Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Richard Schiff, Antje Traue and Russell Crowe
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
“You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the light. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders”
Man of Steel has one of the most spectacular openings of the year as we are immediately shown the world of Krypton in its final hours. This grand opening demonstrates how Man of Steel wears the fantasy and science fiction elements of its character and world, very much on its sleeve. Many superhero movies dilute their more fantastical elements in order to appeal to a mainstream audience and in a desperate pursuit of realism. Man of Steel manages to appeal to the mainstream and achieve realism, without foregoing or forgetting the otherworldly nature of the story it is telling. As a fan of science-fiction cinema, it was refreshing to see a superhero movie successfully embrace this side of its construction. This opening movement on Krypton occasionally dangerously teeters on John Carter and Hobbit levels of goofiness and alienation, however thankfully never fully submerges itself in it (Though others may beg to differ)
This opening on Krypton not only showcases Snyder’s strength of conviction in regards to the sci-fi and fantasy elements, but also his visual prowess. Visually, Man of Steel may be one of the finest superhero movies ever made. This is a true cinematic experience and sitting in that cinema there were times when my jaw literally dropped. This film is superhero summer blockbuster spectacle on a grand scale that you have never seen before. Snyder has demonstrated in his prior work that he can make beautiful films with superb action, however in this film he goes to another level and purely in those two arenas of visual beauty and brutality, may have delivered his best work. The final act of this film made me giddy and was a pure cinematic spectacle, action on a grand scale that is undoubtedly among the most spectacular things I have ever seen on a cinema screen. If you’re a fan of cinema, you owe it to yourself to see Snyder’s visuals and action sequences on the biggest screen you can find. Truly awe-inspiring and truly epic, the finale of this film left me on a high that no other film this year has. In moments as I swept up in the sheer cinematic spectacle, I felt like a 9 year old and was reminded why I love cinema, or at least this particular brand of cinema. However I can understand those of an older age (As a 17 year old male I am very much within this film's target demographic) and with less of an attachment to the material, to find the bombastic nature of this film’s third act ultimately rather grating.
Shots from this film could be hung on the wall as paintings. The cinematography from Amir Mokri is superb and equivalent to the work of Terrence Malick. Snyder continues to demonstrate that visually he is one of the finest directors working today. In addition to Snyder’s spectacular visuals, Hans Zimmer delivers another spectacular score. The music in this film is inspiring and provides as well as elevates the emotion. For the visuals and music alone, this film is worth seeing. Although, due to the CGI heavy nature of the film, I do worry about this film’s longevity and durability, as I do with many modern movies. It is a testament to Snyder that this film remains tangible despite its immensely computer generated nature, however the spectacular nature of this film is why it may not ultimately stand the test of time. Nolan’s Batman films will endure due to the practicality of the effects and the substance of the story, practicality and substance being two things that this film ultimately lacks.
In regards to the performances, all eyes are on relative unknown Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman. For the majority of the film’s first act, I was unsure of him and his performance. It had appeared he had been cast for his muscles and his looks as opposed to his acting ability. However fittingly, once the character had finally embraced and became who he was meant to be, Cavill followed suit, with his performance improving alongside the strength of the character, resulting in a perfect Superman in my eyes, one that I can’t wait to see more of. Charming, confident and commanding, Cavill delivered. Amy Adams gives what may be my favourite performance in the film as Lois Lane. While an actress as strong as Amy Adams could and should have been given more to work with, she was a charismatic and strong screen presence, providing this film with a much stronger female character than was apparent in Batman Begins or many other superhero films. This extends to the right hand woman of General Zod, played by Antje Traue, who is given many of the film’s finer action moments.
Speaking of General Zod, this is where the film’s biggest disappointment resides for myself. Michael Shannon is one of my favourite actors and in my eyes one of the finest actors of his generation. He first came to my attention when he stole the show in Revolutionary Road, stunned me with Take Shelter and continues to haunt me in Boardwalk Empire. With him playing General Zod, I thought we could get a truly classic cinematic villain, one that could stand up to Heath Ledger’s Joker. Unfortunately David S. Goyer and Zack Snyder don’t give Shannon nearly enough to work with, making him an incredibly generic antagonist. His prime directive is to do what is becoming his trademark, the screaming, shouting, freak-out of a performance. However even on that front, the sorority letter video did it better.
The acting is uniformly solid, however perhaps doesn’t reach the heights you’d expect of such a cast due to the screenplay by David S. Goyer. This film is weakest on the page, with there being multiple instances of duff dialogue. This film also does not have the substance one might expect given the names involved and the nature of the marketing. However while this film may not be as substantial as we hoped, it is considerably more spectacular than we excepted. While it may not touch the likes of Nolan’s Batman trilogy or even Snyder’s Watchmen, I am willing to say it is a cut above anything Marvel studios has released (And I consider myself a ‘Marvel guy’) Batman Begins is the obvious and fair comparison here, as this is very much ‘Superman Begins’ following a similar flashback structure to that film. While this may have better visuals, music and spectacle than Begins, Batman was ultimately more substantial due to a stronger screenplay that had the hands of both Nolan and Goyer, as opposed to just Goyer, who is much more of a story man than a screenplay man. However as a set-up to a universe and as summer spectacle, Man of Steel really, really succeeds. This wowed me more than any other movie has so far this year, and for a person who was never really enthusiastic about Superman, left me eager for more after its perfect final scene.
Ultimately I can understand how some may find the opening movements goofy, the middle section boring and the final section over the top, however for the entire two hour and twenty minute running time I was enthralled and didn’t feel the length for a second. It has its silly moments and I’m not prepared to call it a perfect or even a great movie, however it was certainly a great experience and one I look forward to reliving on the big screen.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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