Thursday, June 13, 2013

Man of Steel

Superman's Epic Restart
by Reymundo Salao

The last Superman movie "Superman Returns" was, in so many ways, a failure. The problem was that it followed the formula of the old Christopher Reeve Superman movies; a formula that is already severely outdated.

When Christopher Nolan, director Zack Snyder, and writer David Goyer were assigned to work on a new Superman movie, they focused on rehashing the entire Superman franchise, identified the flaws, avoided the corniness of the previous movies, and never ignored the source material. [the rest of the article after the jump]

Nolan, Snyder, and Goyer are a powerhouse; all three are experienced with working on superhero/comic book material. Nolan on the Dark Knight movies, Goyer on Batman and Blade, and Snyder on 300 and Watchmen. One could argue that this was a foolproof team. No doubt, the result was that they had created one of the best superhero movies, a worthy adaptation for a fictional character this popular.

'Epic' is easily a term that best describes the movie. A storyline that starts in incredible chaos, boils in emotional character development laced with a script very rich in heart and thought, and follows the journey of a protagonist that embraces the ideals of being a savior.

The storyline is more rounded, and makes perfect sense. Everything that felt so ridiculous before in the Superman mythos, now made sense; from his superhero costume, to the reason why Superman's weakness can be caused by Kryptonite is even addressed. It feels like all the characters are properly fleshed out. The villain has a reasonable motivation, and the back characters have their own opinions to share, that all made sense.

The movement of the story is kinetic. It moves along without dragging down. Each and every flashback adds to the emotional depth of what or who Superman is. Each and every turn may not seem like a big event, but it adds to the important details of this world.

And the Action? Oh the action is beyond perfect. It was phenomenal. Finally, we get to see a Superman battle in the kind that we only have witnessed in the comics and animation. Now we get to see it in a movie with all the superior special effects and the direction under the helm of Zack Snyder, who did practice restrain from his usual slow-mo visual effect that had been negatively criticized before. We used to complain that Superman merely looked like he was modeling in the previous movies; now we finally get to see him punching something. And, damn, does he punch a lot of things in this movie.

Henry Cavill is spot-on perfect for the role of Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman. He looks like he does embody a sincere urge to do good, plus, he has an angle that makes him look like Christopher Reeve. Russel Crowe does also shine as Jor-El. Diane Lane does heartwarming sequences as Clark's mother, Kevin Costner and Lawrence Fishburne both are also well-fit for their role. Amy Adams, on the other hand, as Lois Lane did well, except that she did not seem to have the energy of what we would have expected for a typical Lois Lane. Although, she is capable of doing so, if we base it on her previous roles in other movies. Perhaps she could do better in the sequel. In contrast, Antje Traue delivered a memorable performance as villainess henchwoman Faora. Acting-wise, all praises go to Michael Shannon as the main villain Zod. Granted, the role itself requires him to go ballistic in his acting anyway, but it does fit Shannon's forte of playing over-the-top roles in a manner that is immensely enjoyable to watch.

Perhaps my only complaint on the movie is that the music was not very anthemic as what is expected of a Superman movie. Most people have not yet forgotten how memorably distinct the old Superman theme music is, and oftentimes consider Superman himself and the music inseparable. Hans Zimmer's treatment of the music for this new Superman is fine, but somewhat bland. It merely feels atmospheric and very ambient in a "wallpaper music" sort of manner, than something that could carry or energize a scene.

Aside from these ignorable little flaws, MAN OF STEEL is close to perfection. It does make up for all the lousy flaws of previous Superman movies, and successfully brings back life into the legacy of Superman for a new generation.

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