Sunday, June 16, 2013

Man of Steel

As an unstable Krypton crumbles and is under attacked by the rebel commander General Zod (Michael Shannon), Jor-El and Lara (Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer) have just performed the first natural birth in eons. After encoding their son with their people's DNA, the hope for their race's survival, they set him on a course for Earth. There the boy is taken in by a genial smalltown Kansas couple (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner), saves some people, struggles with his unique ability, goes on a walkabout journey to discover his origins, meets a plucky, ambitious reporter (Amy Adams), etc. etc., before Zod's impending return. Zach Snyder's Man of Steel is a wooden film, made in the director's usual glossy and uninspired format, that seems like it is headed in the right direction and than goes way, way, way over the top in its second half. The story comes from Christopher Nolan (who also oversaw the project) and David S. Goyer, and they too share much of the blame for a clunky screenplay which features what feels like throwaway material or retreads from their Batman movies. Star Henry Cavill does seem right for the lead but they choose to totally sidestep the comic aspects of his character (I hated the Daily Planet angle here) and although Amy Adams is one of the best working actresses right now and Hollywood, and her performance is good here, I couldn't help but think that she is wrong for the part. Another misstep is concerning Michael Shannon, an actor of ferocious intensity, who again seems rightly cast but is severely underused. The paternal roles are well cast in the movie, Crowe is very good but perhaps figures in the film for too long and Costner is excellent as Jonathan Kent. I never thought I'd say this, but this movie made me somewhat appreciate Bryan Singer's lackluster 2006 misfire. At least that movie had a reverence for the early Christopher Reeves films. Here, Snyder doesn't know whether he wants to do a Chris Nolan movie, a Star Wars sequel (this is probably an audition) or his own ostentatious take, but Richard Donner and Richard Lester seem the furthest inspiration from his mind. I don't think the point is to remake those classic films but when your vision is so long, loud, bland, and even boring, than maybe it should be.