Review: Man of Steel / Cert: 12A / Director: Zack Snyder / Screenplay: David S. Goyer / Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon / Release Date: Out Now
The influence of Christopher Nolan is clear in this dark, brooding and incredible-looking origin story which has every sign of being the beginning of an almighty franchise. We first meet Kal-El in the womb on Krypton as his mother gives birth to him amidst treacherous planet conditions and treasonous behaviour. Destruction is imminent. With its golden skies and deep blue underwater harvesting nests, Kypton is impressively realized. Spaceships are modelled on sea creatures and dragonflies with grand and intricate interiors; the armour is sharp and meticulous. The visual effects team should be applauded for creating such an immersive world.
It's a world we come back to again and again over the course of the film. Even as the fully grown Clark Kent traverses the Earth and gets to grips with his powers, we are taken back to pivotal moments in his childhood, breaks from the action to explain his evolution into a hero. And an important theme develops, the theme of dying planets. Snyder uses symmetry in his camera work and visuals to mirror the demise of Krypton with modern day Earth. Endangered species, such as the humpback whale and the polar bear, flit across the screen, stressing the idea that extinction is a reality we may be facing soon (similarly, Superman's Fortress of Solitude resembles the carcass of the humpback whale in its grooved and curved design).
As the big S, Henry Cavill masters the art of brow furrowing whilst Amy Adams has the smart, sassy Lois Lane down to a T, though she does err on being a little too in awe of Superman and there’s not quite enough development of her character. Cavill certainly has a touch of Christopher Reeve about him in his line delivery whilst in the suit, but otherwise he owns the role. As for General Zod, if you’ve seen Michael Shannon do crazy in any other film then you may be disappointed as all he gets to do here is bellow without giving much of a rounded performance. It’s as if he’s holding back, resulting in him being a far from memorable villain.
Emotion may be scarce but it does rear its head when dealing with father son issues. Kevin Costner is quite simply excellent as Jonathan Kent and the troubled relationship with his son is one of the high points thanks to his performance. One scene in particular will pull at the heart strings as father protects son with a simple gesture. Once again Hans Zimmer excels with a score that is by turns sublime and overwhelming with its reverberations and ground-shaking bass lines, and another touch of sublimity is provided by the use of some hauntingly beautiful views of the American landscape, a calming force amongst all the action and destruction. A few overblown setpieces aside, this is a super serious summer blockbuster to gape at in awe.
Expected Rating: 9 out of 10