I’m sure the film will find a place in the heart of the die hard fans and gross over a billion dollars at the box office, however, the latest reboot of the Superman franchise directed by comic book director Zack Snyder and produced by renowned Batman re-inventor Christopher Nolan just doesn’t hit the highs recent comic book films have done over the past few years.
After his success with his own Dark Knight trilogy, Nolan’s put his money in this franchise to clearly try and brand his own version of Superman like he has done for Batman making him a god among contemporary comic book films. That’s fair to do, but I do feel Nolan will escape criticism for this film, leaving much of it on the shoulders of Snyder.
One thing I won’t do is say Man of Steel is a ‘bad’ film as I haven’t followed the franchise previously (apart from watching the 2006 Superman Returns). Saying that the overall film is bad I believe would be a little hypocritical for this reason, however, I did go to watch the new Superman film hoping to be interested and inspired to watch the previous films. It’s safe to say that was not the case. The one thing I will say is that there are good points and bad points to every film; just on face value, with Man of Steel, the bad points outweigh the good points.
The film is essentially a ‘Superman Begins’ story, which I have no quarrels with, told at about one-hundred miles per-hour. After an amazing and captivating, but long, opening scene showing the birth of Kal-El, on his home planet of Krypton, where his father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) decides to send him to Earth as a sign of hope we skip nearly thirty years where Kal-El, now Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is struggling coming to terms with his meaning of life. The emotional back-story of Kent discovering his abilities, being bullied for it as a child and being told by his parents that he landed in a large pod in the middle of there farm years ago, sent from another planet is too fast to feel any emotional connection, which Nolan did so fantastically well with his Batman Begins film. Throw in super-villain General Zod (Michael Shannon) who wants to rebuild Krypton on Earth and you suddenly have a combination of Transformers, War of the Worlds and what feels like The Day after Tomorrow Part 2.
The highlights of the film belong with the stunning and visually enchanting special effects that soar to new highs. It’s clear that the film had a rather large expenditure on the visual effects department of the film, and just from watching it on the big screen it was money well spent.
Amy Adams finally gets the role she was born to play in Lois Lane; an independent, strong, powerful woman in the middle of a man’s world. Although the only Superman film I have seen is the 2006 film Superman Returns, this version ofLois Laneseemed more of a grounded character, written for a strong woman capable of being a worthy ally to Superman himself rather than a helpless woman in need of saving. Adams surprised me in this role as I initially had my doubts about her being a stereotypical A-Lister choice.
The other actor to discuss with praise is Cavill; although there were times he seemed he was a little out of his depth. Cavill looked the part to play Kent and acted well with what he was given. However, when watching I was surprised at how much the producers seemed to make Superman a supporting character rather than the lead. With not much to say (for a leading character where some other characters don’t shut up speaking…Shannon) it was as if the producers modelled the character Kent on looks and left out the emotional depths to the character making him slightly forgettable. Even with this, I think this will work wonders for Cavill’s career and can now see him taking on the mantle of Bond when Daniel Craig hangs up his Walther PPK.
The negative criticism is much to do with the narrative, or the lack of it. The screenplay wasn’t as strong as others Snyder and Nolan have previously worked with and the story of Zod wanting to reclaim his homeland on Earth is one that has been overused within many sci-fi and comic book films before. It’s become tiresome. It’s obvious that the production team eradicated narrative in terms of non-stop action.
Also, knowing that this film is already going to be the start of a new trilogy, it would have been better to hold off the passionate and ridiculously unnecessary kiss between Kent and Lane until the following film as there wasn’t that much romantic chemistry between them throughout the film. Break the norm for god sake, not every film has to end up with two characters together! The producers should have thought more inventively and built on the foundations of the relationship between the two making it a classic moment for when the time comes in the following films.
Michael Shannon was totally miscast for the role of Zod. His finished product as a super-villain was a blend of wooden-acting and over-acting. Knowing Nolan financed this project and has created memorable villains with his own Batman franchise, it’s a surprise that he allowed Shannon to act like this.Shannonwasn’t right for the role, portraying the same facial expression throughout, making the character weak and forgettable. Russell Crowe and Laurence Fishburne also seemed slightly misplaced within the film; Crowe turning up most of the time to progress with the narrative too quickly even when he’s dead.
Man of Steel is a disappointment as, knowing what Nolan has done for the Batman franchise giving it great depth and structure, he, along with Snyder, have created an all out action film with no meaning similar to that of the latest Die Hard films. If you’ve seen one plane or building fall in Man of Steel you’ll have seen it twenty times and the novelty soon wears thin, checking your watch to thinking “when will this end?” My only hope is that the following film acts like the Volume 2 of Kill Bill: slowing down the pace allowing us to feel more connected to what is actually happening in terms of character and story. On one final note, calm it on the product placement: the Nikon logo on the camera was shown about four times in the space of an exciting action sequence making it obvious that we should all be buying Nikon cameras in case we’re trapped in an ice cave.