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Henry Cavill's strong showing bolsters "Man of Steel" (Blu-ray review)

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Man of Steel

Rating:
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Man of Steel (2013)

Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon

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On the verge of geological collapse, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) attempts to formulate a last-ditch plan to save his home planet, Krypton. When that plan is met with resistance from the powerful General Zod (Shannon), Jor-El sends his firstborn son, Kal-El (Cavill) to Earth in hopes that he will escape the inevitable destruction and prolong the existence of his race. Once on Earth, Kal-El, now known as Clark Kent, struggles to fit in with his human counterparts. to conceal his incredible super powers, and to find meaning in his extraordinary life. His journey is interrupted by a pesky reporter named Lois Lane (Adams) and a broadcast from an escaped extra-terrestrial convict called Zod. Yes, that Zod. He has come for Clark and is willing to destroy anything in his path to find him and kill him. Director Zack Snyder introduces Superman to a brand new generation with the 2013 reboot of a very familiar story in one of the summer's biggest blockbusters, "Man of Steel."

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The Breakdown:

The Story: The plot is practically a combination of the original two "Superman" movies starring Christopher Reeve - Kal-El's origin, plus his epic battle with General Zod in 1980. However, considering how much of a let-down the last Hollywood take on Superman was, a complete reboot, at this point, is not a horrible idea. There are a few oddities in the plot line that might make the average viewer sit back and scratch their head for a second, but most major issues with the story will only be a problem for people who are really into complete fidelity to the comics series. "Man of Steel" is now the launching pad for a new series of DC Comics films to rival "The Avengers," with "Batman vs Superman" scheduled for release at some point in 2015. Eventually, the story seems to be making its way toward the long-awaited announcement of a Justice League film, which should get all the comic book nerds out there pretty stoked.

The Acting: There are a very select few individuals that were born to play the role of Clark Kent. Tom Welling, for one; Dean Cain, absolutely; and Henry Cavill, certainly, must be listed among the worthy candidates. Cavill delivers a strong performance as the Last Son of Krypton. He looks the part and his acting is great, as well. On the other hand, Amy Adams?? Why did it have to be Amy Adams? Surprisingly, she's not nearly as unlikable as you'll expect her to be, but there are many other leading women in Hollywood that would have made a better Lois Lane. Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe are stellar in their short-lived roles as Clark and Kal-El's fathers, and Diane Lane does a fine job as Martha Kent. Last, but not least, Michael Shannon's great screen presence and booming voice makes him a formidable villain as General Zod.

The Genre: A 2013 superhero reboot generally means two things: way better special effects and way more violence. Both are true of "Man of Steel." The special effects employed by Snyder and crew truly make this the most eye-popping Superman film to date. Secondly, "Man of Steel" is ultra-violent, including, most notoriously, what ends up being basically a 34-minute final fight scene that seems to go on and on and on. Die-hard Superman fans openly objected to the uncharacteristic amounts of violence and destruction - and Clark's seeming indifference to it - when the film was released over the summer and, upon second inspection, the movie's final act has got to make it one of the most violent PG-13 movies of the new millennium. [Editor's note: No joke. I looked it up. Some movie sites estimate upwards of a couple trillion dollars of damage to the Kansas area caused in the film.]

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All in all, "Man of Steel" is an awesome movie. The story is good, the special effects are phenomenal, and the cast and crew all really do a spectacular job from start to finish. But the main issue with the movie is that once you finish it and look back at the past three hours, what really sticks out is the violence and destruction. You'll take a deep breath and say, "Wow, that was really violent!" It's unfortunate that the final 45 minutes of the movie overshadow the rest of the movie in such a monumental way. Additionally, the violation of Superman's strict no-killing policy is a little jarring and the inclusion of a newborn baby's genitals is somewhat disconcerting. Despite its small flaws, is "Man of Steel" worth watching? Absolutely. Is it worth purchasing? If you're a big DC Comics buff or if you're just into superheroes, yeah, go for it. Is it a great show for young children to be watching? No, probably not. But, overall, is it a great movie? Yeah. Yeah, it is.

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You may also be interested in: "Smallville" (2001 TV series), "Superman Returns" (2006), "Batman Begins" (2005)

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Blu-ray bonus features:

- Audio in English, French, Spanish

- Subtitles in English, French, Spanish

- "New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth": Uh... apparently they put this feature on the wrong Blu-ray... But if you want to take a cool behind-the-scenes look at "The Hobbit," there you go.

- No other bonus features available on rental version.

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Directed by: Zack Snyder

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures

Running time: 143 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13 for "intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language," including some bullying, two references to male anatomy, two brief glimpses of infant nudity, women and children in peril,

Costars Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne

Blu-ray release date: November 12, 2013

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