Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams
I guess with all the furore surrounding ‘Batman v Superman’ over the course of the last week or so, one positive can be taken from the situation – the much maligned ‘Man Of Steel’ has sort of slipped from the grasp of the cynics and handed over the poisoned chalice to its successor. You’d be hard pressed to find fans of this Superman reboot of 2013 (although I’ve discovered a lot more lately), but now that I’ve seen it twice, I will be proud and loud in my praise.
I would have thought that everyone reading this review is familiar with the general story of Superman – an alien baby who looks like a human lands on Earth, grows up and develops superhuman powers. That’s exactly what this film gives us, an origin story. When General Zod (Michael Shannon) destroys Krypton, he is imprisoned in ice, but when he thaws out he is desperate to find Kal-El AKA Clark Kent, and he also fancies making Earth his new home too. It’s up to Clark (Henry Cavill) to harness his newfound power and save his adopted home.
I’ve never been overly interested in Superman as a character to be honest, and I don’t know what it is about him. Maybe it’s the fact he’s so powerful and that he’s an alien being, I just don’t feel any attachment or empathy for him. That said, even before ‘Batman v Superman’ (which I love), I would have quietly argued that Cavill is possibly the best Superman we’ve had. He looks the part – it’s uncanny actually how perfect he is in terms of Clark Kent’s appearance in the comics – and he seems to have the fight scene stuff nailed too. But it’s probably his Clark Kent that lets him down more than his Superman moments. There’s just no relatability to the character, and when he’s in human mode, he has a tendency to be a little bit cheesy and annoying.
The characterisation is the main thing I would criticise in ‘Man Of Steel’ really, and in terms of action and aesthetics, the film is rather impressive. Mass destruction and large scale battles are brilliantly crafted and really add to the “comic book” feel of it all. Not to mention Zack Snyder’s staple cold palette, which you may have already seen in ‘Watchmen’ (if you haven’t, fix that), with ‘Man Of Steel’ awash with greys, blues and whites, giving a bleak, ominous feel to the film. Narrative-wise, the story lags a little in the middle, but is helped out by a strong opening and an impactful finish. If you can get through a slightly slow second act, the film as a whole is more than entertaining enough.
Zack Snyder and ‘Man Of Steel’ (and now ‘Batman v Superman’) certainly have their haters, but you’ll not find that kind of trash talk over here. If you watched ‘Man Of Steel’ back in 2013, give it another go now, because this rewatch was very beneficial to me and I realised I actually really enjoyed it. Open-minds are required, and if you like a bit of humour and fun rather than brutal battles and chaos, ‘Man of Steel’ is not the superhero film you’re looking for. But if you enjoy your comic books and superheroes, or even action and disaster movies, I think you’ll see the good in ‘Man Of Steel’.