Superman has never been my favorite super hero. In fact, he’s pretty far from it. I always found that his near indestructibility and countless super powers made things a bit too easy, and I was never too fond of Clark Kent as a character either. That being said, when the trailers for Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel began coming out, I began thinking that this incarnation of DC Comic’s most prized creation may not be too shabby. I can’t say that I was at all disappointed, but Man of Steel is certainly not a perfect movie.
The distant planet of Krypton is close to destruction due to the large amount of exploiting the natural resources of the planet which has affected the planet’s core. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) stores a genetic codex in the cells of his newborn son Kal-El and sends him to planet Earth after General Zod (Michael Shannon) stages a coup with the hope of saving the planet. Zod is banished to the Phantom Zone, but is freed after Krypton is destroyed. On Earth, Kal-El is found by farmers Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), who rename him Clark and raise him as their own son. After years of learning to control his super abilities caused by his biological reaction to being on Earth, an adult Clark (Henry Cavill) learns of his extraterrestrial past and vows to protect the Earth. This responsibility comes sooner rather than later when Zod arrives to retrieve the codex hidden within Clark and form a new Krypton so his race can survive.
There is a lot that happens within the two hour and twenty minute running time of the movie. Much like with Snyder’s previous film, 300, the pacing of this movie is what really hurts it. In this reviewer’s opinion, we spend way too much time on Krypton. By the time we got to Earth, I felt relieved since I felt like the “prologue” was finally over. As Clark grows up and learns of his powers and his past, most of the story is told in flashbacks, which is very jarring when mixed with the adult Clark trying to find his way. This really is the only effective way that this could have been pulled off, but there is just so much crammed in there. That being said, this is an origin story, and origin stories aren’t always the easiest to make because it’s the responsibility of the writer and director to establish this character’s past enough so that we understand them and beliefs.
This being a Zack Snyder movie, there is sure to be an excess of special effects that go right along with over the top action. In this category, Man of Steel delivers. Once the action starts, it never seems to let up. It almost becomes exhausting. If you think New York City had it bad in the finale of The Avengers, just wait until you see the destruction that befalls Metropolis. Buildings, trains, jets, helicopters, you name it. I will say that there was a lot of characters getting thrown into buildings. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. It happens so many times that I almost wanted to say, “That’s cool Zack, but I get the picture.”
Henry Cavill was definitely the right choice to play Superman, but I still can’t really say his character is all that interesting. I may be biased in saying that because I always thought he was kind of a bland character. Amy Adams is acceptable as Lois Lane, bringing an appropriate amount of curiosity and interest. The real scene stealers are Michael Shannon and Russell Crowe. These two seem so into their characters and the universe that they inhabit that it really is just a joy to watch them, especially when Michael Shannon would lose his temper and yell a lot. That was fun.
I have never really been a fan of Superman. The whole concept behind the hero always seemed kind of cheesy. After seeing Man of Steel, I’m beginning to realize that part of the reason has been the presentation. This most recent incarnation of Superman offers outstanding action, the deepest the characters have ever been, and a good origin story. The pacing is kind disjointed and the movie is overly long, but saying that I didn’t have a really good time at Man of Steel would be a downright lie.