Friday, June 14, 2013

A Review: Man of Steel

"One day you're gonna have to make a choice: 
    Whether to stand proud in front of the human race--or not."
                                                                                                    --Jonathan Kent

You can't think through this one you have to feel it. . . 

Those are a summation of my precise feelings on the film itself. And the reward in doing that is sweet enough to drink deep with satisfying results.

I went into the film last with my analyst goggles on. With my eyes and ears perked and tuned to most susceptible frequency available for a film my internal system commands. I've read the reviews, I've heard the critics critical chatter, witnessed and logged-in to my memory banks the scores online from "professional" film critics and journalists.

I'm here to tell you--they are wrong. Most are wrong. In this most elated and celebratory review of Earth's greatest superhero, I will detail for you the reasons why.

We open the film with view of Kypton like we've never seen before. A world, it's a real habitable world with beasts and bugs and metal sand that represents 3D computer touch screen technology the likes of which the iPhone will never reach. We see Laura Lor-Van, Kal-El's mother and Jor-El's wife. She is giving birth to the first natural born child in centuries. Everyone else is grown in an underwater field very similar to The Matrix and given one purpose to fulfill in life. A cook, artist, military, mason, politics, asshole, ect. Jor-El was given the grand duty of becoming Krypton's scientist.

His purpose is to think outside the box and study all the possibilities and wonders the universe has to offer. Which is what makes him so much more enlightened, and valuable then most on his home planet.

He chooses to have a natural son, we learn, to give him the choice to become great in whichever way he chooses. Hopefully, becoming a force for good that inspires others around to break free, to unconform and ban together in unison to be a loving, healthy bunch that work together to better their surroundings.

Taken through the destruction of Krypton and the eventual demise of nearly all of the Kryptonians, we then cut to a lost Clark Kent, 33 and working a boat sporting a slicker and looking for fish. He is bearded, broken and in search of something. Maybe searching for nothing. Which of course is a never ending search.

It calls up a quote from another Nolan film:
"Whatever your original intentions, you have become truly lost. . ."

The more upheaval and distress Kal-El encounters, the more cunning and focused he becomes. Determination leaks out of his every pore and through the fibers of his being. To that I say, Bravo Cavill. Hiding himself from the world, he hops one job to the next, saving others and coming to people's rescue time and again. Making it hard for him to keep a low profile. He eventually stumbles upon a lead to an alien craft and finds himself inside an old scout ship, 18,000 years old. Using the command key given to him he cracks open the secrets of the ship, we then meet Russell Crowe's heavenly and wise Jor-El again and Clark learns of himself, even more.

From there we get General Zod, played deliciously terrible (in the best sort of way for a villain) by Michael Shannon. He invades Earth and lets them all know how important it is to surrender Kal-El to him. All the while Clark Kent is mixed up with his widowed mother (given heart, soul and love to an infallible degree by Diane Lane) and a damned good journalist hot on his trail for saving her life and intriguing her beyond her wildest dreams (Adams showing us why she's worth every penny).

This point is where the entire film picks up real steam and the train starts powering down the tracks until the last damn second. Of course, there are points where we break quickly for heartfelt insight in real-time or flashbacks of his upbringing, history and notions of the soul.

They fit perfectly and add insight to the backstory like so many drops of breadcrumbs. Like scrumptious morsels deposited along the way and every so often, they contain a gooey center of emotion, drama, and information that explodes on the taste-buds. Which makes this outing all the more sweeter for Supes. I completely agreed with these choices and felt the love and honor and intelligence in them down to my bones. Such a terrific choice.

Synder has taken all the very best elements of himself I've championed since March 2007 and has now hit the ball over the crowd and out of the Goddamn park.

Cavill, Crowe, Shannon, Lane, Costner, Traue, Meloni, fuck it--the entire cast brings weight, depth and reality to the otherwise, (e-hem, pun not intended) up-in-the-air and flighty portrayals of the characters in the long running franchise. Lane herself as Martha Kent carries so much weight and responsibility of Clark's upbringing with Costner swinging through with a grounded and pitch-perfect Jonathan "Pa" Kent, worried out of deep love for his son, and the fate of his life should he out himself.

No one overdoes it here, accept Shannon's bedeviled and megalomaniacal General Zod, and we love him for it. He understands Zod's hatred, passion and fury are all over-exposed character traits. He's constantly on the surface if he's not just talking, or matter-of-factly dolling out orders to his loyal troops. This all goes through the frames and motion with a beautiful, deep, and weighty, thumping powerful score by the legendary Hans Zimmer. I mean, who else is better suited to this task? Yeah, you take a minute. . .

The flight sequences, fight scenes and pretty much anything effects heavy come across with the world-class artistry in the only way Weta Digital knows how to do: top notch. Bet you didn't even realize that General Zod's suit was 100% CGI, didja? I especially liked the touch-up they did with the powers, his learning how to hone them over the years and the explanation through the sun's radiation, earth's gravity field both applying an accidental amplification of his body's abilities through photosynthesis. In most times, he just has them, end of story. Much like Lucius Fox, the sun and atmosphere are his armorer.

All the destruction, mishegoss and general attempted genocide of the human species by Zod and his fellow cohorts comes across with general thrills. Faora, played chilling by Antje Traue, certainly proves why she is his commander and Girl-Friday. Call me swept up in the excitement, but I'd swear these Kryptonians were really doing these things before our eyes. Not thinking, only feeling, from one scene to the next, I had no idea on when or where the film would arrive at it's final destination--nor did I care. Vested in this I was, an ending I was not concerned with.

As as the last words are spoken,m and the film's credits roll, we notice a bookend: this glorious film opens with a birthing and ends with an entirely new one. We watch as baby Kal-El is born into the world, a natural born child son. He is not predestined to become something selected by society, but free to make his own way in the universe, and become a man on his own terms. And the film takes us through his journey from baby Kal, to grown Clark Kent, who ultimately embraces his own foreign abilities and powers and becomes Superman.

The cycle of life is put on display here in one form to the next from the very beginning until we get to the last reels of the film, and we see how he understands now.

We watch the birth of a hybrid, Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman all wrapped up into one new form.

A new being.

A balanced being who understands his place not only on Earth, but in the universe as well. From the teachings and words of his fathers and the world around him, he knows his only devotion is to others, selflessly giving himself over to the force of good, to become the man his fathers wanted him to be.

To be a super man.

To be a hero.
Not to be a God.
To be kind and compassionate.
Willing and dedicated.
Strong and determined.

To be a Man of Steel.

Munki out

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