A Super Remake: Man of Steel Movie Review

There are two things you need to know before you read this review from my perspective.  1. I am a Jesus lover. 2. I am not a huge Superman fan.  I’m not sure which one will offend some people more but there it is.  These were the lenses through which I watched a preview of Man of Steel this past Monday night.  The film surprised me in both perspectives.

Big budget geek movies are a hot ticket this summer.  After not visiting my local cinema for months, I’ve already chalked up three in a span of weeks thanks to a comic book and sci-fi smorgasbord.  But Superman?  The man in the red cape and matching tighty redies was never my thing.  Perhaps this is because it seemed too easy-a flawless, god-like alien who can do anything and especially enjoys flashing his abs and catching falling damsels.  What makes Man of Steel so compelling is that it brings out the weakness and humanity of Superman.  This is also what set my Jesus senses tingling.  In this weakness we see just how strong he is.

In the beginning, Man of Steel expends a lot of its script fleshing out the world of Krypton.  We see the race of “supermen” as they wreak havoc on each other and their planet.  Comic fans probably have mixed emotions about the portrayal of their world, but as an outsider, I appreciated the back story.   Flash forward and we’re following the life of Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) as he tries to lose himself and mask his abilities in the modern world.  Then we flash back to Clark’s childhood and witness his struggle of fitting in and hiding his powers with the help of his loving earthly parents.  The script superbly balances the flash back and real time storytelling so that viewers aren’t lost.  Man of Steel does what comic adaptations of late have mostly handled well-it tells a subtle story of a plausible superhero in our modern society.  David S. Goyer of Batman fame wrote the script along with some story help from Christopher Nolan, so it’s no wonder the plot and dialog were tighter than Superman’s…boots.

Next, we meet Lois Lane (Amy Adams), a cheeky reporter who has a soft spot for covert military correspondence.  This is when the story really picks up and the cape goes on.  Watching Superman learn to fly was a cinematic treat.  Special effects and sound mixing are often the stars of this film.  Certain prolonged fights tend to get achy on the ear drums but as my hubby pointed out, make the viewer experience a sort of Superman sensibility as we hear clearer and see with pinpoint accuracy how many panes of glass shatter in Metropolis.

As with the story, the acting is more subtle in this film adaptation.  We see more human moments thanks to Cavill’s introspection and Adams’s stable yet vulnerable Lois Lane.  Other headliners like Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane crowd the screen like a well-cast Shakespeare production.  Michael Shannon is a standout as the unrelenting villain General Zod.

Christ-imagery has always been a reference in the Superman mythos and this aspect is undeniable in the spiritual theming throughout the film.  How this film handles this side of the Man of Steel is laudable.  Clark never sees himself as a god but instead asks why God gave him his abilities.  When he weighs the responsibility of using his powers he has a Gethsemane moment, asking if he must indeed drink the cup that has been handed to him.  His Kryptonian father repeatedly tells him that he was born to bridge two worlds.  Superman isn’t Jesus, but his savior archetype helps us draw parallels between the spiritual and the human in a film world that isn’t always friendly to the Man of the Cross.

As a geeky summer movie season explodes, make this remake a priority.  Thanks to Zach Snyder’s crafty direction, a sophisticated script and just plain fun special effects, I’m a fan of Man of Steel.

"On my world, it stands for hope."

“On my world, it stands for hope.”