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Man of Steel

For a moment, let's set controversy aside. The combination of Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer makes for a darker Superman than most of my friends would have, but it is the Superman that we got. And for 2013, like it or not, it may have more resonance with the culture. I can't argue it because there are parts of this film I liked very much and it is done. It is what it is.

But should you wish to purchase the Blu-ray, what has Warner done to make it more worth your while? Actually, a few interesting things crop up.

The film comes packaged on two blu-rays (as well as the DVD for, presumably, mini-van watching and the rights to Ultraviolet downloading).

One blu-ray features a beautiful transfer of Man of Steel, and deservedly so, because Snyder has a tremendous command of imagery. We deserve and get a lush picture, and the sound -- well, John Williams' score will always bring a tear to my eye, but Hans Zimmer doesn't get enough credit for creating a new heroic theme. The more you hear it, the more ingrained it becomes, and it is stirring.

That first disc includes the two-minute animation that Snyder and Bruce Timm joined forces to produce, full of shots that still make you wonder why couldn't we get a "Legends of Superman" full-length DVD with various short stories in all these different styles.

Give us George Reeves with the special effects his stalwart performance deserves. Let us see Curt Swan's imagination splash across the screen. And maybe, even though it's a drawing, let us see Christopher Reeve give us that reassuring smile after an adventure better scripted than Superman III or IV.

Sorry. Just a dream I have.

Warner teams that with a featurette on how iconic all the characters are, and what a challenge they were for the various actors to approach them. For a featurette that promises to talk about the history of the Superman family, it is a little disappointing that we do not get to see anybody else's take.

(I have no issue with the casting in Man of Steel, but wouldn't it be cool to compare Jackie Cooper's Perry White with Laurence Fishburne's? But that's more depth than these kinds of features -- fluff, of course -- usually have.)

It's the second disc which merits more attention, with a welcome extra that does what Man of Steel could not quite do itself -- convince me that there's a larger plan for the DC Universe at work. Purporting to be a documentary done in the aftermath of Zod's invasion, this featurette set in the world of the film pays a lot of attention to the production design and background work done to create Krypton.

It's done cleverly, and given a quasi-scientific explanation as to why human journalists might know so much about Superman's home planet. More importantly, if you pay close attention to the graphics, a few more easter eggs about what could happen get dropped. And of course, the featurette makes clear that Lex Luthor helped mightily in its production.

Then Zack Snyder takes his feature commentary to a new level. From the description on the case, it seemed like this would be a picture-in-picture commentary, similar to what he had pioneered on Warner's 300 special edition.

However, you would have to run two players simultaneously. Snyder brings the cast and crew along with him, all in chronological order of the film, but sometimes side-stepping whole sequences just to take apart how they were made.

You can see the actual shot alongside the shot with the crew around it, waiting to add the digital piece-de-resistance, and then minutes go by with talking heads and artwork. And occasionally, a surprisingly nervous Michael Shannon.

Completely out of place but clearly bowing to the real power at Warner Brothers, the first disc includes a tour of New Zealand's transformation into Middle Earth. Yes, WETA worked on Man of Steel, and I like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but... come on. How about some history of Superman on film or something? Unless Mxyzptlk is a hobbit...

So some will resist Man of Steel. I understand. For others, this is their Superman. And Warner Home Video has served them well.

Derek McCaw

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