find this mystery savior. Tracking him down to Antarctica she is privy to him finding a crashed Kryptonian ship (which becomes his fortress of Solitude) and subsequently spies a glimpse into the truly alien nature of Kal-el. Throughout the film the only glimpses we see of Clark’s childhood is through flashbacks, little glimpses into that past that act as exposition rather than spending half of the movie watching the young days of Superman in Smallville. To make matters worse, it appears that General Zod has escaped the Phantom zone and come searching for the codex. Holding Earth hostage, he demands Kal-El give himself up or he’ll destroy Earth. Clark/Kal-El sees that even if he gives himself up Zod is not to be trusted, but being the man that his parents taught him to be, he surrenders himself in hopes that Zod will leave. Once Zod’s duplicitousness is clear it’s all-out war between the renegade Kryptonian’s and Earth’s mightiest warrior.
I was REALLY stoked when I saw the trailers for “Man of Steel”. “Superman Returns” was all right, but I was looking forward to a new take on the oldest super hero in the books. I was really impressed with how ALIEN they made the Kryptonians. In the past they seemed very human with just shiny outfits, but here the culture, the art, the way of thinking, it’s all definitely alien to our modern culture, giving Clark a really unique dual loyalty. Part of his being is Kryptonian by nature, but the other half is a direct result of his upbringing by Martha (Diane Lane) and Jonathon (Kevin Costner) Kent. Not only that the mythology of Supes is toyed with and changed around a lot with his introduction to Lois and the Fortress of Solitude. No longer the ice crystals in the North Pole we have an alien space craft that is hidden up there to act as the fortress and his training grounds. Not only that Jor-El’s hologram presence is embellished a lot and given a lot more presence in the film (although that’s not exactly a bad thing since Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Jor-El is one of the film’s highlights for me). Now what brings the film up and down on a roller coaster ride of good and bad is the film’s uneven nature between action oriented super hero and angst ridden melodrama. There are some fantastic sequences of action thanks to the loving hand of Zack Snyder and then there’s times where you can see Nolan’s writing coming through. I’m a fan of the old superman so this new angst ridden superman tends to be a bit weary. I was tired of it by the end of Nolan’s Batman series and it rides across into this one as well. I’m all for a bit of darkness to a film, but many times we want to see Superman leaping tall buildings in a single bound and saving some poor human without wondering why Clark is torn up emotionally etc. the film seesaws between great action pieces and some chuckle worthy humor only to have him moping about later in the film and remember how he couldn’t save his dad (which was a cringe worthy scene logic wise).
Now I’m going to say something that may come as a shock to some people, but sometimes there can be TOO much action in a film. With the third act there comes a giant 40 minute long battle between Zod’s forces and Kal-El that just goes on…and on…and on… and “oh my goodness look at the time. It’s STILL going on”? By the end of the major battle I was holding my head in my hands going “wait! They’re STILL going at it?” the mess and noise of the final act may be off putting to some and has created QUITE a controversy over this superman’s caring about collateral damage (some of the controversy quite justified in my opinion). However there is one absolutely beautiful easter egg/scene in the film where Kal-El is about to destroy the world machine and you see a fantastic CGI shift/waver where Christopher Reeves face replaces Henry Cavill’s face for just the barest of seconds (it actually looks a LOT cooler than it sounds on paper) that is simply stunning and tear inducing. It completely brought back that happy feeling as a child when I grew up watching Christopher Reeves playing the iconic hero.
Now the film is one that is going to split audiences. Many of the fans of old may have issues with the licenses given to the mythology and some of the character changes, while the newer fans, of fans of the 52 reboot series may have a better time with it. I’m not one of the rabid fans who hate everything about the “Man of Steel”, but I’m not in the camp that loved it either. It had its good points, and it had it’s bad points and unfortunately it was either really good, or really bad so my score kind of hovers in the middle. It had a lot of potential and was still a solid flick, but some of the angsty parts drew the film down a lot and hampered my enjoyment of the film.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13637[/img]Did you really think that one of the biggest Warner Brothers films of the year was going to have a subpar transfer? Warner gives us a beautifully done 2.39:1 AVC encode for the 2 and a half hour super hero epic. As with most films of today there has been some heavy color grading to the film. The beginning of the film in Krypton is saturated in browns and yellows while the earth scenes are covered in deep icy blues and greys, giving it a rather bleak look. The CGI is present throughout the film is copious and almost perfectly seamless. Every once in a while some of the CGI shots look a bit soft, but that is completely natural when you’re trying to blend real life with green screen effects. Snyder shot the movie on actual film stock instead of going digitally so we have a very nice, natural layer of grain covering the entire film, giving it that raw, earthy look that so many digital films can’t replicate. Contrast is spot on and I had no complaints with the skin tones. The detail throughout the film is mind-blowingly excellent with copious shots of nature and close ups that are equally jaw dropping. Superman’s leathery, scale like suit so beautifully textured and Henry Cavill’s razor burn is easily scene (which begs the question. How DOES superman shave? Kryptonian razor blade?). Black levels are exquisite and show just as much detail as the lighter scenes. Overall a fantastic transfer by Warner Brothers. Bravo, bravo.
“Man of Steel” wasn’t a natural 3D film, as one would have hoped, but rather a post converted 3D film. This isn’t to say that post converted films can’t do some decent 3D, but usually they do suffer from the conversion. Here the results are mixed, the opening Krypton scenes are done beautifully, but after that the 3D effects kind of peter out and are less copious. Even when they are there, the 3D just isn’t that immersive, with only a few scenes of true added depth and dimensionality to the picture. Overall I would say it was just fairly lackluster in the 3D department and not something to be used as a buying incentive in this release.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13638[/img]Now the audio for the “Man of Steel” is no slouch either. You can literally feel the commanding presences that the 7.1 DTS-HD MA track DEMANDS from the moment you pop the disc in with the opening score. The LFE makes its presence known from the get go and doesn’t let up the entire film. Powerful and a juggernaut of a track it’s aggressive, but not overpowering, which is a nice feature. LFE is powerful, but never bloated and roaring in your ears. Dialogue is crisp and clean, but still forceful along the front soundstage, and the surrounds, oh boy the surrounds are engaged right out of the starting gate and never let up till the end of the film. I can’t say enough good things about this track. It’s well balanced, and powerful, yet never so aggressive that it becomes an annoyance. Simple fantastic from beginning to end.
• Strong Characters, Legendary Roles
• All Out Action
• Krypton Decoded
• Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short
• Journey of Discovery: Creating "Man of Steel"
• Planet Krypton
Now as I mentioned earlier, this film has been highly polarizing among fans, and is definitely one that I HIGHLY recommend that you see for yourselves. The movie made almost a billion dollars and was so loved on one end and so hated on the other that it’s literally IMPOSSIBLE for me to not recommend watching it. Even if you end up not liking the movie as much as you like I can guarantee that you will be in for one explosive roller coaster of a ride. With the stunning audio and visual presentation of the film you can be assured that this will be one of the next demo discs available, add in a solid disc worth of special features and you have a must watch if you haven’t seen the film, and a certain MUST BUY if you have an enjoyed it.
Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: David Goyer, Christopher Nolan
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 148 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Nov 12th, 2013
Own "Man of Steel" on Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and Digital Download
Buy Man of Steel 2D Combo Pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Man of Steel 3D Combo Pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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