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Man of Steel (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 21, 2013 by  



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“Man of Steel” may not feature the same Superman that many of us grew up with.  May it be the comic books, animated series or the previous films.  But as a modern take on the character with more serious tones, more action, more special effects and less humor and campiness, you may find yourself being entertained by this pulse-pounding popcorn action superhero film.  “Man of Steel” may not be perfect but if you are an action film fan who is open to an alternative take on the the DC Comics icon, then definitely give this film a try!

Images courtesy of © 2013 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Man of Steel

FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 149 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1, English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Francais and Espanol

COMPANY:Warner Brothers

RATED: PG-13 (Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Violence, Action and Destruction and For Some Language)

Release Date: November 12, 2013

Directed by Zack Snyder

Screenplay by David S. Goyer

Story by David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan

Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster

Produced by Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Emma Thomas

Executive Producer: Jon Peters, Lloyd Phillips, Thomas Tull

Co-Producer: Wesley Coller

Associate Producer: Curt Kanemoto

Music by Hans Zimmer

Cinematography by Amir Mokri

Edited by David Brenner

Casting by Kristy Carlson, Lora Kennedy

Production Design by Alex McDowell

Art Direction by Chris Farmer, Kim Sinclair

Set Decoration by Anne Kuljian

Costume Design by James Acheson, Michael Wilkinson

Starring:

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El

Amy Adams as Lois Lane

Michael Shannon as General Zod

Diane Lane as Martha Kent

Russell Crowe as Jor-El

Antje Traue as Faora-Ul

Harry Lennix as General Swanwick

Richard Schiff as Dr. Emil Hamilton

Christopher Meloni as Colonel Nathan Hardy

Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent

Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van

Laurence Fishburn as Perry White

Dylan Sprayberry Clark Kent (13 years)

Cooper timberline as Clark Kent (9 Years)

The fate of mankind is in the hands of one man when “Man of Steel”Ô arrives onto Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD 2-disc Special Edition, 3D Limited Collector’s Edition and Digital Download on November 12 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. In “Man of Steel,” Clark Kent is forced to confront his extraterrestrial.

If you don’t succeed, you try again.

For Warner Bros., “Superman Returns” was not a success they were hoping for despite nearly making $400 million in the box office.

So, who to go to when it comes to reboots?  Why not try filmmaker Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, who has had tremendous success with the Batman/Dark Knight franchise within the last five years.  Nolan has taken the Batman franchise to a more darker, action-packed, less humorous ride and each of the three films have made tremendous money.

And so both men presented the idea to the movie studio and Nolan was hired to produce, while Goyer was hired to write the film.  Filmmaker Zack Snyder (“Watchmen”, “Sucker Punch”, “300”) who has had success with his action films, was hired to direct the next “Superman” film.

Wanting to put a modern spin to the the “Superman” franchise, as what they have done with the the “Dark Knight” films, “Man of Steel” began filming in 2011 and concluded in 2012.

And the choice to go a new direction away from the previous “Superman” films would achieve major box office success as the film which was budgeted at $225 million, would go on to make nearly $663 million worldwide.

The film would feature an all-star cast which includes Henry Cavill (“The Tudors”, “Stardust”, “Immortals”), Amy Adams (“Enchanted”, “The Fighter”, “Catch Me if You Can”), Michael Shannon (“The Shelter”, “Vanilla Sky”, “The Iceman”), Diane Lane (“The Perfect Storm”, “Jumper”, “Unfaithful”), Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”, “L.A. Confidential”, “A Beautiful Mind”), Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves”, “The Untouchables”, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”), Laurence Fishburne (“The Matrix”, “Mystic River”, “Apocalypse Now”) and more.

And now “Man of Steel” was released on Blu-ray and DVD in November 2013.

“Man of Steel” begins in Krypton as Jor-El (portrayed by Russell Crowe), explains to the ruling council that the core of the planet is about to blow (due to depleting Krypton’s natural resources) within weeks and they must plan a major evacuation.  But the meeting is interrupted by General Zod (portrayed by Michael Shannon) and his soldiers who have planned a military coup to take over Krypton during its time of crisis.

General Zod kills one of the ruling class, while Jor-El refuses to join General Zod and he is sent to be jailed.  But Jor-El escapes and steals the genetic codex of the Kryptonian race and is pursued not only by the government’s leaders but also General Zod who also wants the codex.

Jor-El injects the genetic code onto his son and a memory device and he and his wife Lara Lor Van (portrayed by Ayelet Zurer) decide that the only way one from Krypton will survive is by sending their son to Earth.  As both prepare to send their son, General Zod and his soldiers arrive and a battle ensues with Jor-El defeating Zod.  And as Lara sends their son Kal-El to Earth, while Jor-El is not looking, Zod impales him with his weapon.

Jor-El dies and while Zod tries to have Kal-El’s ship shot down, he is thwarted by the government who arrests Zod and his soldiers and banishes them to the Phantom Zone, a space prison above the planet.

But weeks after, Jor-El’s prediction of the unstable core comes true as Krypton blows up and Zod and his soldiers are freed.

Meanwhile, fast forward over 30-years later and Clark Kent (portrayed by Henry Cavill) has been working a few survival jobs, where his power won’t be seen or a detriment to society.  While working on a fishing expedition, an oil rig catches fire and not wanting to have anyone die, he saves them from being killed, but in the process, losing another job.

We are then taken to several flashbacks when Clark Kent was raised in a small town in Kansas by Jonathan (portrayed by Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (portrayed by Diane Lane) with love and understanding.  We see how Kal-El has been looked at as strange by his fellow students, we see how in several instances, he has saved them from harm.  But each time, he has done it, it has caused suspicion by others in the area.

And while growing up, Clark has learned from his father to keep his powers down low and as he grew older, eventually learning from his father that he is from another world and showing him the spacecraft of where he was found.  But also learning from his father to keep his powers hidden because society may reject or fear him.

Meanwhile, as Clark is working as an assistant to Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (portrayed by Amy Adams), she learns that the military has detected some sort of unidentified object encased in ice that is thousands of years old.  As she is taking pictures, she sees Clark going towards the area where the object is.  And as she follows him, for Clark he has found the ship created by his real father, Kal-El.  And he comes into contact, the consciousness of his father that was programmed into the ship (along with his father’s dead body).

As Kal-El explains to Clark Kent about the Planet Krypton and what happened with General Zod and also about his powers and how it is enhanced thanks to the sun, as Lois Lane tries to take picture of one of the security robots, she is injured and is helped by Clark who uses his heat vision to seal her wound. Meanwhile, he transfers his father’s spaceship to a new location and Lois Lane is found by the military.

When Lois Lane wants to know about the man that saved her life, she begins investigating the man who was her assistant, utilizing several contacts in the media and eventually it brings her to Kansas at the home of the Kent family.  While Martha is not willing to divulge any information, she eventually comes into contact with Clark Kent who explains to her about what his father Jonathan explained and that was people may not accept someone who is different from them and may fear him.

Agreeing with what Clark has told her, Lois decides to keep it secret.

But when a mysterious flying object is seen flying in Earth, it is General Zod who tells the planet in their foreign language that one among them is not human.  And he wants Kal-El to give himself up to them within the next 24 hours or else they will destroy Earth.

But if he does give himself up to Zod, can he trust the man who killed his father in not hurting the people on the Planet Earth?

VIDEO:

“Man of Steel” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio) and all I can say about this film is “impressive”!  Picture quality is fantastic as closeups feature skin pores, detail on the Kryptonian outfits of Jor-El or even Superman’s blue outfit.

The colors utilized for the film is also well-done as certain scenes are warmer, while other are cooler.  But for the most part, the detail of this film is amazing.  The CG special effects, may it be the Kryptonian aircraft or the utter destruction of Kansas and New York is quite a sight with a large number of special effects to showcase chaos and destruction.

Wonderful detail with no signs of artifacts, banding or softness.  This is one of the better films I have seen in 2013 and is a reference title for videophiles.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Man of Steel” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital with subtitles in English, SDH, French and Spanish.

And let me just say that as picture quality was reference, the lossless audio is what an audiophile will absolute go crazy for because the utilization of every channel from directional effects from the surround and rear surround channels are amazing!  Dialogue is crystal clear, Hans Zimmer’s musical score is crystal clear and the special effects and LFE-use are just incredible.

There are not many films that I can remember in 2013 in which I heard constant rumble through my LFE and hear my subwoofers going to work constantly throughout the film from beginning to end until I heard the soundtrack to “Man of Steel”.  This is a magnificent lossless soundtrack for a film that is no doubt, reference quality!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Man of Steel” comes with the following special features on two Blu-ray discs:

  • Strong Characters, Legendary Roles – (25:59) A featurette about the changes of the characters throughout the years and the history of the characters.
  • Krypton Decoded – Teenage Clark Kent (portrayed by Dylan Sprayberry) hosts this short feature about the visual effects and destruction of Krypton.
  • Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short – (2:03) Celebrating the 75th anniversary of Superman!
  • New Zealand: Home to Middle Earth – (6:35) Somehow…”The Hobbit” special feature about New Zealand is on this “Man of Steel” Blu-ray.  Accidental? Or subliminal?
  • Journey of Discovery: Creating Man of Steel – (2:54:05) Watch the film again but this time with interviews and featurettes (note: Unfortunately these special features are not stand-alone).
  • All-Out Action – (26:02) A featurette on stunt coordination and the physical training the talents had to go through for this film.
  • Planet Krypton – (17:18) A fascinating documentary exploring Krypton and its lost society.

EXTRAS:

“Man of Steel” comes with a Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet digital copy code for the film. Also, a slipcover is included.

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When it comes to superhero films, one should probably accept that the film adaptations are not going to resemble the comic book series, nor will they resemble anything that we saw from the ’70s or ’90s.

May it be superhero films not just from DC Comics or even Marvel, the fact is that audiences are finicky and want something less campy, big budget and full of special effects.  But most importantly, a storyline that is well-written and manages to at least compliment the superhero as portrayed in the comic books.

Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” and Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” are perfect examples of big budget films that audiences have favored the summer blockbuster when done right.

I must explain that I’m a big “Superman” fan, I was raised on the Legend of Superheroes Superboy, Justice League of America Superman and have followed many incarnations of the Man of Steel from the earliest stories showcasing his earlier first appearances, the Silver and Bronze age to being a follower through Death of Superman, Kingdom Comes and whatever storyline that has Superman has been part of, no matter how strong or how weak, I have read and own many issues.

I grew up with the Christopher Reeve films, enjoyed “Superman Returns” and was prepared to watch this reboot that would change the character dramatically.  As part of me didn’t want to see a huge change, the fact is that Christopher Nolan has the Midas Touch and has brought in big money with his films and with he and David S. Goyer collaborating and bringing filmmaker Zack Snyder, you pretty much could expect another box office winner.

And so, I watched “Man of Steel” and as expected, it was different from the Superman I grew up with.  But I wasn’t too bothered by the modernization of the storyline as we have seen it with the “X-Men” films, especially with the “Amazing Spider-Man” film, things are going to be different and I feel that many superhero fans, especially those who grew up reading comic books have come to accept it.

But with Superman, can this character be changed?  He has been the boy scout, albeit a powerful superhero in the DC Universe.  But how far can he be modernized and how different can they make the character?

So, I had to see for myself of how “Man of Steel” was going to be and for the most part, as a popcorn action film, “Man of Steel” delivers.  The action, CG, special effects and costume design is fantastic!

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El was also fantastic as he had the physique, the mannerism and even the others who played Clark Kent, there was a look that  was reminiscent to the “Smallville” TV series (another TV show that was able to have its own storyline relating to Clark Kent).

But the film is definitely eye candy, wonderful special effects and the best to be ever used in a “Superman” film thus far.

The storyline is more serious in tone and not campy at all.  You don’t have to expect the Clark and Lois disagreements as they work in the Daily Planet as this Clark Kent is working various survival jobs to hide his superpower.

There is no Jimmy Olsen, there is no Lex Luthor, there is no older Lana Lane and you get more Jonathan and Martha Kent and the bond they have with their adoptive son. You get more Kal-El and even Lara Lor-Van, Kal-El’s real parents.

And with General Zod, it’s not the mighty three that humans have to worry about, it’s dozens of Zod’s soldiers.

In simplistic terms, it’s a story about a man trying to find himself in this world with a great power.  In previous Superman films, Jonathan Kent was aware of his son’s power as was Martha, but they were kept out of the limelight as he kept them secret and they kept his secret.

Not so with “Man of Steel”, not only does General Zod and his soldiers visit the Kent farm, Lois Lane manages to find where Clark Kent is originally from.

And as for Jonathan Kent, it was more realistic in tone of telling Clark that people may not accept him.  Whereas in the comic books or previous movies, people love Superman, they don’t fear him.

And as for Kal-El’s father, Jor-El, I like the fact that the consciousness of Jor-El was able to help his son but also help Lois Lane during their time of need.

So, the writing by David S. Goyer does sidestep from the original story with more logical situations in a world where no other superheroes live and people are just familiar with Superman (although it makes me wonder how they are going to integrate this world if “The Justice League of America” film is released and if there is any tie-in to “Man of Steel”).

So, storyline for “Man of Steel” is quite different from its comic book and film predecessor but it doesn’t mean it’s bad.  In fact, I enjoyed this alternative and logical take on the character, the modernization works as well but then comes certain issues that I had with the film.

Let’s start with #3.  I felt certain scenes were forced.  For example, there is chaos in New York City, damage galore and it felt that the writers had to sneak in an action scene involving Perry White.  As much as I enjoy Laurence Fishburn as an actor, there was no need to showcase him in an action sequence.  I felt they had to showcase human survival and teamwork with the Daily Planet staff and this wasn’t even needed for the film.

Now, #2.  The casting of Lois Lane.  I absolutely love Amy Adams and I feel she is an amazing actress, but the chemistry between her and Henry Cavill did not work.  Lois look much older for the young Clark Kent and the onscreen chemistry did not feel right.

And the #1 issue I had with this film is something I can’t mention because it would be a significant spoiler.  But it was something uncharacteristic about Clark Kent’s actions and it goes against everything and anything Clark Kent believed in, as featured in the comic books and previous films.  And I’ll leave it at that.

But overall, “Man of Steel” was an entertaining film that is meant to be more action, more serious with an edge, which Warner Bros. obviously had wanted and got with the film making a lot of money in the box office.

For a new generation of fans who have never read the comic books, watched an animated series or watch the previous films, I can see today’s generation enjoying this popcorn action film with plenty of fighting scenes, action scenes, chaos and destruction galore!

But yet, for all its campiness and its use of humor, Richard Lester and Richard Donner’s “Superman II” still ranks up as my favorite, not because of nostalgia but because it involved action but captured what Superman truly is.  But at the same time, I recognize that the 1980 film was a product of my own time, a film that captivated audiences because we grew up with the comics, animated series and saw Superman as the protector of mankind and beloved by many.

“Man of Steel” is a man finding his own way, his own path and introducing himself to the world for the very first time.  It’s a more serious but logical plot that does away with the campiness and focus on an alien being with special powers that people do fear.  But at the same time, people learning how he is one of the good guys and is there to protect people as best as he can.

It’s a different superhero for a different generation and I accept this film for what it is.  As DC Comics explores alternate storylines via Elseworlds or different writers and their take on the Man of Steel, it’s how I look at Zack Snyder’s blockbuster film.  Different but yet I managed to enjoy it at the same time.  And if I wanted a Christopher Reeve film, I can always go back to the previous films that are available on video.

As for the Blu-ray release, this is a reference title when it comes to picture quality and the lossless audio is also fantastic!  You also get nearly four hours of special features (although one special feature included is for “The Hobbit”, which may have been accidental) and it really makes this Blu-ray release much more appealing.    But I will emphasize that for 2013, “Man of Steel” is one of the better looking and sounding  films on HD that I have seen and heard.  I was very impressed and HD-enthusiasts will no doubt love the reference-quality PQ and AQ of “Man of Steel”!

Overall, “Man of Steel” may not feature the same Superman that many of us grew up with.  May it be the comic books, animated series or the previous films.  But as a modern take on the character with more serious tones, more action, more special effects and less humor and campiness, you may find yourself being entertained by this pulse-pounding popcorn action superhero film.

“Man of Steel” may not be perfect but if you are an action film fan who is open to an alternative take on the the DC Comics icon, then definitely give this film a try!






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