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Film Review: 'Man Of Steel'

Opened: 14 June 2013
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne and Russell Crowe.
Director: Zack Snyder
Producer: Christopher Nolan/Warner Bros
Rating: ★★★

Having been a Superman fan for as long as I can remember, and having witnessed almost every avatar of his on the big screen, my expectations from Warner Bros' mammoth revisiting of the boy in blue and red were high. No. They were perhaps unfairly high. Superman needed 'Nolanesque' treatment. We live in a cynical world, so camp and red pants just dont do it any more. Superheroes should be dark. Tormented. More often than not, they should have daddy issues. And that's not a bad thing. Almost everybody associated with this film have done everything, to make this film HUGE. It's shot on grand scale. Some sequences give you goosebumps. They blow you out of this world. But somewhere down the line all the explosions and punches seem to have come at a price. The film lacks soul. It never makes you care and it bloody well should have, given how much was spent on it and how long it took to hit our screens.

Henry Cavill makes a good superhero and his charm sees the film through

The film begins on the planet Krypton which is under threat from both natural causes and a coup by a rebel group led by a patriotic General Zod (Shannon) and his followers. Scientist Jor-El (Crowe) and his wife Lara and launch their newborn son Kal-El on a spacecraft to Earth, accompanying him with a codex to preserve the Kryptonian race. After Zod murders Jor-El for stealing the codex, he and his followers are banished to the Phantom Zone.

Back on earth, Kal-El now Clark Kent (Cavill) struggles to come to terms with his superhuman powers fully aware that he is different and not of human descent. While tracking back his origns, he comes across a Pulitzer prize winning reporter, Lois Lane (Adams), who's life he saves. She in turn plans to write an expose on him and his superhuman abilities but inadvertently becomes his ally, when Zod returns to earth in search of the codex and take over the planet. How Clark, now Superman, faces his father's nemesis and saves the world from total destruction forms the crux of the film. 

Crowe delivers some of the film's finer moments

Both Warner Bros and Nolan had big plans for Man of Steel. And it shows in almost every carefully crafted scene of the film. Everything about the film is epic, and technically the film is faultless, right from Amir Mokri's cinematography to Hans Zimmer's lilting background score. 

The performances from a bunch of A-Listers are top notch too which is hardly a surprise. Veterans Crowe and Costner are in their element bringing the relevant dignity to both Jor-El and Jonathan Kent respectively. Diane Lane is endearing as Martha Kent. And Shannon makes a good villain but hams in some scenes like no tomorrow. Cavill is decent in his part, and makes a great hero. It helps that he's easy on the eye too, and his charm pulls the film through in quite a few instances. It's Amy Adams that proves to be the sore point in her part as Lois Lane. She has neither the chutzpah that Margot Kidder had in the original, and nor is she as foxy as Teri Hatcher was in TV series Lois & Clark. Perhaps they should've considered Mila Kunis who was also in the running for the part. That said, Adams isn't bad. She just doesn't seem right for the part and has virtually zero chemistry with Cavill which doesn't help matters either.

Man of Steel is visually specacular

I think the main problem with Man of Steel is that it never feels like a superhero film. It's more embedded in science fiction which makes sense in this era, but the major niggle here is that there's never a light moment. Except perhaps in the last 5 minutes. And while the air fights are spectacular, after a while they too become cumbersome, and at a run time of two and a half hours – and I never thought I would say this about a superhero film – Man of Steel overstays its welcome by at least 20 minutes.

That said and done though, this version is still worth a watch on the big screen. For one it's way better than Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. It's evident that Nolan had a vision for this film, it's just that he's been let down in some departments. A hugely talented cast, the promise of a lighter sequel and some astounding special effects though all make this worthwhile.

But at the end of it all, I'm afraid to say, I still left the movie theatre a little underwhelmed, which is such a darned shame as I was expecting much more. So much more. I'm going with three stars for this one. Although Man of Steel flies. And does it rather spectacularly, both the boy in blue and this film never quite soar. Which is such a massive shame. 

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