The reviews are in, and while most movie critics agree that the newest retelling of the classic Superman story is worth seeing, “Man of Steel” is weighed down by pathos and too much kryptonite.
In this new movie directed by Zack Snyder, and produced and co-written by Christopher Nolan, the letter on our hero’s chest doesn’t mean what we all thought it meant. This is no English S, but a Krypton symbol denoting hope. The word “Superman” is stutteringly or suspiciously pronounced, like “the bat man” in the Dark Knight movies.
So welcome to the Dark Knight-ification of Superman. Yes, the film is directed by Zack Snyder, but it is heavy (in all senses of the word) with the imprint of co-writer and co-producer Christopher Nolan, who’s followed his decade with the caped crusader by taking on the task of rebooting DC Comics’ other superstar superhero.
The tone is somber, the palette is grayish, and you can scarcely swing a cape without it getting snagged on some moral dilemma, says the Atlantic.
Man of Steel is the story of how Clark first found his way and how the world met Superman. It’s a tale of shock and awe, with bouts of breathtaking beauty and destruction.
Man of Steel begins with a long segment set on planet Krypton (Clark’s true homeworld.) We begin with a birth while the planet is in its death throes. A civil war led by the fanatical General Zod (Michael Shannon at full throttle) is tearing it apart while the planet core implodes.
With his high-tech coat of armour, a silver speckled beard and regal tones, Russell Crowe has an almost Arthurian bearing to him as Jor-El, father of Superman.
At his side is striking Israeli actor Ayelet Zurer as mother Lara Lor-Van. Jor-El is a man of science but a traditionalist who prefers flying beasts to battleships. In a world of eugenics gone mad, the couple opt for a home birth. With Zod hammering at the door, they send their only hope to the heavens.
From there, we flash forward to Earth about 30 years later, where a handsome drifter (Henry Cavill), equal parts pectoral muscle and facial hair, is making his way across Canada, hopscotching from truckstops to military installations.
And no, before you ask, this isn’t Wolverine, whose reboot doesn’t arrive until next month. Rather he’s Kal-El, a.k.a. Clark Kent and he’s looking for answers about his origins that he can’t find in the copious flashbacks to his childhood in Kansas.
Kal-El is more than willing to sacrifice himself to save the people of Earth. Originally reluctant to reveal his identity and powers to the world, Supes decides to turn himself over to Zod to save humanity from annihilation.
Man of Steel has its share of heroes and villains. Art directors and costume designers rose to the occasion with a look that’s both ancient and otherworldly. The score by Hans Zimmer soars, as an army of visual effects wizards reduce the shining city of Metropolis to rubble.
According to the Guardian, this is a great, big, meaty, chewy superhero adventure, which broadly does what it sets out to do, though at excessive length. WhatΒ was missed were the gentle, innocent pleasures of Superman’s day-to-day crime fighting existence.
Due to the cataclysmic battle in this film, much of the Man of Steel’s mystery and novelty have been used up. Subsequent adventures may lose altitude.