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:: Man Of Steel

There is no disputing the fact that visionary director/producer/screenwriter Christopher Nolan has changed the landscape of comic book movies forever. Take a journey into the world of DC Comics and you’ll see that most of their superheroes are tortured souls forced into a world of brooding and darkness. It was therefore quite a surprise that whenever Hollywood decided to make a film depicting these heroes because they were often brighter films with almost a sense of comedy to them.

Nolan changed that with his “Batman” trilogy. Therefore, there was also a sense of relief for Superman fans when it was revealed that Nolan would be the creative mind behind the man of steel’s latest journey onto the big screen. The naming of Zack Snyder (known for his work on “300,” “Suckerpunch” and “The Watchman”) as director also suggested to fans that “Man Of Steel” would capture the violent true nature of the Superman comic universe.

And yesm that is exactly what Superman fans have been delivered with “Man Of Steel”. This is a film that goes back and shows the events that have made Clark Kent the man he is, but it also captures the dark confusing mood that Kent finds himself in rather than focus on his love life, like the fluffy less-than-impressive “Superman” films have done in the past. And yes it’s violent, but that is obviously part of Snyder and Nolan’s plan to make “Man Of Steel,” a film loved by true Superman fans (ie those who have bought the comics over the years), rather than just stand-alone movie goers.

Nolan and Snyder’s take on Superman begins with Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) watching the destruction of their beloved Krypton. In a bid to protect their son from the evil, marauding General Zod (Michael Shannon) Jor-El and Lara place their son in a capsule and send him to Earth.

“Man Of Steel” then flashes forward a few years to find that their son is now known as Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and is being looked after by humble farmers, Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane). For years, Jonathan has begged him to keep his special abilities secret, but Clarke just can’t stop himself from using them to help people.

As a result, he, at times, draws the attention of others and, as he tries to find his real father, soon has award winning investigative journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) seeking out information about him. But all that pails into insignificance when General Zod arrives and demands that Clarke be handed over to him.

Perhaps the most impressive thing that Snyder has managed to do with “Man Of Steel” is incorporate some epic violent fight scenes into a film, that, at its heart, still feels like a indie film. Not only is this reflected in its soundtrack, with the use of artists such as Allison Crowe, but also in its visual style and general script – just like so many indie films, this is largely a film about a man searching where he came from.

This change in the usual comic book style certainly doesn’t get in the way of Snyder creating some epic battle/fight scenes. The Superman versus Zod fights are what comic book fans have been craving for years. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have spent so much time speculating who would win such battles during visits to comic book shots. The thing that makes these scenes look so brilliant is the fact that Snyder has made them look so natural; the special effects are impressive, but they never ever distract their audience.

When it comes to the acting in “Man Of Steel,” the cast are given an absolute dream ride throughout the film. Russell Crowe seems to breeze through his scenes without losing any of Jor-El authoritarian style and, while Michael Shannon doesn’t reach the dizzy heights he did with “Take Shelter,” his performance is remarkably better than the one he gave in the recent “Premium Rush.” Likewise, Amy Adams and Kevin Costner are underused, but the young Henry Cavill does step up. Early on, he does seem a bit over-awed by the role that he playing, but as the film goes on, he seems to get a better understanding of the brooding Kal-El. You can clearly see that he is an actor who will only get better over time. Credit must also be paid to Christopher Meloni who at last gets to show his talent outside of “Law & Order”… and he does a good job.

“Man Of Steel” is one of those films that will divide audiences and critics alike. Those who are not familiar with the tones or storylines of the comics may struggle to fully appreciate the film, but those who are massive Superman fans are going to be in superhero paradise as they lap up this film. Now bring on “Justice League”!