Saturday, June 15, 2013


Finding reason to bring back Superman in a bold way and creating a new superfranchise for fans to latch onto, that in itself was no easy task to undertake. Zack Snyder has done so with his own flourish of panache, even if it that means his bombastic style comes with it. Everything about "Man of Steel" is huge, melodramtic and operatic. There are a lot of things the director we've come to know from "300," "Watchmen" and "Sucker Punch" does right here, and part of me wants to call this reboot a resounding success. But doing so is impossible without taking into account the film's final act, a brute force of clunky metal, a cacophony of noise that drowns the mind and nearly erases everything that came before.

Taking the darker, more brooding "Batman" route à la Christopher Nolan, who helped develop the story into a script by David S. Goyer (who also penned "The Dark Knight" trilogy), the opening sequence warrants its serious-minded tone. In the most complete origin story we could ask for, we're shown the fatal demise of Krypton, and Superman's father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), shipping off his son to planet Earth for a better future. This sends Jor-El's mortal enemy, General Zod (Michael Shannon, basically doing an exaggerated impersonation of himself), on a galactic rampage to find Superman, destroy him and bring Krypton to its former glory at the expense of Earth. It's an opening that may be lengthy but is extremely well done and boasts the movie's dramatic chops, visual splendor and gorgeous score from Hans Zimmer.

In his adopted life, Superman has been raised by the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) and given the name Clark Kent, a boy who must keep his other worldly powers a secret. Played by the Brit Henry Cavill, the adult Clark Kent/Superman is of course universally handsome -- robust body and chiseled jaw -- and he charms in the role. The 21st century version of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, demanding, resourceful and sexy. On their own, Adams and Cavill are great but together there could be a bit more spark to create some heat.

After spending his life as a drifter, Lois gets on his trail and tracks him down. In the process, the film brings us back to Clark's childhood: the incident where he saved a school bus of children, the sometimes tumultuous relationship with his adoptive parents wondering where he came from and the dooming realization that one day he has to decide what to do with his powers. And as an adult, Jor-El comes to Superman in a vision. Him donning the blue suit and red cape and flying for the first time is glorious. In these quieter moments, the movie soars. It's when General Zod invades Earth that the experience turns into a long, bloated slog.

The last hour is borderline laughable in its barrage of noisy, non-stop action while Superman and Zod go head-to-head. Endless bodies crash into an endless number of skyscrapers taking New York City to the ground. Cement crumbles to bits, flaming explosions engulf the sky -- it's the type of sequence we've seen in every superhero movie that has come before. It makes for great spectacle but is no less mind-numbing and woefully repetitive.

Zack Snyder coats his superhero story in a layer of gloss and sheen (as he did with "Watchmen") making the poetic moments really pop. He also succeeds in making the story as human as possible, and had he carried that emphasis through to the film's end, it would've been something special. Instead, the director gets wrapped up in his own grandeur desiring for something bigger, louder, more epic and ends up diminishing the new franchise's potential for true greatness.

1 comment:

  1. Man of Steel fails to get off the ground, with Snyder's overblown display of style smothering the many interesting moments that delve into the man behind the red cape.