Top positive review
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A fantastic super-hero film.
on 1 April 2016
This is a thoroughly enjoyable super-hero film.
I originally watched it at the cinema (in 3D), and subsequently on Blu-ray (both 2D and 3D). The Blu-ray quality is fantastic (excellent audio and picture). While the 3D version is fun, it doesn't add a great deal. So when I choose to re-watch this film, I opt for the 2D version.
This is a re-boot of the Superman franchise, following the less than financially successful 'Superman Returns' (2006) film. While I enjoyed the 2006 film, which sought in various ways to fit-in with the Christopher Reeve's film-series, I thought that this 2013 movie was superior.
This film seeks to tell the story of Superman's origins ... starting with the destruction of the planet Krypton, the orphaned baby Kal-El arriving on Earth and being raised by the Kent's in Smallville, and Clark Kent's transformation into the Man of Steel. All of this has been done before - both in film and in TV series. So it's difficult to add something fresh and imaginative. Yet the film succeeds in this regard. Rather than draw on the earlier movies (or the TV series), this film is inspired by the wealth of comic books that comprise the 70+ year history of Superman. The 'origin story' has been depicted several times in the comic books, and this film borrows from many of these. In addition, it offers new elements - especially in terms of the 'look' of Krypton, of the various space ships, etc.
The story focuses on Clark Kent, and how he's forced to become a super-hero. While he's been a 'good guy' (saving people), he's never adopted a public persona as a known hero. That is, until General Zod (and a gang of criminals previously imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by Krypton's judicial system) arrives at planet Earth and demands to see Kal-El. The General is a nasty piece of work (just as he was in 'Superman 2'), and decides to re-design the Earth into a new Krypton! And so Clark must save the world ... he becomes Superman, and battles the villainous Kryptonian criminals.
There's mayhem and destruction ... but just enough opportunity for Superman to gain a love interest, in reporter Lois Lane. The great city of Metropolis is ruined, and - finally - it's a battle to the death between Superman and Zod. This all happens as the world watches in awe and fright. Fortunately, Superman is victorious.
This film serves as a starting point for the wider DC movie universe. The first cross-over film is 'Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice' (2016) ... which will, eventually, lead into the Justice League saga. This initial installment is a serious tale, offering a complex Man of Steel. He struggles to accept his 'destiny' as Superman, although he knows it's the right thing to do. This is a super-hero who has such vast abilities - powers he himself is unaware of until he chooses to use them - that he's almost utterly separate and distinct from all other people. Yet he wants to live a normal life. He struggles with inner-demons, with the loss of his home world, and with the death of his adoptive father. But he succeeds in overcoming these, for the good of humankind.
The movie is superbly directed by Zack Snyder. Yet it's not his best work (both '300' and 'Watchmen' are superior). I get the impression that he's not had complete freedom to direct, and was operating within parameters set by Nolan (producer; direct of the 'Dark Knight' trilogy). In my view, Snyder is a superior film-maker as compared to Nolan, and I wish the latter had not been involved.
The acting is done well. I was particularly impressed by Henry Cavill, who not only looks the part (and is more in-keeping with the comic book depiction of Superman than any previous film incarnation), but he portrays the tragic aspects of the Man of Steel excellently. In addition to Cavill, I thought Amy Adams was perfect for the role of investigative reporter Lois Lane (brining both intelligence and beauty to the role). Finally, Zod was brilliantly played by Michael Shannon.
I was also impressed by the music - overall, an excellent sound track. It sought to establish itself in a distinct manner, totally separate from the earlier films. In my view, this music elevated the film to a higher level than might otherwise have been the case.
This is a movie I will re-watch every so often, as it's a good super-hero action film. Yet it's not perfect. I think that the Krypton scenes were rushed, and ought to have been extended. And I think Zod should have interacted more with the people of Earth, clearly establishing his dominance (and thereby creating more of a need for Superman). Nonetheless, it's a very good film. 8 out of 10.