“Man of Steel” attempts a new, modern vision of the iconic comic book hero, but that vision involves stripping back Superman’s most iconic elements.
Review by David Feltman
“Release the World Engine!”
Like J.J. Abram’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” is content to simply remake the most popular of the franchise’s previous films. Unlike “Star Trek,” however, “Man of Steel” only manages to diminish what made “Superman II” a fan favorite.
To Snyder’s credit, “Man of Steel” does attempt a new, modern vision of the iconic comic book hero, but that vision involves stripping back Superman’s most iconic elements. The film introduces Clark Kent as a hobo wandering the earth like Bruce Banner or Caine from “Kung Fu” when he’s not playing “Deadliest Catch.” No glasses, no reporter, no Metropolis…at least not until the very end.
Snyder trades in his zooming slow motion effects for shakey-cam action shots and his bleached out color palate is completely at odds with a character known for his vibrant plumage. Henry Cavill makes an excellent Superman when he’s not sporting a Wolverine beard, but the rest of the cast seems bizarrely out of place. Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner may all be fine actors/actresses in their own right, but they all feel, well, alien in the film.
The few good ideas in the movie, like the “illegal alien” themes and young Clark trying to control his powers and come to grips with his heritage, are only briefly presented before the comic book goofiness (like a weapon that appears to terraform the planet through the power of dubstep) takes over with deadpan seriousness. The action scenes are well staged but too few and far between in a movie where the hero doesn’t don his signature costume until an hour in. It is a relief to get a Superman movie that isn’t wall-to-wall kryptonite and Lex Luthor, but it is a shame that baddies like Darkseid and Doomsday stay on the cinematic sidelines. Sadly, for all its potential and pedigree, “Man of Steel” is just dull.