Tag Archives: Russell Crowe

Man of Steel (2013) Retrospective Review

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El:
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Michael Shannon as General Zod
Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Laurence Fishburne as Perry White
Antje Traue as Faora-Ul
Christopher Meloni as Colonel Nathan Hardy
Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van
Russell Crowe as Jor-El
Director: Zack Snyder

With the imminent destruction of Krypton, their home planet, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife seek to preserve their race by sending their infant son to Earth. The child’s spacecraft lands at the farm of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent, who name him Clark and raise him as their own son. Though his extraordinary abilities have led to the adult Clark (Henry Cavill) living on the fringe of society, he finds he must become a hero to save those he loves from a dire threat.

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This is a SPOILER review. My original thoughts on Man of Steel are here.

I made a Man of Steel review many years ago, but after seeing the later DCEU films and upon further thought, I decided to do another review, because I wanted to give some updated thoughts on the movie, as well as going in depth with spoilers. I originally planned to release this review sometime in the foreseeable future, but after it recently being the 5 year anniversary of the film (13th of June 2013 to be exact, as you can tell my review is a little late), I decided to release it now. When I initially saw Man of Steel, I liked it but didn’t really love or think much about it. I thought it was a solid and different take on Superman, even if it wasn’t excellent. Having rewatched it over many times since its release, I’ve come to appreciate this movie a lot more. It’s has some minor issues but I still really love it.

Generally the first half of the story is more Clark’s origin story. Whereas the original Superman film told the story chronologically, Snyder decided to jump between Clark’s past and present, which was ultimately a good decision. While for some this was jarring (and very Batman Beginish), I thought it worked quite well. If it was just told through chronological order, it wouldn’t be as interesting. We already have a generally idea about Clark’s backstory, so having that play while telling the present story helps keep our interest. There might’ve been maybe a little too many flashbacks but I honestly wouldn’t know which one to cut out, each of them seemed necessary to show Clark’s arc and character in this movie. There are some truly great Superman scenes, some of them including Clark learning to fly for the first time and Superman surrendering to mankind. I’ll get to the controversial decisions regarding Superman later. The second half is Zod coming to earth. The third act is big and destructive. Some would said that it was senselessly destructive, I don’t think its necessarily the case, but I can get that there are aspects that they could’ve tweaked a little to improve it. I think the only time it was a little too over the top was the Smallville fight, and even then I liked the overall sequence.

The pacing was generally good, Man of Steel is around 2 hours and a half long and having seen the film multiple times I can’t pick out really any scene which drags or felt over long. The dialogue is mostly good, and a little mixed sometimes, at times it is very well written and there are some great lines for a Superman movie but at other times it is rather odd and silly. Most of the time it is perfectly fine, but the odd lines really do stand out, whether it feel too silly or too generic/familiar (e.g. “You’re a monster Zod, and I’m gonna stop you”). The humour, when it’s there is a little mixed as well, they are brief but some of them don’t really land well (the “I think he’s kinda hot” line near the end of the film being an example). In terms of any other story issues, there is a scene after the scene about Zod’s snapped neck, which is for the most part good but feels completely and tonally different from the previous scene, almost as if the previous scene never happened before. It would’ve been a little more effective to have an additional scene showing the continual impact of that scene.

Henry Cavill portrays a very different Superman than what we’ve seen before (at least in live action). This is a Superman who’s very conflicted, a Superman who’s not perfect, but most of all a Superman who’s learning. He also felt much more relatable as a character, yes the Christopher Reeve Superman to this day remains very effortlessly beloved but creating the cheesy Superman in today’s times just doesn’t work at all (just watch what Joss Whedon tried to do with him in Justice League). For some reason a lot of people found Cavill to be quite stiff here, I didn’t get that from his performance. I mean sure he’s not as quippy as some other versions of Superman but he still had his fair share of lighter moments and charisma, he’s not as charismatic as the real life Henry Cavill but very few people are. Henry Cavill’s Superman is one that I actually cared for. He’s not making constant quips but he’s not a constant brooder, they aren’t trying to make him the superhuman version of Batman. I find much of the ‘not muh Superman’ crowd’s criticisms to be strange to me. There are some people that have issues with this version of Superman. There are way too many complaints to go through, even in an in depth review, so I will just go through a couple of them. One of the major criticisms was the amount of people who died at the end. The truth is that you can’t save everyone in that situation, and with the exception of possibly the Smallville scene, in the climax, it is Zod and the Kryptonians who end up causing the vast majority of the destruction. In fact, Superman in the final fight with Zod really tries to take the fight away from the city but isn’t able to. Since we are going in depth with spoilers, we might as well talk about the controversial neck snapping scene. When Zod tries to kill some innocent civilians in the end of the final fight, Superman is forced to snap his neck to save them. To this day, I never understood why people hate that he did this. I can get if that they hate that Superman was put in this position, but between letting them die and killing Zod to save them, I think doing the latter was the better option. And on top of that, the film doesn’t just act like it was an easy, it was clearly really painful for him. At the very least, it was a lot more justified than Superman killing a depowered Zod in Superman 2 (I’ve noticed a lot of the “not muh Superman” crowd hold up Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies as the definitive Superman). Not to mention that plenty of comic book movie heroes nowadays kill people easily. I don’t mean this in judgemental of people who don’t like this version of Superman (it’s really not a big deal if you don’t), but I’ve noticed that people get extra specific when it comes to how the most popular comic book characters are portrayed in movies (speicifcally Superman, Batman and probably Spider-Man for instance) and there is a lot of backlash when they are different from previous adaptations or from the more common perception of the characters. I’m completely open to people trying new ways of approaching iconic characters. All in all, I don’t really have many problems with Cavill’s version of Superman, at least not with his first two movies.

Amy Adams as Lois Lane was great casting. While it’s not one of her best performances and some aspects about Lois here don’t work perfectly here, it gives her more to do than some other versions of Lois. I mean, Lois figures out by herself who Superman is, which by the way is a change that I really like. I know that it’s a classic comic book thing for Lois to never figure out that Clark Kent is Superman, but I find that less believable than no one recognising him as Superman because he wears glasses. So it was a refreshing change. The chemistry between Adams and Cavill isn’t perfect but it works okay enough for this movie. Michael Shannon is great as General Zod, the main antagonist of the film, and I have to say that he’s much better than Terrence Stamp’s Zod. Whereas Zod in Superman 2 just wanted to take over Earth… just because, Shannon’s Zod has reasons for what he’s doing, he wants to save his race. Zod here was also bred purely to advance his race unlike Clark, so it makes sense that he is single minded and bent upon this. When Superman destroys all chance of Krypton being rebuilt, he loses his people and his purpose. I think he might be one of the best comic book movie villains. Shannon does have his fair share of hammy and over the top moments (his “I will find him!” will forever remain a classic), but that makes him all the more entertaining. Besides, all things considering he might not be as over the top as Stamp’s Zod. All in all, Michael Shannon did a great job with a well written General Zod. Also, shout out to Antje Traue, as Faora, who despite being a supporting antagonist as Zod’s lieutenant, manages to leave a really strong impression, at least at the same as Zod. She particularly shines in her action scenes (Smallville battle being a stand out), and Traue and Zack Snyder made her a force to be reckoned with. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Clark’s adopted parents, they felt much more grounded than previous versions of the characters. This take on Kent’s adopted family has caused some controversy, particularly with Costner. For example, in a flashback after Clark saves a bus full of kids, Costner seems to hint that maybe Clark shouldn’t have saved them, because he wanted to keep his secret at least for now. While I can see why some people were polarised, I feel this makes the character more human. He thinks he’s doing the right thing but he’s not absolutely sure. It felt like a more appropriate take on the characters for nowadays and both Lane and Costner acted very well in the roles. Russell Crowe is also worth mentioning, as he is great as Superman’s real father Jor-El, getting much more to do than Brando in the Reeve films, especially in the opening scene. Other supporting actors like Laurence Fishburne do their part well.

Zack Snyder always has spectacularly looking movies, and Man of Steel is no exception. This movie looks incredible, the special effects are great, the designs of the ships, outfits and more are unique. Just a moment to focus on Superman’s costume, it is so incredibly well put together, beautifully designed and actually works in a modern setting. In fact on pretty much all levels, Snyder really made Superman work in a modern setting. All in all, Man of Steel just might be the best looking DCEU film, with it having slightly better CGI than Batman v Superman, off the top of my head there weren’t any moments that stood out to me as having bad CGI. It’s even more impressive after seeing some of what they did behind the scenes. For example, the suits of Zod and the Kryptonians were CGI, but they look completely practical in the actual movie. This film also successfully portrayed Superman’s power (including his strength, flight and laser vision) in the modern day. Other live action versions that have Superman nowadays (Supergirl and Justice League) do show off how powerful he and similar characters are, but it really lacks something, and makes him seem outdated, but Snyder’s version works well. Yes, it is very destructive but it feels somewhat grounded at the same time, it’s kind of hard to describe. It feels like how Superman would be if he existed in real life. The action was also great, fast, intense and impactful. Everything from the opening Krypton sequence, the oil rig fire scene, the Smallville fight and the final Superman vs Zod fight, everything works incredibly well. One aspect that was a slight annoyance was the occasionally handheld camerawork and the zoom ins and out. Its not bad and was actually quite effective at times but it wasn’t really necessary and was a little distracting at times. It does less bothersome the more I watch the movie however. Hans Zimmer’s score here is god-tier, amongst some of the best work he’s ever done, which is saying a lot. Also I know it might be a bit of a controversial opinion but I think it’s the best score for a Superman film yet.

Man of Steel is to me the best live action Superman film (solo at least) and one of the best superhero movies (top 10 at least). With its grounded and more modern take on Superman, the mostly good writing and Zack Snyder’s great direction, it actually worked. It does have some issues with its writing and plot, but what it gets right, it really gets right. It only gets better and better the more I watch it. Also it did something I didn’t think possible, it managed to get me to like Superman in the modern era and make him take him somewhat seriously (well, at least for two movies).

The Mummy (2017) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains supernatural themes & violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Nick Morton
Annabelle Wallis as Jennifer Halsey
Sofia Boutella as Princess Ahmanet/The Mummy
Jake Johnson as Sergeant Chris Vail
Courtney B. Vance as Colonel Greenway
Marwan Kenzari as Malik
Javier Botet as Set
Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll
Director: Alex Kurtzman

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artefacts and sells them to the highest bidder. When Nick and his partner (Jake Johnson) come under attack in the Middle East, the ensuing battle accidentally unearths Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a betrayed Egyptian princess who was entombed under the desert for thousands of years. With her powers constantly evolving, Morton must now stop the resurrected monster as she embarks on a furious rampage through the streets of London.

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I had no idea what to expect from The Mummy. It looked entertaining and I was curious about this ‘Dark Universe’ that they are creating, where all of Universal’s monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde, etc) exist in the same universe. However the movie didn’t look spectacular. Even though a lot of people really didn’t like The Mummy, I saw it out of morbid curiosity, something I’ve been doing a lot recently and once again I was pleasantly surprised. This is by no means a great movie, the writing isn’t the strongest, you’ve seen this type of movie before. But the film is entertaining, and not in a guilty pleasure way, I found the movie very enjoyable and it’s starting to get me on board with this unique universe that they are creating.

This movie is at a good runningtime, 1 hours and 50 minutes. It’s difficult to be bored, it is paced well, it doesn’t linger too long on scenes unnecesarily. This movie does 2 things, the story with The Mummy and also the development of the Dark Universe with this group called Prodigium, led by Russell Crowe’s Dr Henry Jeykll (yes, as in Jeykll and Hyde). I thought both were done well and worked together well. The Mummy storyline did enough to keep me interested, while the Dark Universe universe building got me on board with… whatever Universal are trying to do. Some of the writing does feel rather familiar, and a little cliché but I could get past it. Also, the third act does take a different direction which I really liked, it was a decision that I didn’t expect them to do and I’m even more intrigued to see where this will play in part with the Dark Universe. Tonally this movie isn’t always consistent. I’m not referring to the action and horror aspects, that was surprisingly balanced well. I’m talking about the comedic moments, during a big action scene or an intense horror scene, a joke might suddenly pop up and it often feels out of place. Then again it didn’t help that a lot of the humour wasn’t that good in the first place. Now as for the changes that the movie has made from the original Mummy (the horror movie, not the Brendan Frasier movies), I have no idea what it’s like as I haven’t seen it. It’s probably not very true to the original though, this movie is going on its own direction, and I was actually fine with that.

Tom Cruise is pretty good in this movie. However I do feel like he might’ve been slightly miscast, maybe that’s the writing though. I have the feeling that the character was meant to be a bit darker but either Cruise couldn’t express that (which he could, he’s shown in other films he can) or the writing wasn’t great enough. Russell Crowe is in this movie as Dr Henry Jekyl, he’s a big tie to the other movies in this Dark Universe. While I would’ve like to have seen more of him he was great. And yes, Dr Jeykll does have a Mr Hyde side, and that was so great to see. The supporting actors are fine, Jake Johnson is okay but his character really didn’t need to be in the movie. Annabelle Wallis is good in the movie, however the chemistry between her and Cruise didn’t always work as well as I think the filmmakers wanted it to. Sofia Boutella was great as the Mummy/Ahmanet. Most of the acting is physical and doesn’t have her deliver a lot of lines but she pulls it off excellently. She also does have great chemistry with Cruise.

I’ve not seen anything from director Alex Kurtzman until now, he did a pretty good job with this movie. The CGI isn’t spectacular, you’ve seen it before but it’s solid enough. The action sequences are very entertaining. There wasn’t really anything directionwise that I found particularly wrong with the movie. It’s just that it’s nothing that you haven’t seen before.

The Mummy was a lot better than I expected it to be. I was consistently entertained throughout with the solid direction, Cruise, Boutella and Crowe. The idea of the Dark Universe is still odd to me, it’s still not clear how the movies will tie in together and how much of a role the characters in this movie will play a part in the other movies. Still, The Mummy does enough to get me interested in these future movies, while being pretty decent itself as a movie.

The Nice Guys (2016) Review

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The Nice Guys

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains Violence, Nudity, Sex Scenes & Offensive Language
Cast:
Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy
Ryan Gosling as Holland March
Angourie Rice as Holly March
Matt Bomer as John Boy
Margaret Qualley as Amelia Kutner
Murielle Telio as Misty Mountains
Keith David as Older Guy
Kim Basinger as Judith Kutner
Director: Shane Black

Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a down-on-his-luck private eye in 1977 Los Angeles. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a hired enforcer who hurts people for a living. Fate turns them into unlikely partners after a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) mysteriously disappears. Healy and March soon learn the hard way that some dangerous people are also looking for Amelia. Their investigation takes them to dark places as anyone else who gets involved in the case seems to wind up dead.

Score after first viewing:
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Score after second viewing:
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The main reason that I was interested in this movie was the people involved, that being Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe and director Shane Black. Shane Black is a very talented director, who created the underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and of course, Gosling and Crowe are very great actors. Having seen it now, I am so happy to say that The Nice Guys is one of my favourite films of the year so far. The great direction, entertaining and committed acting (particularly from Crowe and Gosling) is topped off by a fantastic screenplay, making this a must see film.

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Shane Black is an incredible writer and director, so it’s no surprise that the script for The Nice Guys is absolutely fantastic. And as you probably could tell by now, this movie is hilarious, all the jokes hit, and they hit hard. In retrospect it’s a dark comedy and the tone need to be balanced out well and it really was. The dialogue is on point, well suited for every character. The mystery is actually intriguing as well, so it’s not just a fun and entertaining watch, it’s interesting to watch these characters unravel the mystery.

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Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are the main stars of the movie and are absolutely fantastic. It would be so easy for the dynamic between them to be similar to other buddy cop movies, where two guys who are vastly different, who don’t like each other are for whatever reason paired together. These characters aren’t complete opposites of each other (they are just a little different from each other), they work together well, both are clearly capable at what they do, and so the characters aren’t clichéd and the movie doesn’t follow some of the clichés that a lot of similar movies do. Somehow most the other characters are also memorable. The biggest showstealer for me however was Angourie Rice, who plays Ryan Gosling’s daughter, she was absolutely fantastic. Her character is the smart kid who’s often trying to help the main leads and even though this character is done hundreds of times before, it’s not written in a clichéd way and she sells this character as being quite capable.

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The action was surprisingly great, very appropriately filmed as if it was in the 70s. The cinematography was quite great and beautiful. The production design was ripped straight out of the 70s, the time period is very easy to buy. This film really feels like it could’ve been filmed in the 70s, just with better film stock. I have no idea if that was Black’s intention, but if it was, major props to him.

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The Nice Guys is one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2016. Everything from the script, to the direction and the acting (especially from Crowe and Gosling) is done perfectly. I definitely recommend that you see this movie, especially if you have a love of film, it’s entertaining, it’s smartly written, it’s absolutely fantastic.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

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L.A. Confidential

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence
Cast:
Kevin Spacey as Jack Vicennes
Russell Crowe as Bud White
Guy Pearce as Ed Exley
James Cromwell as Dudley Smith
Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken
Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens
Director: Curtis Hanson

In 1950’s Los Angeles, someone’s killing imprisoned mob boss Mickey Cohen’s gang. After some shotgun slayings of the patrons at an all-night diner, three very different cops are all after the truth, each in their own style: Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), the golden boy of the police force, willing to do almost anything to get ahead, except sell out; Bud White (Russell Crowe), ready to break the rules to seek justice, but barely able to keep his raging violence under control; and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), always looking for celebrity and a quick buck until his conscience drives him to join Exley and White down the one-way path to find the truth behind the dark world of L.A. crime.

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L.A. Confidential is the best representation of 1950s Los Angeles I’ve seen in film. It is also a magnificent movie with a brilliant script, stellar performances, great production designs and countless other things that make a great movie so great. It is truly one of the best movies of the 1990s and one of the greatest films of all time.

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The writing of this movie is absolutely perfect, it is always entertaining from start to finish, and every piece of dialogue is constructed flawlessly to suit the characters, along with fitting the era of the 50s as well. The story is very interesting and takes many twists and turns as it progresses. It also successfully shows these three main characters and the ways they go around serving justice. The screenplay rightfully earned the Oscar for best screenplay adapted from a source, the book written by James Ellroy, which I haven’t read yet.

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All the actors do the roles very well, especially in portraying the type of characters they play. Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey play the main characters and are absolutely excellent. As I said above, they have different ways of serving justice, as well as having different personalities. This film brought to audiences the attention of Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe; this brought them to huge success and kicked their careers off. Along with those three excellent performances, the film also has some other great performances from actors like Kim Basinger, James Cromwell and Danny Devito. The most surprisingly thing is that apart from Kim Basinger, no one here got any Oscar nominations for acting, but then again, great performances don’t always get Oscar nominations, we’ve seen this happen in the past.

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The cinematography is decent but special credit should go to the people making the sets. The setting of Los Angeles in the 1950s is perfectly recreated here. The locations and the music are very convincing of the time period. The soundtrack particularly, which was composed by Jerry Goldsmith was absolutely perfect for the mood and vibe that the film was going for. The editing brought everything together and made the film even more enjoyable to watch.

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L.A. Confidential has everything I ask for in a movie, it is engaging, it has actors successfully portraying their characters and it has a brilliant script. There wasn’t really anything that I could think of which I disliked in this film, nor was there any scene that felt out of place. I actually feel that at the Oscars, this film deserved the best picture award, Titanic was a pretty good movie; however I still personally find that L.A. Confidential deserved it more, not that the Oscars necessarily matter. I strongly recommend you check this movie out as soon as you can. It is a fantastic film that ever since watching it for the first time, has made my list of favourite movies of all time.

P.S. A reminder that until December, I will likely not be able to post many reviews due to exams.

Man of Steel (2013) Review

MAN OF STEEL

Man of Steel

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Michael Shannon as General Zod
Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White
Russell Crowe as Jor-El
Director: Zack Snyder

A young boy, Clark learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man (Henry Cavill), he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

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Man of Steel is a reboot of Superman and that has divided a lot of people. Some people say that it’s a good movie that does well in executing the new take on Superman, while others say that it is Hollywood garbage and is disrespectful to the comics. As someone who doesn’t read comic books but a fan of superhero movies, I personally enjoyed it despite some flaws in the writing. It’s an entertaining, visually stunning movie and for the direction that it was going for, it was well executed.

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The writing in Man of Steel isn’t bad but it is the weakest element of the movie. I quite liked the beginning of the movie; it shows Krypton’s destruction and the events of what took place there. That scene was actually done better here than the original Superman; with the original, Krypton’s look was quite basic and we don’t really see much of it. Here though, it is exciting to watch all these events happening and was the best way to open the movie. This movie is a much different take on Superman; the tone is overall darker and it also seems to make Superman appear in this world as realistic as possible while keeping its serious tone. Also there doesn’t seem to be any romance between Clark and Lois. Another thing different in this movie is something that has been gathering controversy and unfortunately it’s a spoiler as it’s near the end of the movie; if you’ve watched the movie and looked at online forums you know what I’m talking about. All I will say about this moment is that I don’t really have much of a problem with it and I thought that it was actually well done.

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Henry Cavill did a good job in portraying Superman; he had quite a Christopher Reeve vibe to him, which always helps when playing Superman.  Amy Adams was decent as Lois Lane and a good thing is that she does end up doing more to help Superman more than some previous Lois Lanes have. Michael Shannon did a great job as Zod; even though he wouldn’t have been the only person to be able to play that character he does well with what he’s got. One of the great things about this adaptation of Zod is the fact that you can really understand his motivations; so many supervillians in movies are just written to be evil but here you can see why he does what he’s doing. To be honest he is better than most of the villains in the Marvel movies. Russell Crowe plays Jor-El, Superman’s biological father; Crowe isn’t on screen for very long but makes use of what screen time he has.

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Zack Snyder directed this movie, so you can expect it to look good, as well as the special effects being well done. The fights that take place are also extremely satisfying; it’s also quite impossible to describe the amount of carnage that happens in this movie. It’s like the opposite of Superman Returns which had little to no conflict. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer is as usual great here and it adds another layer of epicness to this movie.

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Man of Steel may not please everyone but for me it was an enjoyable watch. The acting was decent, the story was simple and it was fun to watch. It’s not a movie that I’d put among the great superhero movies but I think that it’s good. The follow up, Batman v Superman is something I am looking forward to and I’m interested how Zack Snyder will deliver.