MAN OF STEEL
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane
Taking away most glimpses of Clark Kent, in his glasses, the classic John Williams theme, and evildoer Lex Luther, Zack Snyder's Man of Steel is an interesting addition to the Superman canon. While it's a refreshing entry compared to 2006's Superman Returns, the newest box office sensation (the film grossed $21 million in midnight sales on Thursday) is more for the fanboys than for the average moviegoer.
Snyder, whose past credits include extreme genre pics 300 and Watchmen, is a great, young choice to fill the shoes of this reboot. The Dark Knight's Christopher Nolan was brought on by Warner Bros. to produce the film and his signature, dark/realistic feel is clearly seen throughout the turmoil that is Kent's struggle with his powers. The film begins with a sci-fi caper showing how Superman came to be. Russell Crowe is strong and sturdy as the Mufasa-like Jor-El. When the evil General Zod (Michael Shannon) threatens the leaders of the planet Krypton, Jor-El puts everything on the line by sending his son, the first naturally born citizen in centuries, to a distant planet to hopefully carry on the Krypton legacy. Once Krypton implodes on itself, Zod and the other baddies get loose and spend the next thirty years looking for Jor-El's son. Enter the naive Kent and the hardheaded Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams). On assignment, Lane ventures to a military base somewhere in the arctic where the U.S. has found a strange ship, submerged in ice. The first night she's there, she follows Kent into the ice covered vessel and experiences Kent's strength and strangeness firsthand. A beacon is inadvertently sent to Zod's ship and a intergalactic war begins. In his signature tights, Superman is born as an American hero, fighting for the freedom of people that he doesn't really belong to.
With flashbacks galore and smart turns by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Kent's earthly parents, Man of Steel can't quite decide what type of movie it wants to be. Drama and action are mixed with extreme filtering to create a dark world that is familiar to the Instagram users who flock to the theater. While I don't claim to be very knowledgable on the whole Superman story, the plot seemed somewhat dry. Snyder chose to focus more on Kent's coming-of-age into the role of Superman, when the story we really want to see is how he handles his day to day life. Cue the studio announcement for a sequel!
I don't want to discredit Man of Steel too much. It is exactly what it claims to be, a summer blockbuster. Plus, the almost Christ-like storyline delivers itself as the ultimate story of sacrifice. But, it's also a bit misleading, with its dark undertones and clearly wanting to be more Batman Begins than Superman Returns. It packs in plenty of action and destruction. A fight between Superman and Zod pretty much destroys every metropolitan office building in sight. Plus, the girls get some eye candy in Brit actor Henry Cavill. He plays Superman with a sinister stare, like a teenager figuring out who they are.
The movie feels a little overlong, but the action makes up for any dragging moments. If you're looking for a solid popcorn film, take this over recent releases like Iron Man 3. If only the Marvel people could take a cue and give their films a little more realistic depth!
Runtime: 143 minutes