Review: MAN OF STEEL Two-Disc Special Edition DVD
Have you felt like you have been forgotten because you haven't upgraded to Blu-Ray yet? Well, I'm here to let you know that you haven't been with this full review of the standard definition home release.
MAN OF STEEL (2013)
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams
Running Time: 143 minutes
-Feature Film: As much as I loved the early Superman films starring Christopher Reeve, I've always yearned for a film that's better fitted for the modern era and played with more of a straight face, so to speak. Richard Donner did wonders when it came to legitimizing comic book movies for mainstream audiences, but the early films had a sort of comedic tone to them. I mean no disrespect and those reading this will know exactly what I'm talking about. Bryan Singer gave us his attempt on a modern take with 2006's Superman Returns, which I actually thought was alright, but missed the mark when deciding to do a rehash of Donner's original. For years I've watched Superman in animated TV shows and direct-to-video films and wondered why they couldn't capture that level of action on the big screen. As you can imagine, I was more than happy when Zack Snyder fulfilled my wish.
Henry Cavill IS Superman. In my opinion, he has a sense of charm and righteousness that rivals even the late great Christopher Reeve and is even more physically imposing than Tom Welling. From the moment I saw him in costume in that first press shot in 2011, I knew this would be the man that would define Superman for the modern era. It's really as if the character just jumped off the page.
The rest of the cast also does a fine job. Terence Stamp's iconic performance had its influence felt in every interpretation of Zod since, so I fully understand why Michael Shannon wanted to break the mold and carve his own niche in the character's legacy. His Zod is very menacing and believable. I don't know if I would go as far to call him a sympathetic villain, but I definitely understand his motivation. Kudos to writer David Goyer on that one. Amy Adams may not have been the absolutely perfect fit for Lois Lane, but I liked her better than most people that I talk to. If there was ever a Lois that didn't know the meaning of the word "fear", this is it. Russell Crowe also delivered an intellectual, yet physically capable Jor-El. More on him later on. Before moving on, I must also mention Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent, respectively. For the amount of screen time they had, I thought they did just as good of a job as their counterparts on Smallville when it came to capturing the essence of Clark's adoptive and very much loving parents. It's no wonder that fans say Superman is who he is because of the Kents' upbringing.
I would be remiss if I didn't take some time out in this review to talk about Hans Zimmer's world class musical score. I've yet to purchase the soundtrack so that I can hear the music isolated, but I feel he may have topped his work in The Dark Knight Rises. His is a musical tour de force that gave me goosebumps and can be felt right down to the bone; it's the perfect aural complement to Cavill's Superman. There's such emotion and power to every note. The film's main theme (embedded below) may be my favorite superhero theme since Danny Elfman's Batman march.
Before moving on to featurettes, I must address three common complaints about the movie. I feel they are unfounded, therefore I'm providing a counterargument.
"Joylessness": Sometimes I wonder if I watched the same film as some people. Granted we have a somewhat darker tone than previous Superman films, but I felt most of it came from the film's straight faced nature. People who accuse the film of being joyless also make the statement "this isn't Richard Donner's film." You're right. It isn't. And it shouldn't have to be. The movie these people describe as wanting already exists in the form of Superman Returns. I found Cavill's Superman to be highly optimistic and the theme of hope resonated throughout. I felt like I was right there with him as he took his first great leaps and was able to graduate to sound barrier breaking flight. Superman is a character that is meant to inspire and I felt like this movie was dripping with the potential to inspire a whole new generation. If you can't find meaning in his or Jor-El's words, then I think that says more about your pessimistic nature than this film. Superman, especially as portrayed on Smallville, really helped me when I was at a crossroads in my life. His influence made me want to be a better person. I really feel that this movie has the potential to make a least one kid out there find their inner Superman and change their life for the better.
"Disaster Porn": I freely admit there was a lot of destruction in this movie. And most of it happened when Superman was on the other side of the world destroying part of the world engine to effectively save the planet. Not once did he ever display "a disregard for human life." To say so is just plain ignorant. When two Kryptonians fight in a metropolitan setting, the law of averages says someone is going to die. We have previously seen this level of destruction many times in comic books and animation (most notably in Superman: Doomsday) and nobody seemed to have a problem with it until it was presented in live action. I also love how people compare this to the Chitauri invasion in Dark Horse's The Avengers. I'm sorry, Marvel's The Avengers. Putting the publisher in the film's title really does help! Do you really think a full-scale alien invasion could take place in New York and not endure a single casualty? If anything, the events portrayed in The Avengers would amass an even higher body count.
"Superman Kills": He absolutely did. It was completely necessary to stop Zod (a character that Superman has killed in the comics). Zod flat out said he wouldn't stop until either he or Kal-El were dead. I, for one, would take the man at his word. The Phantom Zone was already closed. Are we going to put him in jail? No. If we examine this situation as if it were to happen in the real world, nobody would complain. Soldiers kill enemy combatants every day and we understand why. Now imagine if the enemy combatant had the ability to snuff out every life on the planet. Would you fire nothing but tranquilizers at the Cloverfield monster? It was a justified killing. The important thing is that Superman showed remorse and isn't a stone cold killer. I really doubt he will end up killing a mere mortal like Lex Luthor. To reference Malcolm in the Middle, he will not "experience godlike power; forced to kill again."
Feature Film Score: 9/10.
-Superman 75th Anniversay Animated Short (2 min.): The instant classic that recently blew up the internet is luckily included. Bruce Timm and Zack Snyder team up and manage to show us why Superman is so great and how he has endured in just two short minutes.
-Something Having To Do With The Hobbit (Roughly 10 min.): For some reason, a Hobbit featurette is included and I have no idea why. I could understand a theatrical trailer, but this? They could've used that disc space for something having to do with Superman. I really didn't give a damn and took my dog out for a leak while this played.
-Strong Characters, Legendary Roles (25 min.): DC's Chief Creative Officer and comic book writer Geoff Johns joins the cast and crew to discuss the history of Superman and how he is made relevant for a modern audience. Jor-El, Lois Lane, Zod, the Kents, Perry White, and other supporting characters are also examined. This had to be my favorite of the documentary style featurettes included.
-All-Out Action (26 min.): Provides a look at the actors as they go through weight training, fight choreography, wire work, and the film's big stunts. Although not as in depth, fans of The Matrix DVDs will eat this up.
-Krypton Decoded (7 min.): Dylan Sprayberry, who played the 13 year old Clark Kent in the film, hosts a segment that examines concept art and visual effects. Perhaps a bit too brief, but interesting nevertheless.
Special Features Score: 8/10.
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