Saturday, June 15, 2013

In Theatres: Man of Steel (2013)

As Superman marks his 75th anniversary this year, it is also the 35th anniversary of his first feature film in the modern era. The biggest question awaiting the release of "Man of Steel" was, simply, could it fit in with the first two of the late Christopher Reeve's four movies as Superman?

The answer, as of today, is yes.

Director Zack Snyder ("300", "Watchmen") sends us spinning back and forth between the present and various points in the life of Kal-El, aka Clark Kent. Co-producer & co-author Christopher Nolan, fresh off his Bat-trilogy, took more creative liberties with the familiar mythos. While we all know that Jor-El (Russell Crowe, in one of his best performances) and Lara died with the destruction of Krypton, Nolan and co. would have us believe that Jor-El was slain at the hand of mad General Zod (Michael Shannon), while Lara remained alive long enough to send the rocket bearing her son into deep space before her world went boom.

In Nolan's vision, Clark Kent took on a number of odd jobs before settling down, inevitably, at the Daily Planet. A little weird, I know, but that's why they invented creative license, or so it'd seem.

Not all of the familiar supporting cast is present. No Jimmy Olsen (yet). No Lex Luthor (though I would hazard a guess we'll see him in the next film). We are told that Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) was killed when he sacrificed himself in the path of a tornado tearing through Smallville. Meh, whatever.

The scenes with a now ghostly Jor-El, first with Clark, then with Lois Lane (Amy Adams), will recall the "Star Wars" movies after Obi-Wan Kenobi was killed off. Zod and his followers had been banished to the Phantom Zone, but were released when Clark began to learn his true origins. That sets up a series of battles, including one that recalls the climatic fight in "Thor" 2 years ago between the Thunder God and the Destroyer. More small town destruction? Yeah, anything to justify the money spent. Whatever.

As Zod, Michael Shannon is a worthy menace, but not on the order of Terence Stamp, who achieved icon status with his portrayal in "Superman 2" 32 years ago. He's a pompous, obsessive-compulsive despot who was, get this, bred to be a warrior in service to Krypton. He just didn't get it. With Krypton having been destroyed while he was in the Phantom Zone, Zod really has nothing left to fight for, other than a misguided belief that he can recreate Krypton at Earth's expense.

As for the rest of the casting, well, we are in an age where one iconic hero was recast by his own publisher as African-American, and in a coincidental twist of fate, the model for his new look was cast to play him in the movies (Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury). So, the producers figured, let's try something different with one of Superman's closest allies. And, so, you get Laurence Fishburne (ex-CSI) as Perry White. The only thing disturbing about that is the ear piercing. Next thing you know, some genius at DC will write a story that has ol' Perry getting his ear pierced for the first time, just for the sake of doing so and conforming to what was in the movie. Not that it's really needed, but when has common sense ever stopped some of today's creative types, hmm? Unsung hero award goes to Christopher Meloni (ex-Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) as Colonel Hardy, who's won over by the "strange visitor from another planet" by the end of the movie, so I suspect we'll see him in a sequel somewhere.

From WB's YouTube Channel comes this recent trailer:

And speaking of trailers, we had these at the theatre where I watched "Man of Steel":

"The Butler": Forest Whitaker heads an all-star ensemble that includes Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., & Robin Williams.
"Paranoia"-with Harrison Ford.
"Despicable Me 2"-with Steve Carell (ex-The Office), Russell Brand, and Kirsten Wiig (ex-Saturday Night Live).
"The Lone Ranger"-Armie Hammer is the Masked Man, and Johnny Depp gets top billing as a war-painted Tonto.
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"-Peter Jackson's latest is due in December.
"300: Rise of an Empire"-due in March 2014.
"Turbo"-From the folks behind "Kung Fu Panda" & "Madagascar" comes the tale of a super-fast......snail. Voice talent includes Ryan Reynolds & Snoop Dogg (nee Snoop Lion).

So, I ask again. Was "Man of Steel" worth it? Yep.

Rating: B.


Samuel Wilson said...

I think I saw the same movie today, and from what I saw I don't think we'll be seeing Meloni in a sequel.

hobbyfan said...

Maybe not in the same role, but I could've sworn he survived.

magicdog said...

I've heard good things about this film, and I may be tempted to go to the theatres to see it.

So much of current cinema stinks so badly it's rare for me to buy a ticket when I can see it on cable.

I don't think Despicable Me needed a sequel but it probably will be harmless. I hear a third film is in the works focusing on the minions.

The Lone Ranger I dread. Everybody whines about depiction of Tonto in the old TV series, but the remedy is to have Johnny Depp wear a bird on his head? INSANITY! Here's hoping it will be better than the 1981 adaptation (remember that clunker??).

hobbyfan said...

32 years and counting, and I've not seen Legend of the Lone Ranger. Depp's known for playing eccentric characters, and I too cringe at his Tonto. I never complained about Jay Silverheels, though.

Didn't see Despicable Me, but may rent before seeing the sequel. The one trailer I forgot was Matt Damon's latest, Elysium. Just as well, as it sounds too deep for most people.