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Man of Steel Blu-ray Review

Man of Steel
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: November 12th, 2013

Synopsis: The fate of mankind is in the hands of one man when Man of Steel arrives onto Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD 2-disc Special Edition, 3D Limited Collector’s Edition and Digital Download on November 12 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. In Man of Steel, Clark Kent is forced to confront his extraterrestrial past and embrace his hidden powers when Earth is threatened with destruction. A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, 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. From Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures comes Man of Steel, starring Henry Cavill in the role of Clark Kent/Kal-El under the direction of Zack Snyder.

Blu-ray Combo Pack Bonus Features:
-Journey of Discovery
-Strong Characters, Legendary Roles
-All-Out Action
-Krypton Decoded
-Planet Krypton
-Animated Short

Man of Steel Feature Review by Sarah Ann-Lee
When Man of Steel was first announced, I was skeptical based on current history. Superman Returns (2006) had not been the best success on the big screen, for one. DC Comics was also going through a whole revamp of their mainstream world. Dubbed “The New 52,” changes were underway and horror of horrors, Superman now sported some armor-like concoction sans the signature red shorts. Superman did not seem to be the archetypal hero embedded in the western world’s (and beyond) cultural consciousness anymore. Then the promotional pictures came out for the costumes, and knee jerk reactions included “err, why is it so dark”, “where’s the yellow on the symbol”, and general petty disapproval. No one was denying that the Superman movie franchise needed a reboot, but what kind of reboot was this going to be? And of course, there was the perennial question, “do we really need another origin story?”

When the first teaser trailers for Man of Steel came out, I was left feeling cold. Seemed a bit like the Superman: Birthright comic, and what was with that blue-hued, washed-out, gritty-real aesthetic? Superman wasn’t meant to be like Batman, with all the internal brooding. I didn't even bother keeping track of cast announcements as production was underway. But then the extended trailer came in, both the Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) narrated-versions, and I then realized how much I needed a Superman movie. Hope, an ideal: Superman being, quite simply, good.

Because that is, in essence, what Superman is about. Goodness, wonder, hope, and - even before he knew his true heritage - being a hero. And, of course, one's legacy. Krypton’s legacy is one of a doomed planet, though the reasons are now expanded on in the movie. It is no longer an off-planet Golden Age, but is instead a warning that even Earth could heed. Man of Steel opens into full sci-fi glory, with a Krypton that is refreshingly believable. Things are recognizable, but distinctly alien. It is not just another Earth with different clothes. Russell Crowe admirably helps set the tone from the onset, and following him, we get to see the multiple sights of Krypton. And of course, winged creatures that can be ridden like horses, because we know that in every movie Russell Crowe is in, him on a horse is a good thing.

But I digress.

This story is about legacy, and fathers. That much would’ve been guessed from the trailers. But this movie is also about nurture and mothers. We see so often Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) placing little Kal-El in the escape ship. And when Superman contemplates his purpose, it is so often linked with Jor-El, so often influenced by the lessons he’s had from Jonathan Kent, excellently portrayed by Kevin Costner. Yes, we get those in this movie. But we also see how the mothers have helped forge this hero too. Martha Kent’s (Diane Lane) moments with Clark through the ages are some of the most touching, keeping our Clark grounded as that Kansas farmboy even after he dons the suit. Lara Lor-Van’s courage is not something to be slighted either. She is not just the dutiful wife following her husband’s plans. She shares those plans, and she executes them with equal conviction.

Then there’s Lois Lane. Sure, there are cosmetic changes. Amy Adams’ Lois is not the black-haired, pencil-skirt wearing reporter. She is instead a red-head, jeans wearing, and camera toting (for lack of an Olsen), but that’s okay. Most importantly, this Lois is not a damsel-in-distress. She scales steep cliff faces, she navigates her own way out enemy territory (albeit with a certain artificial intelligence as a guide, honestly one of the best scenes), and more importantly, she the new steadying presence in Clark’s life that he can rely on.

The villains themselves aren’t half bad either. It was pretty cool to see a badass female bad-guy. Antje Traue's Faora is a great counterpoint both to Adams’ Lois and minor characters such as Colonel Nathan Hardy (Christopher Meloni), and does so much in the small amount of screen time she has. Lady is lethal. Michael Shannon’s turn in as General Zod is fearsome and threatening from the start, yet still being able to add an element of tragedy at one of the show’s climaxes.

And the fight scenes - wow! I wouldn’t know anything about Kryptonian physiology in relation to yellow sun radiation, but I think we get some idea from this movie. I definitely enjoyed the Kryptonians’ navigation around gravity and other enhancements. And no ‘Kryptonite’ per se in sight, but that doesn’t leave our heroes and villains without weaknesses, and all the better for it. Granted, the visuals at times during Zod’s attack seemed reminiscent of War of the Worlds, or any other doomsday apocalypse, but considering that we’re talking about home-worlds being destroyed, I think that could be forgiven.

I’m not too sure about a couple of deaths in the movie, especially of a certain minor character you might be invested in had you entered the Superman world through the DCAU (especially Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited), but this is a Superman in a world where tough choices and tough sacrifices must be made by all good men. Henry Cavill brings us through this journey splendidly, giving us the unassuming Clark Kent and the emboldened Kal-El in equal turns.

So did this movie give me what I hoped it would? Yeah, pretty sure it did. But your mileage may vary. This is not a comic-book movie with snappy dialogue and slick, bright pop colors. Audiences going in expecting that will be disappointed. Neither does it focus on the epic. It moves through genres, bringing sci-fi and drama into the spectacle we expect of a superhero action movie (but not solely that), and is aptly titled without our hero’s trademark name.

The movie cuts straight to plot-driven action, and exposition is kept to a minimum. At times the pacing lags a bit, but this is really only if you expect spectacle at every turn. Man of Steel is just as much about the man, as it is about the steel. The narrative arc is not linear, but the flashbacks fit themselves thematically into the overall plot, and even within that, the emotional journey is one which should tug either at the child or parent within you. I give it a solid 7.5/10 and will definitely watch it again.

Man of Steel Blu-ray Review by James Harvey
Warner Home Video has given Man of Steel a very, very worthwhile Blu-ray release. There are a few minor nitpicks, yes, but overall it's a great release for the divisive summer blockbuster. Just to note, both the 2D and 3D releases of Man of Steel are essentially the same, save for the extra 3D-edition of the film in the 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack, so no worries about missing out on any potentially exclusive extras.

Looking at the Blu-ray transfer for the film, Warner Home Video has given Man of Steel a top-of-the-line audio and video workout. There are little complaints to be found. While Man of Steel isn't really reference material, it's pretty much up there. The movie looks great, crisp, clear and crackling. The muted tones look nice and blue, and the film grain brings a bit of authenticity to the overly-CG feature. In terms of audio, it's aggressive and ear-splitting. In short, it's loud - you hear every little movement, no matter how big or small. It feels like the action sequences even leap out of the speakers, with explosions rattling the floor and shaking the walls. It's a powerful DTS-HD mix.

So...how are the extras? Well, plentiful. Even with a couple curious omissions, the bonus content here is very substantial and worth checking out.

On the set's first disc, the bonus features kick-off with "Strong Characters, Legendary Roles," which features standard talking head pieces from the film's main actors. Afterwards is "Krypton Decoded," which dives into the world of Krypton and gives a closer look at arguably the stand-out sequence of the movie. There's also the "Superman 75th" animated short, which is very, very, very awesome (more details here). The disc wraps up with a "New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth" promo featurette, and a collection of trailers.

And on the second disc? A very in-depth special presentation of the movie, littered with nearly three hours of production footage and discussion, is the main focus. The movie plays out, interrupted with a look at the film's many stages of production. Windows will pop up to discuss specific scenes that are playing out, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interview with the cast and crew. It is an excellent and fascinating exploration of the movie. If you're a fan of this movie, check this out. There's also a tongue-in-cheek puff-piece featurette which explores if Krypton was a real planet.

All in all, a nice collection of bonus content, but where are the trailers? Or even some tie-in material to the source material, akin to the free comic book on the Green Lantern home video release. Given the popularity of the movie, this is a perfect chance to throw in an episode of one of the animated DC Comics cartoons or provide a closer look at the comics. Missed opportunity.

Overall, Man of Steel receives a fantastic Blu-ray home video release. Reaction to the film was definitely mixed, and to the extremes, too. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground - either fans and critics really enjoyed the movie or heavily disliked it. Thankfully, to those who enjoyed this movie, they will definitely enjoy this Blu-ray release. If you have a 3D-compatible TV, the 3D Blu-ray release is definitely worth picking up. While I doubt this will be the only Blu-ray release for Man of Steel, what we have here is an excellent edition to hold us over until the inevitable Ultimate Edition. A solid set of extras, a great presentation, and an overall worthwhile addition to one's collection.

Sarah Ann-Lee is a regular contributor to The World's Finest. James Harvey is the co-founder of The World's Finest.


Click the images below for a closer look at the Man of Steel DVD menu system.