Man of Steel (2013)
Sky TV recently ran the original Superman series of films, produced by Alexander Salkind back in the early 80s. Great fun and, being a fan, I had to check out Man of Steel which reprised the Zod character that Terence Stamp so hilariously camped-up back in the day. Zak Snyder took Richard Lester’s original (1980), re-working it to deliver a very different piece of entertainment; darker, over-explanatory, labouring the Kryptonian history lesson and bringing out Russell Crowe in Maximus-mode as Super Daddy. Nice turn from Kevin Costner as Clark Kent’s ‘good ole boy’ pater on Earth, with Diane Lane as Ma. Once cleaned up from grumpily wandering the globe to find himself, Henry Cavill is a fab caped and coiffed hero, blissfully lacking the forehead curl so beloved of Christopher Reeve.
The film spends too much time dealing out the details of life on Krypton and the folklore of Zod and his army as genetically engineered protectors of the empire. Suitably bonkers but driven, the good General (Michael Shannon) is duly cast down into the Phantom Zone accompanied by his followers, returning to pillage Earth in seach of material to kickstart a new Krypton. The entourage includes his deliciously nasty sidekick played by Antje Traue (a great update on Stamp’s original femme-adoree, played by the lovely Sarah Douglas). In set design and effects, the film has shades of Prometheus and The Matrix Revolutions in its depiction of alien tech. The visuals are great at first glance but a tad overdone – far too much of a good thing and a major assault on the eyes. Thankfully I missed the 3D version which may have yielded a notable headache.
Amy Adams is an interesting Lois Lane, suffering from comparisons with Margot Kidder’s gutsy turn in the originals. Pity there is no Luthor character to match Gene Hackman’s very funny villain. The final act descends into a Michael Bay-esque rampage of noise and violence that is difficult to follow, and spoils what was a reasonable build-up in the story to this point. If the sequels can tone this down, maintain the darker quality in future stories, and continue to build the characters then it bodes well for another entertaining trip to the flicks. Man of Steel deserves a viewing and stands a better chance of becoming a series than its iffy forebear in Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman Returns (nod to Kevin Spacey, though, as a suitably naughty Lex Luthor).