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Monday, 17 June 2013

Man Of Steel: Certainly Not Stainless

Director: Zack Snyder
Screenplay: David S. Goyer
Story: David S. Goyer & Christopher Nolan
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Laurence Fishburne
Running Time: 143 Minutes
Music: Hans Zimmer

Zack Snyder's "Man Of Steel" is your quintessential big budget Summer superhero block buster film. That is not necessarily a bad thing, "The Avengers" showed us that. But where "The Avengers" managed to succeed, by overcoming the typical block buster excesses and cliches, "Man Of Steel" cannot. Sure, the movie has its moments, but they only prove to be a glimpse of 'what could have been' as it plods on during its 143 minute run-time.

First in line of a new reboot series, (which is to include a sequel and a Justice League film) "Man Of Steel" is essentially an origin story, which most may already be familiar with. The film opens in a desolate planet Krypton with Jor-El (Crowe), Krypton's leading scientist, and General Zod (Shannon), Krypton's military commander, at logger-heads about the fate of the doomed planet and the future of their race. Jor-El and wife Lara send their new born son, the planet's first natural birth in ages, Kal-El off to planet Earth, not before imprinting a genetic codex into his cells. Zod is furious, murders Jor-El and vows to hunt Kal-El, as he is banished to the Phantom Zone for his attempted coup before the planet explodes. 
The film then shows how Clark Kent is raised in Smallville, Kansas and learns of his superpowers and alien origins from his adopted parents, Jonathan and Martha (Costner and Lane); how as an adult Kent's (Cavill) paths with reporter Lois Lane (Adams) cross; his ultimate aim and reason for existence from his hologram-ised birth father; and his ultimate showdown with General Zod & Buddies on Earth.

Shit just got serious in Krypton

The first half is certainly the strongest, as the film alternates between timelines. We see a young Clark Kent, struggling to come to terms with his superhuman abilities with the help of parents; and an adult Kent, constantly avoiding drawing attention to his superhuman abilities in a nomadic existence. The influence of Christopher Nolan is particularly apparent here, the movie has a somber tone and a dark mood. This makes for some of the movie's best scenes, like how Kent uses restraint and deals with an ass-hole customer at the bar he works in; or a young Kent averting disaster after his school bus topples over.

School bus? No Biggie....

The film, however, quickly begins to move into over-the-top and cheesy territory. From long, drawn out, introspective and sentimental conversations between Clarke and Jonathon, to loud explosions and chaos, "Man Of Steel" begins to lose all the initial sheen. There's some random sci-fi mumbo-jumbo thrown in that doesn't really make sense and a constant theme of "Is the world ready for Superman?" present for good measure. 

"Yep. I've nailed that goatee"

The film's lack of humour is very apparent, especially considering how light-hearted the Christopher Reeve era Superman films were. While the filmmakers obviously look to portray a more realistic superhero for a newer audience (the original released in 1978), the essence of Superman has always been that of a fun, happy superhero. Having said that, the filmmakers cannot portray an edgy or dark Superman either. Unlike Batman, a more realistic superhero with a 'darker' side, Superman has always been straight-up, clean guy and Snyder struggles to find the balance.

Lets cover that body up with a Superman costume...

The acting is a bit of a mixed bag. Little known Henry Cavill is physically impressive, although a bit underwhelming in his delivery, while pretty Amy Adams does a fair job at best of playing reporter Lois Lane. The best actors are probably Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, who do a great job as Clark's adopted parents, and ever-dependable Russel Crowe as Jor-El. Michael Shannon as General Zod spews out his bad-guy dialogues with venom; but the most miscast role has to be the Daily Planet boss Perry White, played by Laurence Fishburne, producing a number of inadvertent lulz.

"I knew I should've taken the blue pill..."

True to form, the action sequences are pretty stunning (ensure you get to a good 3-D theater) and the high-budget is apparent. From planet Krypton (not unlike the 'real world' from "The Matrix") to Antarctica, the cinematography is pretty cool, too! The explosions and fight sequences look impressive, but are pretty overdone and chaotic at times.
A special word on Hans Zimmer's brilliant soundtrack (which you can illegally procure here). The veteran composer doesn't fail to deliver with a rich soundscape, and in a completely different feel to the original, iconic "Superman March" theme by John Williams.

"Man Of Steel" is certainly nowhere to being a great film. It keeps reverting to block buster cliches and mediocrity, and it's long running time doesn't help. However, there are some really good moments and visual delights to make it a fun theater watch (wallet withstanding of course).


Cool Quotes:

  1. Jonathan Kent: You have to keep this side of yourself a secret.
    Clark Kent at 13: What was I supposed to do? Let them die?
    [brief pause]
    Jonathan Kent: Maybe...

  2. Lois Lane: What's the S stand for?

  3. Jor-El: Goodbye, my son. Our hopes and dreams travel with you.
    Lara Lor-Van: He will be an outcast. They'll kill him.
    Jor-El: How? He'll be a god to them.


  1. I agree with you, the lack of wit in the script is quite appalling.

  2. Great review man! Yeah i really wish they had cut down on the action and done more with the teenage superman. Lawrence Fishburne was VERY out of place hahaha...

    By the way, it's Henry Cavill not Hank :P

  3. ^Oh sorry about that, will make the change!
    And thank you!

  4. good review but don't know about the lack of humor though.*spoiler alert* The father's sacrifice for the family dog was quite amusing instead of being the moving scene intended.

  5. Hey good review.The only witty line i saw in the movie was when Lois Lane welcomes Clark Kent in the end saying "welcome to the planet". fire!).Soundtracks saved the day,especially when those huge "world machines" are in action :D sci-fi mumbo-jumbo left me dazed and even in the fighting scenes were disappointing.not really many 3d effects.

  6. "I knew I should've taken the blue pill..." LMAO

  7. @Arjun: Yea? I didn't see much humour in that actually. Each his own I suppose! And thanks!
    @Mukta: Thanks!

  8. The Lexcorp trucks. :D Sadly, that was the best part of the movie for me. :P

  9. The second part needed to have a lot of explosions .. Superman is not human, how else would you portray a battle of kryptonian proportions ?

  10. ^Yep, I get what you mean, but I felt all the explosions/chaos could've been a little more focused, and maybe little better explanation of what was happening.
    Maybe I was just expecting too much after the first half, esp. with Nolan being a writer!