Man of Steel (Zack Snyder, 2013)

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Jor-El: You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders. 
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Jonathan Kent:        You are the answer, son. You are the answer to "are we alone in the universe".
Young Clark Kent : Can I just .... keep pretending I am your son?
Jonathan Kent:        You are my son. And I have to believe that you were sent here for a reason. And even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.
* * * * *
Jonathan Kent: [to young Clark Kent] You are not just anyone. One day, you are going to have to make a choice. You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, it's going to change the world.
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Look, it's a no longer a bird, nor is a plane......it's Superman Begins! For decades since 1970s, Christopher Reeve was the person who made us believe a man could fly on the screen. The moment our favourite Kryptonian son dons the blue suit with red cape, bearing the "S" symbol on his chest, he is among the most recognized icon in the world. Bryan Singer briefly revived the immortalized superhero in 2006 but not quite able to make a lasting impression from the mainstream audience notably the comic book geeks.

The movie studio has a massive task to make a Superman movie without the heavily potential cheesy factor. We all know he is the beacon of Hope, Truth and Justice, he is the saviour of mankind, the Mr Nice Guy. He has no weakness, virtually indestructable (OK calm down, kryptonite does not rear its head yet). Deep down he did not suffer from childhood trauma unlike Bruce Wayne, who has tragically lost his parents during early days, Batman was a vigilante blinded by the rage and vengeance he vowed to take. Contrariwise, Superman is always portrayed as a jolly good fellow inside out. Let's be honest, a do-gooder character is boring, modern sophisticated audience wants to know how and why is the do-gooder's inner struggling with, or has he got any dark secret waiting to be unveiled.

Zack Snyder, who was handed the directorial task, must have expect a walk in the park. After all he directed the visually astounding 300 and Watchmen movies. The gestation of Man of Steel actually came from the teaming of Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, the powerhouse that brought us The Dark Knight trilogy. Does that mean we can expect the same dark and gritty approach of re-booting Superman? Well, not really. What Goyer and Nolan did was to emphasize Kal-El as an isolated alien, not merely instilling him as a superhero from planet Krypton. Man of Steel is a loosely retelling of Superman I and II movies (in 1978 and 1980) minus the villain character Lex Luthor. The prologue was panned out as in 1978's version, planet Krypton was on the brink of destruction, the newly born Kal-El was forced to send away to Earth by his biological parents. In this new version, we get to see more of the Kryptonian's world and their technology. We get to find out about their social structure as well. It is notable to mention that the Superman suit underwent a major facelift. The suit was revamped to darker coloured with textured surface, ditching red undergarment (hooray to that!) and yellow belt although the red cape remains.  the "S" crest was engraved.

Briton Henry Cavill gaves a self assured Superman-esque performance, Christopher Reeve would have nodded with approval. He looks muscularly imposing in the newly designed suit, and the alter-ego gawky Clark Kent portrayal is nowhere to be seen yet. The two patriarch figures portrayed by Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Kevin Costner as Papa Kent are my favourite parts. Despite not having much screen time, they certainly left a lasting impression. Hope to see more of them for the coming sequel.

I am all for non linear narration depicting what makes Superman the person he is, how the lonely descendant of Krypton was nurtured by his adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha in a small town farm from Kansas. While trying to find out about his true identity and his purpose in this world, he was cautioned by papa Kent not to reveal his super human abilities eventhough lives may be at stake. Those tiny details such as the first time the very young Clark discovered his power and could not control it added a nice touch to it. The way the screenplay panned out in the first half, told in bits and pieces flashbacks makes this movie such a winner. The riveting first half is about the destruction of Krypton planet to how Clark Kent embarking on quest to discover his true origin. The latter part is all about the arrival of villains General Zod et al and how the world discovered an alien has been living among them.

I do felt the movie suffered from narrative pacing problem in the second half of the movie, where the big fighting sequence between Superman and General Zod et al is a tad overkill. I have not timed it, it could be a straight 20 minutes of Superman and General Zod punching each other out. See how Metropolis' skyscrapers tumbling down, people fleeing and perishing, it is the same old, same old stuffs like watching Transformers movies. I would trade Superman and Zod punching each other scenes with Clark Kent character development scenes in a heartbeat.

This movie could be the classic in the making if not marred by the never ending CGI fighting sequence at the end. Man of Steel is now the definitive version in modern time to tell the story of Kal-El origin. In fact I boldly proclaim that this movie is going to be better with repeated viewings, as what I thought of Batman Begins (Nolan, 2005)

Unforgettable scene: It gave me a shiver to see the Clark Kent kid with the red cape plays with the dog under the watching eyes of papa Kent, it is so poetically awesome, the signature fists-on-his-hip pose with the fluttering cape!

1 star = Pathetic, SowYau feel ashamed of watching it
2 stars = Off the mark material, approach with caution
3 stars = Generally good, you should watch it if it's your favourite genre
4 stars = Excellent, strongly recommended
5 stars = A classic status? Only time will tell. But it is definitely in SowYau's Hall of Fame List

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