Certificate: 12ARunning Time: 143 Minutes
Starring: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane
Director: Zack Snyder
As Krypton faces catastrophe, Jor-El (Crowe) sends his son Kal-El (Cavill), the first born naturally on Krypton for hundreds of years, to Earth where he develops super powers. He is pursued by General Zod (Shannon) and his crew of escaped criminals who hold Earth to ransom until they hand over Kal-El, who has been trying to find out the meaning of his origins and why he is on Earth.
We’ve waited a long time for this. Zack Snyder has delivered his take on the biggest of all comic book heroes in Man of Steel.
Though we’ve still not quite forgiven Bryan Singer for the extraordinarily bland Superman Returns (why isn’t Brandon Routh more famous?) Snyder does more than give us the movie we’ve been waiting for. In a way, he’s given us three. That’s what Man of Steel seems, a movie of three very distinct parts. The first deals with the demise of Krypton, the villainy of General Zod and the revelation that Kryptonians are not born, but grown, with a predetermined destiny. This world roots us firmly in the land of science fiction rather than comic book.
The second is an origins story of the young Clark Kent learning to deal with his powers and his place in the world. The third? Well, it’s an absolute carnage of CGI.
Henry Cavill has donned the tights – if not the Red pants, and does a much better job than his acting CV might suggest. He plays both Superman and his alter ego with an understated intensity, never straying into the all American hero archetype or brooding misfit.
It is difficult not to make comparisons with the original films. Cavill is nowhere near as charming as Christopher Reeve but then again whoever landed the role was going to have an uphill battle. General Zod is mercifully less camp than Terrance Stamp and in a shocking twist, actually fights. Shannon lends a menace to Zod that makes him a credible threat to our hero.
Lane and Costner are perfect casting a Clark’s parents, struggling to raise an alien child in a world that probably won’t accept him. Russell Crowe, as Jor El, and later the holographic representation is great and we wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Krypton based prequel is in his future.
Man of Steel is not without its weak spots. Lois Lane and Clark/Superman share a woefully small amount of screen time. While Amy Adams gives Lois substance and like-ability, this is something they’ll have to address in the inevitable sequels. Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet Editor Perry White is practically a non event. His part may have been shredded in editing to make way for the frankly ridiculous amounts of fighting. The last third of the film is an epic fight between the displaced Kryptonians which flattens almost all of Metropolis. And there is another part of the story that doesn’t ring true. Where Reeve would rescue kittens from trees and lure the bad guys away from populated areas, Cavill’s Superman shows no reaction to myriad of falling buildings – most of which he causes – and the inevitable death toll.
While Snyder didn’t go as ‘dark’ as we might have feared, Man of Steel lacks warmth and the chance to really connect with characters on that level. The most notable character missing from the movie is probably Clark Kent himself. At least the one we’ve come to know and love as the like-able, uncoordinated guy who bumbles around the Daily Planet and sends home money to his dear old mum. He’s a casualty of Snyder’s quest more more authenticity in the characters. But to be honest….I still miss him.