It’s been seven years since we’ve seen the Man of Steel fly into theaters, and many were left wanting more after that lackluster entry. Luckily, the unforgivable mistake that is Superman Returns isn’t made twice. Brandon Routh’s successor in the cape and tights, Henry Cavill, soars in the titular role, giving us the Superman we’ve been waiting for. And as icing on an already incredibly delicious cake, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel packs its hefty 143 minute running time with engaging characters and breathtaking action sequences that will floor you, with not one dull moment crammed in anywhere. If that doesn’t silence the naysayers, I’m not sure anything will.
After his father, Jor-El, blasts him off his dying home world, Krypton, and sends him to safety on Earth, Kal-El(Clark Kent) grows up alienated(literally) from the rest of the world. He constantly struggles with being different, and grapples with the inevitability that he will have to reveal himself to the world. When fellow Kryptonian General Zod travels to Earth in his search for him, Kal-El must step forward as Superman and become the hero the world needs him to be.
Henry Cavill will knock viewers flat with his incredible performance, and many will be screaming for his return in a sequel. Amy Adams shines as the thorough reporter Lois Lane, whose role in the film is, appropriately, large. Adams takes this responsibility and owns it, not only giving us a Lois Lane we care about, but also one we can root for. And now we come to Michael Shannon, whose portrayal of General Zod is nothing short of spectacular. Shannon’s Zod goes from wearing a frown to screaming, “I WILL FIND HIM!” in a split second, and Shannon does a fine job conveying his character’s anger and desperation. Lawrence Fishbourne and his fellow supporting cast members work well with their restricted screen time, but chances are viewers won’t connect much with them.
Man of Steel is not a generic, shallow summer blockbuster by any means. It deftly blends pulse-pounding action and interesting characterization, adding depth and excitement to an already phenomenal film. Clark Kent is instantly likable, a lost, lonely soul who perfectly personifies our own darkest times and speaks to the confused, angry kids we all once were. The movie digs deep into his character, making him vulnerable yet so powerful and resilient at the same time. Zod turns out to be one of the most interesting, complex villains in superhero lore, and his determination to save his lost race is admirable and frightening all at once.
The film’s rocky start is attributed to its misuse of flashbacks….at first. After the first two flashbacks, the movie finds its footing and everything flows more naturally, more smoothly. The final act stands as one of the most exciting climaxes in any film from the last two years or so. Those wanting Superman to beat the shit out of his enemies will be extremely pleased with what Man of Steel has to offer.
While Snyder’s Krypton is technologically brilliant, its landscape doesn’t exactly match what I imagined the planet to look like. Instead, for a few brief minutes, I felt like I was watching a Dungeons and Dragons film instead of a Superman film. The fantasy element, when placed in juxtaposition with the technological element, doesn’t work too well. It’s a minor quibble, but it is something that bothers me just a bit.
Overall, though, Man of Steel is not only the Superman film we’ve been hoping for, but also the most riveting blockbuster of the summer. Brace yourselves, folks. You’re going to be wowed.
4 out of 5 stars