Review: Man of Steel

Henry Cavill as Superman Photo: Clay Enos

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to the Imax theatre but I made the effort to see the new Superman movie Man of Steel there and I was not sorry.

The 3D effects, especially in the first 15 minutes, are mind blowing. I felt like an awestruck child and had to restrain myself from distracting everyone with my loud oooohs and ahhhs.

If you are inclined to see this film, see it in 3D on the huge Imax screen because it is the best thing about the film.

Not that it’s a bad movie. Producer Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder have revamped the tale of the superhero familiar to generations of fans of the Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster Superman DC Comics, as well as the countless films and TV series since.

Photo: Warner Bros

There’s an evident effort made to make the superhero a flesh and blood character with the focus on the private story of Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman who was born on the dying planet Krypton and sent to Earth by his parents, Jor-El (Russell Crow) and Lara (Ayelet Zurer).

The David S Goyer screenplay is aimed  at modern audiences. Young Clark has a really hard time fitting in, Lois Lane is a bit of a feminist and, interestingly, Krypton is dying because they have depleted their natural resources to feed their energy hunger and the core has become unstable causing the planet to explode. A warning to us Earthlings?

Superman no longer wears his undies on the outside, instead sporting a rather attractive full body suit with his family crest, a giant ‘S’, emblazoned on his chest.

These changes make the film more accessible to present day audiences and iron out some of the more outlandish features of the original tale.

But they could easily have cut half an hour from the film, and added to its impact.  By about the third battle between Superman and General Zod the audience has fully understood the difficulty posed when an irresistible force meets an immovable object so all the fight scenes become wearisome.

The spectacular special effects impressed at first but eventually lost their impact: I was so bored at one point when super beings thrown with super force smashed so many skyscrapers that I started picking targets I wished they would demolish – for example the casino that came into view in one scene.

Photo: Warner Bros Pictures

That said, Henry Cavill was appealing as Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent. I was a huge Superman comics reader as a child so I was rather relieved by the implied suggestion that Lois Lane is aware of who Clark really is when he starts work at the Daily Planet. I could never accept that she couldn’t recognise him as Superman simply because he was wearing glasses.

Russell Crowe as Superman’s father Jor-El livened up the opening scenes so I was saddened to see him killed off so early. But do not fret: director Zack Snyder found a way to give him many more scenes in the film – and no, it’s not flashbacks.

Kevin Costner is the protective Earth-dad Jonathan Kent and Diane Lane is salt-of-the-earth mum Martha Kent. Their roles add depth to the character of their adopted son.

Amy Adams delivers a feisty Lois Lane (a little more feminist than I recall from the comics) and Michael Shannon is a complex foe as General Zod who has invaded Earth to create a new home for the former inhabitants of Krypton.

I really loved Laurence Fishburne in the role of Perry White, the stern but sharp editor of the Daily Planet.

Man of Steel 3D has been digitally re-mastered to provide crystal-clear images and digital audio.

This film is worth seeing in 3D: sit at the back and get ready to be awed.

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