Man Of Steel

9 Overall Score
Plot: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10
Appeal: 9/10

An enticing story and a visual array of excitement fuel one of the best superhero origin films ever.

Some of the plot elements come off as less than credible.

“I grew up in Kansas, General. About as American as it gets.” – Clark Kent

As a journalist who has lived in Kansas his entire life, Man of Steel was the reassurance of the heart, hope, and humility that has surrounded me for nearly two decades. It’s nice to see a movie that feels so close to home. Like the saying “home is where the heart is,” the the new Superman flick – directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception) – feels close to heart as well.

At a young age, Superman felt like a personal hero of mine, a symbol of hope and spirit. As the years went on, I became surrounded by the idea that it was much more worthwhile to invest their love and time into more realistic comic book characters like Batman and Iron Man. Sadly, Superman went away. But while my adolescent advancements pulled me away from the fictitious being that I once considered to be the world’s most heroic symbol, his presence never went away completely. Although he would make a return in 2006, he was overwhelmed by a lack of beauty and enticement. Plus, with the prowess of the Spider-Man and Batman films at the time, the whole idea of a worldly protector was overshadowed by humanized storylines, action, and identity struggles.

Superman - Promo 1Fortunately, this year’s Superman re-boot brings back that same youthful atmosphere that I used to hold so close to me. While watching this movie, I was reminded of days wearing Superman footie pajamas and building an entire hero-villain story with my imagination. But while Man of Steel reaches at a once-degenerated spirit and a comic book tone that was once tucked away beneath Marvel décor, it brings back the exact vibe that I got from Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I expected it to be smart and full of intricacy, but instead, the film opts for straightforwardness, and Nolan’s story work lends miles upon miles of emotion, density, and substantiality. There is weight to everything Superman (Henry Cavill) does. In fact, there is weight on every event in the film, affecting the fates of the main characters and Earth in general.

With the weight being a great thing, it was wonderful to see that Man of Steel balanced everything so well. One of the most personal elements are the characters, with Kevin Costner being a reputable Jonathan Kent and Amy Adams making a believable Lois Lane. While Cavill portrays an alien in Superman, his human potency has never felt so relatable. The performances are arguably the film’s most prominent offering, but the visual effects, action scenes, story, characterization, and soundtrack all blend together to create a harmonic superhero origin movie. Flashbacks serve as the only distraction, but they help enhance the weight of the characters’ actions. And the story as a whole was astounding. As Superman’s planet of Krypton falls apart, it’s fascinating to see how the hero becomes attached to Earth, while the film’s antagonist, General Zod, never gives up on his cause: killing all humans and restarting Krypton on Earth. General Zod (Michael Shannon) is one of the most motive-driven villains in the history of cinema, and Shannon gives a bravo performance. It’s such a powerful performance, in fact, that you may even begin to hope Zod’s intentions are not all for lost.

Superman - Promo 2Not in cinema history has there been such a well-rounded battle of hero vs. villain. It’s captivating knowing that the entire future of Earth lies in the hands of Clark Kent, and considering that both Superman and Zod both have similar skill sets, their one-on-one fight at the end was tough-as-nails, energetic, and emotion-driven. The visuals strengths of the film are also some of its most endearing features, and it helps encapsulate the emotions of the main characters, especially in huge moments, like Superman’s fight against Zod, but also in the smallest and most seemingly meaningless, like scenes in Kent’s youth playing in his backyard.

For the last decade, superhero films have become a staple of modern cinema. However, while my childhood advanced me to this period in time, where human beings with superpowers lend their abilities to the greater good of society, there was always a hole somewhere deep inside of me. This hole was located in my body’s most important muscle: the heart. As I grew older, Superman was replaced by other heroes with somewhat more “modernized” features, from Iron Man’s hard rock roots and hard rock shell to Batman’s technologically advanced gadgets. Luckily, with Man of Steel, Snyder reaches back into my heart and fills a void that I feared would grow larger and larger with time. Time may heal all wounds, but sometimes a little bit of magic and spirit is needed to repair the most unconditional of damages. What better thing to do that then cinema? While the film is merely a Batman Begins-esque opening to a hopefully fantastic superhero series, Man of Steel is an immense beginning, and a wonderful ending to a failed intimacy that brought a Kansas boy so much hope growing up.


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Author: Tim Dodderidge View all posts by
I'm a student at the University of Kansas hoping to major in journalism. I love Christopher Nolan films, eating at Taco Bell, and playing indoor soccer. I also like to watch How I Met Your Mother and enjoy writing poetry.

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