Archive for June, 2013

Man of Steel (TheByteScene Review)

Date: June 16th, 2013

 

TheByteDaily

 

Man of Steel

 

4 Superpowered-deity-figures out of 4

 

The world isn’t ready for a superman.

 

For the duration of Man of Steel’s 143 minute running time, that is the single most discussed question the film attempts to tackle. Ignoring the multitude of philosophical questions that arise at the existence of a superman, none is more pertinent than the issue of how we as a planet will react to their existence. In my conclusion, the world isn’t ready for a superman.

 

The planet Krypton’s core is about to collapse on itself from an accumulated waste of resources over countless generations. The Kryptonian scientist Jor-El alerts the high council of this information, only to have the elders scoff at his insubordination and arrogance. The Kryptonian general Dru-Zod enters the council chamber announcing a coup d’etat, claiming that the high council has reigned for too long producing too little for the people of Krypton. Zod agrees with Jor-El’s sentiments, but differs in the application of his beliefs.

 

Played with little effort by Michael Shannon, General Zod lacks the gravitas one would attribute to a military general, or a villain of any kind. Instead, he serves as a man forced to play his hand at the announcement of the genocide of both his people, and his planet. Under different circumstances, Zod would be less of a terrorist, and more of a revolutionary. Played masterfully by Russel Crowe, Jor-El has given up on his planet’s salvation, and has placed his faith and his hope in his newborn son, Kal-El. Sending Kal-El to Earth in a ship marked with the House of El’s seal, the Kryptonian scientist knowingly changes the fate of both Earth and Krypton.

 

Believing that the day will come when Kal-El will be able to lead the people of Earth into the sun, Jor-El assumes that we will be ready for the arrival of a saviour.

 

This son of the house of El grows up on a farm, raised by two Kansas farmers in the town of Smallville, USA. Their names are Jonathan and Martha Kent, played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. The boy is raised as their own; naming him Clark, Jonathan urges his alien son to hide his powers to avoid exposing himself to the horrors and condemnation of the human world. Struggling to find a balance between helping and hiding, Clark’s eventual journey is chronicled in flashback sequences edited to near perfection with the events unfolding on-screen. If there’s anything wrong with the movie, it’s the herculean task Jonathan asks of his adopted son. The idea that a hero must hide himself away for the right moment, hiding his powers, and forcing himself to avoid being an instrument of salvation is almost incomprehensible. Regardless of the audience’s own beliefs, it’s impossible to deny the truth in the elder Kent’s words; the world is not ready for a superman.

 

Henry Cavill plays a different kind of hero than Christopher Reeve; Cavill’s is more stoic, more real, with fewer lines of witty banter or snappy dialogue. What can be said in a paragraph of monologuing is delivered through a single glance, half a minute’s worth of dialogue is resolved in a conflicted stare. Cavill is able to portray a character bogged down with the notion that he must wait for the right moment, while never knowing when that moment will reveal itself. His acts of heroics are carried out in the shadows, and when his moment finally reveals itself, the burden of truth weighs heavy on his shoulders.

 

This is a Superman in an age where supermen no longer belong. This is a superman struggling to come to terms with both his humanity, and his alien heritage. That he falls for the human Lois Lane, played well by Amy Adams, and is forced to battle his own people to protect his adopted home is only the tip of Superman’s existential crisis.

 

Interestingly, action carries the majority of the film; the movie opens with the destruction of Krypton, and only takes breaks to let Clark Kent grow up and General Zod to distance himself from humanity. Whatever exposition exists in quiet, solitary moments, but philosophy, symbolism, and imagery permeate the entire movie. For a summer blockbuster so full of action and movement, and a hero so impossible to connect with, David S. Goyer writes a script begging to be challenged and analyzed, and a character begging to be related to. The film grows with the character, allowing the audience to grow in turn. The soundtrack is deep, eclectic, and visceral, giving a conflicted character varying levels of resolve. Hans Zimmer manages to perfectly convey the Superman that Zack Snyder has directed.

 

The film concludes that the world needs a superman. I argue that this is true; we need a superman. However, I genuinely believe that the world is not yet ready for one. Man of Steel is one of the greatest representations of the Superman character, and should be congratulated on finally bringing the essence of the character to mainstream audiences. By focussing on the man, and using the super as a plot hook, the film manages to convey a universe larger than our own, inhabited by beings beyond our comprehension.

 

I end with a final word regarding the movie’s critical and popular reception. This movie, and every aspect of it’s release including its soundtrack, has divided audiences.

 

It should.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the avid blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK