Around 2 and a half weeks after it’s release, I can finally write my belated review of Zach Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’, one of the biggest film’s of 2013. I went into it with cautious optimism, having seen few reviews, and mixed if anything, which when combined with the great trailers, left me not knowing what to expect. It’s a great origins story, mixing up key story branches in the mythology of Superman, not being afraid to give its own unique take on the lore. However, the humour is barren, the action is sometimes too headpounding and the CGI could’ve done with being spruced up a bit, meaning that is about as much of a ‘mixed bag’ as it is possible to be.
We start on Krypton, and the overwhelming dosage of CGI kicks off, showing Kal-El’s birthplace off like it has never been seen before, there are mythical creatures, spaceships, guns, everything…and it’s a bit too much. Russell Crowe dons his wavering ‘English’ accent, but all the other characters speak English in broad ‘American’, Michael Shannon sometimes comes across as a Pantomime villain. Everything is a little too serious and forceful already. As we all know, the child who would grow to be super, gets sent off to Earth, and lives his life as little Clark Kent.
When we see Clark growing up, through a myriad of flashbacks interspersed between present-day Henry Cavill trying to find his true alien parentage, whilst watching it, I thought it was frustrating to have to keep cutting backwards and forwards. But on reflection, this is such an integral part of the film, to show how the present-day Clark has been moulded as a human being, and to put his actions into context, which ends in the subverting of the Superman mythos, in the finale later. We see him chastised for saving a busload of kids (even including the guy who called him ‘Dicksplash’, just a small example of the poor, poor writing on show), ‘beaten up’ by a trucker, before he finally reaches his resolution regarding his parents. Then Lois Lane pops up.
Amy Adams does a good job, she’s a strong, investigative journalist, who stops at nothing for a good story. Adams plays it feistily, and has good chemistry with the impressive Cavill, but she is let down by the aforementioned dialogue, as are a good few female characters. In the middle, (potential spoilers), a high-ranking female army officer, asks what ‘terraforming’ is…despite being a high-ranking female army officer, I mean sure the casual movie-goer might not know, but why get a woman to provide some careful exposition for the audience’s benefit. And then to top it off, towards the end of the film, the same officer has to say ‘Superman is hot’, or words to that effect. Writer David Goyer, brutally taken off the Nolan ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy after number one, has some explaining to do, but can’t be entirely to blame given that director Zach Snyder’s back catalogue includes a film like, ‘Sucker Punch’.
Shannon as evil General Zod is vicious, and almost snake-like given the way he spits his lines, but as I said, he sometimes seems way too OTT, and just a little cringey. He is an imperious, powerful actor, but the audience I was in was occasionally laughing at him, certainly not the desired effect. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane and the Kent’s are great, a real throwback to their 80’s (I may be wrong!) hayday, and have some of the best moments with their adopted son, whilst Laurence Fishbourne is the blink and you’ll miss him, editor of the ‘Daily Planet’, who’ll surely have a bigger role to play in sequels if the ending is anything to go by.
Then we get to the troublesome action. Now, a complaint that is never usually heard for summer blockbusters, but there was just too much! It began early with the oil rig explosion, and the destruction caused across the entire 2 and a half hour running time is horrendous, maybe the Man of Steel was having a bad day? Sequences at times seem repeated, but to be honest, at the time of the finale, as it was, I was enraptured with it. Perhaps I was taken out of it a little bit by my friends, but I was enjoying the action, and then it went on and on and on…you get the picture. Still Hans Zimmer was on the soundtrack, so it felt suitably epic, with the scene in which Kal-El attempts to fly, being my favourite in particular.
So, to clarify, ‘Man of Steel’, isn’t a bad film. It has its good bits, it has its boring bits and it has the extended action sequences. Director and writer could be replaced for future sequels (although that looks unlikely), but I’m still optimistic to see Henry Cavill back in the role, as early as late 2014 (if you believe rumours on the web!).