Man of Steel Review
Zack Snyder’s best film to date
Warner Bros. sure knew what they did when they hired Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception) to godfather their Detective Comics franchises. Christopher Nolan sure knew what he did when he hired Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) to helm the 2013 Superman origin reboot Man of Steel. Nolan’s keen, cinematic eye led to hand-picking the director of two previous graphic novel-to-film adaptations (Dark Horse Comics’ 300 and DC’s Watchmen), director Snyder himself. Snyder’s last film, 2011’s Sucker Punch, was a critical and box office disappointment. However, one cannot deny the fantastical and action elements of Sucker Punch to have found influence from Snyder’s previous graphic novel adaptations. At this point in his career, one could say Snyder is becoming a “type” director due to his gravitation toward graphic novel-related material. However, Snyder redeems himself for his last project with his latest film, Man of Steel.
Snyder, taking a step from Nolan, inundated his film with talent: cast, music, cinematography and writing. The heart of this film is its cast and the supernatural score takes it to the next echelon of going to the movies. Hans Zimmer’s bold, unyielding score dares to surpass John Williams’ original Superman score — a theme as triumphant as the film’s lead. The lead, Henry Cavill (Immortals, The Cold Light of Day), further perpetuates that Brits make the best super hero actors in a list beginning with Christian Bale. Cavill’s performance is everything it needs to be in every scene — and that’s largely due to a perfect chemistry with Snyder. The flight scenes are intense, the flashbacks are teary, the Lois scenes are charming and the fight scenes are brutal. Cavill presents a vulnerable, tragic hero that the audience can’t help but root for no matter what happens.
The supporting cast doesn’t fail either. Academy Award-nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Take Shelter) serves as Superman’s greatest threat and perhaps greater plot developer, General Zod. Shannon brings his trademark intensity to each and every shot, terrifying the viewer of Zod’s will. Academy Award-nominee (The Master, Junebug) Amy Adams plays Lois Lane, a devoted journalist whose fate intertwines with Superman’s. Academy Award-winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator, L.A. Confidential) plays Jor-El (and a fit, butt-kicking change-up to obese, late-1970s Brando), birth father of Superman while Academy Award-winner Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves, “Hatfields and McCoys”) plays Jonathan Kent, Superman’s adoptive father on Earth. Other Academy Award-nominees running out the cast include Diane Lane (Unfaithful, Killshot) and Laurence Fishburne (What’s Love Got to Do with It?, “Hannibal”).
The film begins on Krypton, Superman’s home planet, in an extended action sequence not unlike one out of the Star Wars prequels with space ships, lasers, cloaks, beards, droid-assisted birth, planet destruction, et cetera. Superman is obviously presented as a Christ-like figure throughout the film — in fact, there is brief mention in the film to his existence challenging the belief in any religion. He constantly turns the other cheek, makes the right decision, defies gravity and is always in position to give everything he has for the greater good. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film is Shannon’s General Zod, a villain not unlike Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. Zod leads a group with superior feelings toward mankind and demands a deathly cost. He is a terrorist who stands to gain more than just support to his cause by invading Earth in search for the son of Jor-El.
Zack Snyder presents his best film to date with Man of Steel: a film that offers a triumphant score from Hans Zimmer, a brilliant cast lead by a perfect Henry Cavill and the potential to maintain an entertaining and successful film franchise to fill the void left by the Harry Potter franchise and the Dark Knight trilogy. With Man of Steel, Snyder has tapped into his sci-fi side as well as his father-son side to complement his knack for creating excellent action sequences.