Superman returns (pun intended) in his dark gritty re-boot, helmed by DCs’ comic book movie champion Zack Snyder, the film chronicles the life of Kal El/Clark as a baby in the dying hours of Krypton, while we also get a look into the politics and internal struggles on the planet between Jor El and Zod, though that’s rendered moot once Krypton itself is gone. Zod and his lackies are sent to the phantom zone, imprisoning them while Clark is sent to earth to live a normal life and he manages to do that as best as he can, being pushed a lot along the way, he grows to love his adoptive earth parents in Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane). With Jonathan Kent urging him to never use his powers to help or hurt people, though Clark inevitably does before he’s even adult.
Meanwhile Zod and his followers make their return in search of Clark and a suitable planet for rather evil needs and that’s more or less the story, easy to follow and very engaging, for a fairly long movie the pacing works quite well and while the Krypton segment does feel like it drags on a bit in the first 20 minutes or so, it’s important in setting up events to come. While Clarks’ pre-Superman life on Kent farm was also interesting to see, to see Clark having to cope with his powers and adolescence (definitely not the best combination) and we see a pretty emotional scene in which he chooses to honour Johnathan Kent in not saving him, though in the end Clark is just too much of a moral force and attempts to save as many people as he can.
The cast for Man Of Steel is great, with Henry Cavill as the Superman himself, Cavill is a perfect fir in the role as the character and embodies ideals and traits he’s had over the years and looks every bit the part, he’s arguably as good as Christopher Reeve, which is saying a lot. Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Russel Crowe and Antje Traue who plays Faora, a pretty badass henchwoman all give some good performances, as well as Michael Shannon as Zod especially. Shannon is a fantastic choice and presents a somewhat complicated character in Zod, headstrong and bullish, he wants to sacrifice humanity to save his own people which is of course genocide, but he’d argue that he’s just switching race for another, Snyder tries to show some complexity to Zod in that way which is partially achieved, though most people watching the film won’t see Zod as anything but a tyrant.
Zods characterization was interesting nonetheless, as is Clarks’ who in the film initially has to struggle between showing his power and saving people or doing nothing, bringing an added side to the character who traditionally won’t bat an eyelid at the thought of saving people. Cavill embodies the role brilliantly and looks every bit the part, portraying Clark coming to grips with some of his new powers but reluctant to be acknowledged as a hero, turned confident fighter out to save Metropolis (and humanity).
Visually the film is brilliant which isn’t surprising under Zack Snyder who seems to have a knack for making visually striking films, from the way things are shot to Zods’ kryptonian armour, to the fast paced, hugely destructive action scenes, it’s a joy to watch for any Superman fan to see the character go toe to toe with other superpowered Kryptonians. Man Of Steel is the Superman film every fan wanted action wise but it isn’t without its’ faults, some feel it’s too gritty and humorless, while other people feel the film just ended as a manic feast of destruction without substance, again I think that the plot required that as Zod in the end is furious, comes to hone his powers and really, really wants to punch Superman a lot, so of course two Kryptonians fighting would cause massive destruction in a city.
Hans Zimmer score is a big part of the film and matches certain scenes perfectly, really adding to the portrayal of a tone in particular scenes with Superman feeling out of his dept, or feeling elated and happy when he finally flies for example, it’s also just great to listen to as a whole and has that Zimmer-esque almost operatic feel to it.
Man Of Steel isn’t perfect but it’s a well told, engaging entry to the Superman franchise with the best action and visuals in the a Superman film to date, the writing in it is good and some of the performances are great, it’s an entertaining watch even if it’s seen as a gritty, dark film, it still has its uplifting, feel good moments.
. Fantastic visuals, great fight scenes
. Plot is very engaging, well paced
. Shannon and Cavill bring some brilliant performances to the table, overall cast is great