Man Of Steel (2013)
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: David S Goyer
Starring: Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Henry Cavill, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe
Director: Zack Snyder;
Screenwriter: David S Goyer;
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe;
Running time: 143 mins;
The Hughes Verdict!
Lets get the four big questions out of the way!
1.Is Man Of Steel better than Richard Donner’s 1978 original Superman film?
2. Is Henry Cavilll up there with Christopher Reeve?
Its hard to even judge. The different outlook and tone of this 2013 adaption does show that Cavill is the man for the now and he holds the dark edge well!
3. Is Man Of Steel up there with the birth of Batman Begins?
4. Will this give birth to a whole new franchise or will it match the 2006 flop of Returns?
Judging by this, Man Of Steel is just a taster of what this all new franchise could offer!
Two huge great dark shadow’s hangs over this new taste of the Superman myth.
First of we have the original Superman flick back in 1978, a film that had you convinced that a man really could fly. Up until a few years back, that Richard Donner adaption was considered by many fans of comic hero tales as the ultimate Superhero movie. Christoper Reeve was everything you needed as Clark Kent and Superman, Margaret Kidder was the ideal Lois Lane, while Gene Hackman simply oozed class in the role of Lex Luthor.
What with probably the best music score of all time thanks to the magical hands of John Williams, Superman 1978 and its sequel were so good in the eyes of many, that the tale started and ended there. Superman III and IV are instantly washed away by many fans thanks to the third’s over reliance on the comedy skills of Richard Pyror, while the fourth was a cash strapped disaster that even had Reeves kneeling before Zod and apologising to us all, I mean who actually can remember the stunning creation that was….Nuclear Man!
Even when X-Men mastermind Bryan Singer tried to bring the franchise back in 2006 with his misfire Superman Returns, the film itself was a lavish love letter to the first two films. It seemed a good idea on paper, but it left many fans cold, simply because what we were seeing was different actors in the same roles of the people who we loved. Returns suffered from being a sequel and it just did not work, I mean Kate Bosworth in the Kidder role, an instant re watch and you will see how ill judged the whole idea was!
It wasn’t until Batman Begins arrived on the scene in 2006, that fans started to believe that there was now a new film that could take the mantle of “Best Superhero Film Of All Time!”. Christopher Nolan, the director of such classic films like Memento, shook every single memory of Adam West and George Clooney out of the Caped Crusader and delivered a film that surely was as Dark as the Knight intended!
Its Batman himself that casts the second shadow over the man from Krypton. It doesn’t help that the trailer boldly states “Executive Producer Christopher Nolan- the director of The Dark Knight) because what its giving us the fan, is hope that this film will be in the same league as the trilogy of Gotham films that have blown away many over the last few years.
The fact remains though that while Superman in comic book form has been quite dark, the character itself and the stories are never as bleak as the ones that are told in the Bat Cave! For those then who are expecting a lavish dark ride will be left disappointing, yes Man Of Steel is similar in tone at times to that of Bruce Wayne, yet its hard to stay in realism when you watching a man fly through the air and fighting his alien friends, smashing through tall skyscrapers along the way!
The first time we actually see the new generation of Superman, he is a bearded man, lost and confused, helping those in need and whose destiny has not been found yet. You be thinking when you see this scene that you are watching Batman Begins and don’t be too surprised by yourself if you start to wonder if Liam Neeson will turn up and tell him to pick a rose and walk up a mountain!
Before we get to that through, the film starts on the planet Krypton and there is no Marlon Brando in sight! Instead we have the much leaner Russell Crowe whose Jor-El is celebrating the fact that he and Lara (Ayelet Zurer) are too become parents with the planet’s first natural birth in centuries. Its here we get to see the first glimpse of the all new General Zod (Michael Shannon) who wants the planet all to himself and before we know it, Jor-El rockets his son to safety, towards the Planet Earth, with Zod determined to find the last son of Krypton.
It may sound too similar to that of the 1978 film but then the one thing Man Of Steel suffers from is the back story element. Even though its been thirty five years since the original, the story of how Superman came to earth is so well known that I don’t blame the viewers who feel they don’t need to see this story again. In some ways the film suffers like The Amazing Spider-Man, in that we the fan just want to get past the origin of the character and just get on with it, even though it has to be said Man Of Steel tries to do things differently this time around, even though the theme is the same!
The attempt here by director Zack Synder was to make a film so different to what went before! Those who complained that Returns was a bore fest better hold on their red underpants, because Synder’s Superman starts off faster than a speeding bullet. The attempt by all was to make this dark and while they achieved it, the tone itself is so relentless that you feel at times you have a chain of Kryptonite around your neck.
From the set-piece opening to the Avengers style finale, Man Of Steel is thee summer action blockbuster, high octane action and with the effects at the disposal these days, you must put your hand up and admit that this generation version is stunning to watch, even though Synder does spoil things at times with his shaky cam action moments that do leave a lot to be desired!
Its Snyder’s mission to give the action fan what they want is one of the biggest downfall’s of Man Of Steel. With loud bangs and numerous set-pieces, we don’t get to feel the characters like we should even though everyone who is cast here is perfect in their role. Crowe simply oozes on screen, Kevin Costner is effective but somewhat wasted as the human father Jonathan Kent, while Laurence Fishburne sits nicely in the background as the iconic Perry White!
But its the two main stars that suffer from too much action and not enough heart in their story lines. While I was first worried about the casting of Amy Adams only because I couldn’t imagine her as a hard nosed journalist, to be fair to her, she nails the role! Its totally different to what we have seen, but she gives Lois Lane enough scope to suggest something special in the future planned sequels.
Henry Cavill himself does himself no wrong in the lead role! Once again, those expecting a Christopher Reeve kind of showing are in for a rude awakening. This is an all different Superman, a guy who is an Alien and not yet accepted by his new found human friends. The fact in this film he is more Superman -he is not even referred to that name until 2hrs in- than the Clark with the glasses, tells you all you need to know in what direction this aims at!
Its that path that means so far the relationship between Lois and Superman is somewhat weak. We don’t feel the chemistry like we did between Reeves and Kidder or if you really want to be be picky, Cain and Hatcher and while they show some touches of what could be on offering, this element in the 2013 version is left yet to be explored!
The star of the show through is Shannon. His Zod may lack the fearsome tone of Terence Stamp, but this guy is one dark evil character and as films of this nature can live and die by their evil offerings, here Superman has a foe you can honestly feel threatened by and a big pat on the back for Shannon for giving the comic book fan, yet another memorable evil bastard we can be proud of!
The fundamental flaw of the entire Man Of Steel is the fact that it suffers from us the viewer knowing way too much of the character and the storyline. Its hard to even offer anything new to the table when the whole legacy of Superman is built in our brain. By trying to make the film loud with sheer bangs and explosions, they have created a film that is not as good as the 1978 offering, but a much better spectacle.
But for all my doubts and some negative talk, you can not help but feel once the final credits roll, that maybe, just maybe this is just the benchmark of something really special. There is something in the blood of the film that suggests that we on the verge of something really great here. Its like we watching a warmer for something good, something magical and dare I say say it, something super!.
Now they have established the characters, got rid of the origin tale and also cast some brilliant people in these roles, you can just taste the excitement of what is going to follow on from this. The difficult part is over now, they have somehow not only made us believe that a man can fly again but also a new Superman can exist apart from the Donner version.
Now all they need is to make sure that the next film leaps over tall buildings with a single bounce………
No pressure then Man Of Steel 2