This has been the hardest anything I’ve ever written. Not because I was conflicted about the movie. In fact I loved the movie. I don’t see how anyone could not absolutely LOVE this movie. But I can’t help thinking about climatic parts during the movie and hearing the aggressive riffs but beautifully appropriate and placed accordingly score by Hans Zimmerman playing in my head that made those scenes more dramatic, more eccentric, more relatible if you could believe it. That just may have made the movie more than the acting did. Before I get into acting and how authentic the actors were in their roles, one thing that separates this Superman movie compared to the other Superman movies was how real this movie was. Of course there were scenes in the movie that keep it that way, just a movie, but the realistic absolution of the outcomes are as real as you can expect. This is not your mom and dad or even your grandma and grandpa’s Superman movie. A lot of critics that didn’t like the movie probably were waiting for the wholesome, Christopher Reeves-esque, feel good story Superman to appear, and when he didn’t, it left some of the fanboy purist awestruck with disappointment. One of the best spectacles about this movie is the acting. Well, most of it.
Henry Cavill’s portrayal was as accurate a 21st century Clark Kent as you’re going to get. He did more than nailed it, he was…is Clark Kent. The realism he brought to the character really helped to understand what he was going through as he goes through the manifestation of his abilities and later on understanding how and when to use them, even though he had his moments when he couldn’t help the “human rationale” side of him, which also helped establish his humanity.
Clark Kent’s journey into manhood you could tell was definitely influenced by his father, Jonathan Kent, played by Kevin Costner. He bounced from job to job, giving assumed identities to protect himself and his family so that if he were ever put in a situation that compromised is anonymity, he could move on without notice. Not being in the spotlight, appearing unpretentious with a small town demeanor. Clark never publicly got into trouble and let his “adversaries” believing they have had their way, but always making his presence felt by either walking away or taking a man’s semi truck and driving electrical poles through it. Cavill displayed this version of Clark’s confusion, frustration, relief, and satisfaction in true, realistic form throughout the entire movie. I was surprised by his performance to the point I was shocked by how well he fit his role. Some actors are made to fit into certain characters and Cavill’s portrayal of this modern-day Clark Kent was perfect.
Michael Shannon’s General Zod was a lot better than expected. General Zod’s whole demeanor was “Krypton or F-you” throughout the movie, from start to finish. His personal mission was to preserve the existence of Planet Krypton no matter what the cost. He proved that while talking with Jor-El and the council in the beginning and with Kal-El until the end. Shannon’s portrayal of Zod was a solid one, but doesn’t quite grasp the viewer, but I don’t think it’s his fault. Sometimes you just get shown up by the woman.
One of the baddest baddies I’ve ever seen in a movie period, with not many lines. Every movie has that side villain that steals a little of the spotlight while the main bad guy is doing his thing and Antje Traue with her portrayal of Faora was just that. Her cold-hearted performance as General Zod’s number two was perfect. There’s no other way to describe it. Faora’s display of how lethal she could be for the good of her mission was true to form in Man Of Steel. Faora adapted to her new found abilities on planet Earth rather quickly and was more than willing to show the people of Earth how inferior they were when compared to Kryptonians. Faora was cold. Calculating. Always had a strong presence. Every time she was on screen there was an edge of your seat feel because you never knew what she was going to do next. Traue made Faora legendary in my eyes and no one could have been done any better. If you can’t tell now, by the end of this review you’ll see she was my favorite character.
Which unfortunately brings me to Amy Adams’ portrayal of Lois Lane.
I’m not sure if it was because of how the film was suppose to fit the modern-age, but this version of Lane was a little too…nice. And not taking anything away from Adams because I think she’s a great actress, but for the anyone who knows Lois Lane knows that she has a few qualities about her that have to be displayed. Lois is sassy, edgy, a bit of a smartass, can be somewhat pushy, and a “won’t take no for an answer” type journalist. Very strong personality. Even when she was throwing her theoretical penis around she still didn’t give us a “strong” version of Lois. Albeit an ok showing, she just didn’t pull off Lois Lane.
I had a growing speculation that I would hate Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent, respectively. When the casting of this movie was released I had the “Oh God NOOOO!!!” reaction to it. They made it work.
Costner portrayed Jonathan as more of a country boy that liked to work on his truck while giving his son life lessons on how to protect himself and his family by keeping his powers a secret. Martha Kent was the mom that would do anything to protect her son and no matter how powerful he may be or would become, Clark would always be her little boy. In most movies when the protagonist has to have a moment of reckoning it usually comes when a violent crime happens, but Clark’s moment came when his father had to show him that he would do anything to protect his son, even if it meant making the ultimate sacrifice (potential spoiler if you haven’t seen it already!). Costner and Lane made the Kent’s believable as a down-to-Earth loving farm couple and not an artificial Hollywood-made couple that lived on a farm. We’ve seen enough of those.
Probably the most underrated and maybe the glue that puts the movie together was co-star Dylan Sprayberry as young Clark Kent. This kid may have been the most important actor in the movie not named Henry Cavill. Every kid that goes through growing up has trying times as a teenager, and everyone has had that moment when after all those years your parents taught you restraint, patience, and perseverance goes out the window because you get faced with a choice you have to make that compromises everything they taught you. Sprayberry’s portrayal of young Clark Kent was vital in matching with grown Clark Kent. One of the hardest tasks is to have chemistry between the story and the actors in the story when it’s technically “not their time” during a movie and making the movie gel. Sprayberry made you believe Clark was vulnerable while not disappointing his parents trying to do the right thing by them, but also doing what he thought was right even though he had the powers of a god in his young age. He was spectacular as young Clark Kent. His portrayal also gave you a sense of what kind of parents Jonathan and Martha were to Clark for him to respond to certain situations as he did.
One of the most anticipated notions about Man Of Steel was how would the action scenes fair with not only other Superman films, but with the super hero genre period. That was answered and THEN some. Throughout the film there was the indication the indication that the action scenes with the main bad guys would be a little subtle, maybe short action scenes because back in the Reeves era Superman there were limited battles and in Superman Returns you could argue that there really were no action sequences that showcased Superman’s actual power. In this film you could almost argue that the apocalypse came. Don’t get me wrong, the action was intense. There were a lot of moments where I thought I was going to get hit with the side of a building or an exploding vehicle. Without giving away the scenes, I will say Snyder over did it a little. Some would say a lot. You just get the insinuation that everyone’s dead while Superman fights off the villains and that’s not the case.
All in all, I loved the movie. If there was such a thing as a great launching pad movie for a series, this would be the greatest launching pad movie to a series of all time. I believe Snyder is taking Superman in the right direction. I’m not crazy about the new Superman costume, but I’ll grow to love it if I have to. This movie is a must see, twice, and a must own when it comes out on blu ray and DVD. Make sure you get the combo packs full of extras. 8.5 out of 10.