Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{Man of Steel opens in Seattle on Friday, 6/14, and is screening at The Regal Meridian 16, The Big Picture, Sundance Cinemas Seattle, The Majestic Bay, and other Seattle-area theaters} 

As a child of the 80s, It's impossible for me to talk about Zack Snyder's Superman reboot without comparing it to both the 1978 Superman and 1980's Superman II (And I've almost completely forgotten about Superman Returns, because, eh). 

Superman II hit the cable pay channels when I was on the cusp of adolescence, so the romantic Lois/Clark Niagra Falls scenes and the awesomeness of its villainous trio (Zod, Ursa, and Non) filled me with so much glee that I spent many hours in front of the TV watching; imagining myself to be either a sassy reporter in love with a flying alien, or a kick-ass chick in a sexy, skin-tight pantsuit. 

I was wary of Snyder surpassing popular villain Lex Luthor and choosing to go straight for General Zod in Man of Steel, but if you're gonna do something like that, casting Michael Shannon is the best way to go about it. Plus, you win everything EVER by casting Henry Cavill as Kal-El. I mean it, that guy is a perfect genetic specimen — who can actually ACT. Who knew? 

At 143 minutes, this film could've used just a bit more editing, but I get it: Snyder's trying to set up the whole backstory of Superman, including his planet's history, his childhood, and his struggle to understand who he is. He starts on Krypton — and this Krypton isn't a spiky ice planet with glowing red and green lights. Nuh-uh. THIS Krypton has weird matte-silver robots that follow people around, and crazy uniforms, and Matrix-like chambers of embryos, and DRAGON-things. What. 

Anyway, after Jor-El (Russell Crowe, doing a good job trying NOT to be Marlon Brando) helps his hot wife Lara deliver their son, he books over to the High Council, or Royalty, or whatever, to tell them that Krypton is collapsing because of their stupid idea to harvest its core, and they should send all the unborn babies out into the universe to further the race because it's too damn late now for all the adults to make it off the planet. 

Right about the time the crazily-crowned elders are telling Jor-El he's insane, General Zod (OHMYGOD Michael Shannon, I love you so much) shows up with his crew and stages a violent takeover. Not that it matters, because, remember, Krypton is quickly imploding. Zod murders Jor-El just as Lara launches the ship that sends their super-baby to Earth, but is shortly captured and sentenced with the rest of his team to live in a black hole. Sadly, their prison doesn't resemble a 70s album cover

Cut to an adult Clark Kent, looking lost and defeated — and obviously misunderstood, but JESUS LOOK AT THOSE ABS. Clark dodges altercations with redneck locals by smashing their trucks instead of their faces, and then moves on down the road to the next small town with his belongings slung over his shoulder (queue The Incredible Hulk theme). 

It's not long before plucky Lois Lane shows up (Amy Adams rocks it, as always) at the same frozen outpost where Clark ends up, in which some military dudes (Hey Stabler, how's it going?) have discovered an alien craft. Lois follows Clark down a dangerous cliff into the ship, where he talks to his dead father's embedded conscience and learns that as a society, Krypton kinda sucked: basically all the babies were genetically engineered with a pre-determined destiny, taking choice out of their lives entirely. 

Kal-El was the first natural-born birth on Krypton for centuries, and the beginning of what Jor-El hoped would be a brighter future for his planet. Basically, dad hoped that by sending his son to Earth, Kal could teach them all how to be more awesome than Krypton. HA! Have you even seen humans, Jor-El? Didn't you do any research before you sent him there? Seriously.

So yeah. Kal has to save Lois after she messes with an alien robot by searing her wound closed with his laser vision (OWWWWWWWWWWW – also, Adams! Best scream ever.), and then he takes off in the spacecraft so now everybody knows he's an alien. Great. 

While the military and Lois search for him, Kal tests out his superpowers in his spiffy new suit (Hey, thanks, dad! That was awfully nice of you), and then Zod and his lackeys arrive and start blowing shit up, telling everyone on earth that the only way to save themselves is to give up the whereabouts of Kal. But of course, he's lying: he's actually planning to terraform the entire planet so he can grow a new race of Kryptonians and take over the world. 

Amidst the chaos that ensues, Kal and Lois make a romantic connection, he's given the title "Superman", and we get to see a lot of flashbacks of Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Jonathan & Martha Kent (side note: dude. did you really need to paint those extra wrinkles on Lane's face and put bad grey streaks in her hair? Honestly. CHEAAAAP) . 

There's a hellava lot of CGI in this movie, there are a couple of deliberate "heartstring-tugging – isn't humanity awesome?" moments. I also foudn it interesting that no one ever addresses the massive damage Supe & his opposers do to both Smallville and Metropolis. BUT: the casting of the leads is fucking brilliant (In addition to Cavill, Adams, and Shannon killing it, Antje Traue as Faora-Ul is a stunning replacement for Ursa), the plot is decently conceived, and I really, really dug the way it all wrapped up. 

Nice job, guys. Hopefully we'll see a sequel, although you better make sure you cast someone as awesome as Shannon as your next villain. Has anyone contacted Joseph Gordon-Levitt to see if he can read for Luthor yet?