So, Man of Steel, before anyone reads further watch the film first 🙂
A lot has been made of this Superman re-boot. Is it a Nolan film or is it a Snyder film? I think for me it is a strong mixture of both, but not necessarily the best of both – there isn’t the ingenuity of Nolan and neither the dynamism of Snyder unfortunately. At the heart of it, it is very much a David S Goyer script and in reality the film could have been called Superman Begins or even Clark Kent Begins – either of which follows a similar path to Batman Begins (also scribed by Goyer). The parallels are strong between both films, each character dealing with parental issues, identity issues and destiny issues – and each films deliver a very strong 2/3rds of a movie, but falters with an lesser final 3rd. In this, Kal-El (aka Superman, aka Man of Steel) is an alien-child from a long-destroyed planet (Krypton) with the perspective of what it means for humanity discovering they are not alone in the universe. Kal-El then represents the Red of Krypton and the Blue of Earth, hiding his powers as best he can afraid of what man would do if they found out………that is until General Zod (Michael Shannon) turns up.
The plus points include excellent performances from Russell Crowe and Henry Cavill and the big thing I liked about this take on the classic superhero is that it is a science fiction film. It isn’t a re-tread of Donner, it is its own beast. I think it sets up a number of really interesting avenues and possibilities for this version of Supes for the next film – perhaps a Dark Knight-esque perspective on Superman with perhaps Lex Luthor playing the crazy villain next time round (similar to Ledger’s off-the-wall Joker) as this new franchise needs a greater edge.
The possible negatives, I would have liked to have seen more of that visual splendor of Synder, but sadly I felt it was lacking. On the other side, Nolan’s discipline to realism and logic comes off the rails slightly too. The final third punch-em-up breaks the Supes rules and I would agree that it lacks the wit, intelligence and emotion of the Donner Superman/Zod battle. Superman shouldn’t have allowed half of Metropolis to be obliterated and as a result it would have made a more engaging battle between two Gods – when the punching fails to make an impact after 5 mins should they not change tactics rather than carrying on for a further 25 mins? Plus, after the film making big noises around the effect of ET life on Earthlings, no consequences fell out of the back of the Zod battle. What happens to religion? What happens to science? Instead, the world goes back to the Daily Planet as if nothing had happened.
If viewed over the whole, this film is an enjoyable slice and a really interesting take on a well-trodden story and character. The use of flash-backs in the narrative works well and the well placed easter eggs (spot them if you can) are a joy to find. I’m excited to see what they do next with this character and perhaps focus on the wit rather than the brawn next time.