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Man of Steel Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 10 Cameron Yee

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Posted November 11 2013 - 01:42 PM

Man of Steel Blu-ray Review

Warner Brothers’ somewhat polarizing Superman re-boot debuts on Blu-ray, soaring high with an unsurprisingly fantastic presentation. The special features take a slight break from form, however, that may necessitate a purchase sooner rather than later.


Cover Art


Studio: Warner Brothers

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 2 Hr. 23 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UltraViolet

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 11/12/2013

MSRP: $35.99




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

After 75 years, it’s understandable the character of Superman would be struggling to find his footing in today’s world. Created in the late 1930s, when times were arguably simpler, Superman’s unequivocal goodness and incorruptible sense of morality represented the ideals of his time, but these days offer little more than warm feelings of nostalgia for a bygone era. While Richard Donner’s 1978 film adaptation stayed true to the original character, and proved highly popular even in increasingly cynical times, Bryan Singer’s unsuccessful revisit of Donner’s treatment, almost 30 years later, showed audiences had effectively moved on. Thus, unlike most franchise and character re-boots lately, a re-boot for Superman made sense; tapping Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy) to write and produce, even more so. The only thing that seemed to give followers pause was the selection of Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) as director, though his signature, visual excesses (slow motion effects, for the most part) would prove to be a non-issue.

In Man of Steel, the outcome of Warner Brothers’ efforts to make the character relevant for today, we get a Superman unlike any other. Primarily, we see a Clark Kent mired in an internal struggle over where he’s from and what he’s meant to do. Where past films have merely touched on this theme, Man of Steel embraces it in full, showing Clark’s deep sense of alienation and loneliness as a child and how, as an adult, those unresolved issues lead him to wander the world looking for answers. The more emotional quality to both the character and his origin story don’t create a Super “Emo” Man, fortunately; as played by Henry Cavill, Clark Kent / Superman is as physically and mentally strong as ever, but knowing what he had to go through to get there finally gives him a humanizing accessibility, the absence of which has been a longstanding issue since the character’s inception. Where this more three-dimensional, less black-and-white, treatment ultimately takes him as he battles against old enemies of his home planet, some have objected to as a violation of what the character has long represented. While I don’t disagree that it’s a fundamental change in the Superman we’ve known, it’s also wholly consistent with the Superman we’ve now been given – one who has to make hard choices and obviously feels the burden of the consequences.

Devoting as much time as it does to its main character and his journey of self-discovery, Man of Steel inevitably shortchanges some of its supporting characters, namely Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who serves mostly as a narrative device rather than a bonafide foil and love interest. Now that the requisite origin story is out of the way, however, I’m sure the sequel will include more of her, editor Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), and the environment of The Daily Planet.

In contrast, we get an awful long look at the culture and civilization of Krypton, courtesy of Clark’s biological father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his nemesis General Zod (Michael Shannon). It’s definitely the most detailed (and fantastical) presentation of Superman’s heritage ever put to film, but I’m not sure all of it was necessary, especially as we’re unlikely to see Krypton figure so heavily in future stories. The flashbacks to Clark’s youth with his adopted parents Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) feel more relevant, and ultimately balanced, in comparison, though I’m sure trimming the amount of Krypton scenes wouldn’t have made Crowe (and those who paid for his casting) very happy.



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

Framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the picture may not appeal to everyone’s aesthetic sensibilities, with its metallic color grading, slightly crushed blacks, and sometimes excessive detail, but the transfer seems faultless in presenting the filmmakers’ stylistic choices. Black level, contrast, and color all look great across the board. Noise pops up on occasion in more challenging scenes but the image appears free of digital artifacts related to grain reduction or sharpening.



Audio Rating: 5/5

Dialogue in the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. The surround channels carry an aggressive, but expertly balanced mix, of atmospheric, directional and environmental effects, alongside strong presence of the film score. LFE extends deep, and is clean, robust and balanced.



Special Features Rating: 4/5

The bulk of the behind-the-scenes material is tied to the “Journey of Discovery” video commentary, located on Disc Two, and will prove the most interesting compared to the more perfunctory featurettes found on Disc One.

DVD Copy

UltraViolet Digital Copy: Redeem by 11/12/2015.

[DISC ONE]

Strong Characters, Legendary Roles (26:00, HD): The piece provides a brief history of Superman in comic books, then moves to the development and production of the film, elements in the adaptation, and major story and character themes.

All-Out Action (26:02, HD): The featurette covers the actors’ physical training and stunt work, and how their fitness helped shape their approach to the characters.

Krypton Decoded (6:42, HD): Dylan Sprayberry, who played 13-year old Clark Kent, takes viewers on a tour of the production design for the Kryptonian culture and technology.

Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short (2:03, HD): The celebration of 75 years of Superman highlights the character’s pop culture milestones (interestingly enough, there doesn’t seem to be a reference to the Lois and Clark TV series).

New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth (6:35, HD): What’s a featurette on The Hobbit’s New Zealand shooting locations doing on a Blu-ray for Superman? Beats me. The whole time I was watching it I thought it was a disc authoring mistake, but since it’s also on the DVD copy, I guess it’s just a clumsy attempt to promote another of Warner’s franchises.

[DISC TWO]

Journey of Discovery: Creating Man of Steel (2:54:05, HD): The picture-in-picture video commentary (referred to as “Maximum Movie Mode” on previous Warner product, though I haven’t seen that term used in a while) incorporates video footage from production, concept art, cast and crew interviews, and other material to show what all went into making the film. I’ve always been a fan of the feature, but putting it on Disc Two, while bundling the usual slate of featurettes with Disc One, is something new, most likely to facilitate the release of a single-disc, movie only release of the title down the road.

Planet Krypton (17:18, HD): The featurette explores the culture, history, and language of Krypton, as if the fictional planet and civilization were real.



Overall Rating: 4/5

Warner Home Video delivers an impeccable high definition presentation for the studio’s largely effective Superman re-boot starring Henry Cavill as the titular superhero. The video commentary is the highlight of the special features, but given its placement on Disc Two, don’t expect to see it in any future, single-disc repackaging. Consequently, if you want the video commentary, you’ll likely have to spring for this edition over eventual, less expensive alternatives.


Reviewed By: Cameron Yee


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#2 of 10 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted November 12 2013 - 09:49 AM

Great review, Cameron. My copy is on its way from Amazon. Didn't get a chance to see it in the theater so I am very much looking forward to watching it.


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#3 of 10 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted November 14 2013 - 06:32 AM

My feelings toward this film mirror yours, Cameron. Including the 4.5/5 rating. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I was surprised, having read non-spoiler opinions about how the ending was controversial, etc, I felt it was all in keeping with how the story played out (no other way for Supes to act gven what was going on).

 

I was talking with a coworker about the film and he was frustrated that A) Superman fought people of equal strength and, B) Superman didn't outsmart his enemies. I was of the opinion that it was great to see Superman equally matched as it meant that I did not automatically know how he would be victorious and that, regarding the hero not outsmarting the baddies, it made sense to me as Superman was still coming into his own. He was green, a newbie, forging what it was he would do for his adopted world (and how much trust he would place in them). He was new to that whereas his enemies were born and bred for their actions (morals aside). I found that balance very satisfying.

 

I watched the 3D version and found thta okay - nothing spectacular but worthy in some shots. I fully expect to watch this again, proabably over the Thanjsgiving weekend.

 

Thanks again!

 

Loved it.


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#4 of 10 Cameron Yee

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Posted November 14 2013 - 06:41 AM

I'd heard a lot of criticism too, from a lot of different sources. I know there are better treatments of the same material in the comic books (I'm going to read Superman Birthright as soon as my library reserves it for me), and maybe it is a little dumbed down in comparison, but the movie worked well overall. Even the part people seemed to complain about most, the fight between Zod and Superman, didn't go on as long as they said it would. By comparison, I thought the Krypton scenes were too long. 

 

That said, I am looking forward to when it gets the Honest Trailer treatment. I'm curious if they'll point out how handily Jor-El beat Zod in hand-to-hand combat. :)

 

Should have checked first:

 


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#5 of 10 Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 14 2013 - 01:44 PM

" somewhat polarizing"

 

That made me chuckle.  Good looking movie.  Horrible writing. 


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#6 of 10 joshEH

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Posted November 14 2013 - 04:12 PM

Had pre-ordered the 3-D Deluxe Edition at Amazon when I heard that the Wal-Mart version contains more bonus supplemental content -- a 20-minute piece on the Superman characters' roles in the film, and a 15-minute piece on Hans Zimmer's score and the rest of the film's music, both of which were withheld from other retail versions of the movie.

 

Appears that this is yet one more major studio BD release to fall victim to the "retailer exclusives" mentality that's currently gripping the industry -- Bill Hunt just put up another excellent rant about it yesterday:

 

http://thedigitalbit...nts/111213_1500


Edited by joshEH, November 14 2013 - 04:14 PM.

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#7 of 10 PaulDA

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Posted November 16 2013 - 09:20 AM

I enjoyed this a lot because it gave us a view into what it would be like to be a brand new Superman--literally so--with most of his powers at the "I've barely figured out how to use them" stage. A lot of the complaints about Superman's choices and behaviour don't seem to take into account just how new he is to the role of superhero. He's not a seasoned veteran--and that's what makes this film so interesting to me.


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#8 of 10 Virgoan

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Posted November 18 2013 - 11:58 AM

I was so looking forward to this film but, having watched it yesterday afternoon, I have to say it's my least favorite Superman film yet.

 

Much of that assessment has to do with the lack of a thematic heart, musically, to the film.  The Hans Zimmer drone has never been more stultifyingly deadening.   This film could have used a satisfying melodic presence that it sadly does not have.

 

Another huge slice of the disappointment is owed to the neverending Zod-Supes battle royale.  On and on and on it drudges.  Metropolis (NYC) suffers 9/11 hundreds of times over during this showdown.  And after Zod survives catastrophe after catastrophe, his ultimate dispatching was an "are you freaking kidding me" moment?  I appreciate the anguish of Superman, but he had to know it was inevitable and all the chances he had to do that one "little" act with several characters just makes it all that much stultifyingly dumber.

 

I fully appreciated the inner angst and soul-searching of Kal-El/Clark Kent...looking for a sense of self and belonging.  I loved the early attachment to -- with her meeting Kal-el before knowing his alternate ID -- Lois Lane.  And Amy Adams is a wonderful Lois.  Henry Cavill is an interesting Kal-El.   But, given all of that, it was such a minor part of the larger CGI GUTBUSTING that director Zach Snyder simply could not avoid.  Rather than editing for balance, he edited for CGI overload --- and large ho-hum of disinterest on my part.  

 

I don't know.  I can handle a new Clark/Kal/Supes.  I can handle a better Lois than we've had since Margot Kidder.  I think Kevin Costner was wonderful as Clark's dad, but I thought his mom was a bit too hippy-dippy.

 

Long live the original "Superman: The Motion Picture" and long may Christopher Reeve's portrayal rule the day.

 

I give it 3.5 out of 5 for content.  



#9 of 10 Gary Seven

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Posted November 21 2013 - 02:39 PM

Having watched this a second time I found it far more enjoyable to view and picked up on things I missed earlier.  Part of the distraction in my first viewing at the theater was my expectations.  With that out of the way, I could focus more on the story and truly appreciate Kal's character development.  Much of the problem with many viewers (my opinion only of course) is many expected a Silver Age Superman (like Donner's version) where the emphasis is placed on  SUPERman while the modern age is superMAN.  Having grown up in Silver Age (and having read much of the Golden Age), I can appreciate that.  In fact, I think it makes for better story telling.  Was the Man of Steel perfect?  No, but I can appreciate what the film makers were going for.

 

As a side note, I did watch this in 3D the second time and found it pleasing for the most part.



#10 of 10 Gary Seven

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Posted November 21 2013 - 02:47 PM

While the honest trailer is amusing, no where near hilarious as ST:ID.







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