Superman has always been the super hero that was very hard to reproduce since Christopher Reeve left an undying stamp on his portrayal of the Kryptonian. Reboots have never really been kind either, especially with Brian Singer’s unfortunate attempt at Superman Returns. Knowing that Christopher Nolan had his nose stuck into this brand new attempt with Zack Snyder, there was hope and high expectations because of the huge success of the Batman/Dark Knight trilogy that Christian Bale satisfyingly gave to us as Batman/Bruce Wayne. Then came along the cast, a huge cast at that, including Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Lawrence Fishburne, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, Diane Lane and not forgetting Superman himself, Henry Cavill (who’s squared jaw line and handsome, chiselled features make it seem like he was literally born to play this role). It was destined to be a great film right?
The plot is fairly simple; the planet Krypton is dying because of its unstable core and their council is under a huge threat from General Zod and his followers. Scientist Jor-El and his wife had just conceived the planet’s first natural born child in centuries, so to save him, he sends their son Kal-El on some sort of spacecraft headed straight to earth, where the Kents (Costner and Lane) take him in as their own and discreetly hide’s his unusual powers from the world. 33 years later, General Zod goes looking for Kal forcing him to reveal his true identity to save not only earth, but mankind.
The film and story is very patient and doesn’t jump straight into seeing the suit. It’s fair enough to compare it to Batman Begins as it dwells a lot on the story, a very strong element for this reboot, although it’s not as slow as Batman Begins. You get to learn a lot about the father figures in Clark’s life and experience the struggles he has whilst growing up with these super powers that just don’t sit well on earth (with the use of flashbacks). It’s a very rich and deeply filled story, something we haven’t really experienced with the Superman saga (the fact that it’s not an ‘S’ and is a symbol that stands for hope is serious enough). This also changes the game and gives us a great beginning to what seems to be a promising legacy.
Unlike past representations of Superman, Cavill’s version is a very solid, charming mix between the TV series Smallville and Christopher Reeve’s 1970’s version. Straight away, Cavill definitely has the physical appearance of what Superman should look like, though his portrayal is far more serious, as it is a very serious film. There’s no doubt Cavill nailed the man of steel and is the best one we’ve had for a very long time. Cavill mentioned in an interview that he had waited 10 years for this role, but to be honest, really we’ve waited 10 years for him to suit up.
Michael Shannon’s version of General Zod is very steady and fierce, without Terrance Stamp’s tight witted lip. Shannon is sturdy and powerful, adding that bit of evil to the screen. The only downfall is the character of Lois Lane. Amy Adams is obviously a fantastic actor; however her portrayal of Lane didn’t sell. She’s not sassy and feisty like she’s supposed to be. Lacking in humour is understandable because as said before, it’s quite a serious film, but there’s just no “Bazinga” quality to her character (please excuse The Big Bang Theory reference) There’s also not really much chemistry between Clark and Lois until near the end. She’s just really interested to find out who he is. It was a nice touch when you do see the tiny bit of chemistry between the two nearer to the end of the film, but without knocking it, hopefully this will improve in the future sequels.
Other than the really strong background story, the way the film looks is amazing .The surroundings, Superman himself with his detailed, modern costume, flying around, using his super powers, all were visually impressive. The fight scenes were also crafted beautifully with the fantastic camera angles and the feel of a hand held camera, so it felt like you were right there in the action. This was a stand out moment throughout the film. The CGI was great and the 3D visuals came in very well with Superman’s stunts. It is very cinematic and a big film, with a great score by Hans Zimmer behind it.
Overall, Snyder, Nolan and Cavill sold it. It is a very realistic, serious yet brilliant take on the DC super hero, with a few jokes to crack a smile here and there though abandoning the comicy elements of which previous Superman films may have touched on a bit more. There is also a very suited ending for us to look forward to the sequels.
Henry Cavill is the Man of Steel.
4 out of 5 Stars