Film Review: Man of Steel

Say the word “Superman” and immediately the clean-cut face of Christopher Reeve comes to mind with his ice-blue eyes and the black lock of hair falling on his forehead. This image of Superman was often seen during my adolescent years. I remember watching the series of films that were made when they came out; and then repeatedly over the years on video, TV, and on DVD. The stories embodied what people enjoy watching: a hero, a little romance, and the belief that good can always overcome evil.

I was disappointed with many other fans when Superman Returns came out in 2006. The film felt a bit flat as it fell short of the expectations I had before watching the story. The film makers had tried to keep everything the same: the actor was similar in looks to Christopher Reeve, the costume was the same, and the recipe in the storyline was the same. And yet the film did not do as well as was expected.

Man of Steel is the recent Superman film to come out. This version is directed by Zack Snyder and stars Henry Cavill as the superhero. I went to see the latest version of this superhero movie yesterday knowing that it would be different from the previous versions: the posters seem edgier, and the people I had spoken to had mentioned that it was a far cry from what was produced in the 1970s.

I settled in my seat at the cinema and was  a part of the story from beginning to end. There were a few superficial similarities with the original 70s story (Clark is a dark-haired man who learns he comes from the planet Krypton; he comes to know the journalist Lois Lane). However there are many differences that are woven into the story from details of plot to details of costume.

Was I disappointed that changes had been made? No. I believe that the changes made for a story that is more realistic in that it is more believable. Suspend your disbelief of a man who can fly and who hails from another planet, and you see a character that experiences uncertainty as we do, a man who has to place his trust in those whom he admires, a man who searches for his identity and what he wants to be. The changes made to the protagonist of the story have made him more rounded, more human, more realistic.

The costume changes fit the new image of this beloved super hero. The colours have not changed: he still wears the blue with the iconic red cape; and the “S” is still seen on the chest (though now we come to learn that it means “hope”). The fabric, however, is different and gives the impression of being a type of body armour. The costume is now made of ta fabric one would expect a far more intelligent race than ours to create. The most dramatic costume change would be of General Zod. His costume has metamorphosed into what a military commander would wear on a planet that  is dissimilar to the atmosphere found on earth. He fights like the trained military man he is: with a fierceness and precision that Kal-El (Clark Kent’s birth name) does not have.

The fight scenes in the remake are fast-paced and gripping. Not only do we see these fighting scenes on planet earth, but also when we are introduced to Krypton. The pace of the film does not allow you the time to wish for the “feel good” recipe of the first Superman series. Instead, it makes you hope, at the end of the film, that in a year’s time we will be watching the next Man of Steel story.

Would I watch this story again? Yes I would – more than once. This favourite of mine has been retold in a gripping and fascinating way. And I look forward to seeing more of the same.

Have you seen Man of Steel? What was your reaction?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

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24 thoughts on “Film Review: Man of Steel

  1. Thanks, Colline. This is good to know. Nothing worse than paying for an IMAX or 3D movie only to find out it’s not worth the price of a small popcorn. 🙂

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    1. The 3D in this movie was excellent John. You sensed it throughout the film and was a natural extension of the film. The cost of the ticket was worth it and I did not feel that my money was wasted.

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    1. If you do, you will not regret it. I am not a fan of 3D (I find wearing the glasses uncomfortable over my own) but this film was really well done and made the experience more worthwhile. Watching it on DVD at home will also be a good experience I think. The story is good and so is the cinematography.

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  2. I had a great time watching this movie. It is what I hope Superman would be in today’s , a superhero with human strength and vulnerabilities. It’s a movie we can talk about many years from now just like when Superman 1 came out during our childhood days.

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  3. I find your positive reaction encouraging, and also a little surprising. It has been my impression that most remakes/updates of the classic stories of early comics and of the films arising from them would have been better left undone, with energies directed into something completely fresh. I suppose it lessens the risk to build on something familiar rather than capture imagination with a new idea, but one wishes there was more courage and creativity in evidence.

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    1. The success of this remake, in my opinion, is that they did not stick faithfully to the original series starring Christopher Reeve. In watching the remake for the first time, I noticed many differences – differences that have given the characters and storyline more depth. I am sure not all Superman fans from the 70s would be happy with the results. But this fan is!

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  4. I haven’t seen Man of Steel yet, but will I too think of Christopher Reeves – and the old black and white Superman episodes from my childhood. Thanks for the nostalgia.

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