Review: Man of Steel

I went to see Man of Steel last night and, for the first time in a while, didn’t go to the cinema with any expectations. Truth be told, I was only going to the film out of a sense of obligation.

It was about a superhero. I live and breathe superheroes. Ergo, I must go and see it.

I’ve never been a fan of the Superman films. While I’m definitely more of a Marvel fan than a DC aficionado, I loved the last three Batman films. And the trailers for Man of Steel that I’d seen in the cinema left me feeling this could be a positive new departure for the Superman franchise.

Some minor spoilers follow, so don’t continue unless you’ve already seen the film or just don’t care.

Now, the morning after, I’m slightly conflicted. I want to be able to recommend it to non-geeks, but can’t. After a magnificent start – impressive sci-fi vistas of an alien planet in decline, a nod to Star Trek with the intricacy of the culture and hierarchy alluded to on Krypton – and an exciting middle, the end of this film descended into the worst excesses of Michael Bay’s Transformers films.

It was explosion after explosion, epic fight scene after epic fight scene. Bang, bang, punch, whack, crunch.

I think the film could easily have been cut by about 30 minutes, making the fight scenes and collapsing building more impressive. After a while, there’s only some many of these you can see before you feel jaded.

(Incidentally, the sight of Laurence Fishburne’s man-boobs flapping as he runs out of the Daily Planet’s offices is now seared onto my brain for all time. Thanks guys…)

Henry Cavill does a good job of playing a slightly confused and ever so slightly stoned Superman. Not sure if that was his intention? Amy Adams as Lois Lane did the best with a poorly-written part.

Stand outs for me were Russell Crowe as Superman’s father Jor-El and Michael Shannon as the pretty intense and not a little scary General Zod. The former the epitome of good, the latter evil.

Don’t get me wrong. This was a not a terrible film at all. It was great: entertaining, exciting and beautiful to look at. If they could have just eased back on the fight scenes and carnage, it would have made for a tighter cinema experience. They did a great job of explaining the entire Superman origin in a single film, so no prior geek-knowledge is required.

The destruction of Krypton (I don’t think this counts as a spoiler at this stage?) actually left me feeling some loss, a little like when Vulcan was obliterated in Star Trek. To me, this means I actually cared about the planet and its inhabitants – I was left wanting to know more about them, their conquest of space and the millennia old culture.

Rumours of a Justice League film leave me cold, to be honest. There are very few DC characters I feel any affinity to, except for Batman.

So in summary, an impressive re-visiting of the Superman legend. Glad I went, but not sure it would appeal to the many non-geeks out there.

  1. RedEaredRabbit July 14, 2013 at 19:24

    I actually had high expectations when I went to see it and ended up disliking pretty much everything about it. (Agree Michael Shannon was good though.)

    I know what you mean about the endless fights/destruction/explosions for the final hour of the film. By the time it came to the final fight between Superman and Zod, I was praying they’d settle their differences by playing Cluedo rather than fly through another 100 skyscrapers.

    The only thing a Justice League movie would achieve is making me dislike Batman too. Hope it never happens.

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    1. Yep – the flying through skyscrapers was way over the top, in an over the top movie. No need.

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