Man of Steel

Picture
3D-ness
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Whenever you dramatize one of the most beloved characters in all of popular culture, you’re going to elicit a lot of strong opinions. Many folks seem to either love or loathe Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder and producer/co-writer Christopher Nolan’s major reboot of the Superman franchise. The basic story is recognizable to even the most casual fans, yet much has changed, so it doesn’t feel like a rehash of any version we’ve seen before.

Here, planet Krypton is home to a dying civilization with a penchant for capes, brought to the brink of extinction by their own folly, and so their greatest mind (and quite the hand-to-hand fighter) Jor-El dispatches his newborn son to Earth. He predicts that young Kal-El will grow to become a god to us Terrans, but he also gifts Kal with a mysterious remnant of his ill-fated people. This secret is of all-consuming interest to one General Zod, who, along with a band of loyal soldiers, manages to escape Kryptonian justice with a fearful agenda that spells certain doom for us all.

We flash back to formative moments for Kal, raised as a humble Kansas farm boy by the adoptive Kents, pondering his unique destiny and unsure of what to do with his extraordinary powers in adulthood. Man of Steel asks tough questions that the upbeat mythology has largely sidestepped until now: What happens when he can’t save everyone who needs his help? What if he chose not to rescue someone? And what if he had no choice but to kill? Ready or not, the world is about to find out in this epic new origin saga.

314steel.box.jpgIt’s also a sweeping spectacle, as visually thrilling as any movie in recent memory. Shot on film, the 2.4:1 image is near-perfect, but for some modest grain and noise. Detail is extraordinary, and thankfully the quality of the special effects withstands 1080p scrutiny, enormous moments such as skyscrapers toppling but also subtle enhancements like the villains’ virtual helmets. Even the fine lines of a screen door are sublimely sharp. The flying effects in particular play well in 3D (Man of Steel was shot in 2D and later converted), with pleasing results that are sometimes noticeable, other times undeniable, and for the most part quite enjoyable. Blu-ray is also the ideal medium for uncovering those blink-and-you’ll-miss-them Easter eggs hidden within the film.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1-channel soundtrack is often quite aggressive, dominated by seamless, sharp pans around the soundfield. Other times it is just plain loud, a booming extrava- ganza conveying that superhuman power I mentioned earlier. The volume (and the pacing) made this movie downright exhausting at the multiplex, and now it will rock your home theater to its core. Have no fear, however: Sonic minutiae are keenly preserved amid all the bombast.

Snyder anchors the elaborately produced Journey of Discovery: Creating Man of Steel, augmenting the entire movie with multiple behind-the-scenes windows, presented on its own Blu-ray Disc. Many members of the crew and cast (some oh-so-weird but wonderful!) show up to provide pertinent new on-camera mus- ings, and these fascinating asides plump the total running time to almost three hours. This is in addition to more straightforward featurettes, a couple of them quite substantial. A DVD and high-definition UltraViolet Digital Copy round out this fairly super bundle.

Blu-Ray 3D
Studio: Warner Bros., 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Length: 143 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon

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