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    Posted: Mar-04-2015 at 6:28am
Man of Steel (2013), Rated "PG-13"
Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane
Directed by Zack Synder
Review by Dave Felts
Rating (5/5): 

I've seen Man of Steel twice and I think it's a fantastic superhero movie. If you've read other reviews, especially those by "professional critics", you've probably heard complaints about pacing, or how this Superman failed to hit the mark, or doesn't match up with the "real" Superman, or how Henry Cavill isn't Reeve, or it's too dark, or too brooding, or changes too much stuff....

Most of these complaints seem to be more concerned with what Man of Steel isn't rather than what it is, and comparing it rather than taking the movie independently. Maybe it's left over nostalgia for the boy scout-based Reeves Superman created by Donner almost 30 years ago. This isn't your parents' Superman, but that not a bad thing.

At its core, Man of Steel is about being an outsider, about a person's search for his place and his destiny, about coming to terms with who he is. It's about the human need to belong, to be loved for who you are, about learning to trust and overcoming the fear of being rejected. 

This Clark Kent is lonely and lost, fully aware of his outside status, afraid to be himself because maybe people won't accept him. He's searching for his place in the world, for meaning in his life, worried all the while that he'll never find it, that he'll never fit in, never be accepted, never be part of the human race. Forever alone....

He has two fathers (his Kryptonian one played Russell Crow, and his Earthly one by Kevin Costner), one who left him the mission of being a "shining beacon of hope" and another who warned him to be cautious about revealing himself in a world that probably wasn't ready to accept him. He has to find a way to merge these two separate purposes, to unify them in a way that stills his own internal conflict, yet also satisfies his undeniable need to help those around him.

He has these amazing abilities, and he has a conscience that won't let him walk away. He HAS to help, it's his nature, even though every time he does he only confirms his outcast status and lack of belonging. A large part of this film is about a man who has yet to become Superman. It's about a man who's humble and compassionate, yet unsure of himself because he's unsure how he fits into the world and how to best use his abilities. He understands that how he uses his incredible powers will ultimately define who he is. He's still discovering himself and we're discovering along with him. 

We're presented with a Superman who's never had close relationship with or trusted anyone besides his parents. He's on a journey to not only learn to trust others, but also to trust himself, that he will be able to use his powers to be the kind of person he wants to be. He's a man of two worlds, not fully a part of either, who faces a daunting choice. It's a film about self-discovery, about becoming, and about choosing. About a man coming to terms with his heritage and the responsibilities his power grants him. 

I admit I'm ignoring some of the valid negatives various critics have pointed out. The pacing is uneven. The scenes jump around a lot in the first half of the movie (maybe in reflection of Superman's own inability to choose a path?). Lois Lane (Amy Adams) shows up and suddenly seems to be in every scene, although there isn't always a reason for her to be there. There are some long action/battle scenes that don't necessarily advance the story. I consider these to be minor in the overall scope of the movie. 

I'd like to offer a nod to Michael Shannon who played Superman's nemesis, General Zod. He brings depth, humanity and motivation to the character. A villain never thinks of himself as a villain, just as no soldier thinks he's on the wrong side of the war. He does what he does for very understandable and very "human" reasons we can all relate to.
Man of Steel updates and breathes new life into this venerable DC character. Don't miss it.

Edited by SFReader - Jul-06-2016 at 1:17pm
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