"Man of Steel" Movie Review and World Premiere Report[Date: June 11, 2013]
By Steve Younis
Below is my mostly spoiler-free review of the film and my experience at the World Premiere After Party.
My sister Carolyn and I had to get up at 3am on Monday morning in Metropolis, Illinois, where we'd enjoyed a magnificent time at the 2013 Superman Celebration, to catch connecting flights from Paducah, Kentucky to Chicago to Newark airport. Our flight in to Newark was delayed an hour, and the traffic from the airport to our hotel meant that we didn't check in until 3.30pm on Monday, leaving us only a few short hours to get ready and head on over to the Alice Tully Hall for the World Premiere.
We met up with Scotty V, Jeffrey Taylor and Rennie Cowan in the lobby of the hotel, grabbed a quick bite to eat nearby, and then quickly changed in to our business/formal attire to walk the three blocks (in the rain) to Lincoln Square.
We lined up at the invitation/ticket pick up location, and soon had our tickets in hand, while milling around inside the building, as outside (through the windows) we could see the sheltered red carpet tunnel where the media were frantically snapping photos of the celebrities as they arrived. We spotted Henry Cavill, Zack Snyder, Laurence Fishburne, Amy Adams... and then it was time to enter the theatre.
After a half hour delay, the lights dimmed and the movie began.
I was tweeting my final pre-movie note to the Homepage at this point, so I don't recall the opening very clearly, but it was mostly the company logos (Warner Bros. DC Comics, Legendary Pictures, etc.) before the "Man of Steel" logo appeared.
The movie itself was amazing. Without giving too much away, I was glued to my seat the entire two and a half hours.
The scenes on Krypton were extremely well fleshed out. It felt like a real planet, teaming with life and history. It had a very science fiction feel about it, and the interactions between Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon were intense. I was extremely pleased to hear Jor-El utter the words that has been a classic line in every popular version of the Superman origin, "Krypton is doomed". Ayelet Zurer plays an emotional role as Lara, both strong in her convictions and love of her husband, while also vulnerable and heart broken over the choices they need to make for their infant son.
Those concerned about this simply being an origin story, that goes from Krypton to Smallville to Metropolis, need not be concerned. The Smallville sections are instead treated as flashbacks that show us key moments in the lives of all three Kents (Clark, Jonathan and Martha), and are inserted in such a way as to really lend weight to the story.
The much talked about tornado sequence is extremely emotional, and had us all in tears. You really felt for the emotional turmoil Clark has to endure throughout his growing years, which culminate in a decision that was both heart-breaking yet inevitable under the circumstances and lessons Jonathan had given him over the years. Kevin Costner was amazing in these sequences, and delivered a Jonathan Kent that (while not as endearing as Glenn Ford in "Superman: The Movie") shows his love for his adopted son through his strong words, forthright actions, and honesty.
I'm a big fan of Diane Lane, and she is amazing as Martha Kent. The warmth in her smile, the strength in her stare, the depth of the emotion she shows throughout the movie is infectious. You can't help but smile when she smiles, or cry when she cries. She and Henry work great together. You really feel the bond between them, and cheer for Clark when he defends his mother from Zod the way he does. It's the quintessential mother/son relationship.
Cooper Timberline and Dylan Sprayberry, who play young Clark Kent and teenage Clark Kent respectively, are excellent in their roles. Dylan is undoubtably a star of the future. He looks great on screen and delivers a solid emotional performance.
I've used the world "emotional" a number of times already, and the first third of this movie is definitely that, but there are also some lighter moments. Clark isn't the perfect goody-goody. Like any boy or young man growing up he has his moments of anger, jealousy, and petulance. He learns as he goes, yet his motivations and willingness to help are there from the very beginning. He just struggles with being different, wanting to know why he's different, but never regrets the fact that he is different. After all, he can do some pretty amazing things.
Clark's discovery of his Kryptonian heritage, and Lois' involvement very early on in that process is completely different to anything we've seen before, and some fans might not like this aspect of the story, but I think it works. It does remove the long-standing tradition of Clark Kent having to hide his secret identity from Lois Lane, but on the other hand it adds a layer of trust and importance to the relationship between these two beloved characters that we haven't seen before. I actually think Lois' character is better for it. She's impossible not to like. Amy Adams is amazing in the role. She's both feisty, energetic, aggressive, lovable, heroic, and embodies all the key aspects that you think of when you imagine what Lois Lane should be like. Her loyalty and integrity is unquestionable.
Henry is Superman! He embodies the role so well. He too takes us on a journey of so many emotions. His facial expressions impressed me. He's able to deliver so much in just the smallest of glances. From the simplest of smiles to the gut-wrenching screams, Henry delivers. You will not be able to stop grinning along with him when he thrills at being able to fly. You'll cry with him when he experiences loss. You'll cheer for him when he turns up just in time to save the day (and he does so so many times throughout the film).
Michael Shannon almost steals the show as Zod. He's larger than life, but in no way comes across as anything else but a true character, who believes in his personal convictions so strongly that he'll consider not alternative course but the one he has mapped out for himself and his people. He's a true Kryptonian loyalist who cannot stand by while those in power do nothing. He is uncompromising in everything he does.
If you had to give one word to describe the action in "Man of Steel" it would have to be "Destructive". I think there was more property damage in this movie than any other I've seen before. General Zod and the Kryptonians are ruthless and will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Zod's Kryptonian passion is matched by Faora, his female companion. Antje Traue (who, when I saw her at the After Party is easily one of the most glamorous women I've seen) is mesmerizing in her ruthlessness. That could not have cast a more perfect actress for this role.
Some might complain that the action is hard to follow, and at times it does move so fast you almost don't see what happened. But we're talking about Kryptonians fighting with super speed. There's none of the slow-motion people have come to expect from a Zack Snyder movie. If anything, the action in "Man of Steel" moves faster than other films you might have seen. But it's an affective tool, as you really feel that you're watching super-powered beings fighting with the strength, speed, and power that a Superman fight should have. There are punches, throws, beat downs, body slams, and cape tugs galore. You won't be disappointed.
Laurence Fishburne is right on as Perry White. He's not only the tough, no nonsense editor we expect, but he's also the compassionate and sometimes heroic father-figure that has also endeared long-time fans to the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet newspaper.
Jenny (whose last name is never actually spoken), Steve Lombard, and other members of the Daily Planet are well used throughout. While Harry Lennix as General Swanwick and Christopher Meloni as Col. Hardy are also really likable characters. Especially Meloni, who gets a strong character arc that had fans cheering for him on occasions.
There will, without a doubt, be fans who will complain about the climax to the battle between Superman and Zod. It shocked me, but I think that was the point. Scotty and I discussed this at length afterwards, and we both agreed that this scene was dealt with exceptionally well. The drawn out suspense, the inevitability of it, and the emotional reaction from Superman afterwards... It works. I wanted to argue the point, but I really couldn't find fault with it. You'll see what I mean.
The music by Hans Zimmer is amazing. While not as iconic as the John Williams theme, the score is married to the movie so well that it carries the story along seamlessly. It builds and swells at all the right moments, lending spirit and emotion, while also adding drama and impact.
Zimmer appeared on stage at the After Party, accompanied by other musicians to perform themes from the movie. It was amazing.
Is it the best Superman movie ever? Maybe. I'm still a massive fan of "Superman: The Movie", but then I have seen it a hundred times and it was part of the fabric of my life for thirty years. But there's no doubt that "Man of Steel" is fantastic. It is a great Superman movie. It's a great movie... period. I have no doubt it will do well at the box office. It's a blockbuster movie with everything the average moviegoer wants in an action superhero film.
Superman fans will pull it apart, examining it from every angle. We'll argue over it for months and years. Some will call it the best thing since sliced bread. Others will complain about the costume, Lois' role, what happened to Zod, the amount of destruction, Clark Kent's actions, the secret identity, etc... But that's par for the course amongst Superman fans.
At the movie's conclusion (and sorry, there is no after credits scene), I immediately tweeted that I thought the movie was a 10 out of 10. Having had a night to sleep on it, I still think the movie is fantastic, and I cannot wait to see it again. I'd maybe re-adjust my score to a 9 out of 10, purely because I don't think there's really any movie that can be considered perfect. There are always things that maybe could have been done better (although I'm struggling to really find one solid complaint).
The After Party was amazing. We boarded courtesy buses to the Skylight at Moynihan Station where the party was already in full swing. The Superman costume was the first thing you saw as you entered the building, sitting high up in a glass display case behind the triangular bar where people were lined up to get free drinks. There were waiters walking around with trays of finger food or you could grab a plate and choose from an amazing selection of food on offer.
Nokia had a massive "Man of Steel" poster positioned off in a corner, and you could pose in front of the poster while they took your photo and printed it out for you to take (again for free).
As I mentioned earlier, drums began playing, and we all turned around to see Hans Zimmer on stage with fellow musicians as they played a selection of themes from his musical score for "Man of Steel". It was fantastic!
Stars from the movie were surrounded by friends and family, and fans tried their best to go chat with them and get a photo where possible. The Superman Homepage crew (Scotty V, Jeffrey Taylor, myself and my sister Carolyn) managed to get five minutes with Henry Cavill. He not only told us that he visited the Superman Homepage often, but that it was the only Superman fan site he frequented. He praised the site for its content, but also said that he was impressed on how we moderated the comments, allowing freedom of opinion, while also assuring the site remained family friendly. He personally thanked me for all my hard work, and I can tell you I was totally floored by his praise. He's a true gentleman.
As we made our way around the room I also managed to have a quick word with screenwriter David S. Goyer, who is also a big fan of the site, and mentioned he'd visited the site often to gather information.
We spotted Kevin Costner, Amy Adams and Antje Traue but were unable to get to meet them. Later in the night, as the room became less congested, I was walking around on my own and came across Zack Snyder talking with Allison Crowe. Allison has a cameo appearance in the movie (as we reported on some time ago), she's singing on stage in the background of a scene inside a bar. You'll spot her when you see it. Allison is a self-proclaimed fan girl, and is a massive fan of the Superman Homepage. We've shared emails over the past few months. So when I walked up to introduce myself to Zack Snyder she immediately recognized me, hugged me and made me feel right at home in the small circle of people standing around Zack. Zack too was familiar with the site, and thanked me for all our coverage of the movie.
As his wife Debra (who is also a Producer on the film) patted him on the shoulder so that they could leave the party, he graciously shook my hand and said that he looked forward to seeing me again at the Australian Premiere in Sydney on June 24.
I walked away, grabbed Scotty V and brought him back to introduce him to Allison Crowe, who recognized him from the "Great Scott" segments of the Speeding Bulletin videos. Allison revealed that she'd been on set for a single day for her appearance in the movie, and (being such a huge fan of the character) was still coming to terms with the fact that she was in the movie. We really enjoyed chatting with her.
Henry was the last to leave. Even we left before him. At around 2am we walked out of the building (it was still raining), to catch the subway back to our hotel. A group of around 20 fans were standing around the barricade trying to snag an autograph from celebrities as they exited the party.
It was a fantastic night! One I'll never forget. In all honesty, the last five days have been amazing. I've just come off four wonderful days at the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois, then flew to New York for the World Premiere of "Man of Steel". It doesn't get much better than that. It's early afternoon on Tuesday, June 11 as I type this, and I've just managed to have around 7 hours of sleep, which is more than I've had in the previous four nights combined. But it's been worth it. More than worth it.
And I still have four more days in New York to look forward to, and a midnight screening of "Man of Steel" in IMAX 3D tomorrow night. But I have to say that I am looking forward to getting back home to Australia (although the 19 hours of flying to get there isn't something I'm looking forward to).
I hope you've all enjoyed our coverage of the World Premier of "Man of Steel". I'm sure you'll enjoy the movie for yourself whether you're seeing the Walmart advanced screenings on June 13 or the opening day on June 14.
Up, up and away!