Man of Steel 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Prior to its release, the excitement for MAN OF STEEL had reached near boiling levels. From Christopher Nolan producing to the incredibly subtle yet extremely affective first teaser trailers with voiceovers imparting dramatic wisdom from Superman’s Krypton father Jor-El played by Russell Crowe and another from his earthly father Jonathan Kent played by Kevin Costner, MAN OF STEEL was shaping up to be the event film of the summer that may rival some of superheroes best movies. Sadly, while the film was enjoyable, it squanders away so much potential for originality and inspiration by becoming a simple-minded generic CGI action film.
To the filmmakers credit, MAN OF STEEL definitely takes a different route with the Superman character than before. In fact, I believe he is only called that title once. Director Zach Snyder thankfully steers away from his usual slow motion technique seen in 300 and THE WATCHMEN, but unfortunately hangs on to the overproduction side of the action. Opening up with the planet Krypton, nothing is left to the imagination as we are fed giant beasts and birds that may have come directly from the Phantom Menace side of Skywalker Ranch. Jor-El is running through explosions and diving in pools in order to get his newborn son Kal-El sent to earth’s safety before either General Zod takes over or the planet Krypton destroys itself. General Zod (played by the wickedly fun Michael Shannon) and his evil gang are captured, but rather than just being killed with the rest of the planet, the council inexplicably sends them away imprisoned in darkness to eventually escape and reign terror over earth in search of Kal-El.
When the story finally gets to earth, rather than see a slow progression of growth that hints to Kal-El’s powers, MAN OF STEEL jumps right into the character as a grown man saving workers from a burning oil rig stationed in the ocean. Cutting quickly with rather poor transitions, the film is at its best when the action slows down and we are treated to flash backs during different stages of Kal-El’s (known as Clark Kent) life. Everything from the cinematography to the acting becomes much more authentic visually and allows the characters to breathe. Every scene that featured Kevin Costner as Clark’s father were particularly touching. Mr. Kent’s love for his adopted son emotes a humbleness and wisdom that make every word of advice and unspoken look that much more impactful. If only the film had focused more on these quieter moments with Clark’s parents (the wonderful Diane Lane as Martha Kent), rather than another, albeit visually impressive, special effects battle destroying a city like we’ve seen in THE AVENGERS, TRANSFORMERS, or any Jerry Bruckheimer produced film for that matter.
Without the great Christopher Reeve, Henry Cavill is the perfect man of steel to play Superman. Providing the proper amount of courageous compassion and strength, Cavill easily fits the Christ-like role the film so eagerly attempts to embody as the savior of humanity. That internal struggle and eventual acceptance as Superman is another highlight of the film. Cavill not only tackles that inner strength but he rocks a body that will have the women swooning, us men feeling morbidly obese, and the soldiers of 300 embarrassed of their painted on abs.
The score may not be as memorable as the original SUPERMAN, but Hanz Zimmer puts together a beautiful sound that flows with the film effortlessly, heightening the tension and the emotion. While I appreciate the new approach, the end result ended up being the same as films we’ve seen before. I personally think a little re-editing could go a long way building anticipation and creating a more mystical hero, as it stands the subtlety is lost. MAN OF STEEL is still a high flying ride for a summer picture that moves faster than a speeding bullet for a 144 minute runtime. Perhaps my expectations were set unfairly high, but I wish MAN OF STEEL could have lingered longer on some of the effective emotion, build stronger characters and leaped over the abundant typical action.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: We were a huge fan of the 4K transfer that BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE received and I was expecting more of the same from MAN OF STEEL. But right away I was distracted by Snyder’s “false grain” style of filmmaking. Even though we saw the same thing on BvS, it felt more obvious and unnatural with MAN OF STEEL. If we trust IMDB, the difference might be that MAN OF STEEL has a 2K master while BvS had a 4K master. I don’t know if that’s enough to cause the difference in film quality, but if you compare the two films, it’s clear MAN OF STEEL is a step behind. Because of that “false grain” style, I found the darker scenes in MAN OF STEEL to look better than the brighter scenes, but I also found the CGI to look worse. The scene that stood out to me was when Superman battled Zod at his farm home. I felt there was a lack of detail as they were flying through the field and then there’s an obvious lack of detail when Zod catches on fire. With all of that said, there’s a clear upgrade in video quality when compared to the Blu-ray, but like with all 4K titles, you have to take the good with the bad.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos track is a nice addition. Again, like with BvS, Snyder knows how to use sound to heighten explosions and action scenes and the Dolby Atmos setup is perfect for his style.
There are no 4K exclusive features included on the 4K disc, but it does include a copy of the MAN OF STEEL Blu-ray, which you can read by clicking the link.
Click 4K Ultra HD to read more of our 4K reviews.