As much as I loved 2009’s Watchman, I couldn’t help but feel a bit wary when Zack Snyder was announced as Man of Steel’s director. My concern for the new Superman origin story was all down to one small problem: the unforgivable, unforgettable and completely unwatchable (unless you’re a hormonal 13 year old boy) Sucker Punch. Despite not knowing much about the chiseled chined, cape wearing hero from Krypton’s past (my Superman education is based almost entirely on a couple of episodes of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), I was more than receptive to another superhero movie: especially another with a Hans Zimmer goose bump-inducing soundtrack.
As a baby, Kal-El (later played by Henry Cavill) is sent to Earth by his parents (Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer) to save him from their dying planet and the destructive General Zod (Michael Shannon). The young Clark, as renamed by his adoptive parents, soon discovers that his extraordinary, superhuman powers are not of this Earth. On his journey to discover where he came from, and why he was sent here, he meets inquisitive journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) who is just as curious about his past as he is. It soon appears that not even Earth can keep Kal-El/Clark safe as evil seeks him out; forcing the hero he was born to be to emerge, and save the humanity from complete destruction.
Writer Christopher Nolan’s influence is unavoidable, as Man of Steel is a much more sombre, serious superhero spectacular. Lacking the humour and lightness of Marvel’s: Avengers Assemble, it’s much more comparable to The Dark Knight films that put DC back on map. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s still more upbeat than Batman, even though Kal-El’s parent issues would fit right at home in Gotham City.
Not even the relationship between Lois and Clark can perk this blockbuster up, as their romance wasn’t explored to the extent I had hoped. As predicted, Amy Adams is a wonderful Lois Lane: she’s independent, everything a good journalist should be and of course, she’s beautiful. Speaking of casting, Snyder was spot on. Cavill is super as Clark Kent (his body is ridiculous; although I wasn’t so distracted by it that I noticed his beard disappeared as soon as he put the suit on), Russell Crowe has won back some of my respect after his performance in Les Miserables and Michael Shannon as General Zod gives the audience exactly what we want from a baddie: frankly, he’s terrifying. Admittedly, he does seem to battle for screen time with Cavill but it’s all worth it when they come head to head.
A visually stunning adrenalin rush, Man of Steel suffers the same fate as many films over two hours long. At 148 minutes, the action scenes are frequently bloated and empty. The pacing drops significantly, resulting at times in a dull, even boring, story. There’s no doubting the beauty (there’s enough lens flare to rival any J. J Abrams film) but much like The Great Gatsby; it’s all just for show.