Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Costner
Director: Zack Snyder
“In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time. Clark Kent/Kal-El (Cavill) is a young twenty something journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond anyone’s imagination. Transported to Earth years ago from Krypton, an advanced alien planet, Clark struggles with the ultimate question – Why am I here? Shaped by the values of his adoptive parents Martha (Lane) and Jonathan Kent (Costner), Clark soon discovers that having super abilities means making very difficult decisions. But when the world needs stability the most, it comes under attack. Will his abilities be used to maintain peace or ultimately used to divide and conquer? Clark must become the hero known as “Superman,” not only to shine as the world’s last beacon of hope but to protect the ones he loves.”
First up a confession, I am a huge Marvel fan and have never been into DC. I have enjoyed on the odd story arc/graphic novel here and there but most of these had nothing to do with Superman as I could never relate to him. I enjoyed the original movie and sequel but the rest and Returns can stay away as far as I am concerned, which was why I held my breathe walking into this film as the trailers actually made it look epic. Could they have actually made Superman cool for today’s audience?
The plot is an origin story but told in a fresh way that includes various time jumps back and forth through Clark’s life on Earth. This may confuse some people but please just go with it. The first part of the movie is set on Krypton and this is unlike any version you have seen on screen before and gave me a kind of John Carter feel that actually made me want to see a whole movie set on the planet with its technology, culture and ultimate downfall. Here we see Zod and Jor-El go head to head with a hugely expanded role for Superman’s biological father. This first part of the film gives more history than we have ever really seen before on film which all play huge plot points later in the story. Yes we get to see Kal-El launched into space in his ship on his way to Earth.
This is where it gets into a shifting timeline with a fully grown Clark discovering himself in the world while we get flashbacks of his childhood. The good news is that the pace moves swiftly along so we don’t have to wait long to see him in the suit or Lois looking for her scoop on the Man of Steel. It is also not long before we get to see General Zod and his soldiers arrive and start to cause havoc. This helps with the length of the movie which clocks in at nearly 2 ½ hours long.
The cast of the film work well and feel comfortable in these iconic roles. Amy Adams, who I am not a great fan of, does a decent job as Lois Lane. Cavill is charming, yet determined as the last son of Krypton ,Shannon as Zod is powerful as the villain of the piece and gives Russell Crowe is understated but accomplished performance as Jor-El. Kevin Costner brings a solemnness to Pa Kent that stays with you. Laurence Fishburne seems to be creating a new Perry White for a new generation.
The direction by Snyder is solid but ironically his frequent use of the slo mo effect in his other films is not on show here which is a shame because at times things are moving a little too fast. The super speed is one of those blink and you miss it parts and some of the fight scenes are shot way to close up. Although Snyder has created a deep and thoughtful approach to the mythos of Superman he also is joins the J.J. Abrams school of lens flare, which is a shame.
Hans Zimmer score was a big highlight, while not nearly as memorable as John Williams it brings something new and bigger in scope that perfectly matches the tone of the film. A special nod to the special effects which are well produced especially as they give half of the film the feel of a sci-fi film. A fair amount of the scenes are either not on earth or are filled with a legion of spaceships. This is the film that Green Lantern wanted to be but missed the mark.
Now for a few cons. Some of the CGI was still a bit cheap and you could tell it was not a real man. At this level of budget I wanted more. A lengthy final act sees Superman crashing into and destroying numerous buildings in the city but seems to have no concern whatsoever for the people who are trapped or dying from the debris but gets upset when one person dies. . Hopefully he will show a little more concern for the collateral damage he’s causing in future outings. There were also nods and winks for fans but they were too few to make an impact.
The finale ties up a few loose ends well and gives us hope for the already confirmed sequel.
Man of Steel is a sci-fi comic book film of epic proportions that sows the seeds of a new mythology for the last son of Krypton that will entertain fans both new and old.
GS RATING: 4/5