The worlds of Krypton and Earth collide in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Henry Cavill dons the red cape in a story by Christopher Nolan and David S Goyer which sees the origins of Kal-El Aka Clark Kent aka Superman. Amy Adams plays Lois Lane Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Kent’s earth parents and Russell Crowe plays Jor-El Kal’s Kryptonian father. Michael Shannon plays General Zod Krypton’s military general who stages a coup before Kal is sent packing to Earth.
After Christopher Nolan’s ground breaking Dark Knight Trilogy the landscape for Comic book adaptations has been forever changed and the audiences have come to expect a certain level of sophistication that goes beyond mere set pieces and action sequences. And despite Nolan getting story credit and being the executive producer on this the movie is entirely Snyder’s, the Nolan influences that were apparent in the initial trailers are few and far between. The opening sequence plays straight out of Snyder’s Sucker Punch visually speaking.
The story is told in flashbacks letting on important pieces of Clark Kent’s past as he grows from a scared child to a confused young boy to a formidable young man who eventually fills out the blue suit quite nicely. Henry Cavill was my absolute favorite character in The Tudors and here is a vast improvement on the Man of Steel as portrayed by Brandon Routh. In his steely appearance you are assured that we have a superman worthy of the title, I only wish the character was given a little more humor and dialogues that did not felt they came out a Michael Bay movie.
Michael Shannon, who plays general Zod, plays it Mean. He gets the most dialogue of any characters and after a point you just want him to shut up. The angry sneer and the shrill rhetoric are beyond annoying and grate on your nerves. Instead Antje Traue who plays Faora-Ul is a much more menacing villain than Zod could ever hope to be.
The movie is not all bad; there are some quite moments where skyscrapers are not exploding that is where you can see that this could’ve been such a good movie. The flashbacks with Costner are wonderfully intimate and feel like they belong in a Nolan movie. The music when not accompanied by the sounds of explosion is signature Zimmer and isn’t as derivative as his work on TDKR was. Amir Mokri’s work on that one scene where Kent is underwater after the Oil-Rig event is brilliant.
Snyder who ruined watchmen for me (I know of people who disagree and MoS will be my final argument) is at his Michael Bay-best with references to Independence Day and Transformers. I was told that the problem was the story but on the contrary the story is not so bad, it is the execution of it where Snyder makes a mess of it. There are so many references that any original element is completely forgotten. There are references to the Independence Day, Transformers, The Avengers, Thor, The Day After Tomorrow and all of it does nothing to enhance the viewing experience. The final sequence feels like an unending assault on your senses and your intelligence. The fight sequences keep going on for what feels like 20 minutes too long. What also is extremely irritating is the silly glorification of the American Armed forces which just feels out of place and takes away from the focus which should be on Superman and Zod. Snyder seemed preoccupied with IHOP and Sears placements than any focus on storytelling.
The story telling in the second half of the movie felt like it was bereft of any sense and the only explanation I can find is that Nolan left Snyder the reins to continue to focus on the story for Interstellar. Watch this movie if the only thing you care about is endless explosions and yet another destruction of New York by an alien race. Watch it at your own risk because it might say Nolan on the playbill but there is nothing Nolan-esque here.