It seems I’m in the minority, as most of my friends thought Man of Steel was as spectacular as the trailer proclaims it to be, but I was disappointed.
In their quest to make a Superman which would complement Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, director Zack Snyder and Nolan, on board as a producer, seem to have forgotten that it was a Superman film they were making.
Nolan’s aversion to anything that could be considered camp or cartoony is evidenced in every frame, but the dark, bleak tone that works so well for The Dark Knight films doesn’t sit right with Superman.
He’s a different character, and there’s nothing in this film to suggest he enjoys his powers or his life at all – rather he’s doing constant penance for not being able to save everyone and, as a result, the character lacks light and shade.
What the Iron Man franchise and the X-Men films do so well is update the story for the present day whilst retaining the humour and the essence of the characters.
Man of Steel takes itself far too seriously.
After an overly long prologue, which is largely an exercise is stroking Russell Crowe’s ego, we get flashbacks of young Clark Kent interspersed with present day. In both, he’s helping people and hiding his true identity. We see him get his ‘powers’ and struggle with what it means to be so different and so powerful growing up. What we don’t really see is how the adult Clark feels, about anything. Flashbacks aside, we rarely see his point of view.
The special effects are impressive but relentless, which diminishes their impact, and the only relationships really established between the characters are those between Zod and Jor-El and, to a lesser extent, Kal-El and Jor-El.
The ‘romance’ between Kal-El and Lois feels forced, with a kiss thrown in at a strange moment – as if the writers had forgotten there was supposed to be a love interest for our hero – and, Spoiler alert! – the manner of Jonathan Kent’s death won’t sit well with purists.
There’s a massive focus on Krypton and it’s untimely demise and it all feels a bit like an alien war movie, guest staring Superman.
It’s not all bad and, most importantly, Cavill is well cast. Cavill not only physically embodies the iconic comic book character but, in The Tudors, displayed a range of emotions and an easy charm perfect for the all American super hero. The problem is, considering this is a Superman film, he’s strangely underused.
There are moments of light relief towards the end of the film, as if it feels it’s thrown everything it had at you and can now relax a bit and lead into the inevitable sequel, but there’s just not enough fun for a super hero film.
I’m hoping now they’ve got the back-story in place, the next Superman will live up to my expectations…
Three stars – and one of those is purely for Cavill, in and out of the infamous suit!