The last decade has seen a high demand for cinematic excellence, clad in skin-tight suits, accompanied by the perfect balance between complicated love and an appropriate degree of ass-kicking. And hasn’t it been delivered. I’m talking a trilogy of Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire, three Ironman films starring Robert Downey Jnr, and of course the Avengers Assemble throwing in Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. With the audience practically spoilt for choice of heroes, is there room for Superman? Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel would suggest there isn’t. Superman is just one too many.
Okay, so we have Krypton, we have Earth and we have a broody super hero who is trying to fit in. It sounds like all the other Superman depictions we’ve seen before. Don’t forget Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh, was only released in 2006 and E4’s Smallville series ended in 2011. The story is still fresh in our memories.
The funniest moments in this film lie with a brooding Superman trying his hand at different jobs: as a waiter in a bar, and a hand on a fishing boat. But there isn’t enough of this. Out of the 143 minutes of running time, it feels like half of it is the final battle. The former half of the film seems dedicated to hurriedly explaining how Kal-El came to be Clark Kent and then to be Superman.
Don’t get me wrong, Henry Cavill who plays Superman is Incredibly easy on the eye. He definitely looks the part with his toned torso, tiny waist and chiselled chin. And he’s good at the part. My problem doesn’t lie with the quality of acting but with David Goyer’s screenplay. There isn’t enough humanity and too much CGI which unfortunately gives the whole film the ‘meh’ factor.
Russell Crowe is at his best when he plays the unshaven, brutish, hunky hero, like in Master and Commander, or in Gladiator, not the dad of a Superhero from an alien planet. I can’t take him seriously. And Michael Shannon as General Zod isn’t bad, but if someone can fill me in on exactly what his vendetta is, much would be appreciated.
As for Lois Lane – Lois Lame more like! In a day and age where an audience demands women to have a bit of spunk, Amy Adams (who was hilarious in Enchanted) is a persistent journalist who is not afraid to probe. But that’s as far as it goes. She’s not funny, slightly annoying and quite pathetic. And there is a definite lack of chemistry between Adams and Cavill, which is a shame. And her character also has this annoying ability to turn up in scenes unnecessarily.
And to top it off, New York gets destroyed. Again. It’s a lot less impressive and dramatic when you’ve seen the Manhattan skyline crumble for the umpteenth time! To be honest, I was just wishing for the fighting scenes to end. I was lost with the storyline and bored with the action. I wanted to see more of the man who balances the cape and tights with the glasses. Someone said to me that maybe that’s what the sequel will be. Sequel? I hope not.
This film will undoubtedly do well: it will probably make millions, smash the box office etc. but that will be down to the existing franchise and a good PR team, not the film itself.
This is an appeal to the film industry: please leave Superman alone for now. Bring him back in 20 years time, leave behind the cliché and make him epic.
Man of Steel 2/5
View the trailer below. Man of Steel comes to UK cinemas 14th June 2013.