Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot is a long and funereal costume drama with a few too many Jesus references to be a lot of fun.
Clark Kent’s (Henry Cavill) parents (Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer) live on Kryton, a planet that has become unstable due to the excessive mining of its core.
After an unsuccessful military coup by General Zod (Michael Shannon), Superbaby is fired off to planet earth, and his parents blasted to oblivion. Flashbacks of Clark’s difficult childhood show how he has, even at an early age, all the traits of the straight-laced superhero we know and love: inhuman strength, laser vision, and a reluctance to fight back for fear of hurting others.
“You have to keep this side of yourself a secret,” says his foster father (Kevin Costner).
Young Clark roams in search of his identity, saving people as he goes, with a physique and facial hair that are part-Batman and part-Wolverine, but somehow less appealing. Meanwhile, Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is sent to inspect a spaceship the military have discovered, where she first encounters Clark. Her story is dismissed as a conspiracy theory.
This is where the only interesting part of the film ends, and the long and boring battle with Zod, who now has a ludicrous goatee, begins. DC’s other posterboy Batman was dealt with in a far more intelligent way by Christopher Nolan. He understood that in order for an audience to believe in superheroes, you have to give the world realism and the characters a bit of self awareness. But a sense danger or fun is absent from Man of Steel, and the emotional pain at the heart of the character is portrayed in a mawkish way that invites mockery.
Here Nolan is in the background as producer, but even he can’t keep Snyder under control. Snyder wants us to fall in love with his interpretation of Superman, with epic sprawls of extraterrestrial planets crammed with futuristic technology, beautiful characters (in beautiful costumes), and profound, sensitive conversations about “what kind of man you want to be”.
There’s no denying that his steel-hued world and landscapes are gorgeous to look at, but sadly the film just isn’t warm, has little soul and isn’t interesting.
Man of Steel Review by Oliver Rahman