Man of Steel, 2013, USA
Admittedly, Superman is probably my least-favourite superhero. I’ve never found him to be particularly interesting (the whole “immune to everything but kryptonite” thing is a total bore), but the trailer for this film intrigued me enough to see it opening night.
The planet Krypton is about to be destroyed and Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sends his newborn son, Kal-El to Earth, in the hopes that he will be saved and serve as a beacon of hope to the people of Earth. He’s found by Martha Kent (Diane Lane) and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) who raise them as their own. Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) displays extraordinary powers from a young age, and his father discourages his use of them because he fearss that people will not accept him. When General Zod (Michael Shannon) threatens Earth, Clark, with the help of Lois Lane (Amy Adams), must rise to the occasion and defend his adopted planet.
The origin story itself was excellent, and the best part of the film. I loved the beginning moments of the film on Krypton, and I loved watching Clark grow into his role as Superman. Cavill handled the transformation beautifully and I thought he did a fantastic job in the role. I did feel that he wasn’t given enough space to really take the helm and lead the film, though. Throughout the film, Jor-El overshadowed him, and it was as if he was living in the shadow of his biological father. Perhaps that was the intent; Clark/Kal-El has issues with BOTH of his fathers.
Following the first hour or so, the movie begins to move too fast, which is really saying something for an almost two and a half hour movie. Once Clark learns his origin, things move at a conveniently break-neck speed, which really hurts the film. The pacing issues are easily the biggest problem Man of Steel has. I felt as though fewer plot developments could have been crammed into the second half, and it would have been a more cohesive film with better pacing.
Unfortunately, Man of Steel continues the contemporary tradition of mishandling Lois Lane. She’s a better character than she was in Superman Returns, but in Man of Steel she’s simply whatever she needs to be at any given moment. Do we need a skeptical journalistic sleuth chasing down a rumoured alien being? Great! Do we need a heroic sidekick who happens to be utterly infatuated with Superman? Great, because she can be that too! It just doesn’t work.
What does work magnificently is General Zod. I love Shannon (if you haven’t seen Take Shelter, rent it immediately), and he truly is a force in this film. He commands every scene he’s in, and he’s a ruthless villain. Despite all of this, Shannon manages to generate some audience sympathy for the character, which is a tremendous feat, given what Zod wishes to do to Earth.
I was a big fan of the action sequences too. I have my issues with Zack Snyder as a director, but the one thing he really excels at are action sequences. There’s a fight scene in the air that looks unbelievable – and the 3D was great, too, which is rare praise coming from me! The movie looked very, very good. Some of the action sequences could have been trimmed a bit for time, but overall, they were very well done.
Frankly, Man of Steel doesn’t deserve the critical lashing it has been receiving. While it’s not nearly as good as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it’s still a pretty good film. See this film in theatres.