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Laramie Movie Scope:
Man of Steel

Latest Superman reboot a success

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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June 15, 2013 -- I like this latest version of Superman. I was expecting a darker, more depressing movie with the sado-masochistic overtones, of say, the recent Batman movies. Thankfully, this superhero movie is more upbeat than I expected. It is also more upbeat than the 2006 movie, “Superman Returns.”

While the movie does cover a lot of familiar Superman background -- his birth on the doomed planet Krypton -- his youth spent on a farm in Kansas, it doesn't dwell at length on the past. This obligatory background is done through some well-staged flashback scenes. Superman's birth father, Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe, has a larger-than-expected role in this film.

One of the problems with a superhero is that you need a super-villain to oppose him. This role is handled ably by Michael Shannon of “Premium Rush,” who plays Kryptonian General Zod, a character first played by Terence Stamp in the 1978 film “Superman.” This film gives General Zod a more detailed background as a revolutionary. Zod is a more nuanced character in this film, with some good reasons to act as he does.

The role of Superman (AKA Clark Kent and Kal-El) is played by British actor Henry Cavill (“Immortals”). Cavill is properly ripped for the part and he has more than enough acting talent for this relatively undemanding role. The key role of Lois Lane is played by the very talented Amy Adams of “Trouble With the Curve.” Jonathan and Martha Kent are played by established stars, Kevin Kostner and Diane Lane.

This movie starts not with Clark Kent as a reporter at the Daily Planet, but with Superman being a fisherman (like some of the early Apostles) who rescues a crew on an oil platform. He is seen wandering through the world like Kwai Chang Caine, anonymously seeking his own purpose, and his real past. He finds it in an ancient spaceship buried under ice. In the very act of discovering his true parents and his real identity, he also inadvertently summons General Zod to earth. With the earth under threat from Zod and his followers, he decides to reveal his presence to the human race, among whom he has lived in secret for 30 years (one of many Biblical references in the movie).

Trying to protect the earth from Zod, who means to wipe out the human race, Superman engages Zod and his followers in a series of epic battles. There is a lot of action and destruction in the film (along with a funny reference to workplace safety slogans). Since Zod and his followers are as strong and fast as he is, Superman needs the help of humans to win the day. The earthlings are not sure they can trust Superman, because he is an alien, but soon, they do learn to trust him. That is one of the more unbelievable elements in the story right there. Just take a look at all the hatred in the immigration issue in the U.S. right now.

This Superman story turns a number of traditional Superman storylines upside down. In this movie, Clark Kent and Lois Lane don't meet at the Daily Planet. In this story, they met earlier, before Clark Kent became a reporter at the Planet. In fact, this story ends where most Superman movies begin. I hope this movie leads somewhere. The Superman feature film franchise has sputtered along since “Superman II” in 1980 (which was actually filmed at the same time as the first 1978 movie). Maybe this reboot of the franchise will bear sweeter fruit in the future. There are references in the film to Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor, so the stage for sequels is set. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2013 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)