Months of anticipation mixed with a life time of never truly having a Superman movie I could say I loved made the viewing of Man of Steel particularly unique. I mean of course there is the 1978 version which has it all, groundbreaking special effects for its time and Christopher Reeve being the Superman everyone could really love, but being born in the early nineties and not watching it till I was at least six or seven meant its special effects were lacking and Christopher Reeve looked a little goofy in the trunks over trousers combo. Then pops up the Man of Steel trailer months back and I couldn’t help but feel like they may have got it right this time, strange to think a do gooder superhero has a place in this world after The Dark Knight series showed us that darker is better. It was a perfect run up to this film for me; my expectations couldn’t inflate MOS to insurmountable proportions (I’m looking at you Dark Knight Rises) because I never believed Superman could really impress me. That was all about to change. The film itself was more than I ever could have hoped for. An origin story I cared about, thrilling CGI, a near enough perfect score and most of all a Superman, or should I say Kal El that I could really root for.
Zack Snyder has always been in my good books when it comes to directors. Dawn of the Dead, 300 and even Watchmen felt fresh and exciting in a time where zombie movies were still a little stale, sword and sandal movies were legion and comic book adaption were still hit and miss. Man of Steel really benefits from Snyder’s direction; his visual flare and style are fully on show here. We all know Nolan’s involvement, it’s been splashed all over the trailers since day one, but this is still very much Snyder’s movie. The acting is also solid, Cavill is a revelation to me and Michael Shannon as the morally bankrupt General Zod is as good a villain any superhero will ever get. Amy Adams puts in a good effort as Lois Lane and Crowe and Costner are cast perfectly as Supes role models. A strong yet fleeting performance can be found from Laurence Fisburne and am I the only one glad to see Michael Kelly AKA CJ from Dawn of the Dead pop up to delight us with his presence.
I have to give particular praise to the brilliant soundtrack. Hans Zimmer never ceases to amaze with his uplifting and epic scores. Only a few hours after the film ended the soundtrack was on my Ipod and ready to make all the mundane tasks of my life seem like an epic fight for humanity (not that it isn’t already). I also felt that a few scenes really stood out for me. I’m pretty sure I was the only one in the cinema that gasped when Zod finally shook off his armor to reveal the black outfit reminiscent of Terrence Stamp back in the seventies. The Krypton first chapter was also both thrilling and saddening, I only wish we could have stayed with Jor El and the Kryptonians a while longer.
It would be hard to watch this film without comparing to something in some way. For starters it has to stand up to the original Richard Donner version, which I think it can proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with. Then there are the sequels, it outclasses Superman II but only just, and it towers over the other Reeves and Routh portrayals. Then of course MOS has to measure up to the recent superhero turn outs, not to mention The Dark Knight trilogy which due to Nolan’s involvement has pair these two franchises ever closer. It does on all accounts, even making the most recent Marvel adaption such as Iron Man 3 look a tad silly and overly humorous.
As a whole, this is finally a Superman movie we can rally behind. We have a visionary pair of film makers behind the camera, a fine set of actors in front of it and a perfect foundation for a franchise that could grow into whatever the hell it wanted to be. Of course the film has its faults, such as the slightly off romance between Kal and Lane (I just didn’t feel it), but this can be built upon in the future. Yes the religious iconography was pretty blatant, a god like saviour is sent to Earth to give the human race something to strive towards (oh and he was 33 when he began his “save the humans” crusade), but I felt it didn’t conflict with the story at all; I even enjoyed it to some degree. The future for Supes is bright, within three to four years we may have a Justice League movie that has the potential to make The Avengers look like a silly second rate action movie. I will give Man of Steel a solid 9/10 , half of that mark is simply for making Superman cool again… In Nolan we trust