Another summer, another super hero movie? Well not quite. With its five trailers, 19 TV spots and a reported budget of 225 million dollars, Warner Brothers’ epic reinvention of Superman, titled Man of Steel has continually promised to deliver far more then just another big budget comic book on screen.
And, believe it or not, they’ve more or less pulled it off.
Man of Steel lacks neither heroism nor super power, while its version of Superman is more alien fugitive then the country boy with a cape who so many will recall from previous accounts. The film opens amidst war on distant planet Krypton as its Military leader, General Zod [Michael Shannon] is in the process of heading a coup d’état while the planet is imploding.
The pathetic nature of his timing might explain his being fairly pissed off for the remainder of the movie, in which the other Kryptonian survivor, Clark Kent [Henry Cavill] hangs out on Earth mostly looking for temporary work and is mostly unaware of the complexity of his background and the origins of his enhanced capabilities. That is until Zod comes to Earth looking for him and then starts threatening the human race and then, of course, starts blowing things up. After that it’s explosion after explosion after explosion, pretty much until the end credits. Which is great if you like explosions [which I do] but not so great if you like a bit of romance and humour.
Amy Adams performs adequately as investigative journalist Lois Lane, whose continual obsession with Kent seems to revolve less and less around his being an extra terrestrial and more around his handsome face and nice abs. Russell Crowe adds an earnest tone to Kent’s Kryptonian father Jor-El, while Kevin Costner performs well but predictably as Clark’s humble dispatcher of humane values and adopted father Jonathan Kent.
As for Cavill; I would say he performs his part with competence. Even when he delivers the line, “I’m from Kansas I’m about as American as it gets,” there is the sense that this Kal-El (as he would be called on Krypton) has something almost ethereal about him, something which subtly suggests deification. His highly straight and slightly reserved performance works in total contrast with Shanon’s Zod, who seems a little too lively at times and perhaps should have been used for Superman the Musical, or some other version of Superman, in which it is ok for him to scream for half an hour long.
That it has taken Warner, along with director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolen, more then 20 years to conceive and deliver a convincing reboot of the franchise is a bit of mystery. All they had to do was combine The Matrix trilogy with The Avengers and add a bit of Batman Begins.
Whatever the inspirations and ingredients, Man of Steel has certainly been worth the wait.
Man Of Steel is in theatres now.