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A movie review: “Man of Steel”

June 19, 2013

Man of Steel (film)

Last Saturday evening, I have watched “Man of Steel” in a multiplex theatre of South Kolkata and I thought I should share some of my thoughts on this movie with you. When talking about “Superman”, what comes to mind first is that he is a super human and can do anything. His has limitless strength or what we have seen in “Superman I, II, III, IV” and then “Superman Returns” in 2006 for that matter. But in this film “Man of Steel”, director Zack Snyder (the director of “300”) thought something different about the strength of Superman. If you say Superman’s strength is beyond a normal human being, what possible limit can you imagine that he can do. We have seen in earlier Superman movies that Superman can rotate even the Earth backwards in order to get back in time, lift an entire continent to out of space by bare hand etc. Your imagination might go even far beyond that. But in this film, director Zack Snyder has shown us that there should be a realistic strength limit for a man like Superman. The word “Realistic” in a science fiction film refers to the possibility even probability of an unusual event based on science. We can accept that argument. It is true that some science fiction films do not follow that logic and show us something so absurd that we can’t even accept the story in the context of realistic science fiction movie. Director Zack Snyder has shown Superman as little different than his predecessors. He looks different, tall and handsome. Christopher Reeve, the first Superman was very good looking and matured Superman compared to the last Superman Brandon Routh in “Superman Returns” who looked more like a college boy. May be there are some reasons for director Zack Snyder not casting Brandon Routh as Superman in “Man of Steel”. Although the script of “Man of Steel” is not the sequel of “Superman Returns” and it starts from the beginning, still Brandon Routh was the young and the latest actor who plays Superman. We have already seen the change of face in Spiderman series and probably will see in Batman series as well because I think Christian Bale won't be seen in next Batman movie as Batman (last Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” gave us the clue) or he will, God knows. But the script of “Man of Steel” demanded fresh face as Superman besides Brandon Routh didn’t become widely popular as Superman. But the present Superman British actor Henry Cavill is a very handsome, matured, tall (Superman must be tall), and most of all more masculine with heavy body packs (director Zack Snyder has got some obsessions with gym toned body from “300”). May be he’ll continue as Superman in next Superman movies as well. We also thought that “S” stands for “Super” and may be the people who created the famous comic character “Superman” in early 30s, also thought “S’ as “Super” and gave the character name as “Superman” but Zack Snyder has told us in his movie “Man of Steel” that “S” actually means “Hope” in Kryptonian language rather than “Super” in English language. All Kryptonians and Humans on Earth, talk in English. Some directors use sub-titles in their movies for foreign languages or sometimes, actors start talking in foreign language and gradually the same flow of talking turns into English. Zack Snyder didn’t use any of those tricks in “Man of Steel”.


“Man of Steel” is much more compact and tight movie in terms of story telling and the flow of events than that of the previous versions of Superman movies. Sometimes Superman gets flashbacks but nothing has stretched the movie unnecessarily. “Man of Steel” is rather a combined story of first “Superman I and II”. But I think the script has deliberately ignored some simple logics even as science fiction film, just because it’ll make the movie more thrilling rather realistic. I think those mistakes are intentional. First both Superman and General Zod (played by Michael Shannon) referred time as “Year”. But I don’t think an Earth year and a Krypton year both belong to the same time length. Who cares? General Zod and his associates were from the same generation of Jor-El (the biological father of Superman played by Russell Crowe) and Lara (the biological mother of Superman played by Ayelet Zurer). Now Superman grows up from infant to adulthood raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent (played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) on Earth. Like any other human being, his growth rate is similar despite being a Kryptonian. So, like Superman, General Zod and his associates should also become old but when they showed up on Earth, they were all looked the same as they were punished by Kryptonian council for their treason to deep hibernation or freezed to death at phantom zone.  But they soon got the freedom as the planet Krypton itself exploded with a bang due to its destabilized core and then General Zod and his associates started searching for the first natural born son Kal-El (the Kryptonian name of Superman) of Jor-El and Lara because they wanted the Codex (the genetic preserver of every Kryptonian), sent along with Kal-El to the Earth by his father Jor-El. General Zod has been presented not as a complete villain character rather a passionate Kryptonian whose lone purpose to be alive is to restore the planet Krypton and its people by that Codex. But the Codex was implanted into the body of Kal-El by his father and to bring out that Codex by General Zod, Kal-El the Superman has to die. Nothing comes to the way of General Zod as ethical, wrongdoing or even crime. He is focused on his goal. But when it comes to the future of Earth itself and General Zod wants to rebuild Krypton on the fossil of Earth (Terraforming), the only force that stands between General Zod and his goal, is Superman. The climax of the film shows a dramatic fight between General Zod and Superman and then General Zod is killed by Superman. Now this final fight happened in the middle of Metropolis city and caused lots of destruction. Isn’t it wiser for Superman to take General Zod outside the city to avoid that much destruction. I am afraid, the decision was not taken by Superman but the scriptwriter himself. Because what kind of war ground makes the fight more dramatic and interesting, a city or a desert, you decide. In the end, Superman wins, Earth is saved, end of story. But it doesn’t. Superman then joins Daily Planet as a Photographer cum Reporter. How did he get that job? Did Lois Lane (played by Amy Adams) refer him for that post? No. She didn’t even recognize Clark Kent as Superman (even I’ll recognize Amitabh Bachchan or Shahrukh Khan in their make ups thousand times)! If Superman rather Clark Kent has to take a job to hide his true identity, why did he become a Fisherman rather than a Photographer or Reporter in first place?

I’ll conclude this article by writing about some supporting characters in this movie. First, Perry White the Editor in Chief of the Daily Planet. It’s a cameo played very well by Laurence Fishburne. There is nothing new to say about him. I love his acting from the first time I saw him in “Matrix” trilogy. Next and last but not the least, is Faora, the second in command after General Zod. Frankly speaking the character Faora is much more attractive and sexy than the girlfriend of Superman, Lois Lane. This character is played by Antje Traue whom I saw for the first time in “Pandorum” and liked her very much. But unfortunately the character Faora is dead in this movie and same Amy Adams will be seen as Lois Lane in the next Superman movie if not changed.

By the way, let me add one more point here. We used to mock Superman that he wears underwear on top of his suit instead underneath it. I like the present suit of Superman. It looks normal.


rony mitra said...

Hmmmmmmmmmm.....Keep it up Tanmoy Da :)

Tanmoy Sarkar said...

Thanks Rony.....good to hear from you after a very long time.

Tanmoy Sarkar said...

The way General Jod was killed by Superman, has creared a new controversy.