Sunday, June 16, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Hello all. While Stacy did nearly all the work on this post (and did a super amazing job!), we agreed that I (Maria Gianna) might add some things in italics. Not really necessary, but the movie's awesomeness makes a review very challenging to write.

Title: Man of Steel
Author: DC Comics
Genre: Action, Adventure
My Rating: *****
Brothers' Rating: After intense discussion, our two brothers decided to give it (Pi x 1.5) stars, which, I have calculated, equals about 4.7. So I've determined that they also give Man of Steel 5 stars.
Official Rating: PG-13
Age Group: 15+

My Summary:
Krypton is a dying planet. The Kryptonians have exhausted its resources, and have destabilized its core during the process. They have become an immoral race, and Jor-el, realizing his planet's impending doom, attempts to save his beloved people by sending his only son, Kal-el, to the thriving planet Earth. He also sends the Codex of the Kryptonians, which holds the genome of the race, for future reproduction.
General Zod also wants to save his people, but his way is much bloodier - he is willing to do anything to get the Codex back and reestablish his race, even if it means annihilating humanity.
Kal-el crash-lands in Kansas and is raised by two loving people who try to hide his real identity from the world. It's kind of hard to do, though, when Kal-el (now named Clark) develops superpowers and unsubtly uses them to save lives. When he grows older, Clark starts town-hopping: doing good here, saving someone there, always disappearing when someone notices his extraordinary powers.
Lois Lane, however, isn't easily deterred. As a nosy journalist, she insists on finding this Superman who may be the first alien life on Earth. And after being personally saved by him, her determination becomes insatiable.
But General Zod is determined too. He's searched for over 30 years for Kal-el, knowing that Jor-el has given him the key to the Kryptonian race. When he finally discovers Earth, he issues an ultimatum: surrender Kal-el, or Earth will be destroyed.

The Bad: (In no particular order)
Lots and lots of violence. Basically, if you see a building, expect it to be destroyed. There is not really any blood, per se, but there is definitely death.
General Zod attacks the Kryptonian capitol in an attempt to take over - we see him shoot several people with a laser gun, and they all die.
General mayhem ensues as Krypton self-destructs.
A tornado rips through Kansas, and the death of one man is presumed.
Clark faces some frightening situations in the beginning of his career as a hobo/lifesaver, including an exploding oil rig and a violent trucker.
Both Clark and Lois are attacked by a robot. Lois is wounded, and Clark cauterizes her wound (off-screen). She screams.
Zod is an unscrupulous killer. He is willing to destroy the human race in order to save his own. We see visions of this desire, including one of Clark sinking into a sea of skulls.
The last half of the movie is basically all destruction and violence, and so I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail. Essentially, a whole town is destroyed during a fight (we don't find out what happened to the people there), Metropolis is semi-destroyed, we hear people screaming, both from a distance and, in one case, as a close-up. We do not see too much death up-close, except in a few cases, but death is certainly presumed (pretty horrifically). A man drives a plane with several people in it into imminent danger; all the people die. Superman and Zod fight almost constantly in various circumstances. Because this violence isn't bloody, it isn't too hard to take, but it will pose a problem for some people.
One particular instance of violence is more remarkable. Superman must kill an evil man in order to save a family. His action is totally justified, but hard to watch.

Beyond violence, there are only a few objectionable issues. Several swearwords are used, including various forms of a**, two or three h**ls, and one very noticeable and crude comment about d**ks. We see a baby boy naked several times, and Clark is shirtless and almost pant-less during one scene (not awkwardly, however). A trucker makes unwanted, inappropriate advances on a girl in a bar. Superman, when exposed to a Kryptonite atmosphere, begins coughing blood.

Minor problems include Clark stealing out of necessity and wrecking a truck out of revenge/annoyance. He also is disrespectful to his adopted father (who has questionable views when it comes to morals and Clark's actions) in one scene. Superman and Lois kiss. There are a few slightly inappropriate pick-up lines used by male characters, and Lois makes an awkward comment about the bathroom situation in the Arctic Circle. We see a woman giving birth.

Things I'm not sure about: Jor-el's "consciousness" exists outside his body. The Kryptonians use artificial means to reproduce - Kal-el is the first person in centuries to be born naturally. This is obviously wrong, but the problem is never fully addressed in the movie. While I agree that this problem was not entire developed, Jor-el did blame the fall of Krypton on their decision to put into place this artificial reproduction system, citing a sort of chain reaction which, according to him, started with the unnatural births. Unfortunately, this sub-plot remained entirely too "sub" so that it nearly disappeared altogether.

Note: I know I'm missing things in this list. I think I've covered most of the main stuff (except for the violence), but be forewarned that there might be more. I apologize for this.

The Good:
For all its imperfections, this is a good, moral movie. Honestly, I don't know where to begin on this one. There's courage. There's manly strength. There's awesome father figures. There's awesome wisdom from the father figures. There's strong, loving, really cool women. There's self-sacrifice. There's respect for life. And the whole story is an allegory (albeit an imperfect one) for the Christ Story. Superman's story has always been this way, but never have I seen this particular connection made so strongly before, even with his story. It was clear and the movie never let the viewer forget it. In a word, it was beautiful.
Soooo... I'm not even going to try and dissect the awesomeness.

My Thoughts:
I firmly believe that every story that has ever been written is Christ-centered in some way. Many stories are so warped that their reflection of Christ is almost impossible to decipher. However, the same number, if not more, portray Beauty as it really is. And Beauty is Truth, and Truth is Christ.
Fairy tales and myths, I think, come closest to this ideal. And in some ways, modern superheroes are our attempts at new fairy tales and myths. Some are more Christ-centered than others, but in general, the awesomeness of self-sacrifice shines through our heroes. Superman, however, is probably the epitome of modern myth. Superman is probably most Christ-like. And this definitely comes through in Man of Steel. I think that's why I liked this movie so much.
There can only be one Christ, nevertheless. Nothing can beat His Beauty. And so every fairy tale and myth falls short of His ideal. Superman does too. He is utterly human (in a Kryptonian sort of way), and he fails. He's willing to take petty revenge for an insult, he's disrespectful to his father, he initially rejects the reality of his superpowers, and he kills a man. I think there's an important lesson in this, too: while lauding heroes who do good, it is utterly necessary for us to remember that Christ is the real Hero.

Aside from the Christian aspect of this movie, it honestly was completely cool. The plot was intriguing, the characters awesome, the soundtrack beautiful, and everything else sorta added to the awesomeness. There were some very cringe-worthy moments, violent or otherwise, but the overall arc of the story made up for everything.

Do I recommend this movie? With a resounding YES.


grandma jane said...

Loved your review, especially the comparisons to the Christian epic.

Funny, I had not realized this movie is a new take on the original as opposed to just another installment with a maybe a new villain. You've made me want to see this one....

And clever-your Pi x 1.5 for the brothers' rating. ;-D)

Stacy C said...

Thank you!
You HAVE to go see it! It's soooooo good!

Um, that number was actually generated by the brothers in question. I had to dig out a calculator and figure out what it came up to because they were being cryptic. :P