MAN OF STEEL
Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe
Zack Snyder (
WHAT should have been the Superman we had to have is now a Superman we will have to grudgingly settle for: a laboured mash- up of the compelling and the compromised.
Man of Steel opens very strongly, shrewdly reducing key elements of Superman’s famous origin story down to its bare essentials.
A baby named Kal- El is born on the doomed planet Krypton. His father, the noble scientist Jor- El ( Russell Crowe), jettisons his boy across the universe to save the infant’s life.
Krypton implodes, ending the lives of all occupants. Except for the military madman General Zod ( Michael Shannon) and his cadres, recently banished from their home planet for crimes against the state.
From here, we are swiftly shunted forward a few decades to meet the adult Kal- El ( played by Henry Cavill), now an Earthling trading under the alias of Clark Kent.
The Clark we’re clocking here is still in the process of harnessing his super- powers. It will be his gradual development from haunted loner to focused saviour that fl eshes out much of the tale told by Man of Steel.
If you isolate the story of Man of Steel from the picture’s other trappings, there is little to truly gripe with. Pitching the character of Lois Lane ( Amy Adams) as a crack investigative journalist is something of a mistake, but perhaps a necessary one if plans for a franchise proceed.
What is most important is that Kal- El/ Clark’s arduous quest to control both his internal demons and external prowess is handled deftly.
By the time Zod and company arrive on Earth to confront their fellow Krypton exile, the stage is set perfectly for one heck of a megasmackdown.
And then? Well, as much as I hate to say it, an overblown, overlong fi nal act forgets all about giving us a Superman transformed. Instead, all we get is a Superman Transformer- ised.
The iconic superhero becomes merely the most recognisable fi gure in the eye of a digital FX hurricane.
Kal- El’s extended face- off with Zod – a skirmish that will leave Metropolis close to ruin – will not let up, nor make much sense.
Compared to the similarly themed fi nale of The Avengers, this slick, yet slogging shambles of a climax is a bum note to end on.
The core acting triumvirate of Cavill ( very straight), Crowe ( very ironic) and Shannon ( very mad) remain on the right page throughout.
It’s just a shame the director threw away the playbook at such a crucial stage of the game.