Recently actor Willem Defoe slammed Hollywood for its “cynical approach to making money” chastising them for rebooting the Spiderman franchise for second time in less than a decade. Defoe, more critical than others as he starred as the Green Goblin in the twenty-first centuries’ first reboot of the superhero, probably won’t be joining any queue to see the latest Superman reboot.
In the second reboot the action kicks off on Krypton which descends into civil war when General Zod (Michael Shannon) attempts a coup following Krypton’s path of destruction after wasting numerous planetary resources. In order to save the Kryptonian race Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sends his only son, Kal-El (Henry Cavill), to Earth along with the genetic codex of the entire Kryptonian race. General Zod’s attack fails and he is sentenced to spend eternity in the Phantom Zone, but a signal from Earth alerts him of Kryptonian activity on Earth and awakens him.
Meanwhile, Kal-El, now named Clark Kent, is living his life out on Earth trying to avoid drawing too much attention to himself and his special powers, but he does an appalling job and his actions regarding a crashed Kryptonian spaceship bring General Zod to Earth demanding his surrender or face destruction of his current home planet.
Man of Steel is directed by Zack Snyder, a director famed for great spectacle, an over reliance on special effects and not much else. Man of Steel shows exactly what type of filmmaker Zack Snyder really is and that is one that relies far too much on effects whilst making his films. Destroyed cities, crushed buildings and things blowing up are the clichés one has to accept with a majority of superhero films, it has now become a staple point of the genre. It does, however, become very tiring and dreadfully dull when every fight scene consists of superman (or his opponent) throwing each other through buildings or into cars which, naturally, causes them to explode. Man of Steel is a repetitive affair as GCI set piece follows GCI set piece as we move from one scene in which Clark Kent throws his foe through buildings or gets thrown through a building himself to another scene in which Clark Kent throws his foe through buildings or gets thrown through a building himself.
Zach Snyder throws everything at the screen in a GCI fest of burning buildings, exploding cars and general lack of respect for human life. The GCI filled action scenes leave very little danger to be felt. There is no suspense, tension or excitement as the soulless action sequences play out repetitively on the screen. Lacking in Joss Wheldon’s The Avengers wit and Nolan’s gothic sensibilities in his Batman franchise Man of Steel has none of the appeals that make a good superhero/comic book movie as it is 140 minutes of waiting for exactly what you would expect to happen to happen.
There are moments in which Man of Steel is interesting, however. After the lengthy prologue (about twenty-five minutes) the action finally falls on Earth and looks at Clark’s attempts to conceal his powers at young age. Told in flashback his alienation and constant bullying make him a sympathetic figure, his relationship with his adoptive father (Kevin Costner), albeit short, is a moving one and I would have liked to have seen more of this relationship. It all begins to go downhill the moment Lois Lane (Amy Adams) arrives on screen, by no means is the film’s collapse the fault of Adams or the result of the sketchily written character, but Lane’s arrival signals the start of film’s central plot.
Henry Cavill plays the hero straight faced and humorlessly and he does a decent job (but it seems he will never be as popular as Christopher Reeve). Shannon makes for a rather boring and unthreatening villain as he hams things up and Amy Adams is given very little to do thus not allowing her talents to flourish. However, there are some impressive performances from Costner and Diane Lane as Clark’s adoptive parents.
Repetitive, generic and dull Man of Steel is a lifeless and uninvolving reboot that fails to rank among the best comic book films of the last ten years as it doesn’t contain enough wit or gothic seriousness to rank among the better comic films of the last decade.