Film review: action dominates new Superman movie
Man of Steel
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon
Director: Zack Snyder
About three-quarters of the way through Man of Steel, Clark Kent's adopted home of Smallville is virtually decimated by the nemesis of his alter-ego, Superman. There are monster explosions galore, spaceships bouncing off buildings, and Superman spearing through the air, flinging aside alien invaders.
The sense is that this is the final denouement, a poetic justice in Superman returning to protect the town and family that gave him refuge. But, no, it isn't over. There's another big battle scene. And then another.
Director Zack Snyder's reimagining of Superman is as big and loud and racy as you might expect it to be, knowing the filmmaker's "more-is-more" aesthetic. The action is so relentless that you have to gasp for breath. That's great if you're a 12-year old boy, but for the rest of us, maybe not so much.
Which is not to say that Man of Steel isn't a terrific movie. Snyder isn't one to do things by halves, and casting, the costumes and the sets are all spot on.
The story stays more or less true to the original: on the eve of the destruction of the planet Krypton, a baby named Kal-El is shoved in a space pod and sent off into the ether, his parents knowing their death is at hand.
He lands in an American farming town, where a childless couple, played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, bring him up. Fast forward a few decades, and the evil overthrower of Krypton, General Zod (Michael Shannon), comes to find Kal-El for something called the Codex, threatening the destruction of earth unless Superman is delivered to him.
Henry Cavill, the tall, dark and handsome British actor, was a perfect choice for the lead role, bringing his brooding, low-key pensiveness to the part of the conflicted do-gooder and saviour of all mankind.
Amy Adams is Lois Lane, a respected reporter at the Daily Planet who meets Superman as Clark Kent while she is on assignment. Lane eventually figures out who and what he is, and then the sparks fly.
Some scenes are riveting: Kent standing by, helplessly, while someone dear is taken from him, compelled to keep his powers a secret; Kent as a boy, when his X-ray vision kicks in; being bullied one minute and saving the lives of his friends the next; coming to the rescue then going into hiding, a buff-chested warrior living in the shadows.
Unfortunately, these subtle moments are somewhat overwhelmed by action sequences. Every superhero movie needs its good-versus-evil showdown ... but half a dozen times?
Snyder's Sucker Punch (2011) was loaded with fighting scenes, and it left viewers cold. Although he tones down his predilection for mayhem in Man of Steel, the story barely escapes going missing in action.
Man of Steel opens on June 27