Superman has never had the easiest of times on the big screen; his first outing back in 1978 still stands as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time but since then he has not managed to live up to expectations. A series of poor sequels and 2006’s instantly forgettable Superman Returns have seen him living in the shadows whilst the likes of Batman and The Avengers have run riot in the 21st century. Well thankfully Zack Snyder’s entry into The Superman canon finally looks to have changed all this back luck.
Directed by Snyder and produced by Batman genius Chris Nolan Man of Steel is two and a half hours of pure superhero joy, filling the screen with brilliant set piece after brilliant set piece in what is easily the Krypton native’s best outing since Superman: The movie all those decades ago.
Dubbed the unluckiest man in Hollywood after narrowly missing out on the roles of James Bond and Batman Henry Cavill finally gets his chance to shine this time and boy does he run with it. Perfectly suited for the role the English Man gives a terrific performance.
Accompanying him on screen is the films antagonist General Zod played by Michael Shannon. Now it’s no secret I’m a fan of Michael Shannon and once again he doesn’t fail to disappoint, hamming it up in the most menacing of ways and creating a threat that genuinely seems plausible to the Man of Steel as he leaves a trail of destruction littered throughout the plots narrative.
Now I’d been skeptical coming into this movie about Zack Snyder who, for me is one of the most inconsistent directors in Hollywood. His remake of Dawn of the dead is one of the best horror remakes of the 21st century and his adaptation of Watchmen is a fantastic movie but 300 and Sucker Punch? The less said the better. But thankfully his high octane, non stop action approach works a treat this time with Man of Steel being a thrill ride from start to finish. Packed with superb set pieces and some excellent special effects this is exactly what a summer blockbuster should look like.
This isn’t to say that this is all the movie is. Snyder has taken a more mature approach to the Superman mythology and the movie is all the better for it. First of all he’s got rid of the sillier abilities in Superman’s arsenal and instead heightened the intensity of his other powers; the fights, especially those between Zod and Superman feel super intense, a clash of titans if you will. By playing with Superman’s back story a little he’s also added pathos to the tale that hasn’t existed before with one scene in particular hitting all the right notes. Kevin Costner steals the show as Pa Kent, giving the movie some of it’s best and most emotional sequences.
By fiddling around with the back story a little and removing some of Superman’s characteristics Snyder may run the risk of alienating the fan boys; comic book geeks and superman purists may not enjoy this movie has much as I’ve done but hey he didn’t just make the movie to please those people.
Overall Man of Steel is a refreshing entry into a franchise that looked as though its days were past it. Snyder has found the perfect balance here; when it looks as though it could wonder off into sentimentality POW Superman smacks someone clean through a building and we’re hit with a solid 10-15 action piece. You may feel many things during this movie but boredom certainly isn’t going to be one of them. One of the year’s best blockbusters.