Little Kal-El goes through many changes over the course of the 2 ½ hours of Man of Steel. Unfortunately in the hands of director Zack Snyder these changes are often confusing and clumsily handled.
Kal-El is the first ‘natural birth’, arriving in Krypton, an orange tinged world facing issues that almost assure its citizens face even darker times ahead.
General Zod (Michael Shannon), perhaps aggrieved at the stupidity of his name, believes that Lil-Kal-El holds the solution to his world’s problems. Alas for Zod, he seems unable to relay this thought process in a way that provides Kal’s daddy Jor-El (Rusty Crowe) with the assurances required to hand over his first born, and in a noisy cacophony of forced aggression and tension Jor-El is killed and Kal-El sent through space to another, unnamed, destination…
Then Zod and his Zod-ites are tried, found guilty, and exiled in giant frozen space dildos. The rest of the Kryptonians… Kryptonites just hang around until their world explodes, leaving us to wonder at the wisdom of the sentence.
We learn all about what happened to Kal-El once he arrived on Earth in disjointed snippets interspersed randomly in the film. Suffice to say that Kal – under his new moniker Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) – spends a long time coming to terms with his differences, keeping his abilities hidden and essentially avoiding his destiny.
While this covertness is going on his natural enemy Zod floats aimlessly in his space dildo, robbing us and the film of any real action for nigh on 90 minutes, with the only highlight being my wife gasping at the V shaped torso of Cavill.
Snyder fills the remaining time with the afore-mentioned flashbacks featuring Clark’s ‘Earth dad’ (Kevin Costner), and the interminable ramblings of Jor-El’s ever so yappy ghost, who at times bores the piss out of almost every main character in the film despite being long since dead.
The rest of the time is spent meeting intrepid reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and gazing in awe at both her intrepidness and immaculately coiffed red hair, which remains perfect regardless of the situation.
I’ve thought for years that Superman is probably the least interesting of all superheroes not yet portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, but I’d rather see more of Supes’ work than Clark Kent or Kal-El. Especially more than his dribbling daddy. Now I must acknowledge that Man of Steel is a reboot. I know both David Goyer and Christopher Nolan of Batman reinvention renown were involved in developing the storyline. But it’s fair to say they kept the good stuff for the guy with the pointy eared mask.
By the time Zod arrived back on the scene I was already disengaged. Too tired to ponder why Zod is so fired up to preserve Krypton’s population when it seems that they are practically immortal and immune to almost all injury or illness. Too busy checking my watch to decide if the huge spaceship pulverising the city into submission with a noisy blunt jackhammer was a good analogy for how this film tries to bludgeon audiences into thinking it is more than it is. Far too tired to call attention to the fact that Superman essentially has three ‘tools’; he is strong, has lazer eyes and can fly a bit. Too tired even to make the obvious observation about how Clark Kent is Superman in glasses.
Zack Snyder does images. He does music videos that last 140 minutes. He doesn’t do story. He doesn’t do subtlety. This doesn’t matter when the film needs neither original story or subtlety (300. Dawn of the Dead.), but when you’re trying so hard to channel the spirit of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it’s probably wise to leave out the Snyder-isms that fill the indulgent mess that serves as the finale here.
I wasn’t interested in Batman until Nolan made him work. I wasn’t interested in Iron Man until Robert Downey Jr and Jon Favreau got their mitts on him. In fact I am not really a big fan of any super-heroes conceptually – unless you include Monkey Magic – which I do.
*Deep breath* It takes a good film conversion to make me a fan.
So I wasn’t interested in Superman in the 70s and 80s kitsch flicks. Didn’t watch him in the 90s and 2000s TV shows, and I sure didn’t care when he ‘returned’ last decade in a bloated shambles of a film. To me Superman has never given me concrete evidence of his bona fides. Now with Man of Steel I am on the fence as to whether this is an admirable bore 6 / 10 or a Kryptonite laced mess 5.5 / 10. Either way I don’t think we need another sequel or reboot for a while to come.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. While it isn’t Man of Snooze – this is another film that fails to put the ‘Super’ into Superman.