Man of Steel
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: David S. Goyer
Based on: Jerry Siegel‘s and Joe Shuster‘s comics chararcter
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni, Kevin Costner, Ayelet Zurer, Laurence Fishburne, Tahmoh Penikett (for about five seconds)
The planet Krypton is dying. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) tries to convince their leaders to save their race by exploring space, when Zod (Michael Shannon) stages a coup. In desperation, Jor-El and his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) send their son Kal-El towards Earth on his own, just with a data stick that contains the most important info about their people. Kal-El manages the voyage, while Zod’s rebellion is subdued and they are sentenced to imprisonment just before Krypton is finally destroyed.
Kal-El grows up to be Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), son of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) who happens to have superpowers on Earth. But Jonathan cautions him to keep that side of him hidden for fear of what humanity will do to him. And Clark does, until Zod catches up with him.
When the trailers for this film came out, I started to become cautiously optimistic that maybe we’d get a Superman movie that doesn’t suck (the first since the Christopher Reeve movies started to spin out of control [don’t worry, babies, I love you anyway]). I shouldn’t have bothered getting my hopes up.
Not everything is bad about the film. I loved how they dared to let Lois (Amy Adams) know right from the start that Superman and Clark Kent are one and the same person. Because honestly that is one of the most ridiculous things about the entire Superman universe (that super-sleuth Lois doesn’t notice that her co-worker and her love interest are one and the same person and just because of some glasses) and it was about time that somebody did away with it. That also means that they will have to cross uncharted territory in their relationship, should things go any further with this movie line which is exciting. And Lois generally kicked ass.
I also loved the small call-backs to the Superman universe throughout the film. Lexcorp shows up in the background several times. Lana sits in the bus with Clark. Clark in a bar fight (he walks away from) is a nice take on Superman in a bar fight he doesn’t walk away from Superman II (or the one in Superman III which is against himself and I could interpret the shit out of this parallel, even though I doubt that even half of that is intentional).
Henry Cavill wasn’t bad as Clark, but really the script didn’t do him any favors. The script didn’t do anyone many favors, truth be told. Lois was cool, but the entire thing was sorely missing a sense of humor. Also, I just wanted to start slapping both Jor-El and Jonathan. To have two fathers who both tell you that you must be the hero for mankind (but don’t let anybody know!). Be an example and lead everybody (but don’t show them you have powers)! It just gets old and annoying. I mean, for one, they stay on the surface of that conflict and just repeat the same points over and over again – which is a crying shame because they could have made much of it. And two, that Clark is just a role model because he has more power is frankly the wrong way to go about this: Jor-El has no idea what kind of person Clark will grow up to be, yet he blindly assumes that he would be in any way fit to lead another race to a better tomorrow. And that Clark has any kind of strong convictions is a surprise since he’s been told from childhood on that he should hide who he really is, even if he hurts other people and himself with it – that’s the perfect recipe to have somebody grow up to be a spineless sycophant, not a strong leader.
And those are just the big things that the script and the film got wrong. There are a lot of smaller things, too. And the camerawork sucks, to boot. There isn’t a second where it stands still. So much so that I was really wishing for Snyder’s usual SloMo. And when the soundtrack started with the dramatic choir, I was ready to scream. The film is just so incredibly long that even the smallest things get on your nerves. And that is no way to enjoy it.
Summarising: I’d rather re-watch Christopher Reeve any day.