In 1938 two Jewish high school friends dreams were realized with the publication of Action #1 where a man in a blue union suit with a red cape and a stylized “S” on his chest picked up a car over his head.
This modern American Samson has been portrayed in a variety of films. But make no mistake this isn’t your father’s Superman. And since my first exposure to the character was George Reeves this current incarnation of the character has changed greatly.
But before I get into a discussion of the Man of Steel let warn you ahead of time there will be spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie then page down to the end see what I give it and then come back after you see it.
Now that the boiler plate has been dealt with lets get on with the movie review. I queried many people who had seen the movie over the weekend and the spectrum of responses varied to both extremes. Many loved it, almost as many hated it, and some stayed in the middle.
The story of Superman is well known and the most recent version of it was with the late Christopher Reeve but Zach Synder’s planet of Krypton isn’t the crystalline structure of the 1978 Superman, in fact it is so different if you’ve seen the 1978 version your jaw might drop. You meet Jor-El and Lar-El with Lar-El giving birth to the young Kal-El. But Jor-El already knows that this life, new to Krypton, is just the last revelation that Krypton is a dying world. Jor-El pleads with the high council for the key to Krypton’s future: the codex. Into this burst General Zod in a coup attempt against the high council. Zod attempts to recruit Jor-El as part of his rebel army but Jor-El refuses. Later Jor-El steals the codex and places it into his young son Kal-El. Zod breaks into Jor-El’s home to demand the codex only to find out that it is gone and that Jor-El has broken with Kryptonian tradition an had a child naturally. Zod crying blasphemy kills Jor-El but is arrested along with his band as the space ship carrying Kal-El flies out of the Kryptonian galaxy and into the Terran one.
Zod and crew are condemned to the phantom zone. Kal-El lands on earth. Then we see the adult Kal-El working as an itinerant worker going from job to job searching for answers. Sometimes he must show his powers by saving people, and I have to say the scene with the oil rig was amazing. Interspersed amongst this is how Kal-El, now Clark Kent, grew up. How he learned to focus and control his powers because they seem to be all working at once. Along with that is Jonathan Kent, perfectly played by Kevin Costner, guiding him telling him that the time isn’t yet right for him to reveal who he is, this is poignantly expressed by Jonathan’s final act to keep Clark’s secret.
But Clark in the far north finally does discover his heritage and who his parents were and what planet he has come from and at the moment General Zod re-enters the scene.
Okay I like this movie and let me be blunt if you haven’t ever read a Superman comic book in your entire life, you may like this movie. Yet having said that there are some die hard fans that hate this movie and frankly while they have some valid concerns I think they are being too critical.
Those folks who haven’t read the Superman comic books (shame on you) have told me they found the film too disjointed the flashbacks coming at what they thought were the wrong moments and that the last forty-five minutes of the movie a waste of time. Yet even they gave it a three out of five.
So what is the verdict? I give the Man of Steel four out of five big red capes. Go enjoy the movie.