Thursday Night Movie Club
Man of Steel
star rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: 14 June 2013

Director: Zack Snyder
Henry Cavill
Amy Adams
Michael Shannon
Diane Lane
Russell Crowe
Antje Traue
Harry Lennix
Richard Schiff
Christopher Meloni
Kevin Costner
Ayelet Zurer
Laurence Fishburne
Dylan Sprayberry
Cooper Timberline
Richard Cetrone
Clark Kent / Kal-El
Lois Lane
General Zod
Martha Kent
General Swanwick
Dr. Emil Hamilton
Colonel Nathan Hardy
Jonathan Kent
Lara Lor-Van
Perry White
Clark Kent (13 Years)
Clark Kent (9 Years)
Man of Steel movie poster Man of Steel movie poster Man of Steel movie poster
Henry Cavill in Man of SteelMan of Steel is an interesting retelling of the popular Superman story from comic books and previous films. There are plenty of genuine surprises and interesting twists. Unfortunately, the man of steel himself gets lost in the carnage and sheer, utter destruction in the second half of the film.

The planet Krypton is facing it's final days. In an effort to create a more perfect society, the planet began implementing genetic engineering with the newborn babies. The babies are bred in a carefully controlled laboratory where they are genetically altered to become warriors, politicians, scientists, laborers, etc. At the end, only Jor-El (Russell Crowe) knows the mistakes the Kryptonians have made. By relegating births to artificial fertilization, the Kryptonians have deleted an important characteristic from the gene pool: the right to choose.

Michael Shannon as General Zod in Man of SteelGeneral Zod (Michael Shannon) is also keenly aware of Krypton's fate. Being a military leader, Zod has his own plans of saving the Kryptonian race. He plans to take the Codex containing the genetic make-up of all Kryptonians, take it to a new planet, and begin again. Unfortunately, the only way to enact Zod's plan is to overthrow the current government.

However, Jor-El has designs of his own to save Krypton. In secret, he and his wife Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) have given birth to a son Kal-El, the first naturally occurring birth on Krypton in centuries. Jor-El steals the Codex. Along with his infant son, Jor-El sends the Codex to the planet Earth in the hopes that one day his son will help the human race to achieve greatness. Thus ends the spectacular opening sequence.

Since everyone on Krypton and Earth know the origin story of "Superman" so very well, screenwriter David S. Goyer changes the linear aspect to the story and intersperses Clark Kent's (Henry Cavill) journey of discovery with the lessons taught by his adoptive parents Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent.

Clark travels around the U.S. picking up odd jobs. Fate dogs him at every turn. While working on a fishing boat, a distress call is picked up from an oil rig burning out of control. When Clark hears there are still workers trapped on the rig, he leaps into action saving the men. In another instance, Clark is working in a rough bar. He goes to the aid of a waitress being harassed by some truckers. Rather than reveal his powers, Clark takes the insults and quits the job instead. In both cases, Clark promptly disappears.

Amy Adams as Lois Lane in Man of SteelAll the stories of a mysterious savior mount. Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is hot on the trail trying to discover the identity of the stranger. Lois and Clark's paths finally cross deep in the Arctic where the military is investigating a find. Whatever they have found is roughly 20,000 years old. Using his heat vision, Clark discovers a scout ship from the planet Krypton. Activating the computer, Clark meets his real father Jor-El who explains Clark's origin and Jor-El's hopes and dreams for his son. From then on, Clark dons the famous red cape and the blue suit with the "S" emblazoned on the front. The Man of Steel is born.

Throughout the origin story telling, screenwriter Goyer gradually introduces several questions for Clark. As explained by Jor-El, the Earth's sun is a relatively new star. Because of this, Clark spends his formative years soaking up the nourishing rays from the sun to develop his super powers. Clark begins to suspect he is different from the other kids. Jonathan Kent tells Clark that Clark is the answer to a cosmic question: Are we alone in the universe? Jonathan urges Clark to never reveal his abilities. Jonathan fears the human race is not ready to learn about alien lifeforms, emotionally and spiritually. Jonathan knows the government will come and take Clark from them. Trust is earned. It may come with a price and it may take a while to convince some people. Citing these same reasons, Jor-El also preaches caution and patience to Kal-El.

Christopher Meloni as General Nathan Hardy in Man of SteelThe best plot twist also begins the slow decline of Man of Steel. After donning his new suit, Kal-El goes zooming around the planet in joyous bliss. As one would expect, this activity cannot go unnoticed by the spy satellites covering the planet. Instead of picking up Kal-El, the satellites discover as space ship orbiting the moon. On board the ship is none other than General Zod and his followers. They have tracked Kal-El and the Codex to Earth. Zod demands the humans turn over Kal-El into their custody. There is only one small problem. No one on Earth knows who Zod is talking about. Kal-El has no choice. To protect the humans, he reveals himself to the world and surrenders to Colonel Nathan Hardy (Christopher Meloni).

From this point to the end of the film, Man of Steel devolves into a rehash of the superior Superman II. Kal-El fights off General Zod, Faora-Ul (Ayelet Zurer), and Tor-An (Richard Cetrone). The final fight sequence is extremely shocking. Superman was smart enough to realize the humans were in danger and took the fight to his Fortress of Solitude. The Man of Steel takes the fight to his fellow Kryptonians destroying everything in their path with utter disregard for the safety of humanity. By the time the fight ends, half of Smallville is in ruins. 25 square blocks of Metropolis have been razed. Not a single building is left standing.

Henry Cavill as Kal-El in Man of SteelWhile a similar scene took place in The Avengers, the super-heroes were desperately working with the police to safeguard the populous. In Man of Steel, it's every man for himself. With the complete destruction of Metropolis, the odds are high that thousands of humans lost their lives in the battle. Some of the effects shots are so brazen as to remind everyone in attendance of the tragedy of 9/11.

Kal-El is constantly reminded by both of his fathers to be patient. Humanity is not ready to deal with the existence of alien life forms. The Man of Steel does not endear himself to humanity with the mass destruction. Even worse, General Zod plans to terraform Earth into a new Krypton. He sets up a device on each side of the planet and bombards the world reverberating pulses of energy. How will the planet and its inhabitants survive this global holocaust? Simple, Clark Kent takes a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet and everyone simply ignores the catastrophe and goes on with "life as usual". This is not stellar screen writing.

Ayelet Zurer as Faora-Ul in Man of SteelThe Superman character seems to be stuck in a rut where screen writers have no clue what to do with the character. The prior film Superman Returns was a rehash of the much better Superman starring Christopher Reeve. Man of Steel continues the repetition by reworking Superman II. The special effects are certainly better. The character has gotten worse. Henry Cavill brings no charm to Kal-El. Christopher Reeve expressed oceans of sympathy towards humanity, with a single facial expression. Cavill is stone-faced whether portraying Kal-El or Clark Kent. He is certainly as cold as steel.

Also not helping things, there is absolutely no romantic spark between Kal-El and Lois Lane. Kal-El might be conflicted as the whether he should reveal himself to humanity. The conflict is taken out of his hands with the arrival of General Zod. Director Zack Snyder takes zero risks with this film.

Two recent reboots of Superman have resulted in less than stellar films. The time has come to banish Superman to the Phantom Zone of comic books and leave him off the big screen. The chances of that happening are the same as someone making a good Superman film.... Zero!