Superman returns yet again in an epic action packed and long over due reboot on the franchise. Taken under the wing of Christopher Nolan fresh of working on his excellent Dark Knight trilogy and co written with David S. Goyer, Man of Steel is a darker and much more serious than previous incarnations of the worlds most famous superhero. Gone are the memories of Richard Pryor as a comedy side kick and ridding the world with nuclear missiles. This is the new superman film for the our time and given a modern make over in the same vein as Nolan’s Batman. So what can I say about Man of Steel. For one thing, this Zach Snyder baby. It echo’s Nolan’s touch but it is very much a Zack Snyder film with its grungy look and hard-core CGI heavy action set pieces.
To say that’s its full of CGI is not a criticism. I may very much prefer practical effects but when your lead character has to fly around spaceships and buildings exploding everywhere, it’s kind of hard to do that for real. Being a very much visual director, Snyder does a great job with the exciting and epic on a grand scale. Epic is the word to describe Man of Steel, kicking things off in the doomed planet of Krypton which feels like a mini sci-fi epic itself, setting the back story of General Zod and Jor El as he sends his newly born son Kal El (that’s superman for those who don’t know) to earth as the planet sets a course for distraction. From then it very much falls in the structure of Batman Begins with flash backs to times when Clark (that’s superman’s earth name as if you didn’t know) being raised by the Kents, as the older Clark searches for his origin and a sense of purpose. That is until Zod arrives on Earth and threatens to destroy it.
The cast is spot on. Henry Cavill looks the part as well as nailing a conflicted Clark with trust issues. Amy Adams is solid as brassy reporter Lois Lane and Michael Shannon is fantastic as demented general and the same can be said for Antje Traue, almost stealing the film as Faora-Ul. Far from the Zod that we know that’s obsessed with ruling and people kneeling, his take believes in what he’s doing is for the greater good even if it means mass genocide. However roles of the Martha and Jonathan Kent are nothing short of perfection. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane give the right amount of heart and warmth that its impossible to envision their roles any different, in fact you are left wanting more. Hans Zimmer score almost steels the entire film. It was a near impossible task to follow a theme as iconic of John Williams but Zimmer does it with a very simplistic and beautiful piano keys that builds up into a big fan fare that you’ll be humming out of the cinema.
If Man of Steel has a kryptonite it’s the relentless pace that it travels in. We don’t get to stop and savour the life lessons on the Kent farm and a pre-superman Clark oil rig rescue feels rushed and any sense of poignancy is lost. In fact this is a film where I wouldn’t mind being longer as its so jam-packed that the two hours 25 minute running time feels condensed. It also lacks some humour too. In an attempt to move away from campiness, everything feels very stone faced and a side from an odd moment, a little bit of wit would have helped to slow the action down. Regardless to say, after listening to the fans who wanted a superman film with plenty of action, Snyder has delivered..