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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - November, 2013

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"Man of Steel" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

In this complete reboot of the Superman movie franchise, we get a reimagining of Kal-El’s back story, the return of super-villain General Zod, and more destruction than you ever thought possible!

Jor-El, chief scientist of the planet Krypton, realizes too late that his world is doomed thanks to depletion of natural resources and the tapping of the planet’s core for energy. He manages to get his only son into an escape craft and sends him, along with the genetic code for his entire species off to Earth. General Zod tries to prevent the launch but is captured and sentenced, along with his minions, to the Phantom Zone.

Kal-El makes it to Earth and is found and raised by a farmer and his wife in Smallville, Kansas. As he matures, he realizes he is different than other humans and must go and learn of his true nature. Meanwhile, General Zod breaks free from his imprisonment and decides to terraform Earth into a new planet Krypton. Now called Superman by Lois Lane, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Kal-El fights to stop Zod and save the Earth from complete destruction.

Specifications

  • Warner Brothers
  • 2013, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 hours 23 minutes
  • 1080p/MPEG 4
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon
  • Directed by Zack Snyder
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

The plot seems fairly thin in this all-new Superman film but it just doesn’t matter. The stunning special effects more than make up for what is essentially a superhero backstory and a final-act battle to save the planet against a single villain. Henry Cavill, whom you may remember from his role in The Tudors, makes an excellent Superman even if he doesn’t have too much dialog. Amy Adams plays a somewhat chatty but decent Lois Lane. And General Zod, who really does fulfill the role of super-villain, is performed masterfully by Michael Shannon. The biggest star of this movie is the visual effects. In addition to the now-standard city-wide destruction sequence, we have fight scenes that exceed even those in The Matrix, along with some truly interesting alien spacecraft. And it seems inevitable that there will be more movies. The door has been left wide open!

Technical

The image must be seen to be believed. You’ll want to have a display that renders deep black levels and shadow detail because Man of Steel will test that ability. All of the scenes on Krypton and in the alien spacecraft are very monotone with a bluish-gray palette. The detail in the sets and costumes has to be seen to be believed. Scenes on Earth also take on a cool hue with color used only sparingly. Even though the majority of the material is dark in nature, the image depth is tremendous and never too dim. These comments refer to the 2D version of the film. I did not view the 3D cut.

The DTS-HD Master Audio track is reference-quality in every respect but one. While the dialog is nice and crisp, it seemed a little too receded in the mix. If you turn the volume up to make the center channel loud enough, the action scenes are positively deafening. It’s a minor flaw in an otherwise superb sound design. You will want the biggest possible sub for this Blu-ray. It will no doubt be the stuff of home theater demos for many enthusiasts. While Man of Steel avoids any gimmicky hard panning effects, the surrounds create a nice soundfield handily transcends the walls of your viewing room.

Extras

There are over four hours of bonus features but most of that time is taken up by a three-hour making-of feature that sprinkles interviews and background documentaries into the film itself. It comes on a separate disc. Also included are featurettes on the actors’ physical training, the destruction of Krypton sequence, and an animated short. The package I received contained two Blu-rays, plus a DVD version of the film and a digital copy accessible through UltraViolet.