The GeeksverseThe Geek Shall Inherit The Earth | Man of Steel review

The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth | Man of Steel review
Published on Saturday, June 15, 2013 by
Get in the ring with former pro wrestler Kevin J. Kessler as he shares his thoughts on Man of Steel! [SPOILER warning]

Greetings fellow lifeforms. My name is Kevin J. Kessler and I am the newest blogger, reviewer, newscaster, and all around great guy here at the Comixverse. When my good buddy Joe came to me and asked me to join this family, I was immediately honored and excited at the prospect of putting my opinions down for others to read. Ok, that’s enough about me. Well maybe not quite enough yet. One thing you kinda need to know about me before we dive in here is that I freaking LOVE Superman.

He has always been my favorite superhero. I’ve been with him through all the lows, like Superman Returns, the failed Kevin Smith movie, red underpants for 73 years, Jimmy Olsen’s comic book, etc. But I’m now glad to say that I’ve been with the “big blue Boy Scout” through the highest of highs. That apex of super hero glory came this past Thursday night/Friday morning, when I attended the midnight premiere of Man of Steel.

Ok, so the way my reviews work…I basically split them into two categories. “What worked” and “what didn’t work.” Then I follow it up with a final thought and overall rating. So easy a caveman could do it (Oops, sorry GEICO).

SPOILER ALERT! This review is going to be spoiler-rific, so if you haven’t seen this film yet and you don’t want any spoilers, step away from the screen. I’ll give you a minute.

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Still with me? Awesome!

Okay, here we go. Up, up, and AWAY!

What Worked:

Superman

Man-of-Steel-poster-1When Henry Cavill was first announced as the latest mortal to play the omnipotent Kryptonian, I honestly did not know what to think. That’s because I had never seen a single solitary thing that this man had ever done. I looked him up and of course my first thought was “A British man is playing Superman!?” At first, in my mind it was sacrilege. Superman is Americana. He is a full blown American icon. It would be like getting a foreigner to play Captain America! This is wrong! This is WRONG! Then the first picture of Cavill in the suit came out. You know the one. Him standing amongst the wreckage of that vault, crouched and wincing through pain as he leans one hand back for support. I saw this one defining image and said to myself “Oh my God, that’s SUPERMAN!”

All thoughts of reigniting the Revolutionary War over Clark Kent’s heritage suddenly vanished. There, standing before me (well, on my computer screen) was Superman. Cavill physically dominates this role. The guy really looks the part. He’s massive in size, fills out the suit, and through carefully nuanced facial expressions clearly demonstrates throughout the entire film that this is a powerful man with a gentle soul. The most telling moment for me, before I even saw the movie, was the scene in the trailer where Lois asks him what the “S” stands for.

man-of-steel-henry-cavill-superman“It’s not an ‘S’,” Cavill says with a small smile, not mocking Miss Lane’s ignorance, but instead portraying a gentle kindness for all human life which immediately made me think “this guy GETS this character.” When this film started I was proven right in this regard. Cavill clearly demonstrates the angst of an outsider who desperately wants to fit in. It’s as if he is looking at the world and the people around him through the glass prison of a zoo. He can see them, hear them, but he can never touch them or be a part of their world (Little Mermaid!!!). But, through all of that, Cavill clearly shows a deep respect and love for humanity, believing in them enough to surrender himself to the US Government. Cavill’s Clark Kent genuinely believes in people. But unlike Christopher Reeves and *shudder* Brandon Routh before him, he did not play it as though he were above them. With the Reeves films, and subsequently the afterbirth that was Superman Returns. They played Superman as though he was some benevolent god, shepherding humanity to greatness. They never gritted their teeth, or made anything look even somewhat difficult, except when Routh was getting a beat down from Kumar and lifting a Kryptonite mountain (ohhhh this will be another blog).

Cavill, through the entirety of the film, showed us that being Superman is not as easy as it seems. Everything he did in this film was difficult for him. This was most prominent in the beginning when that oil rig fell and he caught it. Now, he didn’t stand there, holding it aloft and flashing that signature Christopher Reeves “everything is going to be fine” smile. He struggled and actually cried out in exertion. This I feel was one of the single most important moments for this new Mr. Kent. We saw that he struggles as we struggle. And that didn’t end. Whether he was getting curb stomped in the streets of Smallville by Faora and Nam-Ek, or taking a throat chop from Zod in the films final moments, this Superman had it ROUGH. And through it all he never acted as if he were above the average human.

Whereas Reeves and Routh played Clark Kent as a mask and Superman as the real person, Cavill made us see that Clark Kent is more than just a spectacled inside joke Superman plays on humans, Clark Kent is the real person behind all of this. Cavill’s Superman was never seen as above it all. On the contrary, he was a very relatable, very human character. Bravo Mr. Cavill, you made me believe a man can fly!

Lois Lane

amyadamsloislaneI sat there for months while seemingly every fellow geek I knew decried the casting of the red headed wonder Amy Adams as Superman’s primary love interest and pit bull-like reporter Lois Lane. But for months I stood on my soap box and told everyone the just chill out. This woman is an actress through and through. And I’ve never seen her in a movie where I didn’t walk away finding her delightful.

Whether it was family classics like Enchanted (my wife’s favorite movie) or The Muppets (my favorite), to the classic episode of Smallville where she played the fat girl who eats people (yes, that was Amy Adams) Miss Adams delivers every time. And boy was she ever great as the plucky take no nonsense reporter. From her opening lines about wearing a flack jacket and “dick measuring,” Adams proved right away that she was not a woman to be trifled with.

This was no damsel in distress. This is an smart, brave, and tough young woman who has no problem following a strange young man into an ice cave and aboard an ancient alien ship. I truly enjoyed the direction Lois takes in this film regarding her relationship with Superman. Instead of the tried and true, she falls off a building, Superman saves her, she becomes enamored with him and doesn’t realize the bespectacled buffoon at the next desk really IS the object of her affections, director Zack Snyder gives us a fresh take where Lois discovers Clark Kent’s identity early on in the piece and works with him.

The relationship between Lois and Clark really blossomed in this one, and it was more akin to their Smallville relationship in the later seasons, where Lois is a confidant and one of the trusted inner circle. Also, I always say that the scream of a female lead in a comic book movie is important. They always scream because they’re always falling off of something large. If their scream is annoying (I’m talking to YOU Kristen Dunst) it will go right through you the entire time. Adams played her “terrified” scenes wonderfully and did not annoy me a single time throughout the course of this film.

Faora

AntjeTraue_FaoraThis. Chick. Is. FIERCE!

Antje Trau plays this character with such subtlety and bad assery that Faora comes off as being slightly more memorable than the film’s primary antagonist General Zod. Whether she’s laying the smacketh down on Superman, or terrorizing the proud men of the United States Air Force, she really owns this role.

I thought Faora would take more of an Ursa type role. Something of a cheerleader obsessed with General Zod. However, Faora-Ul proves herself to be a capable military mind and a stone cold fighting machine. Her exchange with Superman while batting him around an IHOP was very memorable. And perhaps the most telling line she has really shows the true depth of her character. “A good death is it’s own reward.” Also, the way she looked at her prey was amazing. From the first time she meets Superman and very slowly looks him up and down, clearly sizing him up, to the predatory cat and mouse half smile she gives Colonel Hardy, Trau truly made a character come alive from facial expressions alone. Faora did not have an over abundance of lines, which makes her ability to stand out in a rather crowded movie all the more impressive.

Jor-El

jor-el-croweI am not a fan of the hot blooded Aussie known as Russell Crowe. I normally find him to be tedious, arrogant, and in the case of Les Miserables, a man who possesses the single WORST singing voice this reporter has ever heard (And I’ve seen community theater productions of Cats!) That being said, I was more surprised than anyone when I truly enjoyed his performance as Jor-El. I’ll admit that when he was announced as the iconic Jor-El, I was quoted more than once saying that he belongs on a tugboat looking for people to fight, and not on Krypton.

However, I will honestly say that Crowe blew me away in this movie. From his heart wrenching final moments with his son, to his excellent fight scene with Zod, Jor-El moved the opening Krypton moments of this film along at an excellent pace. Then, Crowe really hit his stride as the artificial intelligence version of Jor-El who interacts with Clark, but most memorably with Lois. Jor-El truly served his purpose as the Yoda-like figure who helps Clark along his way. My one question though is how did a scientist become so proficient at hand to hand combat that he could take down an entire platoon of trained soldiers? Oh well. “Making movies, making songs, and FIGHTIN’ ROUND THE WORLD…. of Krypton.”

Jonathan Kent

costner_kentCan’t include one dead Superman father figure without the other! Jonathan Kent was played masterfully by veteran actor Kevin Costner. Jonathan portrayed that sense of gentle wisdom which guides Clark into the man he was always destined to become. Costner’s scene where he showed young Clark his space ship was absolutely captivating. When Clark, barely holding back tears, asks his dad if he can still keep pretending to be Jonathan’s son, Costner’s voice breaking as he says “you are my son” actually moved me to tears in the theater.

In the few scenes we had between Jonathan and Clark, I was truly shown the special father son bond that they share. I’m a sucker in movies for strong father and son bonds. I think it’s because I have such a treasured relationship with my own dad that I see the beauty in moments like this. My only gripe about Jonathan was that we didn’t get enough of him. But, that would’ve made for a much longer movie!

Perry White

fishburn_perryI will tell you all that when it comes to characters like Perry White, I am color blind. I don’t care that comic book Perry is a white man and Laurence Fishburne is not. What I care about is, whether he played the role well. That answer was a resounding “Yes!” Fishburne really understood the mindset of Perry White, the former investigative journalist now forced to play for the system. His exchanges with Lois were brilliant, perfectly capturing their antagonistic yet respectful relationship. These two butt heads CONSTANTLY, but at the end of the day, each has nothing but the utmost respect for the abilities of the other. And from my own personal experience as a reporter, you aren’t a good reporter unless you’re butting heads with your editor.

I thought Perry showed a clear love of journalism and a respect and almost father like love for his employees. When Metropolis is literally falling apart, this man would rather risk his own life for the sake of an intern, than flee for his own personal safety.

Jimmy Olsen

I know right now you’re saying “Kev, Jimmy Olsen wasn’t even in this movie!” And to that I reply, “EXACTLY!”

Jimmy Olsen is everything wrong with Superman. The dated concept of Superman’s ginger bow-tie clad “pal” is dated and boring. This movie did not need a Jimmy Olsen and thank glob they didn’t try to shoe horn him in there.

Jimmy is also, infuriatingly, the most non consistently written comic book character this side of The Joker. By that I mean nobody writes him the same way twice. If you have three separate Superman titles, you will have three very different Jimmy Olsens. This seems like fodder for a future opinion article. More on this ginger waste of space another time!

Action!

The major complaint with Superman Returns hereafter referred to solely as The Afterbirth, was that there was an extreme lack of action. IMDB reported that hack director Bryan Singer actually wanted to return to this franchise to direct this. All I can say is THANK GOD somebody at Warner Brothers has a brain in their head. But where The Afterbirth failed, Man of Steel gleefully succeeds. The action was breathtaking. I dare say I’ve never seen anything so astounding in my life. The speed at which these Super beings moved was incredible. And to watch them combat each other was  a thrilling experience.

When Superman battles Faora and Nam-Ek on Main Street Smallville, it’s purely incredible. The wanton destruction caused by these powerhouses as machine gun fire rains down upon them was excellently done. I particularly like that Superman gets his rear end handed to him for the majority of this movie. These are seasoned warriors he’s facing off against, who have trained their whole lives for combat. Clark has never so much as taken a beginners non-contact Tai-Kwon-Do class at the Smallville YMCA. Of course they’re gonna pound him into the pavement….literally.

Then I almost squealed with joy (Okay, I did squeal with joy) when Superman takes on the terra-forming monstrosity known as the World Engine. The thing grew tentacles and we had Superman fighting a giant monster! This is a constant in the comics which has never been done in live action. Watching him combat this machine of mayhem was excellent, and the way he destroyed it was the exact same way Russel destroys the alien ship in Independence Day. I half expected Clark to yell out “Alright you alien assholes, in the words of my generation, UP YOOOOOOOOURS!”

Then we have our final encounter. Superman taking on his arch nemesis General Zod. This fight RULED! I like that it had two distinct parts to it. We had the brawl in the streets of Metropolis, followed by the sky fight, which was breath taking. I hope the Wachowski siblings were paying attention. That’s how you do two super beings flying and fighting each other. Not whatever that final Neo vs Agent Smith fight was in Matrix Revolutions. All in all, Snyder has developed a new style of action in this film and I for one find it incredible. For the first time ever in live action, Superman kicked some butt.

Krypton

I LOVED the portrayal of Krypton. Gone was the barren ice and crystal planet of old. In its place was a lush teeming world full of vegetation and life. Though did anyone else notice the Council looked like the Time Lords from Dr. Who? Also, one thing I decidedly geeked out like a school girl for was that Krypton’s moon was in pieces. If you’ve ever read the novel Last Days of Krypton you know this was done by the militant Jax-Ur utilizing a Kryptonian weapon of mass destruction. An incredibly subtle Easter egg.

Easter Eggs!

There were a TON of Easter Eggs in this film. I’m sure I didn’t notice all of them but I’ll list what I can. The Smallville water tower was written in the exact same font as the main logo of Smallville the television series. Sullivan Tractor Repair, obviously a veiled reference to Calrk’s childhood friend Chloe Sullivan. The Smallville High School varsity jackets were the exact same jackets from Smallville. The boy trying to get Clark to fight him was Whitney Fordman, the infuriating quarterback of Smallville fame. During the fight in Metropolis you can clearly see two Lex-Corp signs. One on the side of the oil tanker and the other in the construction site. And this last one is something I think I saw. When Zod and Clark fight up into space, I’m pretty sure the satellite they land on has a Wayne Enterprises logo on it. GEEK OUT!

Zack Snyder

Can’t praise a film without praising the man behind the camera. This geek-turned-filmmaker has created a new Superman for a new era. His unabashed fandom truly rings out in this piece and I whole heartedly support his new and improved vision for the Man of Steel.

What Didn’t Work:

Zod

shannon_zodNow I did not hate Michael Shannon’s portrayal of Zod, but I also didn’t love it. And since I loved so much about this movie, it seemed fair to put this on the list of things that just didn’t work for me. This was a much different general Zod from previous incarnations.

Whereas in the past, Zod was an extreme dictator obsessed with making people kneel before him, this Zod was driven by duty. This Zod will go to any length to protect his people from extinction. This Zod fully believes that what he is doing is the right thing. And I do applaud this approach.

What I did not applaud was Shannon’s slurred almost bored portrayal of this larger than life figure. It seemed as if this Zod only had two modes. Quiet exposition and screaming. All in all it did not make for a very memorable or compelling antagonist. I was disappointed but it did not ruin the movie for me.

Death of Jonathan Kent

I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe Jonathan Kent ever needs to die. Superman already has one dead dad. Does he really need two? Despite my beliefs, Jonathan Kent has clearly gone the route of Thomas Wayne and Uncle Ben before him. He is now destined to die in every incarnation of Superman. Ok, I can get over that. What I didn’t like was the execution of his death.

I understood the whole “Jonathan doesn’t want Clark revealing his powers” concept. But were I in Clark’s shoes, and my dad is about to be sucked up by a tornado, and I have the powers of SUPERMAN, him holding up one hand and shaking his head is not going to stop me.

I would’ve redone this scene to where Clark goes to great lengths to stay hidden as he rescues Jonathan and brings him back to the overpass alive. But the shock and stress of the situation causes Jonathan to have a heart attack and he dies. This shows Clark that even with all of his powers, he cannot save everybody, a lesson Superman must always learn on his journey. But this is Snyder’s vision and not mine.

Murder

Ok, this one is the biggie so sit tight folks.

At the end of the film, Superman kills Zod. Full out cold bloodily murders him. Zod is about to execute a human family, Superman goes to stop him but he realizes he can’t and these people are going to die. So he kills Zod to stop the horrid act. Superman doesn’t kill. At least not MY Superman. It’s just not a part of the moral code which he structures his life by. The World would be a better place if he punched a hole through Lex Luthor, but he doesn’t.

Now, while I may not have liked that it happened, I did like HOW it happened. Cavill plays it brilliantly. You see the wheels turning in his head as he tries to stop Zod. Then, you see the dawning realization that he just cannot save these people without doing the unthinkable. He makes the decision and it clearly pains him. He’s anguished as he breaks Zod’s neck. Then he falls to his knees, looking at Zod’s lifeless eyes, trembling with unbridled emotion. Then, he let’s out a heart breaking anguished cry. Truly a moment.

Superman has killed before. I remember one instance where he murdered three Kryptonian villains from an alternate with green kryptonite to stop them from coming to his Earth (though I believe post crisis that has been retconned). And of course we all remember him and Doomsday beating one another to death.

If they’re going the route I think they’re going with the sequel, this one act could be a defining character moment. I foresee Superman in the sequel being deeply affected and troubled by this one moment. I think it will haunt him. Maybe even make him afraid to truly unload with his powers. This will lead to him making that solemn vow that the will never again take a life. If that’s the end result, then I’m cool with this. Also, if you’re a pro life person who considers fetuses to be life forms, then Clark murders a billion people in this film when he blows up the Genesis chamber.

Reviewers

People are being unfair to this movie. While there are a lot of positive reviews out there, there are also a lot of negatives. But the things that these reviewers are trashing it for don’t make sense to me.

One major gripe that I see is that many don’t feel the relationship between Clark and Lois is properly built. I respectfully disagree. They’re around each other constantly and Adams brilliantly shows the slow progression from curious reporter, to caring friend, to woman with a crush so subtly that I think it almost goes over a lot of heads.

The other major bashing I’m seeing against this film is that the last 40 minutes is nothing but action. Ummm, you know what other film had a 40 minute long action sequence as its finale? The Avengers, which is a film these people all loved. So I don’t understand why it’s ok for Marvel to do something but not DC. Anyway I digress.

Final Verdict

In case you couldn’t tell, I freaking LOVED this movie! The film fan in me loved it and the geek in me adored it. I foresee excellent things in the horizon for DC films. A sequel has already been discussed with a Justice League movie now gaining some serious momentum. If you want these things to happen, keep going to see this and help this film enter the billion dollar club.

A weird Jonathan Kent death and the murder of General Zod keep this from being a perfect superhero movie. But Man of Steel is a fun filled action-packed explosion of awesome that entertains from start to finish.

That does it for this first edition of The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth. Hope you had a good time! There will be more on the horizon, and I’m going to try and update on a fairly regular basis.

Until then, I’m Kevin Kessler.

Geek on my friends!

Kevin J. Kessler is a 28 year-old experienced professional writer and journalist with nearly a decade of experience. On top of writing, Kevin is a veteran professional wrestler, currently retired and working as the main play by play commentator for the pro wrestling company UWA Elite. Check out uwaelite.com to see (and hear) him on their two weekly Web TV shows Allstarz and Action Zone.

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