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Man of Steel vs. the Fanboys

Look, up in the sky! It's a Bird It's a Plane! No, it's.....a community of fanboys and Internet movie critics who are more pissed off than they were when Superman Returns was released! Kal El may no longer be a deadbeat dad, but that hasn't stopped the hordes of outraged fans of DC's iconic superhero from wanting to shove a hunk of Kryponite up director Zack Snynder's (Watchmen, 300) and screenwriter David S. Goyer's collective asses. From Jesu Otaku's rant on Twitter and Brad Jones and the Walker Bros. bashing the movie, people are not thrilled with the final product. Mixed reviews should indicate that Warner Bros., and DC Entertainment, still scrambling to deliver their answer to Marvel Studios superhero team up The Avengers with the long-awaited Justice League movie, would have a serious problem getting a second sequel off the ground, especially with the polarizing views on how the Snyder/Goyer project worked out. Nope! Man of Steel has made back it's reported $225 million budget, has grossed $422 million world wide, and has been fastracked for a sequel the studio wants out next year. So the question remains: if the film has all this much success going for it, why the near-outrage from the Internet critics and the fanboys?

He may be faster than a locomotive, but can he leap over mad fanboys in a single bound?
I think the answer lies in the film's second half. And boy it is one hell of a second half. I won't spoil what goes on but here are the just the crib notes: General Zod (played with equal parts mirth, menace and scene chewery by the great Michael Shannon) comes to Earth to bring a message to its people: surrender Kal El, or he will destroy the planet. Kal El is Clark Kent (played by Brit actor Henry Cavill) a son of the late planet of Krypton and of Earth, from which he was sent by his father, Jor El (Russell Crowe). Kent surrenders himself to Zod, but of course, he has no intention of keeping his word. Zod's plan is to terraform the planet and rebuild Krypton so his people can thrive again. From this point on, it's one CG-ladened action set piece after another, from the brawl in Kent's hometown of Smallville, to the fight between Zod and Kent that damn-near levels Metropolis That's right: Superman, the protector of Earth, the shining beacon of what humanity can become, Mr. Truth, Justice and the American way himself.....almost levels an entire city. Not to mention the loss of life that probably spans thousands of people and towers that are reduced to ash heaps or are barely standing.

Look, I know that a superhero fighting a super-villain will inevitably cause collateral damage, but let's take a look at previous superhero fare, Thor and The Avengers in contrast: In Thor, when Loki sent the Destroyer to kill his brother from returning to Asgard, the God of Thunder evacuated people and kept the townspeople from a safe distance. The fight itself was to keep the metal monster distracted so that people wouldn't have to come into the line of fire. In The Avengers, Captain America told his team that the priority was containment until they could figure a way to close the portal. They even worked with the NYPD and the military to keep people away from the fighting that was going on in Downtown Manhattan, for Christ sake! Superman and Zod just go at it, with little regard for the countless destruction that's unfolding. Also, Snyder falls into the same trap as many action directors do; He has this grand action sequence, and he keeps trying to hold that same note throughout the rest of the film. Not only does this kill the pacing, but the action scenes themselves become boring and tedious to watch. Snyder doesn't show any restraint from this point on, which is a shame because everything leading up to the last leg of the movie was really good, and very well-done.

Snyder does a great job highlighting two philosophies of two fathers: Jor El believes he will become a symbol of hope and the shining beacon of what humanity can achieve, Jonathan feeling that Kent's powers will isolate him from the rest of the human race. He also does a great job of catching the turmoil within Kent - that he is a son of Krypton and of Earth, but belonging to neither. There's also great work from Amy Adams, playing Lois Lane, a step above Kate Bosworth's bland performance, and Costner and Lane as Kent's foster parents give wonderful performances as Kent's moral center. For all that I've said in this review, Man of Steel isn't the terrible piece of crap it's being made out to be. It's flawed for sure, but It's the first time I've ever been interested in this otherwise boring and, in my opinion, overrated superhero, and if this is what makes DC get the ball rolling on other comic book adaptations like Wonder Woman, rebooting Green Lantern, Aquaman and getting a JL movie, then congrats Zack Snyder, you've finally begun to catch up to Marvel Studios.

*** stars out of ****

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