Man Of Steel review

Banana Rating: 2 out of 5

So, he’s finally arrived. And without his under­pants. Well, either that or he’s wear­ing them under his super suit. Judging by the snug fit, I get the feel­ing he might be going com­mando. Also, for the tra­di­tional red, blue, and yel­low, the col­our sliders have been dropped about 40%, mak­ing Superman’s suit a less tra­di­tional maroon, navy blue, and stale piss col­our. Roughly equal to when Chris­topher Reeve went bonkers in Super­man II and star­ted flick­ing pea­nuts at bottles in his local pub.

Such wan­ton destruc­tion of alco­holic bever­ages by the evil Super­man is rendered almost quaint by the carnage on dis­play in Man of Steel. But more on that in a minute.

The story, much like Richard Don­ner’s Super­man, starts on Krypton at a time of crisis. Where that film was pretty effi­cient in its setup, with Gen­eral Zod already cap­tured and destined for the Phantom Zone (and Super­man II), Snyderincreases the action. It’s hard to pic­ture Mar­lon Brando rid­ing some big alien dragon thing, but for Rus­sell Crowe as Jor-El, it’s not a prob­lem. He has a trim­mer waist­line, and CGI on his side. Crowe also dusts off his plummy Eng­lish accent as he attempts to thwart Gen­eral Zod’s plans for Krypton. Jor-El and Zod both agree that the dan­ger­ously unstable Krypton needs sav­ing before it blows up, but they approach the prob­lem in dif­fer­ent ways. One with reason, the other by fuck­ing shit up.

It’s nice to see a bit more back story between Zod and Jor-El. The action heavy open­ing is fairly enjoy­able, but at this point, I’m think­ing, “I hope this doesn’t become over­stuffed with oodles of CGI. The signs are there. Will Snyder rein him­self in?”

Now don’t get me wrong. This is a Super­man film after all, the tale of a god like alien who can fly. I expect spec­tacle. But, I dunno, there has to be a line, right? Maybe it’s expec­ted of the dir­ector of Sucker Punch to not only step over the line, but also to do a somer­sault over it, fol­lowed by a couple of cartwheels, before grabbing his junk and going, “Huuurn­ngghhh!” Because that’s exactly what he does.

Mind you, when Henry Cav­ill lets loose, fully suited up, for the first time against two of Zod’s sol­diers in a small town, it’s fant­astic. At this stage of the movie, I can even stom­ach the col­lat­eral dam­age. There must be some loss of civil­ian human life, but you never see it. Inno­cent bystand­ers say stuff like, “Get inside and close the win­dows!” Yeah, sure, double glaz­ing is renowned for pro­tect­ing against frickin’ laser beams fired from the eyes of super­hu­man ali­ens, or an explod­ing pet­rol tanker being hurled through the air.

But… it’s a comic book movie, and some­times I’m a little more for­giv­ing. Superman’s first big fight scene really works and is excit­ing to watch.

One reason for this, is Antje Traue as super bad­die, Faora-Ul. She’s the real sur­prise in Man of Steel. Sexy, super con­fid­ent, a little smirk on her face, she looks like she enjoys hav­ing super powers. In many ways, she sur­passes Michael Shan­non’s turn as Gen­eral Zod, who is lack­ing the cas­ual, bale­ful dis­pos­i­tion of earlier Zod, Ter­ence Stamp. It’s a one-note per­form­ance, kind of angry all the time, and not much more. If it was any­one other than Michael Shan­non, I wouldn’t be bothered. But it’s Michael Shan­non! I’ll be hon­est, I was expect­ing a bit more from him. Cool beard though.

Man of Steel is still an ori­gin story (yes, another one!), but one that chops it up into present day and flash­backs. I bloody loathe flash­backs. They’re rarely done right, and Man of Steel is no excep­tion. They bring the present day story to a halt, and we get a small scene that isn’t really given much time to do any­thing before we’re hop­ping back to the present day. Although there is one pivotal scene with Superman’s adop­ted Earth dad (Kevin Cost­ner) that is quite good, mostly the flash­backs make the film feel like it’s not really sure where it wants to be, what story it wants to tell.

The film really falls apart in the last third where the action and CGI goes insane. The dev­ast­a­tion is incred­ible. It’s like Zack Snyder is try­ing to outdo The Avengers. It worked in Joss Whe­don’s film, because Mar­vel her­oes just have a dif­fer­ent vibe to them. Man of Steel is an alto­gether more ser­i­ous film. There’s a lot of soul-searching. But the huge amounts of ser­i­ously apo­ca­lyptic dam­age meted out to everything in gen­eral, to the point where it starts to get bor­ing, reduces the impact of one of the big emo­tional scenes of the movie.

In the end, there’s too much spec­tacle. With Super­man I also look for a sense of won­der. There’s pre­cious little of that.