Cavill a devastating Superman
When walking Superman encyclopaedia Mark Waid rebooted the iconic character in 2003, he boiled down the first superhero’s unbreakable bones to get to his essence – Superman is, therefore he protects.
Waid’s comic, Superman: Birthright, is clearly a jumping- off point for Zach Snyder’s cinematic reboot of the Man of Steel, but where Waid connected us to the alien hero by emphasising his humanity, the film shoots off in the opposite direction.
Knowing their planet is doomed, two alien scientists blast their infant son into space hoping he will find refuge on distant Earth. The child, Kal-El, grows up as Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), trying to balance his extraordinary powers with the morals and fears of his adoptive, human parents.
On a quest to find his roots, Clark draws the violent attentions of the last dregs of his race. Now he must decide what defines him – nature or nurture – in a battle that could mean the end of the world as we know it.
It’s a pity Snyder chose to weigh Man of Steel towards the lunacy of Krypton rather than the relationship between Clark and his earthy Earthly parents Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), because it’s by far the best stuff in the film.
The space opera sets us up for the utter carnage that follows Clark donning the red cape, though.
With levels of devastation that would make Michael Bay blush, Man of Steel delivers more of a superpowered smackdown than previous Superman films.
But while the computergenerated set pieces will delight action fans, there is no worse indictment on this incarnation of the Big Blue Boy Scout than the fact that humanity would have been better off if baby Supes had blown up with Krypton.
Scenes of Superman rescuing folks are few and far between, and the grand finale undermines almost everything the character stands for.
Cavill is superlative, though, playing Big Blue with gravitas, emotional vulnerability and a sense of restrained power. He’s also ridiculously good looking, which only emphasises his otherworldliness in this ‘‘first contact’’ reworking of Superman’s origins.
A great start, but I’m hoping the franchise ends up in the hands of someone who understands Supes better and isn’t afraid to let the ultimate good guy have his moment in the sun. MAN OF STEEL
Directed by Zack Snyder. Written by David S Goyer from characters by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. Produced by Christopher Nolan. Starring Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams.
Action, Adventure, 2hr 23mins, M, Violence
Now showing at Reading Porirua and Lighthouse Petone.
Man of Steel: Henry Cavill is a perfect Superman in a not-so-perfect film.