Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Top 5 Things I Love About Man Of Steel

As those of you who follow me on Twitter will be aware. I was not a fan of Man of Steel, in fact I was screaming betrayal at the top of my lungs and proceeded to get very drunk straight afterwards... and drunk-buy video games from Gamestop too. However, in an effort to try and come to terms with an adaptation of Superman that I really, really wanted to enjoy but felt it missed the mark, quite dramatically so with the ending, I am going to do two lists, this week is the Top 5 Things I Love About Man of Steel. This is because there are very good parts to the film, but next week will be the Top 5 Things I Hate About Man of Steel.

Obviously SPOILERS AHEAD FOR MAN OF STEEL, so don't read any further if you haven't seen it yet.


Okay? We good. Let's begin with something easy...


Starting with something easy, The Soundtrack to Man of Steel is excellent. Hans Zimmer brings the epic quality he had in his work on The Dark Knight trilogy to this movie and perhaps does an even better job. With Batman the soundtrack was as epic and great but at times a little repetitive. Now if there's anything about Superman I can say that I really enjoy, it's that despite all these powers Superman in general is one of the more subtle and harder to understand. As I've said before, he's not someone to be related to, but looked up to - to aspire to be like. This soundtrack truly captures this feeling, of a man alone, with the weight of the world on his shoulders but rising above all that, above the petty wars of humanity but never to a height we can't reach ourselves. The soundtrack feels very human at times, like for example in "What Will You Do When You're Not Saving The World" a track remixed for the trailer. When the piano parts play and we get this really soft melody that grows, adds drums, adds strings and grows triumphant until we truly get the feeling that this is the rise of the hero, not just any man, but a Superman as he bursts onto the scene for an adventure. The theme for Zod is bombastic and dangerous but never feels campy. As with the main theme there will always be inevitable comparisons to John Williams's amazing work on the original movie. Zod's theme in that was perhaps a bit better and more terrifying but also more fitting for a Zod that felt more evil than "programmed this way" as the Zod in this movie is.

In the end the soundtrack had to change, even if Williams's soundtrack is my favourite of all time, Zimmer's is nothing to be scoffed at and helps establish this movie as truly it's own. This says Superman but it also says Clark Kent, it says Smallville, it says Metropolis and it says Krypton. It really says it all while being so subtle and doing something inherently of it's own that it doesn't even require comparisons to Williams's work because they're both very fitting for their versions of Superman. I've seen for example versions of the Man of Steel trailer with the Williams music, it works and shows you the tremendous power that score has but the Zimmer score is a better fit for the story they're trying to tell, one with less mystery to Krypton and more of a journey for Clark Kent to become Superman.


While I didn't like the way the fight ends and the overt destruction porn element of it all. This fight sequence is absolutely fantastic, really hard hitting, edge of your seat kind of stuff. This is the kind of fight that Superman II wishes it had. While I do enjoy watching that it feels a little dated. This fight is even better than the last 45 minutes of The Avengers for me with the Battle of Metropolis feeling more focused and far more personal for Superman as he fights his nemesis than The Avengers fighting in the Battle of New York against a bunch of nameless faceless forces before Hulk shows off just how much of a "puny God" Loki really is. They're using their powers to their fullest, punching, flying slamming at full speed, picking up objects and hitting each other, melting said objects with heat vision; you really feel like this is a battle for the ages, two titans clashing in the skies above a city as Superman and Zod duke it out for the fate of the world, finally capturing what a superhero fight sequence this epic should look like in live action like it's never been done before outside of comics and animation.


Rather like with the soundtrack, while I really enjoyed the way Donner made Krypton look and the fact that to this day I still don't think Christopher Reeve in his blue skin tight spandex and red underpants looks even remotely silly, he pulls it off; this movie excels in the production design from the costume to Krypton everything looks fantastic and the visual aesthetic of the movie is gorgeous. It's a beautiful movie and really shows off everything that a realistic, but still comic book based movie should look like. I'd liken this to the 1989 Batman's aesthetic. While I never disliked The Dark Knight's style, I always felt it was a little too... plain and real. In Batman Begins it looked very nice seeing the scummy underworld but as the movies progressed they became less stylised and more "crime drama realism" which while it showed the effect Batman had on his city it also showed Gotham as just any other city, there was nothing unique about it. The Tim Burton movies had this overt cold gothic feel to Gotham City that made the city feel like it was a character of it's own. The same can be said for how Metropolis looks and feels, how Krypton looks and feels and how Superman looks in that chain-mail esque suit of his. It's real, it feels tangible but still stylised beautifully. Look at Zod's Kryptonian battle armour in this clip here, it looks functional yet stylised it looks awesome and epic, comic book, yet real, it feels fantastic.


Henry Cavill nails it. No-one can ever replace Christopher Reeve in the red and blue suit but Cavill does his own thing and looks the part. He looks like Superman through and through and he plays the role fantastically. And he's not the only one from Amy Adams as a much smarter and more interested adaptation of Lois Lane,  who like pulitzer prize winning journalist that she is, figures out who Superman is long before anyone else does, a realistic and dramatically different take to the norm but very believable. Especially the way she's played by Adams. Michael Shannon screams and rages a lot, he's Zod alright, that over the top character once made famous by Stamp, sadly never saying "kneel" not even once, but every bit the over the top aggressive mad man. But this one is very believable and somewhat empathetic. He's a product of the broken Kryptonian Caste system and Shannon portrays him as such, he sees nothing wrong with what he's doing as it is what he was born to do, literally as that's how people are made on Krypton, not via natural birth as Kal-El is conceived at the start of the movie but as perfect members of society, told how they will act, why they will act this way and their entire lives planned out into utter stagnation from there on out. Perry White played by Lawrence Fishburne feels like the character, he's tough, he's funny and he isn't taking any shit from Lois because he knows better. The casting is great, and while I was overall disappointed with this movie as you'll find out next week, the cast and their portrayals in general, especially Cavill as Superman make me want to see what they'll do in a sequel.


This single scene made the list because it's incredible. But more than that it shows who Superman really is, he's not the Man of Steel, he's not Kal-El of Krypton, he's Clark Kent, he was raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent on Earth in Kansas, as the line goes at the end of the movie "I've lived here for 30 years, I'm from Kansas, General, I'm about as American as it gets." Like the scene later in the movie where Jonathan sees his son with the cape as a child, and that gorgeous piano music plays, signifying that Jonathan knows who Clark really is, who is he desitined to be, the protector of Earth and his son. This scene shows how Clark truly cares about the people of Earth and how he isn't going to take any shit from Zod or anyone else from Krypton. The moment Zod threatens Martha, Superman slams into him drags him through a cornfield and slams his fist into him over and over again, it's an awesome scene and really shows Clark's protectiveness of his family and that no-one not the military not even Zod would dare lay a finger on Martha for fear of unleashing all hell... that all too human side of Superman that will protect his own and will do the same for the whole Earth, maybe he's not there quite yet but he's doing what he can. It's a badass moment and easily my favourite scene in the film when it's followed up by Clark talking about how his parents taught him how to harness his powers properly, remembering that great scene in the school where his X-Ray vision and super-hearing kicks in and the young Clark realises the gravity of his existence on Earth. Martha helps her son to make the world small, make his mission small, one person at a time and in this moment this person is her. He saves her and punishes Zod severely.

So those are my top 5 things I loved about this movie... next week, I unleash my inner General Zod and rant about why overall I was disappointed in this.