Review: Man of Steel - You'll Believe A Man Can Fly

It was never going to be easy bringing back Ol' Supes. But it's been a certain amount of time since the last try, which popular culture has now decreed to be 'boring', 'bland' and 'not enough punching' (because obviously the original Donner films had loads of that, to which the movie was obviously a homage to), so it's time to have another one. This one went on a different track, re-doing the origin story, the first teasers showing a deep emotional film into the mechanics of making a superhero. Then we get the other trailers, you know the ones that remind you that Zack Snyder made this movie. Y'know, giant buildings collapsing, weird spider octopus thing attacking Superman, miniguns firing at Superman blah blah blah. There was some trepidation at this point, and early critic reviews seemed to show it as a blaring generic blockbuster. How was it I hear you ask? Here I go.

Where to start. The origin story is different from the Donner one, and not in a bad way. It replaces huge iconic factors, maybe, but it replaces them with things that make sense within this new world of Krypton and Earth. While this may annoy some people as a movie it makes sense, so there's no need to complain if something doesn't stick to comic book lore in a movie adaptation (see Iron Man 3).
The movie's first fifteen minutes or so are set on the beautiful world of Krypton. It works in complex and fulfilling back-story whilst setting up the rest of the plot very nicely. The visuals are vivid and rich coupled nicely with some great action blaring from all angles, without robbing any emotion from the scene. We're also introduced to 2 of the best characters in this movie, Russell Crowe's Jor-El and Michael Shannon's General Zod, both of them blending perfectly and making their scenes together astounding. A great start that concludes with the foreboding message from Zod to Kal's mother about her son, 'I WILL FIND HIM!' Lovely.
Once all of that is out of the way, we immediately cut to Henry Cavill's brooding Kal-El/Clark Kent walking about struggling with his emotions and powers which he has to use sparingly, jumping from one place to the other, never showing his face for too long. Interspersed with this we have some GREAT flashbacks of Clark through his childhood years, giving some lovely insight into him trying to helm his raw powers. These come hand in hand with Kevin Costner's amazing performance as Jonathan Kent. These crop up a few times more, one of which could easily bring people to tears. The first act is paced wonderfully, there was never a moment where I thought, "Ok this is nice, but where's Superman?" So far, so good.
Henry Cavill is great. Although never directly being called Superman, he gives a charismatic, intense and charming performance as a much loved and cherished superhero icon. Is he as good as Reeves? Well, my favorite part of Reeves was the bumbling, awkward Clark Kent, and there's no sign of that in this movie. The movies have completely different tones, this one is action-packed and emotional, whereas the original was charming and witty. Both excel in their aims, and thus lead to very different movies, and therefore different performances. If I was to directly compare them? Yes, Reeves was better. Cavill still shows he has what it takes though.
And with Clark Kent comes Lois Lane. Amy Adams does a great performance, with her character being used in a way it hasn't been used before, it pulls an Iron Man in the case of superhero identity. Her character is never the great love interest it was meant to be, she seemed to be more like a close sympathetic friend to Clark rather than a love interest. She serves the plot more than she did before though, which is good, but is seems this happens at the cost of that great romantic chemistry that is as famous as Superman himself. Here's hoping for the sequel.
When there's a hero, there's always a villain. General Zod. As said before, Michael Shannon gives a great performance, always being intense and frightening. He's more outwardly raging than Terence Stamp's sinister kneel-demanding criminal, which serves his character better in the fight sequences. Which there are a lot of. But it's not just endless action for this guy. Whole lotta emotion as well.
The movie in general has a lot of emotion, and is mainly centered around Kal-El and his struggles in choosing between a home that isn't his or one that he never experienced. It's a great focus for a Superman movie, and one that hasn't been touched on that much before, Superman has never felt so alien. I'll go into this a bit but beware of


The ending to this movie is brilliant. I can't remember a case where a) a villain was treated this way in a storytelling context and b) when we ever got such great emotion from it. It's one of my favorite superhero endings ever, it doesn't ultimately come down to a pay-off line and a push off something resulting in a happy conclusion, there is a genuine moral complexity to those final actions, and we can see the effects of it on Kal's face. A great ending if you excuse the ENTIRE DESTRUCTION OF THE CITY BEFOREHAND. Did that stick out to no-one as being like overly destructive? Oh well. It's fine.


Hans Zimmer once again produces a great soundtrack, which doesn't hark back to the original Williams one. It has great emotional and epic depth to it. Why listen to me? Take a listen to it yourself.
Oh yeah, this movie was made by Snyder. Therefore, quite a lot of action. Superman has never been done before with loads of epic action, they kinda missed out on that chance in Returns. Now, we get high-octane, gut-wrenching, titan-clashing fights and punches and explosions and IT'S IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO LIKE. The way they handled the weaknesses of Superman in this movie are very interesting, they go into quite a lot of depth into what actually gives him his powers, which come hand in hand with his weaknesses, which he definitely has. This may not add a lot of tension to the fights, but it definitely helps overall. The fights are wonderful, there's huge amounts of brilliant and astounding special effects, overtaking the previous special effects laden blockbuster, Star Trek Into Darkness, when it comes to CGI masterpieces. There's entire worlds created flawlessly, Superman's powers are created, well, as realistically as an alien superhuman can be. It has a nice gritty, uncontrollable touch to them. One problem with the action sequences is that at one or two points in the final act you can definitely see where Snyder has left his muddy paw-print, just watch out for colossal city-leveling collateral damage or a the weird robot octopus thingy that kinda makes no sense. It just detracts from the overall experience.
One of the best scenes in the film is where Clark first flies after just receiving his Kryptonian costume. It's a great scene, he struggles to control his new found power at first, before gracefully soaring over many different wonderfully created landscapes, midst the sweeping tones of Hans Zimmer, a look of pure glee on Clark's face. To be honest, that pretty much summarizes the viewing experience for Man of Steel. You'll not only believe a man can fly, you'll see him soar. Good to have you back, Supes. 

I give Man of Steel 4 stars out of 5

So what'd you think of Man of Steel? Did it live up to your expectations or disappoint you? Let us know below.