After the commercial and critical success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Warner Brothers were keen to keep the money train rolling, so they gave him the keys to their other major superhero franchise. Once the decision was made that Nolan would only be acting as a producer on the project, the search began for someone to sit in the director’s chair and bring David S. Goyer’s script to life. Zack Snyder, fresh from the vacuous but undeniably beautiful Sucker Punch, was handed the reins and thus, Man of Steel was born. Now the only question that remains is will we believe a man can fly?
• Director: Zack Snyder
• Exhibition: 2D
• Rating: 12A
• Run Time: 143 mins
Well, of course not – that would be silly. Though it must be said, Snyder certainly does give it a good go. If there was one facet of this production I was confident would be superb, it was the looks and the director behind Watchmen and 300 does not disappoint. Man of Steel is an absolute sensory feast; from the beautifully designed world of Krypton to the bombastic, triumphant score of Zimmer, every cent of the movie’s $225 million budget is on screen. When you first see the last son of Krypton take to the skies, you cannot help mirroring the smile on his face.
The sheer scale of the movie dwarfs most other superhero efforts. The utter devastation Metropolis endures in Man of Steel makes the pummelling New York got in The Avengers look like a nose bleed. It has been far too long since we have seen Superman throw a punch and we are treated to a vigorous scratching of that particular itch here.
The movie opens as Jor El and his wife Lara, knowing that their planet is dying, decide to risk everything to save their son. Despite the ruthless General Zod’s efforts to interfere, Kal El is safely transported to Earth where he grows up not knowing his place in this alien world. Both of his father’s seem to see great things in his future but getting there is a journey – at least for 20-30 minutes. Once he finds his suit and General Zod appears to finish what he started, this plot point seems to fall away.
Despite a solid performance from Henry Cavill, the script is clunky and uneven, leaving the cast with the unenviable job of creating the film’s heart without the tools to do so. Crowe, Costner, Lane and Adams do a valiant job though. In trying to redo his origin and take on the story of General Zod (an impressive turn from Michael Shannon, it must be said), you get the feeling that the movie has bitten off more than it can chew and in turn, character development is not given its due.
The plot accelerates towards the final third of the film where eyeballs and eardrums will undoubtedly begin exploding. The destruction that befalls the city of Metropolis is breathtaking. The CG blends into the live action well, at times to the point where I actually questioned how they could have done some of the shots. As I saw this in 2D, I cannot speak for how the 3D will hold up but there are certainly moments where I can imagine it would have been spectacular.
Snyder does succeed in building a world I would like to visit again. There are brief hints to the wider mythology, such as numerous references to LexCorp and even a brief glimpse of the Wayne Enterprises logo. There is a good foundation on which to build the other DC stories on, leading inevitably to a Justice League movie. I am still skeptical a man can fly, but Snyder and Nolan make me want to believe.