Man Of Steel may have loads of heart-thumping action scenes, beautifully rendered set pieces, especially on Krypton, but with nearly 200 Superman-related films, TV shows and videogames, hasn’t his story been done enough?
Apparently not, going by the box-office takings of $196.7 million (SGD 247 million) in less than three days for the latest reboot of the classic superhero. Coming 7 years after Superman Returns, this time director Zack Snyder launches into yet another typical audience-satisfying (yet dissatisfying to critics), lucrative superhero genre film with the timeless hero, Superman.
With a track record of turning comics into hit action movies like 300 (2006) and Watchmen (2009), Snyder tries to put a new spin on things. But the story of the beloved Kryptonian is so much more well known that a little deviation – say even of how Lois and Clark meet on a crashed spaceship buried in the arctic, instead of at the Daily Planet– from the original story is rather unsettling.
First depicted in the 1948 Superman film serial Superman Comes to Earth, the birth of “Kal son of El” was the eye-opening entrance to Man Of Steel. Showing Snyder’s depiction of a dying Krypton, it’s technology; particularly the floating robot security guard in Jor-El’s home and on the spaceship trapped in the ice -that brings to mind Jarvis from Iron Man- and its fashion (gold egg whisk headpieces and long flowy gowns).
But, some scenes were predictable to the point that one ends up just waiting for it to end. Example: (Spoiler Alert) Kal-El, naturally born Kryptonian with no pre-destined purpose. Sent to earth as an infant and has thus adapted to the Earth’s lower gravitational pull and atmosphere that gives him control of the wonders of x-ray vision, flight, laser beam. (Again, deviating from the real story where his super powers are from his Kryptonian heritage). Furthermore, though Zod hasn’t been conditioned to Earth, he’s had years and years of combat training whereas, Kal-El lived on a peaceful farm and was taught not to use his powers. Yet, you know who’ll win. Guess that puts Zod only slightly below our beloved superhero in any of the fight scenes especially the one in the middle of NYC.
The audience ends up just staring at 2 people fighting on an almost level playing field, just waiting for it to end. Come on, it’s Superman! We all know he can’t die, just take Zod down already will ya?
What was most disappointing, was that the crucial and highly anticipated romantic spark between Lois (Amy Adams) and Clark (Henry Cavill), sadly wasn’t there. The much meaningful interaction and with almost no development their relationship whatsoever, Lois to fall for Clark and kiss towards the end How absurd. When did they even fall in love?
Especially when the perky and no-nonsense, Lois, is the sort who tells a colonel in the Arctic where she’s doing a story, “If we’re done measuring dicks, can you have your people show me what you found?” and flaunts her I-take-no-sh*t-from-a-man attitude.
Still, there’re probably not too many women who wouldn’t succumb to super hot Henry Cavill (not even an officer in the movie, to the audience’s laughter), even if he does serve up a humourless version of the red underwear-wearing extra-terrestrial, next to the goofily charming Christopher Reeves rendition we’re more used to. Kudos to producer Christopher Nolan (who directed the Dark Knight trilogy) for getting the British actor for the role of Clark Kent.
Naturally, with an alien invasion threatening to wipe out humankind, there’s more than the usual serving of swooping, flying, falling edifices and massive explosions that show off the most advanced cinematic sound systems: compulsory effects for 3D films. Though the storytelling is a lot darker than the other reboots, and many may attribute this to Nolan, the villain simply wasn’t visually scary enough compared to those in the Dark Knight series (i.e. The Scarecrow and Joker).
General Zod, is played by the hollow-eyed Michael Shannon, whose relentlessness and booming voice pulls off the cold and hate-filled baddie almost to the tee. His portrayal of Zod and notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski in The Iceman (2012) earned him the name as Hollywood’s new favourite bad guy and has received much acclaim from critics.
The script for him could have been revised though. Shannon doesn’t quite look like a man of many words, but the script keeps him spinning into “long grandmother stories”, especially when he’s just about to take down Superman.
Speaking of the script, the whole movie in hindsight seems to compare Superman -Jor-El’s only begotten son sent to Earth- to the messiah, where he is brought up in the humblest of places and has to rise above evil for the hope of mankind.
With bits of dialogue like how Superman’s earthly father tells Clark, “You are the answer. Somewhere out there you have another father and I have to believe he sent you here for a reason.” And how Jor-El later advises Kal-El that he will, “give the people of earth an ideal. They will race behind you. They will stumble and fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun and you will help them accomplish wonders.” The script comes uncomfortably close, although it never seems to cross that theological line even when Superman seeks spiritual guidance in a church.
And though Man of Steel swoops from one epic setpiece to another, you’re left with the nagging feeling that you just can’t get what the central twosome see in each other, and how you already knew all along that Superman wouldn’t die. All this, makes the film just a little short of super.
Release Date: Jun 13
Runtime: 2 hrs 23 mins
Censorship Rating: PG
Genre: Action / Adventure
Director: Zack Snyder