Last Reviewed by Bernard Patrick Chungon June 15 2013
When the planet Krypton is on the verge of destruction, General Zod (Michael Shannon) seizes the opportunity to overthrow the Kryptonian authority he deemed too weak, in a desperate attempt to save his own race. But Jor-El (Russell Crowe) questions his morality and insubordination, leading the two to square-off their differences. Before the apocalypse, Jor-El managed to ship his newborn son together with an important codex off to Earth, prompting Zod to scheme for revenge by taking over our world. The young Kal-El crash-landed in Kansas and is adopted by the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) who taught the boy to keep his special gift a secret and convinced him that the world is not ready to embrace him. Kal-El or Clark Kent, now a grown-up man (Henry Cavill) is still struggling and brooding to find his right place among the humanity while leaving a mysterious and miraculous good deed along the trail, as journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is not far behind to identify who Clark really is.
Release Date: 13 June 2013
Running Time: 148 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenplay: David S. Goyer, story by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Russell Crowe
Plot: A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
Man of Steel marks a very critical moment for the future of comic book adaptation. It is essentially a Superman franchise’s reboot that may possibly pave way for a finally materialized DC’s version of superheroes assembling flick - a much waited Justice League movie in the future. DC Comics put two odd names together – one is Zack Snyder, a director whose career fluctuates from the height of 300 to the low of Sucker Punch, while on the scribble side is Christopher Nolan, whom is gaining acclaimed traction as a creative storyteller and filmmaker behind the hit titles like Inception and the recently concluded Batman trilogy. When the two great minds come together on a path such as this, the stake for an ultimately satisfying re-imagination of the popular iconic superhero is at all time high. Unfortunately, the answer that I hope for does not materialize as the pair fails to come out with better game plan.
The opening prologue is mostly a rich but bloated introductory story that sets in Krypton, only to be savoured by some channeling emotions. The deterrent on the early part of excitement happens when Zack decided to share his newly-found obsession with lens-flare and shaky camera works; which are very annoying at times. The flashbacks that pursue after the long prologue are thrown in a mixing bag that jumble around the life events of Clark across three different period of time, which could be critically tedious to follow. But even as the flashbacks are intertwined in a non-order fashion, this is the strongest asset for the movie that is workable due to the raw emotional continuity and solid performances from Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Russell Crowe. The particular scenes when the young Clark Kent first learn about his superhuman ability and even try to save his classmates, proved to be an effective origin story to be told. Hence, in Man of Steel, the exploration of Clark Kent’s childhood is well executed and best comparable with the exploration of the earlier days of Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins.
Eventually, these lead up to the modern-day story as Clark finally learns about the need for him to uphold a responsibility and the fate he is given, to guide and to protect the mankind. Of course, General Zod is already scheming to take over our world. But what we have seen in the prologue and flashbacks are not transpired well in this part of the movie, as if this movie is written from two different points of view. As it goes along, the plot is evidently becomes weaker, incoherent and unoriginal with the story thereafter been virtually non-existent. All the decent setups we have enjoyed so far in the flashbacks are pretty much restricted and wrapped with underwhelming experience. The biggest disappointment is when all the textbook remarks that Jonathan Kent and Jor-El have ever taught to the young Kal-El/Clark Kent, are poorly resonate in his ultimate adventure as Superman.
While Henry Cavill does his job well by donning the role much better as compared with Brandon Routh’s poor attempt in Superman Returns, his performance is still stiff. Amy Adams’ role as the plucky reporter, Lois Lane is enjoyable and rewarding, but still lacks some interesting on-screen chemistry with Clark. Michael Shannon’s General Zod is also wonderfully displayed with effective display of rage and insanity, but still underdeveloped. The decision to field mostly recognizable talents like Richard Schiff, Lawrence Fishburne and Christopher Meloni for the supporting roles is also wasted, as their characters are pretty much a cardboard. Hence, if you are interested or expecting some characters study, you will be likely to be disappointed.
The wild obsessions of Zack Snyder in handling the action sequence proved to be annoying-yet-interesting. The special effects are handled well and made to the full use by highlighting the nature and the powers possessed by Superman. But alas, the shaky camera works and Abrams’-wannabe styles (lens flare and zoom-in-pan-in) which are all been used excessively to the point of overblown is clearly an understatement. The gigantic fight between Kal-El with Zod or even with the femme fatale Faora (Antje Traue) mimics the Neo vs Smith in The Matrix Revolution in a giant landscape, each punching and kicking like nobody business across the entire city. What makes this fighting scene less enjoyable than let’s say, The Avengers, is that the scene in Man of Steel requires large scale of punching someone across the city, instead of staying local.
On the paper, Man of Steel possesses big opportunity on all areas. The expertise of Christopher Nolan in producing and contributing idea for the plot, having a visionary filmmaker like Zack Snyder on the helm and David S. Goyer on the scripting department go ultimately wasted. The attempt to emulate the success of Batman Begins in rebooting the franchise is pretty much misfired and not satisfactory as there is nothing “Nolan” about this movie. Man of Steel ends up been a sham for a hyped comic book movie (CBM) which is troubled by overblown CGIs, out-of-control action sequences, moderate character-building, poor character study, useless supporting casts and a very weak story line despite having an excellent flashback to explore the origin story, endeavouring but amazing emotion and memorable performances. Nevertheless, it is still a good movie to watch.