Man of Steel – Steelbook (Blu-ray)

June 13, 2014 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Superman.  Just saying the word evokes images of a flowing red cape, jet black hair and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. And, let’s face it, this is probably one superhero that pretty much everyone has heard of.  Superman first burst onto the scene in Action Comics #1 in the late 1930’s (and if anyone out there actually has a mint condition copy of that issue, I’m sure it’s worth quite a pretty penny).  Since then, Superman has been part of our lives on radio, television and of course the silver screen.  Truly there’s really nothing that Superman hasn’t done or been through.  Hell, DC Comics even killed the character in 1992.  But he came back.  He always does.  It’s been said that the most popular version is Richard Donner’s 1978 version starring Christopher Reeve.  Admittedly the first two were great and the last two…not so much.  In 2006 they tried to reboot the franchise with Brandon Routh in the lead, but that really failed to make an impression. So here we are. It’s 2013 and we’ve got Henry Cavill playing the Man of Steel, he’s ditched the red underwear and we get a glimpse into a side of Superman that we’ve not seen before.  Either Warner will knock it out of the park or it’s back to the drawing board.

In Man of Steel, we’re treated to a different point of view as we meet Jor-El (Russell Crowe) as he tries to convince a council of elders that the planet of Krypton is dying.  But before he can fully convince them in walks General Zod (Michael Shannon) who instigates a coup and takes Jor-El prisoner.  Jor-El is “freed” but not before he snags a mysterious skull object and returns home to his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) as she’s just given birth (the first birth in several hundred years). The baby, as we all know, is Superman and we know what happens then.  However, we’re treated to a rather randomized version of Clark’s (Henry Cavill) life on Earth. We meet him as an adult, then see him as a child all the while his parents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) try to suppress his natural powers.  Clark has taken odd jobs to remain anonymous, but when General Zod and company finally make their way to Earth – it’s hard to fit in when you’re the man of steel.  We then meet some familiar faces with Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) and Col. Nathan Hardy (Christopher Meloni).  This, of course, begs the question – can Superman save the Earth against the forces of Gen. Zod?

I wouldn’t consider myself a Superman “nut” but I’ve seen every big screen adaptation and I have to say that this is, by far, my favorite version. Granted it’s nice to not have the same story rehashed again and again, so it was a nice change of pace to get a different perspective on…everything.  I was at first very dubious as to the casting of Henry Cavill, though I’d enjoyed him in Immortals, I wondered if he had the chops to pull this roll off. He did.  While Amy Adams isn’t the best Lois Lane, I think she did a fine job here. But let’s get real – this is all about Superman.  No doubt Warner is trying to reboot this franchise – again – and I think they might be onto something here.  They won’t let Batman go and with 2015’s Batman vs. Superman already filming, the wheels are literally in motion.  Usually I might add something like “this movie isn’t for everyone…” but I won’t say that here. This is a classic re-telling of a classic superhero that’s perfectly fit for a new generation. Not many movies that are 140 minutes feel like they go by in about 30, but this is one of them.  Suffice it to say that this is highly recommended.

Video: How’s it look?

This is the kind of film that makes HD proud. Everything works here. The film has something of an extended opening on planet Krypton and it looks stunning in HD. Details are strong and consistent throughout and the textures of Superman’s suit come through nicely. The print is never short of pristine and virtually no flaws appear whatsoever. Facial details are always strong, Diane Lane is aged nearly flawlessly here and the transfer displays that appropriately. Black levels are strong as well as pretty much all the colors. No worries here. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.40:1 ratio.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track is strong as well. From the opening moments to the action packed climax, things are always on point. Everything stays active throughout and vocals are strong and clear. The rears are quick to kick in when needed and they’re needed often here. I could go on, but you get the idea – it sounds nearly flawless. It’s a perfect companion to the strong video transfer.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This is the Steel-Book exclusive to Walmart. It also includes features exclusive to this release as well. I suppose this could be called the “Man of Steel-Book” (sorry, I couldn’t resist), but the front artwork is nice and simple and doesn’t overstate things. There’s a nice sleek finish to it all and inner art features Superman himself looking off to the side. Three discs are included in this package (2 Blu-rays and 1 DVD) and the special features Blu-ray disc includes 2 new featurettes exclusive to the package. We also get a digital copy code.

DVD Extras

  • Strong Characters, Legendary Roles – Gives us a nice history of the characters and changes made for this film version.
  • All-Out Action – Takes a look at the training the actors had to go through to look fit.
  • Krypton Decoded – This shows a young Clark Kent giving us a tour of the planet Krypton.

Steelbook Exclusive(s)

  • The Sonic Landscape of Man of Steel – This is an almost 13 minute featurette discussing the film’s score. A lot of praising goes on here, but for those who care to learn more about the music heard in the film, this might interest you.
  • The Iconic Characters of Man of Steel – This featurette clocks in at just under 19 minutes. A lot of information is repeated here from some of the other features. They keep throwing out the word “Relatable”. The idea was to show Superman exist in the real world. A lot of praising occurs, but it’s fairly interesting.

Blu-ray Exclusives

  • Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short – This is a very brief animated short featuring John Williams’ score.
  • New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – Nothing more than a plug for the second Hobbit film. It’s not really needed on a disc featuring Superman, but it’s here nonetheless.
  • Journey of Discovery: Creating Man of Steel – This is the film again, but on the second disc and contains various featurettes, but they’re not available separately, you have to watch them from here.
  • Planet Krypton – This segment shows what might’ve happened to planet Krypton. I don’t usually go for this kind of thing, but it’s pretty interesting. It’s odd, but interesting.
  • DVD/Digital Copy

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