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Blu-ray review: Man of Steel

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Film: ★★★★☆
Blu-ray Release: ★★★★☆

I’ve never particularly liked anything Zack Snyder has directed in the past. His movies always seemed to have a depressing ugliness about them.

The immature carnage of 300, the brutality of Watchman, the hateful misogyny of Sucker Punch.

But here he has done the impossible. He has directed a fantastic movie – an inspired, superbly directed blockbuster. It isn’t perfect, but I think it’s the closest thing to a masterpiece Snyder will get.  

There’s been a lot of publicity about the fact that Man of Steel is produced by Christopher Nolan, the man who proved that comic book movies can be taken ultra-seriously and still appeal to a mass audience. In my opinion, this movie is much better than any of Nolan’s Batman pictures.

It doesn’t have the pretentious side that let those films down and its plot is far more sophisticated in structure and execution. 

Henry Cavill succeeds in making the role of Superman refreshing and, most importantly, interesting. We know the character’s origins, we’ve been told so many times his back-story and his difficulties hiding his powers on earth. Cavill’s skill lies in making a non-human character seem very human. He is not out of the reach of our empathy, nor does he breeze through the more emotionally complex scenes by surviving purely on his good looks. He is a talented actor, and with this role he demonstrates his commendable versatility. 

Amy Adams, who plays journalist Lois Lane, is very watchable. Sadly, the film’s most notable flaw – its propensity for poor dialogue – becomes most obvious in the scenes featuring Ms Lane. I don’t believe this is Adams’s fault. She is a terrific actor. But, unluckily for her, she is given the worst lines in the movie. ‘I’m a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist!’ Who actually says stuff like that? 

Snyder, and his cinematographer Ami Nokri, make a brilliant decision to shoot the film with handheld cameras. As a result we get a style that is fascinating to observe. Handheld cinematography has, up until now, mostly been seen as a trait of independent cinema (films such as Festern and Fish Tank) or Hollywood found-footage movies, such as Cloverfield. Man of Steel uses the camera like Andrea Arnold did in Fish Tank within the context of a huge, multi-million dollar Superman movie. And it’s fantastic to watch. It gives the film a harsh and gritty reality.

Yes, David S. Goyer’s screenplay is often – to put it mildly – challenged, but the story is kept flying high throughout. Snyder’s attempt to add a new flavour to the Superman series and start it properly from scratch works very well indeed. I just hope he keeps the material feeling this fresh and exciting in any instalments the future may bring. 

In terms of the disc, this Blu-ray is equal to Warner Bros's other exceptional home entertainment release this Christmas, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Extended Edition.

The look of this film is very different, however, since it was shot on 35mm, but the Blu-ray thankfully preserves this look rather than trying to smooth it over (de-graining has occured before with some BD releases, often older films, and the results are awful). The extras are interesting, if not groundbreaking, and include features on the Krypton technology depicted in the film and the attempts to make the 'all-out action' as realistic as possible. 

Man of Steel (2013), directed by Zack Snyder, is released on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK by Warner Bros., Certificate 12. 

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