NOTE: I will attempt to keep this as spoiler free as possible! No major plot points are given away during this review. If you have watched the trailers, you should be fine to continue!
The newest attempt at creating a decent Superman film is out and yesterday I went to see it. So how does “Man Of Steel” stack up? Is it a super attempt at re-establishing Superman’s place amongst the recent titans of superhero films such as Iron Man and the Dark Knight trilogy, or is it simply the kryptonite to cinema goers everywhere that will leave you squirming in your seats, powerless to do anything to stop the terrible, terrible pain that it’s putting you through?
Jumping right in, we start the film following Superman’s father Jor-El during the dying days of Krypton. Russell Crowe is absolutely brilliant as Jor-El, settling right into the role. This, combined with the casting of Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Superman shows that the producers clearly know how to cast a movie. Following the destruction of Krypton, we see Clark Kent working various jobs in various places, saving those in need and then moving on to maintain his anonymity. This section is peppered with flashbacks to Clark’s childhood and we get to see him coping with his powers. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as the Kents are yet another inspired piece of casting, with Costner being the exact image of Jonathon Kent that you expect someone with as strong an ethical compass as Superman to be raised by.
Clark discovering his past, meeting Lois Lane and being tracked down her keeps the movie ticking along comfortably, with some fantastic scenes between Amy Adams and Henry Cavill setting up a spark of romance that could easily be furthered in any future sequels. I particularly enjoyed the brief moments of humour in the scenes with Superman learning how to fly and then being interrogated by the FBI. This film isn’t the comedic take to superhero action that one might expect from an Iron Man film though, the humour is sparse, focusing on a more solemn story of Superman’s origins.
Man of Steel also serves as a slight Matrix reunion for fanboys such as myself with both Laurence Fishburne, playing Daily Planet editor Perry White, and Harry Lennix, as General Swanwick, being part of the supporting cast. Sadly, these two characters never meet and we never have a discussion about the fate of
Zion Metropolis or the powers of The One Superman. Shame.
All in all, I thought the film was amazing. Lovely visual effects, great casting, a story that really draws you in and villains that actually feel just a touch villainous. It really was a brilliant film.
Until the last 40 minutes.
When General Zod comes to Earth all of the previous scenes in the movie are wiped completely from the viewer’s minds as we embark of 40 minutes of destruction, culminating in a final confrontation between Zod and Supes. This 40 minutes is LOUD. I know cinemas are usually above the average volume you might normally watch a movie at, but this was taken to another level. Buildings falling down, cars exploding, missiles being fired, the whole of Metropolis is pretty much at threat of becoming a pile of ash, with a large amount of it ending up so. They try to hide the fact that whilst you might see a lot of people escaping the buildings and cars, most of them wouldn’t have made it out and that leads to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people that you just know are dead when that flaming train is launched through the side of a building.
All in all, whilst the relentless final third of the film does detract somewhat from the overall effect, this was in no way a bad film. It just could have been better. The aspect of morality and choice that Superman has makes him a much more relatable and much more human character than he has often been portrayed as and whilst many people may not like that, I think it adds a touch more depth to the series and (hopefully) paves the way for the DC shared universe of films, just like the Marvel counterpart.
If you like superhero movies you’ll love this. If you can forgive the ending for being a bit action heavy then you’ll surely agree that it’s a great film that just could have done with a little more forethought towards the pacing.
OVERALL VERDICT: 8/10
Good, solid film let down slightly by the rather action heavy final third. Hopefully any sequels will only improve upon this. Definitely worth a watch.