Man of Steal!

First off I should say that I've never really been a 'fan' of superman. Didn't read the comics and although I do love me some super-hero's I never got into this particular super hero. The classic super man movies, although enjoyable, made him seem wimpy and kind of weak. Like a Boy Scout with super powers with a dorky alter-ego. The last super man movie was okay but a little tame.

Man of Steel - is a completely different story. I just got back from seeing it and it is now my new favorite super-hero movie, by a fairly large margin. The director Zack Snyder is a visual genius and is probably the only director capable of making a movie, at least in a long time, that makes me watch it with my mouth open - drooling, and in awe.

 I've wanted to be a director and the types of movies that I have always been most interested in are heavy cgi-artsy-visual-wizardry-types. His movie 300 was the first time I saw a movie that had the type of aesthetics I had always envisioned creating. I'm not talking about it's story line or characters or the subject matter i'm referring to the actual look and style of the movie itself. I also really like that he doesn't hold back and isn't afraid to be edgy and R ratings. Given a budget of 225MILLION dollars compared to 300's 65 million - it was obvious he had a very great time being able to push the limits of his vision.

I was afraid that while making a super man movie, which is toned for more of a broad audience and not rated R, would castrate the experience but that was not the case. Yeah there wasn't much blood and gore - but thousands of people die. A stark contrast to the older films where Superman manages to save almost every single person. That's impossible when there are genocidal aliens as strong as superman and dozens of sky scrapers falling.

 I reallllly liked including the back story about why he was sent to earth and the futuristic technologies and philosophies involved. Everything form the suites they wear, the artificial intelligence robotics, the genetic engineering, and the origins of their race - are all interestingly sophisticated. Which is what you would expect from an alien race capable of sending a baby to another planet. It is kinda a cross between Prometheus and 300.

*Spoiler alerts start here*

The main story-line is familiar. Krypton is dying and Calel's parents send him to earth to continue their legacy. He grows up un-aware of his true origins and is raised by farmers. Eventually comes of age and decides to use his sun-powered abilities for the good of humanity. Falls for Louise Lane. Defeats the bad guys - and saves the world.

Thankfully they passed on the whole super-hero in a ridiculous glasses-only-disguise and the whole "Louise only loves Super Man and not Clark Kent even though they are the same person and she hangs out with him every day" Instead she is the first person to know who he really is and is actually there when he finds out himself. This works out so much better and she becomes an integral and helpful character - not a 'helpless woman who needs saving' but someone he turns to for help. The "love story" isn't intrusive or annoying and I am very thankful for that. It's more like "You're hot and you can fly, lets make out."

Krypton is on the verge of collapse due to it's people taking their energy from the planets core instead of the stars. An obvious nod to our own plight on earth. Calel's father Jor-El is the top scientist and was unsuccessful in convincing the rulers to change their ways. Since he knows what is going to happen he has a naturally conceived child- the first to be born that way in centuries. Their world had been using genetic engineering to create their children who would be designed to fulfill specific roles in their world. Workers, Scientists, warriors etc. This is one of the reasons that their society is failing - because they are resistant to change or to choose their own paths in life. They are grown in machine incubators which gets it's genetic information from something called the "Codex." The father steals this and transfers the information into Calel's actual body so that he is actually containing everyone from his previous planet. Cool. A very intriguing nod to evolution was what the original Codex was - an ape ancestor skull! This would obviously imply that humans and the Kryptonians  stemmed from the same origins. Since they are so far away and so much more advanced than humanity it also would mean that wherever or whoever they stemmed from branched out into them and into us. This common ancestor(s) are called "The ancients."

The Codex looked just like this.

Anyways! The main militaristic general Zod ends up being the main antagonist and is also sent from the planet before it's destruction - but not after killing Calel's dad. He was punished by being placed in suspended animation along with his fellow guards and sent to the "Phantom Zone." After Krypton is destroyed they are re-animated and decide to collect what they could from their civilization(s) and go about trying to find a new world to Terra-form and settle. He also needs the "Codex" to get the information to re-grow the people - which he knows is with Calel. Zod is alerted to where he is on earth when an ancient space ship is discovered and Clark turns it on. The ship is encased in ice that is 18,000 years old and is described as a scout ship - implying that the aliens, and Clark's people had already been on earth and potentially had a hand in it's development?

Louis Lane was assigned to cover the discovery of the ship and ends up following Clark inside - gets wounded by an automated defense robot - Clark saves her and disappears with the ship. Then she does some reporting magic and finds out where he grows up - talks to his Mom, etc etc.There are flash backs to his childhood that explain why he hasn't come out as a superhero and he struggles with the question if humanity would be able to handle knowing someone like him exists. (There are scenes when his sun-powered-powers start to manifest and he starts to be able to see through things - which is really cool.)  He decides against it until the other aliens come to earth and announce that they have to hand him over. He does, discovers they are bad and want to take over earth by changing earth's gravity and atmosphere to Krypton's levels. This is also how they implement the "Kryptonite" idea. Clark is weakened when he is in this atmosphere. They employ Terra-Forming machines to start the process and these will kill all the humans and get Earth ready for the newly born Kryptonians. Who's DNA is still embedded within Superman. Zod finds out that Calel is actually now the "codex" and has to kill him to get the genetic archive that is held within his cells. Jor-El, or at least his electronic ghost gives advice and tells his son about his origins and how to deal with Zod's plans.

 Lots of amazing super-powered punching and throwing ensues in Zack Snyder's long-shot style. Which is is a greatly welcomed change. Usually movies like this are edited with way too many cut scenes and close ups so it's like. -Hand pulls back-cut-face-cut-punch-cut-falls-cut-2seconds of a long shot-cut-closeup-cut. Which is jarring and annoying and I want to watch the fight scene as if i'm actually there and not reading an animated comic book.

To call it predictable would be redundant since everyone knows that in every super hero movie the hero always wins. The pacing was fast, lots of awesome fight scenes that really make you wish you could fly, and were really strong, explosions (millions), destruction,  and all on a very large scale. It tries to get deep and intellectual and philosophical, but also is self-aware that it is a Superman movie and doesn't stray far - but far enough to not feel mindless. It ends up being the perfect blend of what I want from a super hero movie and sets, at least for me, the new standard for re-boots.

 How about the new guy playing super man? Henry Cavill.. umm - also setting a new standard. He is the superman you actually want to be, or be with - and if he doesn't inspire you to save the world he will, at the very least, motivate you to go to the gym. A lot.

I would give Man of Steel an 96+/100. I would even go see it again while it's still in theaters. It had the best 3d in any movie I've seen, that actually added to the experience instead of took away from it. Although my eyes were really red when it was over.
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