Movie Review: MAN OF STEEL (2013)

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Movie Reviews

Director: Zack Snyder

Stars: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon

Review by Joshua Starnes


An alien infant is raised on Earth, and grows up with superhuman abilities. He sets out to use these abilities to guard his adopted world.


Superman may be the most difficult of all the iconic superheroes to tell stories about. He is so powerful he defies the ability to fall into peril or crisis; he is so upstanding he defies the likelihood of meeting challenges with the darker sides of human nature. He defies all of the usual milestones storytellers use for creating conflict and drama.

Because of that many writers are unsure of what to do with him — do they play him straight, risking making him humorless and dull, or do they mock how straight he is and risk making him a joke.

In theory some sort of middle ground is the best way to go, but that is easier said than done and director Zack Snyder’s (“Watchmen”) has come down more or less on the straight side for “Man of Steel,” his reboot of the Superman franchise.

Unlike “Spiderman” it’s been long enough since Richard Donner first took the character on in the late 70s that a reboot is not a bad idea. And it’s been said that Superman is so plot-breakingly powerful the only real story he has is his origin, his decision to become Superman in the first place.

The basic story should be familiar even to non-fans. With the destruction of his planet Krypton eminent, scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) hastily builds a ship to send his only son (Henry Cavill) away, where he will eventually land in Kansas, planet Earth. There the unique atmosphere and solar radiation gives him power like no man has had before and with it a question he doesn’t even know how to begin answering; what to do with all that power?

It’s a good way to approach the character, but if Snyder’s film is anything to go by the answer mainly seems to be ‘beating up other superpeople and destroying lots of stuff.’ If that is the end all and be all of what you want from a superhero movie then “Man of Steel” is going to be all that you’re looking for. If you want any more than that, particularly in the character and story department, you might be in for a little disappointment.

Not that it is completely absent in that regard. Screenwriter David Goyer (working from a story with his old “Dark Knight” co-hort Christopher Nolan) does seem to have actually thought long and hard about what growing up with Superman’s powers would be like, how that would affect the individual dealing with them, and how the world would react to discovering such a person living in their midst.

They’ve come up with several different answers to that, from Kal-El’s adopted Earth parents (Kevin Costner & Debra Winger) telling him to hide what he can do, to his own sense of moral questioning about his place in the world and whether or not he can actually refrain from having a simple human reaction to some normal human provocation.

But that sort of intelligent examination of character takes up a lot of time if done right, which would take away from time being devoted to superstrong people trying to bash each other’s brains in. We can’t have that, so character and thematic development have to be squashed to quick flash backs (devoted as much to showing young Kal/Clark using his super gifts as anything else) and short interludes to make certain this two and a half hour movie never suffers from a lack of action.

The result, besides some often abbreviated character work (it’s unclear, for instance, why Perry White is even in the film) is an extremely uneven pace particularly the beginning which must rush through an extremely quick and not entirely clear opening sequence on Krypton through Clark’s early childhood so that by the end of the first hour he has already grown up, traveled to the far north, met the ghost of his father, saved intrepid reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) from an alien security robot and decided to become Superman. Complete with red boots.

And, oh yes, alerted his father’s age old enemy (Michael Shannon) to his whereabouts leaving the Earth with far more than just one alien to worry about.

Snyder has an excellent visual sense for action sequences and the unlimited power of Superman and unlimited budget of Warner Bros. create a great outlet for it — he has spent an in ordinate amount of time figuring out what these sort of action scenes would be like — the full scale of superman’s power is frequently on screen. And by frequently I mean more than half of the running time. Fully the entire last half of the film is given over to extended battles between Superman and Zod (or his lieutenants).

Individually each is fantastic in and of itself, particularly the extended battle against Faora (Antje Trau) in Smallville, who actually makes a far better villain than Shannon who seems to bounce continually from being very flat and very over the top and never with the gravitas required.

But barely is there any breathing room from that sequence before the next is getting underway. In their desire to make sure the audience gets what they want out of “Man of Steel” the filmmakers have ignored the most basic rules of story structure, skipping right over rising action in order to have a constant stream of climaxes, forgetting that without one the other doesn’t work. After a while it’s just overwhelming and a little over done.

There honestly is a lot to like about “Man of Steel.” It looks great and is technically resplendent. Snyder has put together an excellent ensemble and when he bothers to use them they shine. It’s just a little too rushed to make room for too many actions scenes which we are ultimately emotionally dislocated from due to the lack of developed story. It’s not a bad start but it could be better. On the optimistic side there is a lot of room to get better and hopefully, with the start out of the way, the next try will be better yet.

ACTORZack Snyder
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORHenry Cavill
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORAmy Adams
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORRussell Crowe
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORMichael Shannon Clark
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORKevin Costner
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORDiane Lane
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORLaurence Fishburne
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORChristopher Meloni
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORJadin Gould
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORAntje Traue
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORRichard Schiff
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORAyelet Zurer
Best of the ARTIS


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Movie Reviews

Directed by: Sam Liu

Starring: Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Clancy Brown, Xander Berkeley, Corey Burton

Review by Travis Seppala


When Lex Luthor gets elected US President, he uses the threat of an oncoming Kryptonite meteor striking Earth as a rationale to frame Superman. Superman and Batman must team up to put a stop to Luthor’s tirade and to save Earth from impending doom.


Oh. My. God! Now THIS is how you make a superhero/comic book movie! The only way “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” could have been any more epic is if it would have been live action. And even then, I’m not sure it could beat this, because some of the fantastic fight scenes probably wouldn’t be possible in a live action film even with the immense amounts of CGI that turns up in Hollywood films now a days.

During the economic downfall in the United States, Lex Luthor is voted in as the new President. His first act in office is to create a government operated team of superheros including Captain Atom, Major force, Power Girl, Black Lightning, Starfire and Katana. The new hero team catch up with Superman while he’s in pursuit of a criminal in a high speed chase and try to recruit him. Superman tells them he will not join their team because he is un-trusting of Luthor, especially now that he’s the most politically powered man in the country. Captain Atom pleads with Superman that Luthor has changed his ways, and the two almost fight before Superman finally flies away.

The U.S. Government discovers a giant Kryptonite meteor hurtling toward Earth. Rather than asking the many superheros at their disposal for help, Lex decides to destroy the meteor with nuclear missiles and says he’ll even do all the calculations himself. He arranges a meeting with Superman to arrange a pact.

The meeting between Lex and Superman doesn’t go very well and Luthor goats Superman into a battle with his “bodyguard” Metallo. Luthor flees the scene as Superman and Metallo engage in an epic fight. When Metallo proves to be more than a match for the man of steel, Batman shows up to help. Superman and Batman escape to regroup. When Metallo regains consciousness from Batman’s sneak attack, he is killed by an unseen assailant.

Lex Luthor pins the murder of Metallo on Superman, saying that the approaching Kryptonite is causing Superman to lose his reasoning due to the radiation. He claims Superman is a threat to the country and possibly the world and puts a $1billion bounty on Superman’s head.

In an attempt to find out what really happened to Metallo, Superman and Batman break into S.T.A.R. Labs and find his remains, determining that the Kryptonite powered cyborg was killed due to an intense amount of radiation. When the World’s Finest duo leaves, they are attacked and find themselves in a battle royal against more than 20 of the world’s most powerful super-villains. After the single most epic battle ever in a movie, they manage to defeat nearly all their opponents. The rest are beaten by Captain Atom when he and his team show up to arrest Superman. Not willing to be taken, Superman and Batman engage in yet another fight which ends with them fleeing with Power Girl in tow.

Luthor’s scientists fire nuclear missiles at the on-coming meteor, but they do no damage to the lethal space rock. Lex is furious, saying his calculations were perfect until it’s pointed out that it would have worked except that the meteor is outputting so much radiation it acted as a type of shield- the missiles blew up before they ever made contact with the Kryptonite itself. Luthor flees (followed by Amanda Waller) and takes a Kryptonite steroid injection. Waller discovers he’s been taking these injections for months to make himself immune to the Kryptonite radiation and now decides that if he can’t stop it, he’ll let it destroy the Earth and he’ll rule whatever is left.

Superman, Batman, and Power Girl have another battle with Captain Atom and his team. Batman gets Major Force to admit that he’s the one who killed Metallo under Luthor’s orders. Power Girl and Captain Atom kill Major Force and let Superman, Batman and Power Girl leave to try to save the Earth. But can they beat Lex Luthor and his second wave of super-powered goons, get the schematics of the meteor and get them to Toyman in time to save the planet from the oncoming ball of green death that’s already so close it can be seen with the naked eye?

“Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” is, in short, EPIC! The story follows that of the comic book mini-series of the same title almost frame by frame! Seldom does a comic book movie hold so true to the source material, and I’m glad they did because it’s one of the best stories to come out in recent years.

The animation in this straight-to-video release is fantastic. All the characters in this film have such sleek and modern looks to them that go above and beyond any previous comic book animated film. I especially love how the younger, more imposing Superman looks.

The voice talent is equally fantastic. Voiced by Tim Dale and Kevin Conroy (the same men who portrayed Superman and Batman in their animated series’ in the 90’s as well as the Justice League series), Superman and Batman shine with their true voices.

The action sequences (and there are a LOT of action sequences) are all brilliantly done. They are on a huge scale that one can only really find in the world of comic books and animation. The big fight with Superman and Batman VS more than 25 characters is truly a spectacular thing to see!

“Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” is the superhero film of all super hero films. It’s great for all ages and is superb animation filmmaking.




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Watch Batman/Superman Fan Screenplay Performance Reading

Watch Bridge Over Troubled Water (Superman Batman Fan Script), by Glenn Magas & Dale Fabrigar

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Two really old ‘friends’ that, even 50 years later – still have each other’s back. Even in dire circumstances. They are always watching over each other.


Priest – Lucas James
Bruce – John Goodrich
Clark – Andrew Tite
Woman – Melinda Michael

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