Man of Steel (2013) Review


Director: Zack Snyder

Writer: David S.Goyer and Christopher Nolan

Certificate: 12A    Running Time: 2hr 23 Mins

Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner   



side effects rating

Plot: A man with superhuman abilities discovers his true intergalactic identity and must protect his adoptive race from an invasion by his very own

The eclectic concoction of visionary film-makers Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder is enough to perturb even the most foolhardy and downright skeptical DC Comic fanatic. With many circles chastising Hollywood for its seeming over-reliance on the superhero, there is no doubting the genre’s universal appeal. Man of Steel is an undoubted box office sensation and the highest grossing film of all time June releases. When Batman duo David Goyer and Christopher Nolan were commissioned to write the screenplay and craft the story for Man of Steel, levels of excitement sky rocketed. Could Clark Kent possibly knock Bruce Wayne from the lofty perches of Gotham City? Despite, the most scintillating action scenes and use of CGI ever witnessed on the silver screen, Man of Steel does not have the emotional resonance to match its immersive visceral beauty.

Snyder’s directorial influence has led to Man of Steel becoming an elaborate, often pulsating and at times spellbinding visual spectacle. Although Superman’s intergalactic back story has been extended and drawn out, the script is heavily weighted in favour of depicting the capers’ mission to protect his adopted homeland from General Zod (Michael Shannon). As a result, character development is partially forsaken and limited to flashbacks of the hero’s interaction with his father. Such scenes radiate warmth and tackle key overarching themes of belonging and human nature’s tendency to reject the unknown. The recurring dilemma of whether to unveil such superhuman power is presented expertly and is a rare foray into deeper territory. Look out for the heart-wrenching tornado scene. One can’t help but feel what might have been if more time been dedicated to exploring the protagonist’s insecurities and relationship with his adoptive parents.

Henry Cavill is a rising star and plays the role of Kal/Clark with charisma; he is fulfilling the potential displayed in the much overlooked Greek action adventure ‘The Immortals’ (2011). The relationship with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) appears to be an afterthought rather than a central tenet of the story. The pair lacks any meaningful chemistry. The menace of Michael Shannon takes the conflict with Superman to new heights; his ferocity and tunnel vision to protect Krypton are academic from birth. The idea that our destiny is pre-ordained by society’s needs is a powerful one and draws on important religious themes, what if a man has greater aspirations than what is written in the stars? A powerful allegory is impelled to the forefront as Krypton’s doom is the result of man interfering with mother-nature’s grand design. The biblical undertone to Man of Steel is certainly evident, a savior of humanity capable of performing miracles for the greater good. The church scene is inserted with great subtlety and builds on spiritual themes from the comic.

Man of Steel doesn’t re-invent the wheel but is a bedazzling feast for the senses. The flight scene is mesmeric in its abundant splendor. There is no doubting the film is thirty minutes too long and surprisingly Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack fails to replicate or even build upon the iconic Superman theme tune. There isn’t the depth of The Dark Knight nor the poignancy but one can’t help marvel at what can be achieved with modern day technology. It will be fascinating to see how Man of Steel stands the test of time; it risks appearing outdated, as with any film so reliant on CGI.