Director: Zack Synder
Starring: Henry Cavell, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne
Written by David S. Goyer, (story) Christopher Nolan, (characters created by) Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Running Time: 142 mins
Release date: 14th June 2013
It is the most hyped movie of the year (adverts started appearing Christmas 2011) and it has finally arrived. After the mixed reaction to Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, can the dream team of David S. Goyer (the writer of Batman Begins and the Blade films), Christopher Nolan (he of The Dark Knight trilogy fame) and Zack Synder (director of 300 and Watchmen, least we forget Sucker Punch) pull off a return to form of DC comics biggest name? Well, yes and no.
The planet Krypton is imploding on itself. Jor-El has a plan to send the younger members of world to other planets where life is substantive in order to keep the lifeline alive. The council refuse his idea and so Jor-El decides to send his only son to Earth for his own survival. While this destruction is occurring, military man General Zod plans a coup.
The young Kar-El lands in Kansas and is taken in by the Kent family who, realising his potential powers, try to protecting as much as possible. Incidents in Kar-El, now Clark Kent’s life means he has to use his powers. Fearful of what will happen and after the death of his father, Clark goes in search of the truth while going from job to job, town to town. Then the planet he now calls home comes under attack from Zod, looking for Jor-El’s son. Clark must face the thing he has been hiding in order to save his adopted home.
The Superman story is as well known as, say, the story of Adam and Eve (sorry religious readers, I didn’t mean that really, just a way to example how popular both tales are). It is this first section that the film works well. The death of Krypton is brilliantly realised. As Jor-El looks on, it’s like a scene from Star Wars, laser cutting across the sky as mass destruction occurs. Then the history of how Clark became Superman is told, mainly in flashback but has, again, some inventive inclusions (the scene in which Clark, working as a busboy in a diner, protects a waitress’s honour by mangling a trucker’s beloved vehicle is especially effective).
The film kind of takes a nose-dive in the final section, when Zod comes to Earth. It is over an hour of loud, louder and Louder still. If you don’t like eating crunchy food in a cinema but have a craving to, then this is the movie to see. you could eat every crunchy, wrapper-covered sweet, crisp popcorn to your hearts content and no one could hear it. One building after another is blown up, collapses and explodes in a mass of noise. As impressive as the effects are, it does get a little confusing and, dare I say it, a little dull.
It’s fine that this creative team want to cause as much devastation as possible but after awhile it gets so repetitive, you wonder if they are showing it all on a loop. So storyline and plot go out the window as Zod threatens the well-being of the human race and Superman must fight both the American authorities (who are unsure of him) and his father’s foe. The other thing that gets forgotten about is the talent on show.
Synder has filled the film with the creme of modern cinema and apart from Michael Shannon as Zod, taking the villain part one step more with his icy stare and grumbling voice, everyone else is wasted. Henry Cavill makes for a fine Superman, with his classic screen idol looks and rippling physique, he is a much meatier Superman than Christopher Reeve’s more relaxed Man Of Steel. Yet he isn’t stretched as an actor at all, apart from obviously being an expert on green screen. Russell Crowe is perfectly adequate as Jor-El but you can’t help but think someone more iconic should be in that role, like Marlon Brando was. Kevin Costner pops up every so often in flashback with some meaningful saying to aid his young adopted son along, while Diane Lane gets to say how proud Father Kent would be, several times.
The biggest crime is Amy Adams, one of the best screen actresses around and who can make any role stand out. She does it again here as hard-nosed reporter Lois Lane but she is given so little to do, she has to really work hard to make an impression. Shame on you to have someone so good like Ms Adams and not use her to her full potential.
Another thing this film lacks and is in desperate need of is humour. Superman is no Batman. He is colourful, isn’t haunted by past demons and needs a lighter touch. Here I get the impression we have another Dark Knight. No. I say, no. The Dark Knight worked wonders for a character who is, well, dark. The one moment there is humour (when a female soldier is caught staring at Superman and she escapes her dressing down by saying “Well, he’s hot” got a chuckle from the audience I saw it with) but it needed much more.
Man of Steel is going to be a huge success regardless of what I or any other critic say. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, I just wanted it to be more than explosions and destructions. I wanted it to be this year’s The Avengers, instead it’s this year’s Transformers, only far better.