Man of Steel (Blu-ray Review)

When I first found out they were attempting to go down the road of reinventing, rebranding and rebooting the legendary Superman franchise I just flat out laughed.  However, if you think that was rude, you should have heard the expletives I said when I found out that Watchmen’s Zack Snyder was helming the project.  I have nothing against the looks and visual style of his Watchmen, but my God was that one of the most boringly long, tearjerking films of recent years filled with too many frames of big blue @#$%.  However, I know Snyder has more potential than that.  After all he did do 300 and created one of the most stunning movie intros ever, in my opinion, in Sucker Punch.  So the cat has talent, that much I can’t deny.  But then it became to be known that Christopher Nolan was going to be serving as a producer and I thought maybe, just maybe, under the tutelage of King Nolan, Snyder could possibly nail it on the head and get it right this time out.  After all, there’s no doubt that this franchise needs a hero.  And if anybody can do it, it’s Nolan.  I have explicit faith in Nolan, and therefore I entrusted my faith in Snyder.  You picking up what I’m dropping here?  Good!  Because we’re about to get down to business.  And this sh1t’s going to get real.  Prepare to soar and be dazzled (because we are talking about Superman).  This is Blu-ray review is made out of steel so treat it accordingly.


So I assume we can all skip on by past the Siegel’s family threat to Warner Bros. that they had to start production on a Superman movie by 2011 or face the legal wrath that the family could sue for additional royalties from previous films.  Blah, blah, blah.  The time is among us.  The story behind Man of Steel is actually based upon an idea by David S. Goyer that Nolan pitched to the studio around the time that The Dark Knight Rises was wrapping up production.  Snyder was hired on as director back in October of 2010.  I guess you can say he’s the veteran here, but in my eyes, he’s still very much the pupil under Nolan’s uncompromising wits.  It’s all about the story and that’s the part where I felt that when I was initially going into Man of Steel theatrically, I was so confident that we were in good hands here because if Nolan knows one thing…it’s story.

Now as I mentioned before, Man of Steel is a complete and utter reboot of the Superman film series, which puts a slightly new take on the character’s origin story.  However, you already knew what you were getting into once you heard or should I said read the word “reboot.”  The film stars Henry Cavill (Immortals) in the titular title role with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Russell Crowe as Jor-El (Superman’s father) and Antje Traue as Faora.  And equally important, if you’re a fan of the Dark Knight trilogy like I am, you’ll be stoked that we’re also in good hands in the score department with the inclusion of Hans Zimmer onboard filling some pretty big shoes of John Williams from the previous films.  While I’m sure it’s much to everyone’s surprise that there’s no reference at all to William’s iconic “Superman March,” that’s not necessary a bad thing…it’s a good thing.  Have faith.  Zimmer, in my opinion, is the new John Williams in the modern world (although you can never completely replace Williams’  signature masterpieces) and no one knows his craft better than Hans.  Just wait until you hear what Zimmer has in store for your ears.  It’s like candy.  It’s so sweet you just have to have it!

There’s so many good things going for this feature that I previously mentioned above so why oh why didn’t I like it as much as I wanted to?  Were my expectations set way too high, almost unbeatable, when I first went into this?  Did the wild second half action tromp the fact that the story lacked really rich character development, charisma and even thought provoking dialogue?  Did the fact that Goyer penned this script singlehandedly and it didn’t have Nolan’s TLC touch bore me?  Honestly, for me, it was a little bit of all of those things.  Believe me, I’m the last person who wants to be saying anything bad about this film.  My world needed a hero and I really…let me emphasize the word again…REALLY needed a hero this summer.  Unfortunately, Man of Steel isn’t that savior for me.  Truth be told, I had way more fun with Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek Into The Darkness and Oblivion this year than this…even after a second helping.  And God…you don’t know how sad that makes me.  But here’s the deal.  t’s obviously far from being a perfect film.  The Dark Knight trilogy wasn’t either.  But unlike the Dark Knight trilogy, Man of Steel was relatively forgettable where as with the Dark Knight flicks they were lingering in my mind for days, weeks and even months after only the first viewing.  I wanted to feel that so much for this new incarnation of Superman, but alas I did not.  Sadly, I haven’t even listened to the soundtrack since I bought it over the summer, but don’t let me sour the mood there.  The soundtrack is stellar.  There’s no denying that and I’d be a fool to tell you otherwise.

When I first saw this at a press screening over the summer I had plans to go see it again in IMAX over opening day weekend.  That’s how much I was banking on the fact that I would love it.  But that didn’t happen, folks.  The theaters did not get my hard earned money or repeat business on this one like I thought they would.  I never thought it was plausible or even possible after becoming so attached to those initial trailers, but I felt so emotionally detached, distant and deprived of any emotions here…even after a second viewing.  It felt like I was hearing an ex tell me I don’t love you anymore…well not in that way.  And I believe it had much to do with the weak characters and their respective lack of robust development and horrible editing trying to do what Batman Begins did, but utterly failing in that respect.  That’s why I’m sad that Nolan didn’t have a hand in writing the screenplay.  I know, at least I hope, his characters would have been richer and the dialogue would have been a lot more credible, if not remarkable.  Oh, how sad I am….the burden I bear for all of you my readers.

Now let’s not get carried or blow things out of proportion here with my sadness.  Like I said before and I’ll repeat again, Man of Steel is NOT an incredibly bad movie.  It just could have been done a lot better and that’s the main reason for my sourness here.  But have no fear, it’s nothing like Superman Returns.  I dig the gritty real world approach that Nolan likes to instill and inject his characters in, but there’s also a lot of things that did not work for me either.  For starters, let’s take a look at Lois and Clark/Superman’s relationship.  I truly appreciate the fact that they modernized things and knew the characters’ portrayals in the Donner films from the 80’s were not going to hold up in today’s times, but they totally flipped the dynamics of Clark and Lois’ relationship head over heels and it just didn’t work for me.  Again I appreciate the modern human approach, but this relationship really had me scratching my head and saying really an awful lot.  And I was bored by it.  How’s that possible?  This is the Man of Steel after all.  What’s cool was Krypton.  It was “stellar” to see the ruined planet represented onscreen like it was, almost fantasy or Avatar like.  I loved it!  But once we came to Earth the story telling flipped flopped so erratically for me.  It worked in Batman Begins because it felt cohesive and formulaic, but I don’t think it was extremely effective here that much.  I really really wanted to feel that bond between Clark (Cal-El) and his adopted parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent.  I really needed that bonding.  I wanted to be grounded in the story and lost in suspension of disbelief.  But the story was so choppy I never felt comfortable with the world in which Clark grew up in, thus I never felt the essential, emotional connection between the two most important people in Clark’s life.  And the whole Lois Lane thing once again.  Ugh.  It has taken multiple viewings to warm up to her.

So while I’m on role here with rambling off all my likes and dislikes let’s talk about the characters.  Henry Cavill, while not as charismatic as the late Christopher Reeve, is completely stoic and chiseled as DC’s headliner superhero.  He wears and fills his tights with pride, enthusiasm and seems to have fun with it (and no that’s not a bash on the missing red tights…lol).  There just wasn’t a lot for him to work with though in my opinion.  I did not feel his moments of pain like Zack wanted me to.  I was taken aback though when young Clark had problems dealing with his superpowers such as x-ray vision and hearing all conversations.  That realism was probably my favorite moment in the movie and I have never seen it explored that way.  I liked it very much even the second time around on Blu-ray!!!  However, with the good always comes the bad and I’ll be honest and go on record by saying I’m not crazy of Amy Adams as Lois Lane.  I really think she is erroneously casted in this role, but again that’s just me.  She just didn’t feel like Lois Lane to me.  On the flip side, I L-O-V-E the casting of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Mr. and Mrs. Kent.  They were outstanding and I wish I could have seen a hell of a whole lot more of them throughout without the hack job editing.  I had no problems with the reincarnation of the characters of Perry White or that of Jor-El.  And while we’re at it, our paragraph wouldn’t be complete without mention of the brilliant Michael Shannon.  I think he did a fine job here too and flexed as much emotion and intensity as he could, but I also feel like he did not have a lot to work with here too in regards to the somewhat weak screenplay.   And what’s not to dig about Antje’s character of Faora?

I guess that leaves us with the reason why we are all here reading this…the summer action movie has finally arrived on the Blu-ray format.  And I’m not going to lie to you.  If you like big, robust action in vein of The Transformers, then you came to the right place.  The second half of Man of Steel is action packed and as explosive as Krypton’s core.  Understandably so since this is a reboot of the franchise that there will be a lengthy origin story, but believe me when I say no time was wasted between the moment Clark stupidly received his blue alien underwear to the point where he confronted a cranky General Zod.  Maybe that’s why I am in such dismay.  It really wasn’t an iconic moment like the trailers made it look and I didn’t get to see him discover his newfound powers innocently enough like we do in all the other superhero films in recent times.  And to be completely honest, the last third of the film really did feel like a bombastic, peril Transformers moment taken from any of the last three films.  It kind of took away whatever humanity Zack achieved with the first two acts as it was just in your face nonsensical Hulk-like smashing action.  But nevertheless, it was cool!  And riddle me this?  For someone so concerned with the well being of human life, aka Superman, how does he not care about the destruction him and Zod ensue on Metropolis?  I mean, come on, about a million people must have died in that final battle.  I don’t know.  Whenever I think about it more and more I find plot holes I don’t like, but let’s face it, The Dark Knight Rises is notorious for them too, more often than not.  No matter how you slice, the mythos of Superman is a hard one to tackle.  You’re either going to do it completely wrong by going too much with the comics and geek lore or you’re going to risk looking ridiculous by making macaroni and cheese.  Here’s where I think Goyer and Nolan succeeded at least in bringing a real world “feel” to Man of Steel and it appears like the future Justice League universe too…if that happens.  It’s not prefect, but it’s a start and a foundation to build upon.

So up above you have my film score.  You probably thought with all the b1tching and moaning I have been doing my score would have been a lot lower.  Here’s the deal, I had to account for my high expectations theatrically as well as how they would hold up in this inevitable Blu-ray release.  By all means, don’t let my words above be the final words.  You should experience Kal-El’s journey for yourself.  In fact I whole heartedly recommend it.  I will let you in on a little secret though.  When the credits roll, sadly that’s it, folks.  Don’t expect no huge Justice League tie-in like they did for Avengers in all the latest Marvel films.  It’s not there.  However, for a film who’s sole purpose is to launch a shared fictional universe of DC Comics characters on film, I think it works.  The choppy origin story kind of loses my interest a just a tad and there were parts with the script that I would have liked to seen played out very differently, but that’s why I’m not making the big bucks, Nolan, Snyder and Goyer are.  What do I know, eh?  I do know this.  Never before has Superman been tackled like this.  They do a great job at making you feel what Clark feels as an alien outcast and puts a “real world spin” (I’m sure you are sick of hearing me say that over and over) on the DC Comics universe, something I hope they continue with.  This isn’t your daddy’s or 80’s childhood Superman.  Man of Steel is an action packed ride on the darker side of the DC Universe.  It’s Superman’s trials and tribulations as he discovers what kind of man he is going to be and how the people of Earth are going to treat him when his powers are discovered and big bad General Zod comes looking for Krypton’s last son.  It’s very much an “alien” movie.  It’s not as good as Nolan’s three Batman films, but it’s very much a start in the right direction that I can now appreciate after seeing it four times…I hope (we shall soon see as Affleck dons the Batman tights in the next flick).  So how did things look and sound?  Now we’re talking!

DISCLAIMER:  Let the record show that I have now watched this film a total of three times before deciding on my final film score above.  The more I watched it, the more I’ll admit to liking it a little more each time!  Take that as face value for what it’s worth if it means anything to you.  The Man of Steel does indeed grow upon me with each taste test.


While the film itself definitely doesn’t live up to its name completely, the same can’t be said for the “made of steel” video presentation Warner Bros. hurls in here courtesy of the AVC MPEG-4 encoded 1080p transfer framed in a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  It’s hard to find any faults with this presentation whereas with the movie I can obviously find things to nitpick on about.  And good news for all you pore whores!  Every single pore is accounted for and on proudly display here.  I love it!  There’s fine detail abound, unlike the sketchy story (okay it’s getting old and I promise I’ll stop).  Needless to say things are sharp as a knife and precise as the diamond cuts in the iPhone.  Black levels are always deep, inky and consistent throughout while sequences change visually and tonally due to intended effects depending upon what geography or for that matter planet we are on.  Any signs of softness is really only due to the overuse of CGI, but with a film that involves Superman as your main protagonist, you’re going to have it and no worries, none of this compromises the image really…at least not to me.  It’s yet another reference presentation we have come to love from Warner Bros. this year from big summer tentpole releases.  Expect nothing less.  There are no nasty artifacts, debris or specks in the print.  It truly is made of “steel.”  So how’s the audio?!  How do you think it is?!!  Really even need to ask?


Wow!  Just like with the video presentation above, the audio literally blew me away just like it did in another recent Warner Bros. release.  I’m talking about you again, Pacific Rim.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround mix will make it’s presence known with its righteous forcefulness as well as with its quieter moments.  The dynamics of the soundstage are quite remarkable here.  The loud carnage of everything that unfolds on the screen at you, including the non-stop romp of Act 3, will give your home theater setup one hell of a Superman-like workout.  Trust me on that.  If you love it loud, like Kiss does, then you’re in the right place, baby!  But it’s the more subtle moments that shine here as well…the quiet interludes so to speak…that you’re able to lose yourself and indulge in this lossless track.  My main enemy…the dialogue…I’m pleased to report is loud, clear and concise throughout.  From the thunderous booms of the subwoofer during the action sequences to the quiet lulls at the farmhouse, this track is truly worthy of the film’s title.  I couldn’t be happier with the A/V specs of this one.  And I didn’t even have to talk about the sonic score of Zimmer.  Need I really shed any light on the subject there?  We all know, like Williams before him, this flick’s score is in very capable hands.  So how about those special features?


Well, while there does not look like there’s too much here in the way of extras on the surface, didn’t your mommy always tell you don’t judge a book by its cover?  You’re in luck!  You have me to take you on this guided journey and explore the caverns and depths of this special features department here on the Man of Steel Blu-ray set.  Like last month’s Pacific Rim Blu-ray release here, there’s also surprisingly a second Blu-ray disc of extras.  Ever since the recent extended version of The Hobbit and Pacific Rim Blu-ray releases, I’ve become an extras junkie so seeing this second disc was very joyous for me!  So while certain extras may vary by the store you purchase your Man of Steel Blu-ray disc from, the Blu-ray Combo Pack that I have in hand directly from Warner Bros. includes the following.  So fasten your red tablecloth around your neck and come fly with me.

Disc One –

• Strong Characters, Legendary Roles (HD, 25:59) – Here we explore the legendary characters of the Superman mythology and comics over the years and how they have evolved in this new iteration of the Superman story with the likes of Geoff Johns in his Aquaman hat, director Zack Snyder, David Goyer, producer Alex McDowell and other cast and crew, including a glimpse of Chris Nolan!!!  This gives an insight into the character of Superman and what he stands for.  Good stuff here!  However, it does get really deep especially when they compare the destruction of Superman’s home planet and how we’re currently destroying ours.  And God do I love those Krypton scenes.

• All Out Action (HD, 26:02) – Here we get to go inside the intense training, diet regimen and even sleep that sculpted Henry Cavill into the “Man of Steel” and Michael Shannon and Antje Traue into his Kyptonian nemeses.  Henry learned he could do things in the gym he never thought possible.  This extra also includes interviews with the cast, crew and trainers.  These are the kind of supplements that make me envious as I would love nothing more than a lifestyle of getting paid to work out.  Honestly, I’m a bigger fan of the action because of this supplement.  The capture of the under water oil rig sequence was absolutely amazing how it was filmed.  It’s also fun to see Supe and villains fight with green screen and without their CGI accessories and wardrobe.

• Krypton Decoded (HD, 6:42) – This one is kind of short compared to its two predecessors, but here we are hosted by Dylan Sprayberry, who plays Clark Kent at age 13 in the film, as he gives us the lowdown on all the amazing Krypton tech, weapons and spaceships featured in our feature film.

• Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short (HD, 2:03) – This two-minute quickie kind of has it all including animated takes of Christopher Reeves and Henry Cavill as well as various incarnations of the Superman character as he appeared in the comic pages.  Listen closely enough and you might just hear some legendary John Williams score too.

• New Zealand: Home to Middle-earth (HD, 6:35) – Oddly enough we have a Hobbit related featurette here as we travel with Peter Jackson and crew across New Zealand as they transform it into Middle-earth.  What’s it doing here?  I honestly have no idea.  It’s truly an Easter egg in every sense.  LOL.

Disc Two –

• Journey of Discovery: Creating Man of Steel (HD, 2 hrs., 54 mins.) – This immersive feature-length experience allows you to watch the movie with director Zack Snyder, crew and the stars as they share the incredible journey to re-imagine Superman in the film.  Honestly, going into this one I kind of thought this would be a standard picture-in picture track as you’re watching the film, but it’s so much more…sometimes there’s even three.  The interviews and featurettes literally take over the screen and you’ll be hard pressed if you ever wanted to hear any of the movie.   But why would you?   Even though it’s billed as learning more while you watch the film, don’t be fooled.  This is one hell of a making of that rivals the Prometheus 3D doc in length.  This one is EVERYTHING you wanted to know and so much more about the film.  Interestingly enough the movie does kick in every now and then and when it does your rear speakers will let you know.  All the in-depth featurettes here make this one well worth the price of admission in my opinion.  You gotta love hearing about two-thirds of the crew throwing up in the crab fishing scenes filmed on a real boat with authentic crashing waves.  I love seeing all the elements, including fire, come together.

• Planet Krypton (HD, 17:18) – It’s the world’s first exploration of Krypton and its lost society or as I like to call it a mockumentary.  It’s goofy, but it’s here…so suck it up and enjoy it!

DVD (SD) – Here’s your minivan approved version of the film housed on its own DVD disc.

UltraViolet (HD) – Also included here is a leaflet that has a special one of a kind digital code for you to claim your UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.  It’s not as convenient as an iTunes Digital Copy, but it will do for me I guess.


I have to admit.  After not being much of a fan the first time around, I had a blast watching this the other day and asking fellow WSB reviewer Gerard Iribe what was the meaning of this scene and so on.  It was almost an educational experience.  Thanks G!  And I think Brandon Peters said it best when he texted me saying maybe Man of Steel is just one of the movies where you had to get the first viewing out of the way to truly appreciate it.  In my own words, I call that the “Prometheus Effect.”  There’s no doubt in my mind that this Blu-ray will be getting some more spins in the very near future and why not?  It has reference video, audio and even some killer special features to boast about.  I’m sure we’ll see a double dip closer to the second “Superman vs. Batman” film, for lack of a better known title, but for now…I’m really happy with what we have here.  I’m a bit late getting this up on the website here, but I truly hope you enjoyed my review  above and if you haven’t already, give this one a chance!  I’m hoping you dig it as much as I have on subsequent viewings.  Man of Steel came out this last Tuesday, but if you like what you read above, please help support our site by ordering it here or via the link below.  Thank you!


This one came over from Warner Bros. late last week and I thought this would be the perfect place to share this fun, informative piece.  Enjoy!

Man of Steel Infographic


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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