MAN OF STEEL: Review - Best Movie of The Summer

Last night I tweeted:

I received 2 types of responses from readers, "Really?!" or, "But Pacific Rim and Elysium are not out yet." So how did I come to this mid summer conclusion?

As a fan of Superman, the new Zack Snyder movie Man of Steel was my most anticipated film of 2013. Thanks to solid trailers and an amazing cast, my expectations were impossibly high. Something I did not expect is that Man of Steel would become my favorite Superman movie of all time, unseating the classic Richard Donner adaptation.

The 1978 Superman movie is iconic, so much so that it overshadows 2006's Superman Returns. Even with all its modern effects Superman Returns measured up badly for two reasons: the story was not interesting, and Superman was not very super. It is funny reporting that Superman will throw punches in Man of Steel, but that's how mild-mannered Superman Returns is.

It might seem as if they have released too much footage from Man of Steel; I have even seen readers complain that they've seen all the good stuff. I'm happy to report that you have hardly seen a damn thing. The action sequences do not stop, and just when you think it is over it goes on for 15 more minutes, then another skirmish starts, and that is before things get crazy in Metropolis. The last third of the movie is so insane I've read reviews now saying Superman throws too many punches, so I guess you can not please everyone. The devastation of two superbeings battling it out will leave you wondering, how there can be any Metropolis left standing?

The reason the 1978 Superman holds up so well is not because of the effects. It has a story and performances that raise it to a timeless quality. Man of Steel elevates things to a new level. The story in the first third moved me emotionally and far more deeply that any comic book movie ever has. David Goyer and Christopher Nolan have created an origin story so good that I truly felt I was discovering Superman again for the first time. They've taken the weakest story elements of Superman's origin and either removed them or turned them into new strengths.

Hans Zimmer is a musical genius and made a score that pushes the emotion and intensity up several notches (to 11). I've listened to the soundtrack several times, and I just keep finding new depth and richness.

Henry Cavill, a relatively unknown actor, brings a new take on Kal-El, Clark Kent, and Superman. Cavill is every bit the physical embodiment, but he also has an earnestness that makes him the best modern Superman ever to fly.

Amy Adams is the most believable Lois Lane we've ever seen, thanks to both the script and her performance. Adams has the perfect balance of inquisitive ferociousness and an empathetic heart. The chemistry between Cavill and Adams is the best pairing since Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder.

Michael Shannon never instructs people to kneel. What he does do is create a Zod who is not a villain but a true believer in his cause, it just happens to involve the death of non-Kryptonian people. Despite his goals, you understand his pain and his purpose. Antje Traue as Faora-Ul is fiery, even with her limited dialog her physical performance informs so much about Krypton.

Kevin Costner gives the surprise performance of the film. He is the best Jonathan Kent ever. His earnest quality is a mirror to what Cavill does, and it is beautiful stuff.

Russell Crowe as Jor-El kinda steals the show. He's not just the best scientist on Krypton, he is part action hero, too, and it is awesome that Kal-El's father is a bad ass.

All these performances and the story are amplified and informed by a fully detailed world. Snyder takes zero shortcuts and has thought out everything. This is his finest work, and I cannot wait to watch this movie over and over.

Story, performances, action sequences, and the score put Man of Steel beyond the scope of not only this summer's movies but last summer's movies. Yes, I just said it is better than The Avengers. Man of Steel opens June 14th.

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