Man of Steel - Review
Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is its own enemy because of how much it attempts to pack within itself. David S. Goyer’s & Chris Nolan’s writing ensures that the film feels different from a regular superhero flick for the most, while Snyder executes the action to perfection. The films looks and feels great, but falls shy of being memorable because it tries too hard to be just that. Worth a shot on the big screen, but set your expectations right.
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Such a pity that most home video manufacturers prefer to make single-disc DVDs today, packing the film as well the special features into one disc. Luckily, the Man of Steel DVD has no such shortcuts. Packed in a nicely designed outer jacket that has the same illustration as the DVD case, the Man of Steel DVD is a two-disc pack, with, obviously, the film on one disc and the special features on the other.
The film itself is likely to have quite a few takers to have as a part of their DVD collection, but some excellent features on the second disc is what truly makes the Man of Steel DVD interesting. The first is an insightful 25-minute featurette titled 'Strong Characters, Legendary Roles' - which talks to the cast and crew about recreating some of the iconic characters from American - and indeed, world - pop culture for this film; how Superman, Lois Lane, General Zod and the likes have been reimagined, while still retaining the core of their characters.
The second is also 25 minutes long, a featurette titled 'All-Out Action'. Man of Steel has some truly spectacular action scenes. This video goes behind the scenes, giving the audience a peek into what went into making the action of the film - right from the physical training the actors underwent, to designing all the green-screen action and stunt work. We get to hear from a number of the people who we otherwise never get to hear about. We thus appreciate the sheer magnitude into what it takes to achieve what we finally see on screen - these are the guys who truly create magic.
After the first two, the third featurette is a rather tame 6-minuter titled 'Krypton Decoded', a video with the Visual Effects Supervisor of the film, who takes us through some of the technology that has been designed for Krypton in the film.
Thankfully, the film itself also comes in multiple Indian languages - Hindi, Tamil & Telugu - apart from English. Man of Steel was projected as an 'event' film, and the DVD of the film reflects the same; if you liked the film, then you'll love the DVD.
Delving far deeper (than previous screen adaptations) into the Superman origin mythology as well as the moral dilemma that an extraordinary being on a planet of ordinary mortals would face, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, backed by the formidable writing team of David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, manage to camouflage their big Hollywood summer blockbuster quite well. More reminiscent of Nolan’s now-legend superhero take – with it’s nervous, edgy hand-held camera constantly on the move, attempting to infuse a certain grittiness into the moments where our hero has to struggle with the most basic problem of existence – choice – the film ‘feels’ different from just another gargantuan VFX vehicle.
But, that is ultimately what it is.
Relentless in its spectacular visual offering while never easing up on the fundamental conflict that young Clarke Kent faces before he ultimately rises to become the godlike protector of humanity, the core predicament that the film finds itself in is the fact that it attempts to pack in too much of too many good things. One grand, terrifically executed action set piece, followed by what will doubtlessly be termed a Nolan-esque peek into the world’s most widely known superhero. Repeat; more times than you can count. By essentially following this structure (which, incidentally, is also non-linear, particular in the first hour), the film almost ends up becoming too much to take.
The film opens on the planet Krypton, which is on the brink of self-implosion; scientist Jor-El chooses to save his newborn son by sending him to a distant foreign planet, with the larger aim of ensuring the continuance of his species as well. Infant Kal, son of Jor from the House of El, thus finds himself with the Kents in Smallville, Kansas. And thus begins a long search for meaning for Clark Kent - a search that sets him on collision course with General Zod, former military leader of Krypton, who is also tied intricately with Kal-El’s past.
Reminiscent, more than a few times, of The Matrix in terms of the superhero origin story (with Biblical references to boot, which I’d rather you discover for yourself, if you’re inclined), the film also reminds you of Nolan’s own Batman Begins in the manner in which Kal-El’s search for meaning is treated. (Think images of a stubbled Bruce Wayne’s tryst with street thugs before he crosses paths with Ra’s Al Ghul.) Man of Steel, however, falters because it is just too big for its own good.
Despite being overcooked, the film is undoubtedly an audio-visual treat. Hans Zimmer’s score is moody, orchestral and grand; it goes great with the film. Few shoot action the way Zack Snyder does, and if you thought the action in 300 and Watchmen were shot well, wait till you watch Man of Steel. However, if the writing of the film appears weak because of the sheer number of big action scenes that it has, directorially Zack Snyder looks a little out of sorts when it comes to the more emotionally intimate scenes involving Clark/Kal-El and his parents, his birth father and Lois Lane.
Henry Cavill grew on me through the film. Despite seeming like a fish out of water initially, in retrospect, perhaps that was just how young Clark felt while growing up amidst people who rejected him for being ‘different’. By the end of the film, Cavill easily makes for the best Superman in recent times. He’ll perhaps never match the popularity of Christopher Reeve, but this Superman is different anyway, and not just because he does away with the red underwear.
Russel Crowe as Jor-El is terrific, despite having some truly incredulous lines to deliver. Michael Shannon as General Zod was a tad disappointing, but that was perhaps only because it is rare to have a villain with as much moral ambiguity as him. If you look at things from his point of view, you’ll realize that one can easily justify his stance in the film. In such a scenario, the ‘triumph of good over evil’ remains questionable, and hence, unsatisfying.
With a nearly 2.5 hour runtime, it boils down, then, to your expectations. Set them right and don’t expect to be completely blown away with the film. You’ll have a good time, that much Snyder & Co guarantee. Expect the film to put The Dark Knight and The Avengers to shame, and the film is bound to fall way short.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
- Violence: Loads of grand fist fights
- Language: Clean
- Nudity & Sexual content: One kiss
- Concept: A peek into Superman’s origin story
- General Look and Feel: Dark, gritty but beautifully shot
Man of Steel - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Facebook Twitter Wikipedia IMDB
- Producer: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Emma Thomas
- Director: Zack Snyder
- Lead Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Simmonds, Diane Lane
- Supporting Cast: Antje Traue, Russel Crowe, Harry Lennix
- Story: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan
- Screenplay: David S. Goyer
- Cinematography: Amir M Mokri
- Editor: David Brenner
- Music Director: Hans Zimmer
- Art Direction: Vlad Bina, Aaron Haye, Chris Farmer (I)
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 143 minutes
- Reviewer: Pradeep Menon
- Language: English
- Country: USA
- Genres: Action, Fantasy, Sci-fi
Man of Steel - Trailer
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