“Man Of Steel”
by Michael Walters
The Cantankerous Critic
Since Superman’s last two big screen creations were such disappointments, you can’t blame director Zach Snyder for starting all over again. And in “Man Of Steel,” the fresh approach works — kind of.
“Man Of Steel” takes us back to Krypton to cast Superman in a much darker light, more akin to the tortured psyche of Bruce Wayne than mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent.
The ruling council of Krypton has assured their own destruction by literally tapping into the planet’s core, so Superman’s father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) steals a mysterious skull called the colex, and sends it and his new baby off into the cosmos to escape certain destruction.
It takes Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) a while to find his cape and tights. Superman spends a good part of “Man Of Steel” running from responsibility like a teenager trying to avoid taking out the trash. In this case, the trash is the everyday problems of humans, and a renegade refugee from his home planet Krypton – General Zod (Michael Shannon)- bent on recreating Krypton on Earth.
Hot on Superman’s trail is Lois Lane, who comes across the mysterious man after an expedition uncovers an ancient Kryptonian spacecraft at the North Pole.
The film is told with occasional flashbacks to Clark Kent growing up in Smallville with his parents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), and it’s those flashbacks that are the heart of the movie. Costner, in particular, does fine work as he raises his adopted son to stand for truth, justice, and the American way. I would have preferred more of that real emotion to the digital carnage that followed.
Left to his own devices, director Zach Snyder can let style snuff out substance entirely. And while it’s fun to spot the Chicago locales subbing for the mighty city of Metropolis, Snyder lets the digital mayhem go on for what seems like days, punctuated by comically in-your-face product placement.
Also, the new CGI Superman lacks the weight and charm of his earthly predecessors onscreen. However, Snyder has been put under parental supervision of producer Christopher Nolan, who wants the audience to understand that being Superman isn’t all red capes and X-ray vision.
Amy Adams is a wonderful choice as an empowered smart Lois Lane, while Shannon’s General Zod isn’t quite as unsettling and awesome as he might be if he wasn’t drowned out by the decibel level of the digital mayhem surrounding him.
It’s not a perfect movie. It’s not even a great one, but “Man Of Steel” does put Superman on some solid footing to find a new more exciting adventure ahead.