Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams & Russell Crow
Running: 140 Mins
Reviews have already trembled the average die hard superman fan with claims that Zack Snyder, David S.Goyer and Chris Nolan have ran with a dark and gritty direction based on the cloaked superhero; much to the pleasure of those who worshiped the reconstruction of Batman over the years of 2005-2012. But not to worry, while there is certainly a much needed revamp in Man of Steel, and with much discolor to what fans are used to seeing, Zack Snyder has created an acceptable origin of Superman, mixed with drama and fantastic CGI - however the lack of character development is a major flaw.
Abandoned at birth, Clark (Henry Cavill) begins a journey into the abyss to discover the truth behind his extraordinary powers; one that grants him freakish strength, sensitive hearing and distant vision. Clark is constantly reminded of the importance of his existence by his adopted father Jonathan (Kevin Costner), who urges Clark to discover his origin; one that reveals a historic past of both his biological father (Russell Crow) and his nemesis - Zod (Micheal Shannon).
Graced with extraterrestrial superpowers, Clark discovers the reason that has led him Earth-bound in the first place; to symbolise hope and to protect mankind from potential danger. In this case, Zod is en-route to capture Clark who holds the key to rebuilding the dead planet of Krypton - a treacherous plan that Clark is destined to fight against. Journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is adamant to get involved, with the possibility of life on another planet being too difficult to ignore. Her obsession with the man of steel leads her into a dangerous game involving heavy forces from both Earth and Krypton.
The opening twenty minutes of Man of Steel is truly fantastic as you are given a great insight into the planet of Krypton; which also includes a tasteful, and somewhat tearful introduction to Russell Crow's Jor-El. Immediately action packed from the off as you sense the involvement from both Zack Snyder and Nolan straight away, giving the extraordinary CGI and the dramatic exchange of dialogue from Clark's biological parents. The same can not be said for the rest of the movie, as Clark's story is transformed to his place on Earth, offering a different movie entirely with the teenage Clark consuming more dialogue than Henry Cavill himself. The wonderful sounds of planet Krypton is immediately back dropped to the quiet city of Kansas, revealing quite a dull premise, that is until Clark advertises his skills in scenes that are well shot, but seem forced and extremely rushed at times.
Henry Cavill's "Superman" is strangely quiet and while this may be part of the humble persona we see in the originals, the man hardly has a word to say. This may go unnoticed, with scenes of him shooting through the sky, the frenetic fight scenes leading to the occasional passionate roar of determination pushing you to the edge of your seat - man of steel is visually stunning. The famous battle scenes between Zod and "Superman" will be the reason you will remember this revamp.
The overall cast is noticeably tasteful but its lack of character development is disappointing, including the man himself. Unnecessary scenes involving Laurence Fishburne and co result in you failing to engage with the on-screen presence of Clark and Lois. It should have been lustful but it wasn't. We know the history of these two and what is to come, but a sudden love for one another is highly unbelievable, yet Man of Steel tries to force that upon you - resulting in an unsympathetic relationship. Kevin Costner is involved in one of two dramatic scenes in the entire movie; the rest is consistently action packed which may surprise some due to the nervousness surrounding both Nolan and Goyer's adoration for darkness. Man of Steel is more along the lines of "The Avengers" than "The Dark Knight", yet a lot more watchable than the "Ironman" series and is successful in terms of it being a DC movie that isn't too comic book, but the inclusion of general Zod adds a "cartoonish" tone that some fans may look out for.
While Superman fans may be quick to distinguish the pros and cons of the modern approach alongside Richard Donner's Superman (1978), we must recognize that complaining about its dull modern approach is not good enough. Man of Steel tries to introduce a dramatic tale of a character that has ultimately failed to make an impact since the original release in 1978. In order for a Justice League movie to work we need to let Henry Cavill flourish as Superman, and to do that he needs to keep in line with modern anti comic book approach that Batman has had so much success with. This ain't Marvel, we have Captain America and Ironman to laugh at, and while those movies are hilariously entertaining, most of them are not worth remembering.
The fans have called for a Superman revamp and got one in Man of Steel. The inclusion of Nolan and co appears exaggerated, creating an unnecessary worry among DC maniacs, however those in their bedroom will look forward to nit-picking at minor problems. The story is what you know, and the cast is pretty basic. Man of Steel is not brilliant. The stunning visuals are often supported and some what distracted by the loudness of the over the top battles between Superman and Zod. The last 20 minutes of this movie is so uncanny and relentlessly dragged out, the divide in fans opinion is obvious. Nevertheless, while I was hoping to avoid labelling it a pure "popcorn movie", it is nothing less. Henry Cavill fit the suit, but the lack of characterisation made me think that almost anyone could have played the role of Clark (Kal-El).
Overall: While it should still satisfy the average cinema-goer, Superman fans will expect a better outcome in terms of character development if a sequel should come about.