lundi 29 juillet 2013

Man of Steel, part III - My Review in English

17 x 22 / A 3

Pour la version en français, reportez-vous au post "Man of Steel, part II" :)

Directed by Zach Snyder, the Director of 300 and Watchmen, Man of Steel starts by slapping your face with an intense first scene ! Lara El's delivery, giving birth to little Kal, in a kryptonian society where no child has been naturally conceived for centuries. Lara and Jor El (Ayelet Zurer & Russel Crowe, both brilliant) are a couple of dissident scientists, who have decided to defy the rule by giving to Krypton its last son, while the planet is threatened by an impending disaster, a revolution, and a coup fomented by the very radical general Zod (a very impressing Michael Shannon).

On Krypton, everything is planned, and each individual is intended and programmed since his childhood, to accomplish a precise task. The planet itself is of the most exotic. Above its mounts and its dark towers, float some weird vessels, in an atmosphere enlighted by a red sun. Considering this, the universe imagined by ZAch Snyder is very distant from the one imagined by Richard Donner in 1978, and this is the first surprise of the movie. The second is this weird kryptonian technology, based on a so strange element that you could not tell whether mineral or metalic it is, and that can shape-shift, by the grace of great FX !

Here, the disorientation is total, and it even can make the audience feel a little bit uneasy. You loose your marks and you face with a real alien civilization !

But the audience is also plunged into tragedy ! Kryptonians have wasted all their planet's ressorces, and all of them will die soon, Krypton living its last hours. In the middle of this chaos, Jor El has decided to send his son beyond the stars, and to leave him as an heritage, the genetic code of all the kryptonian babies. Escaping at last from awful general Zod, whom is cryogenized with his thugs and sent to a Phantom Zone Vessel, little Kal crosses the space to Earth, bringing with him the dreams and the hopes of a dying civilization.

As this start is tragic, as the treatment of the movie is of the darkest. Nearly obscure. The atmosphere is sad, heavy, nearly uneasy, and this isn't surprising given the fact the producer is the Director of the last three Batman's adaptations. But you rapidly wonder if it will last all the movie... Basically, Superman is a positive heroe, he is solar, and if he can be tormented, he's surely not as dark as The Batman is ! So you are not given the Superman you are used to, and you're not so sure you'll have a great moment...

Krypton being destructed, we are suddenly sent to Kal become Clark's adult period. Moving from here to there, doing small jobs, he makes his best to remain discret and make his difference unremarkable. This difference appeared pretty soon, during his childhood, when he was raised in Kansas, by farmers Jonathan & Martha Kent (Diane Lane & Kevin Costner, both perfect), in the neighborhood of a small town, Smallville.

Since his childhood, Clark knows he's different and able to accomplish what others can't. To tell this part, the movie uses flashbacks, especcially a very impressing sequence of a schoolbus accident. Here the audience is in a familiar terrytory : Lana Lang, Pete Ross and the Kents are present, and we find a Clark who wonders himself a lot of questions, and has to discover who he really is.

The following is divided between flashback and setting of the second part : Zod and his thugs have escaped from Krypton and its destruction, and have come to Earth to ask humans to give them Kal. Or the planet and its inhabitants will have to assume the consequences. Nothing more, nothing less. With the help of giant vessels looking like tripod spiders, able to re-form the atmosphere of the planet. Once again, the treatment is dark, you're not here to joke !

But the thing that really can bother old fans, is the fact narration goes away from original material, and re-build some elements. Notably the way Loïs Lane meets Clark. Loïs's portraying by the really dynamic but so physically different Amy Adams can surprise a little bit too. But the character is here, though : Loïs is a journalist who goes ahead and you can't abuse of whom.

The second part of the movie gives more action to the audience, and I must say, more massive destructions... But before that, you need a twist. And this twist is the sequence in which Clark meets the consciousness of his true father, activated by a key introduced by the young man in the computer of a lost kryptonian exploration vessel, kept into the ice floe since 18 000 years. If the things can seem to be laboured here, Jor El's ghost reveals to his son in a very shakespearian way, what his origins are, and what his heritage is. Giving a sense to Clark's destiny !

After this revelation, and Clark's acceptance of his alien heritage and powers, comes the second visual twist of the movie. A subtle change in the treatment of light. As we have said, Superman is a positive character, a solar one, given the fact he takes his powers from Earth's yellow sun. When the names of Nolan and Snyder have been associated to the project, a lot of people thought that the movie would be very dark, regarding the previous works of both directors. And I remember telling a worrying friend : what could be good and clever would be to play the metaphoric card, and to enlight the movie when Clark accepts his powers and his condition of Superman ! But will they see the things like this ?

Well I must confess I was doubtful about that, but this is exactly what Mr Snyder did ! Since the moment Clark becomes Superman, he's constantly enlighted by a yellow light, and he reflects this light on other characters. But in a very subtle and soft way !

And here you have the sense of the film, and above this, the sense of Superman's character ! We were given the keys in the trailer, notably with this formal phrase pronounced by Jor El : "You will give the people of the Earth an ideal to strive towards, they'll rest behind you, they will stumble, they will fall, but in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders !"

Man of Steel is not only a superheroe movie ! Man of Steel deals with hope ! This hope which is symbolized by the kryptonian ideogram shaped like an "S" and worn by Superman on his suit.

And the whole movie puts in parallel the story of this young man who finally chooses to become an adult, assuming who he is, and accomplishing wonders by the grace of nature, and the destiny of each of us, as when we take our lives in our hands, and assume our whole abilities, we can accomplish wonders and open ourselves out too !

And as an evidence, beyond all the titan fights between the hero and his opponents, the major sequence of the movie is without any doubt the one in which a Daily Planet journalist (Rebecca Buller) is stuck into debris, and saved by her colleagues, some simple humans, Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), and Steve Lombard (Michael Kelly). This, without any help from Superman, who appears in this scene like a far away god, busy with its god's business, that is his fight with devilish general Zod. The moral of the movie is that if he keeps hope, man can find force in himself, whoever he is a simple human, or a future Superman.

And this is the reason why, in my opinion, Man of Steel is a brilliant adaptation, though the darkness of its topic and treatment. This darkness is used here to reveal the light the character and the movie invite us to look at, the light that dwells into each of us. In this sense, Chris Nolan and Zach Snyder have perfectly understood the character, and perfectly reached to brilliantly adapt Superman's story, a character human beings look at whom by holding their head up, and who brings to them the light of hope and example, as a hero of antique Greece.

Beyond this moral, the movie makes also a tribute to Jonathan and Martha Kent, little Kal's earthan adoptive parents. While editor DC Comics decided to minimize their importance since its 2011 relaunch, sweeping previous authors and artists works out, the movie gives justice to these characters, showing that what makes Superman's kindness, is the education and the affection he has received from Kents, as a child. Here, Kevin Coster, the main cinema hero of the ninetees, is the ideal actor to portray Jonathan Kent, the bravoure of whom only equals his moral straightness, till his death. Diane Lane, who defends a lot of important and more intimate sequences, portrays the ideal mother.

The movie also wonders if man becomes what nature has planned for him, or if he becomes the fruit of his education. The truth probably being in the middle. Here, Superman accept the addition of his two heritages, but at the end of the movie, he'll have to make a radical choice, by obligation, and necessity. The darkness will come again to him, but for a better future to come. Maybe because the character is not as solar as we think ! If Superman is nearly a god, he is a greek god, born in tragedy, and forever marked by that ! Orphan, alien, he'll have to integrate himself into a new world, to look for himself, and to find peace with some origins that he is more or less obliged to deal with. So, if the movie is dark, maybe it is because the character is born into darkness. But instead of wraping himself into this darkness like The Batman does, he makes the choice of light ! Superman and The Batman represent the two ways you can overcome a trauma !

This apart, Man of Steel has a lot of extremely impressing visual FX, and a lot of homeric action scenes ! Henry Cavill, who portrays Clark, has built himself a Hercules body (he really looks like Hercules at the beginning, wearing a bear which is probably not hazardous), and constantly alternate between powerness, and sensitivity. On several pictures, he even looks like Christopher Reeve, who was adored by previous generations, and my unique regret is that Mr Reeve is no more here to watch the movie. I have no doubt that he would have been very proud of it !

For the connoisseurs, the cinema lovers, the technicians of imagery, and the most observant of us, the movie also contents a lot of winks to Sci-Fi pieces, Star Wars first, and you'll even find some images that are lovely and respectfully traced over some images of previous superheroe movies, even Marvel ones ! You will notice that if you are very very observant, but here again, it is very soft and subtle.

For technicians of imagery, again, the treatment of light since Clark becomes Superman reminds the contrast you can find in comic book pages ! With each time a half of character into the dark, and a half into the light, even in a light brightness, as if the picture was in a comic book. The dark makes solid and makes exist, and the light permits evocation and dream. And the principle goes right here, even if the hero's suit is darker than it usually is. It's clearly more brilliant than previous ones.

Last but not least, how not talk about Mr Hans Zimmer's music ? In 1978, composer John Williams wrote the partition we all know for Richard Donner's movie. An unforgettable score. So the challenge was to propose something new, turning the page of past, and going towards a new direction (this is the reason why the film title is "Man of Steel" which is Superman nickname, and not "Superman"), so a new partition was needed as an obligation. And who could do that better than Hans Zimmer, writing a theme which starts with an illustration of the character's melancholy, and afterthat, symbolizing his revealing and his taking off, grows up bar after bar till illumination and explosion of joy and power. But a power which is hold back with softness, like by God's hand. Some great Zimmer !

So, what about Clark Kent wearing glasses, will tell you ? Where is Clark wearing glasses ? Do we see him at the end or don't we ?

Well, my friends.... go and see the movie ! 8)

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