WRITTEN BY: David S. Goyer
DIRECTED BY: Zach Snyder
STARRING: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner
RATING: 3 stars
It is hard to make a superhero film that lives up to the hype. When it works, as in The Avengers, it is a thrilling cinematic experience. When it doesn't quite get there, you get a good, but not entirely memorable film, like Man of Steel. The first notable difference with this Superman film is that the hero does not wear his underwear on the outside of his suit, and that is a good thing. Secondly, Clark doesn't work at a newspaper and simply take off his glasses to become Superman. Again, that works in the film's favour. Thirdly, it is an origins story with Clark Kent struggling to understand his powers and place in the world. All these aspects work well to reboot a stale story. Unfortunately, that is where the delight ends. The rest of the film is a mess of, dare I say it, too much action that sees a city almost completely destroyed. That is not a very effective super man at all.
Man of Steel opens with Krypton self-destructing. Kal-El (Henry Cavill) is the son of Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer). The parents send their baby to Earth to save their race and give him a life. General Zod (Michael Shannon) is exiled for trying to overthrow the planet's leaders but escapes when the planet is destroyed and vows to find the baby and the kryptonite with him. Kal-El is given the name Clark Kent on Earth and is adopted by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane). Clark struggles in his youth with his powers and inability to fit in until he meets Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams). The pair team up to save the world when Zod invades Earth.
Christopher Nolan, who successfully rebooted the Batman franchise, worked on the development of this Superman tale with screenwriter David S. Goyer, who previously worked with him on the Batman films. Nolan was also a producer on Man of Steel but has since distanced himself from the project, insisting it is director Zach Snyder's film. That was probably a good move on his part because Man of Steel lacks the depth that Nolan usually brings to a film.
For the saturation of action in this film, the use of 3D really should have been more worthwhile. The action sequences were drawn out and often unnecessary. There were some good battles, but it seemed like Snyder did not know when to end them.
Cavill is the perfect choice to play the superhero. He reportedly ate 5000 calories a day and worked hard to get the right body shape, and it certainly paid off. Crowe has a bigger role than expected and is very good. The film needed an A-list actor to keep everything grounded and he delivered the goods. Shannon looked psychotic most of the time, but he was a decent villain. Lane is endearing and Costner could have had a bigger role. But Adams was miscast and lacked chemistry with Cavill. Their more intimate scenes lacked energy.
While Man of Steel was good in parts, it was also boring at other times. Unless you are a huge Superman fan, you probably won't find much enjoyment in this film. However, if the rumours are true that Cavill will play Superman in a future Justice League film, then I look forward to that. The film is also set up for a solo sequel.