READER REPORT:

You gotta go see: Man of Steel

SHAUN DE MALMANCHE
Last updated 05:00 29/08/2013
Superman

The new Superman movie starring Brit Henry Cavill is an origin film based in middle America.

Man of Steel, Henry Cavill

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Can Zack Snyder deliver with a Superman reboot worthy of the Dark Knight franchise gifted to us by Christopher Nolan?

Here in New Zealand, having to wait a full two weeks to see it after the US (on top of already waiting a year to see it, watching the trailers and reading every update), I was worried and upset about the huge number of bad reviews out there for this film.

"For all its ambition, Man Of Steel fails to soar, instead crashlanding in a humourless, melodramatic mess of explosions." - Matt Neal, the Standard.

"There's very little humor or joy in this Superman story." - Richard Roeper.

I'm here to tell you that they are wrong. This movie is everything promised to us by all the hype and is truly phenomenal.

The state-of-the-art visual effects, the acting, the heart, the emotion, the humour, the joy and the story. There is no weak point here.

After all the fuss made about the action sequences in the third act, I was honestly expecting more than what we got, but I was thoroughly impressed with what was presented to us.

Henry Cavill performs brilliantly as Clark Kent/Superman/Kal-El, the only thing I'm not quite sold on, is him as Clark Kent with the glasses, the newspaper reporter Clark Kent. But, golly gee, I'm sure we'll see plenty more of this character in the next two installments.

Cavill pairs with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, very convincingly. Lane is her usual brisk, take-no-nonsense self and Adams does a great job, even with the different coloured hair.

The scenes with Adams and Cavill are well sold and have enough chemistry to be convincing. Jor-El (Kal-El's birth father) is played by Russell Crowe, who has a lengthy screen presence and is wonderful.

The Krypton scenes we are shown in the opening of the movie show us more than we've ever seen before.

The Kryptonians in this version of Superman seem a lot more like the elves from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with their costumes and the whole overall design of the family crests.

This is a very good thing. Imagine the elves with unfathomably advanced technology, that's what Krypton looks like here.

The way that Clark's story is told here, with flashbacks cut into current, real time, is, I think, well placed. It may not be for everyone, some people may prefer a more linear approach, see Superman: The Movie 1978 for that.

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The two kids that play young Clark (Dylan Sprayberry (Clark 13) and Cooper Timberline (Clark 9)) are great, well cast little actors who bring across the frustration felt by Clark as a child with seemingly unlimited strength.

Not being allowed to join in sports, not being able to retaliate to the constant bullying by the kids who see him as different.

These young actors work well, spliced with the scenes of Cavill as older Clark Kent. Throughout Clark's journey, we are shown him working on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea, a la Deadliest Catch, and then rescuing a crew of workers from a doomed oil rig.

We are shown Clark moving from place to place, every time he allows his powers to be revealed. He is then 'found out' by Lois Lane, who is present at the site of a discovered alien ship underneath 20,000 year old ice the same as Clark is there to investigate, which is where he finds the projection of Jor-El and his suit.

This leads to an interview with Lane, where Superman explains that the 'S' means hope, as told by his birth father, Jor-El, it's his family crest, the crest of the Els.

The real heart and emotion comes from the flashback scenes, with Clark's earth/adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent.

Particularly Jonathan Kent, played by Kevin Costner. His father keeps pressing the fact that the world isn't ready to know who he is, he has to hide his real self.

This all comes to a head when Clark's school bus crashes off a bridge into a river and he saves them by pushing the bus out of the water, much to the terror of the children and their parents respectively.

In a heart-gripping scene, he explains that maybe he should have let them die, simply to hide who he is.

He then shows Clark the ship he came to Earth on and explains who he is and that one day, when the time is right, he'll have to make a choice about who it is he wants to be.

That choice is made quite clear to him when a group of Kryptonians arrive on Earth to find Kal-El and threatens the human race if he does not come forward.

The main villain here is General Zod, played by the almost too good Michael Shannon. A soldier with the interest of his people, the Kryptonians at the forefront of all his actions. No remorse or thought for the earthlings, much to the disapproval of old Superman.

His plan is to 'terraform' the Earth, to turn it into the new Krypton, which would also mean the destruction of our Earth.

General Zod is joined by Faora, his next in command, played by the German, Antje Traue and the giant, mountain of a grunt, Tor-An.

He also has an entire crew of soldiers with him, unlike Superman II, 1980, when it was only Zod and his two cronies.

The fight scenes here are mind-blowing. This is what would really happen if a group of god-like people with unlimited strength were to have a fight here on Earth. All hell would break loose. There would be no compromise. That is exactly what there is here. No compromise, no limit. Just destruction and the better man coming out on top. No need to spoil and say who that better one is.

One especially memorable scene is one where Superman and Zod collide on the side of a building, with Zod going up and Superman coming down, they meet with explosive force. This is where the 3D really shone. This scene really took us into the action brilliantly. Don't be put off by the whingers, this destruction is well placed and is a great narrative device. It will also be interesting to see where they go with it in the sequel (any backlash, by a certain bald criminal maybe?).

Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan and David Goyer have achieved something truly beautiful here. This is a reboot of Superman that we can all be proud of, this is the Superman for this generation.

The effects are of a standard that we have not seen before. The scenes where Superman is learning to fly are extremely realistic, violent and highly enjoyable to watch.

Superman's powers are shown here in a way we haven't seen before, especially his heat-ray-vision. It looks amazing.

The soundtrack is loud, brilliant and just so good. Hans Zimmer has excelled with his use of drums, including Danney Carey of the band Tool, and Jason Bonham, son of the late, great John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. At times, loud and explosive, at others, appropriately soft and quiet, with piano and strings bringing forth the emotion of the scene.

DC have another victory on their utility belt, standing proudly alongside the excellent Dark Knight trilogy and hopefully this will mean the DC Universe being expanded on more and more, hopefully culminating in a Justice League movie.

On the whole, this movie was a great success and the next movie will hopefully go bigger and better, with more Superman moments to look forward to. Well done DC. Take that Marvel.


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