Man of Steel: A Symbol of Hope

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(Updated: June 07, 2021)
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So my friend is a Comic book film fan, like everything comic books (i.e. he's spent a lot of time invested in understanding the nuances and easter eggs of all comic book films through youtube shows and podcasts and the like), and has somehow convinced me to rewatch the Snyderverse before four hours of Justice League.

We start with Man of Steel, but instead I've convinced him to watch the fanedit.

So let's talk about the fanedit A Symbol of Hope.

It's essentially the same film, minor edits (~10 minutes in total) in particular to the overlong action sequences to speed them along and show less wanton destruction caused by Supes himself. The two other big changes that are most appreciated are that it recolors most of the movie so that it pops brightly and colorfully and rescores it so that the awesome Han Zimmer Man of Steel hero theme (from the trailer) plays more frequently during key moments. (There are two audio tracks, we went with the Hopeful Mix instead of the Extra Heroic Mix, due to reviews here.). We both universally loved the recoloring and rescoring. With The Hopeful mix we found it the right mix without over-usage complaints that were rallied at the Extra Heroic Mix. This is truly a Superman theme.

Narrative:
The most noticeable cuts regarding plot are three fold, first regarding Papa Kent's answer "Maybe," to the question, "should I have let them die (the kids in the bus)," second the Superman scream after he kills the last of his kind, and finally, the biggest one, the Papa Kent death scene is truncated to make it seem like Clark hesitated in saving him rather than being explicitly told by his father to let him die. All three of these stood as controversial with the death scene standing out as the most controversial for my buddy.

The first one, the "maybe" scene, my friend argued that it takes away from Papa Kent's philosophy about protecting his son from revealing himself, I still think the line makes Papa Kent an asshole and I appreciated it's removal and found that enough of the uncertainty and concern still came out in the scene.

Nothing much to say on the Superman scream after Zod's death really.

I think given my buddy's investment in understanding Zack Snyder's intent he's more attached to the original scenes than I am, particularly the Papa Kent death scene, claiming that it completes Papa Kent's arc and is integral to the one son, two fathers (with two ideals) theming of the film. I just shrug but I see his point. Papa Kent believed in his philosophy so strongly that Clark should hide who he is, that he was willing to sacrifice himself for it. The dog is still a stupid freaking plot device to get there though.

The film as a whole wasn't changed much, it wasn't a world beater then, and this edit still isn't a world beater. As a film it's important to remember that this film wasn't so much a Superman film but an alien invasion film starring Kal-El. As a result Zack Snyder spends most of the film with hefty philosophical questions about what it means to be a a super powerful alien on Earth, what it means for society to find out that they're not alone in the universe, and how people will react to that. These portions are slow, yet meditative in a way and mostly really work. Even though I enjoyed them for what they were, they're not quite as hard hitting as similar toned and paced understated character study of Signs. Nonetheless, years later, I continue to find Zod's global message on the tv quite unsettling and a fantastic piece of suspense, scale, and scope.

Much of the third act is quite tone deaf to the rest of the film and this edit goes a long way to fix this. Both my buddy and really loved the tightening up of the overlong action scene. In the original, the rest of the film gives way to bombastic action and destruction which is thankfully reined in for this edit, in an attempt to give more oomph to Superman as savior, a hero attempting to save the people of his new home. After it devolves into clear good/evil delineations and fist fights, it's really sad that any of the promise of the film as a first contact film is lost. The third act echoes the tragedy of 9/11 and yet it's heroic as Clark and Lois share a kiss among the destruction.
Sure this Superman is conflicted as a hero because he doesn't have all his ideals in place, he makes it clear he doesn't want to fight any of the Kryptonians but he will to save his home. Which makes sense, as Zack Snyder's DCEU is a multi-film saga of the origin of Superman, and how he became to be the Superman we know and idealize. It's littered with stutter steps, but that's what the whole vision is.

I think there's still some enjoyment in this film, rescored and recoloring helps, and some neat trims to action. The plot changes, particularly the Papa Kent death scene changes the theme drastically beyond that all of the edits I see are positive.

I think there's some clear influence from Nolan here, particularly in the theming of superheros in the real world ala the Dark Knight trilogy, and the whole DCEU may have done better if Nolan had retained this influence.

Nonetheless, with Man of Steel, the inherently darker, washed out color palette is all gone and it's better for the brighter colors even if it doesn't fit the more somber tone of the film. I enjoyed my time revisiting Man of Steel in this fanedit.

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A streamlined presentation, things that got in the way of people really getting behind a decent reinterpretation of the Superman legend. This is also, pleasantly, more of a sanitized edit too, with much of the foul language cut back so you can enjoy this edition with your kids. Present in many forms is the "hero" theme which is used in key sequences from the film, serving as a bridge between the father and the son, and allowing us to follow the generational journey. The film is no longer on a "mission to explain" either, the audience is allowed to think for themselves and follow the story on their terms. The final fight is also scaled back a bit.

This edit is made of steel and then some. A spirited glimpse into what can be gleamed from Cavile's potential as the last son of Krypton.
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(Updated: November 03, 2017)
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10.0
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A solid example of little things making the difference. This isn't a radical reshaping of MoS. This is high quality, unobtrusive work which keeps the spirit of the movie, but takes away some of the baggage. My favourite part of this edit was actually the new titles. It's one of those things that adds life to a movie. I never liked having the prologue smash straight into present day. It has its own self contained 3 act short film, then the whole movie slows down and resets without ever stopping to seperate the 2 parts. it is also a nice reminder of the original movies' opening credits.
-The regrade gives the movie a consistently more inviting look, never apperaing oversaturated or ugly.
-I like hearing the Zimmer superman theme. It never feels out of place wherever it is used.
-All the little nips and tucks are welcomed, always pushing the film in a more heroic, or at least less aggresive direection.

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Yes
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J
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Excellent!

The way I see it, this is exactly the treatment this movie needed: a bit of trimming here and there.
The result is fantastic. I had a blast watching this edit. The colors look more vivid. The score sounds great. I didn't notice anything wrong.

Man of Steel is an OK plus movie for me. A Symbol of Hope makes it OK plus plus (or OK sharp - for anyone who will get the programming reference).

I'll keep it brief since there's not much I can add to what has been said before: This is a great edit and the next time I'd wanna watch MoS - it will be this version.
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Overall rating
 
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
The edits in this version were SEAMLESS. Many times, I could tell something was changed, but the edit was performed so well (and it worked so well) that I couldn't pin down exactly what was different. The work done on the first fight with the Kryptonians, Clark's Dad's death, Zod's neck snapping ... perfect!

The adjustments made to the color and brightness also worked very well - most noticeable on Superman's suit in several scenes.

No longer any need to pull the disc out of the drawer next time I'm in the mood to watch Man of Steel - this will be my preferred version.

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