Man of Steel – a slight…’fly’ problem

No, I am not referring to his newly-designed leotard that disguises itself rather nicely as his superhero suit – he finally learnt to wear his bright red underwear underneath. Nor am I referring to any problems with his actual flying – which basically starts off as a really good force-jump. There’s certainly no accidental cleavage because the new movie, the sixth in a line of Superman motion pictures since 1987, literally has a problem with a pesky little fly.

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Image via www.fandango.com.

Man of Steel (2013), ranked 3rd on Movie Insider’s most anticipated films of 2013 (www.movieinsider.com) alongside Iron Man 3 and Fast & Furious 6, is a classic superhero story with a particular emphasis on the childhood of our protagonist Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), a.k.a. Kal-El. The storyline begins on the planet Krypton, where we are introduced to Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara (Ayelet Zurer) who is in the middle of giving birth. And thus our hero is born.

The city in which this takes place is a citadel of sorts where a tall tower stands in the middle, surrounded by military Kryptonian aircrafts. Within this tower resides the ruling council, where our main villain General Zod (Michael Shannon) makes an attempted grand entrance with his rebel army. He murders a member of the council and tries to take Jor-El hostage, failing in the process, thanks to some really nifty futuristic robots. Jor-El steals a genetic Codex – basically a broken skull – which contains the DNA of the Kryptonian race. He infuses the Codex into the infant Kal-El’s body and sends him to Earth in a pod-like ship, assisted by Lara. A fight scene between him and General Zod occurs before the pod is launched, resulting in Jor-El’s murder. Zod and his minions are quickly captured and sentenced to the Phantom Zone.

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Gotta love that suit! Image via www.superherohype.com.

I must say the designs for the military Kryptonian suits are quite remarkable. They resemble an exoskeleton similar to those in the Predator series, but much more metallic and extremely threatening, especially that of the ferocious Faora-Ul (Antje Traue), whose rather sexy suit – inclusive with cape – compliments and hints at her heartless, deadly assassin persona. You can almost imagine her as an evil queen-like character.

Jor-El’s cloak-like armour makes him seem more like a king, appearing bold with leadership qualities – he is in fact a scientist – but it also gives him a father-like impression. We see this combination at play when Clark and Lois are onboard General Zod’s craft. As for Clark’s own suit, I can’t help but compare it to Peter Parker’s Spiderman suit from The Amazing Spiderman (2010) featuring Andrew Garfield. Both suits feature very similar hues of red and blue, and the physical appearance of the material look almost identical. All the other Kryptonians actually wear the same suit underneath their armour, except they are a monochrome blueish-grey all over.

The rest of the film recalls Clark’s childhood and realisation that he isn’t who he thinks he is – as in, he’s not human – through a series of flashbacks. When he finds out about his powers, his current parents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) have to break the news to him, showing him the pod they found him in, as well as giving him the command key – a small, long, metallic object with the distinct S-shape carved on to it, resembling a wax sealing stone – that Jor-El placed into the pod.

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Image via www.comicbook.com.

Now, no Superman film is ever complete without our Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane in the plot, played by Amy Adams. They meet in an icy part of Canada, where Clark assists with her luggage. A craft has been located deep within the ice which is the reason why she’s here. At night, Clark uses his heat vision to make his own way to the craft. Lois follows him, after noticing him in a photograph she just took with her Nikon D3S – you have no idea how jealous I am. Stuff happens inside the craft, consequently causing it to break the ice and fly off somewhere else. Lois is wounded and Clark tries to heal her – heat vision style. Being a journalist, Lois decides to submit this incident as a news story, subsequently being rejected by her editor (Lawrence Fishburne). She decides to leak it on the Internet through a friend. Meanwhile, inside the craft, Clark hears about Krypton’s history from a hologram of his real father. The suit is also found here, and a series of epic flying scenes follows, stretching the limits of Clark’s powers.

Lois then tries to locate Clark, going through a series of investigations, eventually ending up at a graveyard in front of Jonathan Kent’s grave. Clark appears and tells her about how he died. Respecting Clark’s wish to remain quiet, she goes back to her editor, formally revoking her earlier request to publish the story. Unfortunately, it’s too late. General Zod appears to the people of Earth through an electronic transmission, requesting the surrender of Clark Kent. Things happen and the military and FBI get involved, taking Lois – and Clark, eventually – with them.

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Image via www.fwoosh.com.

After handing both Clark and Lois to General Zod, Clark slips Lois the command key. Clark later passes out due to his unfamiliarity with the Kryptonian atmosphere on the ship – Lois is fine since she is wearing a breather. Clark soon finds out about Zod’s plan to terraform the Earth, creating a new Krypton, using a World-Builder – how unoriginal. Lois is subsequently locked inside a cell on board the ship, but she soon finds a way out using the command key, guided eventually by Jor-El’s hologram. She soon escapes the ship on an escape pod, which is then hit by laser fire. Clark eventually breaks the bonds that restrained him after his passing out, and saves Lois.

Unfortunately, his mother is the next target, since Zod and Faora head to the farm to look for the Codex. Clark comes to the rescue, pushing Zod into the city, simultaneously damaging his face mask. Zod soon has an overload of senses – due to his reaction to the Earth’s atmosphere, like Clark did as a child. He retreats. But it doesn’t end there. Faora and a rather large Kryptonian try to take on Clark. The military fire missiles at them, but their aircraft are quickly taken down like the Hulk did in the Avengers (2012).

The World-Builder is deployed and Zod’s ship aligns itself directly on the other side of the Earth. The two create gravitational waves that move back and forth through the Earth, causing destruction, obviously. Clark and Lois have a plan to save the world. Complications occur, resulting in an epic boss fight between Clark and Zod. The world is saved, like any other superhero movie, and the film comes to a close with an extremely familiar scene: Clark Kent working at the Daily Planet.

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Image via www.io9.com.

Verdict: 8/10

My initial reaction upon leaving the cinema was “it progressively got better.” I found the introductory 30 minutes or so a bit too long, since most of it was flashbacks – essential ones, I must admit, but a bit too concentrated. Eventually it picked up, and the pace was really good. The plot was slightly different than we’d usually expect, probably because there were so many twists, so it took its time reaching the more conventional aspects of superhero movies – the epic fight scenes. In the end it resulted in a really good film, steering much more towards the origin of Kal-El, and much less on how a relationship forms between Lois and him – for them it’s mainly a damsel-in-distress story.

But personally, the part that really captivated me was Faora’s vengefulness. Her evil nature makes for a brilliant contrast to Zod’s authoritative methods. While he sends out commands like a lunatic, Faora swiftly gets things done. She’s fast, precise, and so very bitchy – a classic femme fatale in a ninja body. You can see in the stares she gives the innocent Lois – classic Amy Adams expressions come to play here – that she just wants to rip her shred by shred. She is fuelled by anger, very much like Zod, except she expresses it through deadly looks and merciless killing. You really have to applaud Antje Traue for her brilliant work on her character, a true embodiment of a perfect villain. And placing her in the role of Zod’s sidekick makes her even more interesting.

However, it’s not a flawless film. I felt that the sound effects were a bit overused, making it seem much more dramatic than it actually is. Some parts of the soundtrack didn’t really flow with each other either, but they are barely noticeable. But one of the main reasons that irritated me isn’t actually to do with the movie plot or its special effects and cast. In fact, it’s about the fly problem.

Considerably more noticeable – and irritating – when watched in 3D, a cumulative 30-45 minutes of the film was distracted by a fly having a moment of fame in front of the camera lens. Obviously, this is a bit of an extraneous variable, but it should be taken into consideration when attempting to launch such films in a 3D format. I would assume that the 2D version is much less distracting, since you’ll simply just notice a small blur on the screen. So, unless you want a fly irritating you indirectly during a pleasant viewing of this lovely film, I’m afraid you’ll need to watch it in 2D, which shouldn’t be that much more different.

So, overall, good film and definitely worth a watch!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. tomalak says:

    A fly? Really? Can you provide any evidence of this? The odds of the same lens being used for 30-45 minutes of a film, especially one so CG heavy, are negligible. It’s more likely that there was a problem with your cinema…

    1. Nigel Ip says:

      It happened to a few friends of mine at several cinemas. Though, apparently, they sorted it out for the DVD release.

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