Having waited for all the fuss to die down my wife and I ventured out to see Man Of Steel at the weekend around a week after its release, I had managed to avoid the spoilers and deliberately kept away from any reviews or podcasts that had a hint of Man of Steel about them. This was for me the most anticipated film of the year as a DC fan I want, no I need to have good DC hero films, and after the poorly received Green Lantern (I didn’t think it was that bad) the balance was restored by The Dark Knight Returns. As comic fans we needed this reboot of Superman to keep DC films in the ascendency, and did it didn’t disappoint until the final scenes of the film but I’ll get to that later.
Firstly the cinematography of this film is absolutely outstanding Krypton has never looked so good, the early Christopher Reeve films had Krypton as a bland ice plant but here we see a Krypton that is vibrant, colorful and full of all types of life. Which is a pity as in keeping with the Superman mythos it’s also a planet that is on the edge of destruction, brought on by the over mining of the planets core in the pursuit of more resources.
The film boasts an impressive cast with Russell Crowe as Jor-El giving one of his best performances in a long while, his role has clearly been expanded as he appears several times throughout the film as a hologram to help the now grown up Kal-EL. You even get a reminder of Russell’s old Gladiator days when he goes hand to hand with General Zod, a pre-conditioned warrior who’s only thought is the continuation of the people of Krypton no matter what the cost. General Zod is played brilliantly by Michael Shannon and it’s to his credit that you do have some sympathy for his character, he sees himself not as a villain but as the savour of his people and if millions have to die to achieve that salvation then so be it.
Clarke’s Earth parents Jonathan and Martha Kent are played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, Costner is a little underused but good value for the screen time that he has. Whilst Diane Lane excellently portrays a rather feisty Martha Kent a Mother who has no issues telling Zod and his crew to go to hell when they come face to face, despite been thrown across the farm yard and having a pickup truck dropped on her house. Laurence Fishburne plays Daily Planet editor Perry White and Laurence plays him in the same way he plays everyone, I could have been watching Morpheus from the Matrix or Dr Ray from CSI but it’s a small role so I didn’t let it detract me from the film.
Amy Adams is Lois Lane and to be fair she plays a better one than Margaret Kidder or Kate Bosworth ever did in previous films, her Lois is one that uses her investigative skills and know how to track down and find the identity of the mysterious man who saved her life. Unlike previous Lois’s who used to sit across from him for around 8 hours a day, failing to work out that Clark Kent is Superman because he hides behind a pair of glasses. The problem I had with Amy’s portrayal of Lois is there was little or no chemistry between her and Caville when they are on screen together; this is supposed to be one of comic’s greatest romances but it just wasn’t there. That brings me to Henry Caville as the main man himself I had major worries about his ability to play the Superman role, I am not questioning his acting ability but everything I had seen from trailer clips to the stock photos he just didn’t look right to me, he didn’t look like Superman. Well how wrong was I, Caville was every inch the Superman I hoped he would be both in his actions and his presence on screen. The updated costume with no outside pants worked perfectly and although he must have worked tremendously hard to fill it out, I still think it would have looked better on me my wife confirmed as much when I raised the point with her as we sat having a drink and meal together after the film so it must be true. Cavills’ Superman is a lonely untrusting individual who has hidden away all his life trying to ensure no one finds out about his powers, a boy who was bullied knowing full well he could take down anyone who bullied him. Despite his mistrust he is still compelled to help those in need which he does as he wanders the world looking for clues as to who he really is, Clarks earlier life is show in flashbacks which works well and helps to explain why Clark is as untrusting in his fellow man as he is. Cavill plays this darker broodier Superman very well which includes his growth as his trust in mankind begins to slowly grow, this is probably the deepest look into who Clark / Kal-EL really is and the film is all the better for it.
One of the main complaints about the last Superman film is there was very little action in it well this is not something you can complain about in this one, from the early scenes as Jor-El fights his way across a Krypton in the clutches of civil war to the films final confrontation between Kal-El and Zod the action never pauses for too long. The battle in Smallville between Superman and Zod is nothing but a taster on what’s to come, just when Zod is about to be beaten the ongoing battle between Kal-El, Zods right hand woman Faora-UL and the US military ramp the action up to spectacular proportions. I just need to add here that Faora-UL played by Antje Traue is a more frightening opponent than Zod, General Zod is driven but Faora-UL is psychotic and not afraid to hold back on anything be it jet fighters or some poor infantry man who happens to be in her way.
The final fight between a desperate Zod and Superman takes action and violence in a hero film to a whole new level, if you thought the Avengers destroyed Manhattan in their fight that was nothing compared with the destruction of Metropolis in this one. Which finally brings me to the scene that changed the whole feel of the film for me the killing of General Zod, up until this point this was the Superman film I had always hoped it would be, a little violent perhaps but still a great film then Superman broke Zod’s neck. Now I know in the context of the film he had no choice my wife pointed this out to me as we dissected the film over drinks and a very good pizza, but my one answer was Superman always finds a way, what that way is I don’t know but Superman would know and that’s my point he always knows.Final Thoughts:
The whole character of Superman for me is one of hope he is the shining example other heroes aspire to be, by killing General Zod you move away from that ideal which is something I was not comfortable with when I saw it and on reflection I’m still not comfortable with now. So for me a great film was spoilt by that one action no matter how much he regretted doing it, having said all that its still a film well worth going to see and I know I will buy it on DVD when its released and you will see me in the queue to see Man of Steel 2 when its released.