Directed by: Zack Snyder
No one is really a big fan of Superman Returns, Warner Bros. and Bryan Singer’s attempt at a Superman film. Some even dismiss it as just being made to keep the rights to the franchise. I didn’t hate it – I might even say I enjoyed it, however I will admit that even I knew that the next Superman film Warner Bros. made would have to be a drastic improvement if they wanted to keep the movie franchise alive and well. And so, they put it in the (producing) hands of Christopher Nolan, and his wife Emma Thomas, the pair who got them major success with his The Dark Knight trilogy, hoping his touch will do to the Superman series what it managed to with the Batman films.
Presumably, getting him to direct would have been the dream, but Nolan probably didn’t want to commit to another superhero trilogy. Instead, directing the reboot is Zack Snyder, who made 300 and Watchmen, as well as the lesser, Sucker Punch and the Legend of the Guardians. The pairing of Snyder and Nolan has come up with a brilliant film, almost good enough to redeem WB of Superman Returns. The big action sequences and camera work is all very much like a Zack Snyder film, whereas the tone and look have a sense of Nolan’s world to them. I will admit that in the hands of Chris Nolan alone, it could have been a better film, but almost a bit too much like his Batman trilogy, and so in terms of entertainment, what they create together is worth what we lose out on from a Nolan-directed affair.
I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, so I won’t go into much detail on the plot, but as we all know now it is an origin story, but not told in entirely linear fashion (which is very Nolan). I both liked and disliked his approach of storytelling. It’s much more intriguing to not be told everything straight away, in chronological order, but then the first act suffers a little, because it feels like an extended trailer. For someone who doesn’t know the Superman universe too well, it explains a lot of things previous films don’t bother too much with, which is nice. I don’t know if people who do know it well will find it a little over-explanatory though, there’s always going to be a group of people who will be less-pleased. One scene, in the second half, involving Zod and a ship, gave me a major sense of déjà vu, and I don’t know if that’s because it’s similar to something that happened in a previous film, or just coincidence with an unrelated film.
I’m happy for Henry Cavill that he finally got his big Hollywood movie, after missing out on so many, he proves that he deserves it. There’s a scene when he’s styled to be a younger Clark Kent, where he looks so much like Tom Wellings, who played Clark on TV in Smallville, and I’m sure it was completely unintentionally, but I found it to be quite a nice touch. Amy Adams makes more sense as Lois Lane after seeing the film, and she’s well cast for the part, but I’m not sure if she’s well cast opposite Cavill as Kal-El/Clark. Isn’t it a little unfair to her that he looks prettier, and younger than her? (She is actually eight years older than him in real life.) Apart from that, they are good together, and there is some logic behind their relationship, whereas that’s not always the case in a superhero movie.
Michael Shannon is excellent as General Zod. Ever since Revolutionary Road, I’m really growing to appreciate him as an actor, and he constantly delivers great performances. They do go a bit too down the ‘just pure evil’ path with the villain, which I don’t really like, but it is played well. Russell Crowe is decent as Jor-El, but I seem to always find him a little bit wooden. Maybe it’s just how he is. It’s not like he had to do any singing or anything, so you’d think he would look a little more comfortable than he did in Les Miserables.
The score, by Hans Zimmer, is magnificent. While watching and listening to it, I knew I had to go home and download it (legally). It’s appropriately epic, without being overbearing. I’m sure the debate over the no red underwear thing will continue even after the film is released, but I don’t really care, I think the new suit is nice. They’ve kept the yellow bit under the red, which is much more important. And I love that the ‘S’ actually has a proper meaning behind it. I don’t know if that’s new to this movie, or it’s been in another one, but it was a great idea to include it.
The last two lines end the film brilliantly, and is a lovely way to set up more Cavill-Superman films to come. Given Snyder’s recent films have been a tad bit disappointing, it may have been a gamble giving film such a big film, but someone still has some faith in him, and it paid off. Man Of Steel is the Superman film that we needed in the superhero-heavy film world we’re now in.
Man Of Steel is out now.