Superman ain’t so super.
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe, etc…
Director: Zack Snyder
Runtime: 143 minutes
Plot: Superman’s (Henry Cavill) origins retold, General Zod (Michael Shannon) sees a distress signal from Earth coming from the ship Superman crashed into Earth in. When Zod arrives he demands the world gives him Superman (who contains some kind of codex), in order to start terraforming Earth into a new Krypton.
Man of Steel is Hollywood’s latest attempt at bringing Superman into a new generation of moviegoers, taking cues from Cristopher Nolan’s fantastic reimagining of Batman, but failing to have the same effect in any way.
First things first, Man of Steel is long, too long. It builds up slowly, re-telling the origins of Clark Kent’s “transformation” into Superman while throwing in a slightly convoluted plot of revenge and honour along with it. The packed film however does not leave much room for character development and falls apart on quite a few different levels.
However, there are definitely some positives in Man of Steel. Henry Cavill is a fine Superman, and takes a strong lead in a film full of strong performances – major or no. Perhaps the film’s biggest strength is found in its visuals, despite their dark, gritty look, the special effects are very good, making the film more enjoyable than it has any right to be.
The thing is, none of the film is bad (other than the hideous amount of lens flare), and more flawed and could be better. For example, we are given something of a build-up of a relationship between Superman and Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and of Superman and his dead father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) however, neither aspect quite builds up to enough, never really getting anywhere. Considering the film’s length, you’d think Snyder would have realised that certain aspects were not coming to anything and cut them down. Cuts to the film’s length would have worked wonders.
Maybe what would have made the film better than simple length-cutting procedures would be toning down the serious attitude Man of Steel employs. Man of Steel is one of the most po-faced films I have ever seen, seriously, none of Superman’s happier character traits come through in the film; even Nolan’s Batman is more light-hearted than this Superman. A darker, grittier Superman isn’t bad, but there just isn’t any humour or fun in this movie – it comes across as boring, slightly annoying even.
How can a film that has action packed fight sequences involving Superman be labelled as boring? Easily. Let us take the fight scenes for example then; these come thick and fast in the last 45 minutes of the film, acting as an escalation to the build-up seen previously. While these look cool enough, the barrage of shaky-cam, smoke-filled fast paced fighting filled with little bits of product placement does get a little tedious. Again, cuts to the length of the film would have worked wonders.
Man of Steel shows that not all superhero films can make the transition to dark and gritty as well as Batman can and has (three times). There is a sheer lack of fun throughout the film that goes on for too long, Man of Steel is yet another film that thinks length = quality. It does not.
Man of Steel has moments of quality, but these are few and far between, lost in a sea of mediocrity that cries out for about 30 minutes of cuts.