MAN OF STEEL
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenwriter: David S. Goyer adapted from a story by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan - based on the Superman character created by Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster
Runtime: 143 mins.
Australian release date: 27 June 2013
The latest in the Superman franchise reunites David Goyer with Christopher Nolan, who successfully collaborated on the story and screenplay of yet another famous comic book character in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. In Man of Steel, they have taken Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel’s oft-told tale, stripped it back to its bare bones and re-built the kid from Krypton from the ground up. They have put real flesh and blood inside the suit (no longer worn with underpants on the outside!), which is now a heavy-duty hi-tech fabric that can withstand the forces that attack its occupant - and what forces they are! In this incarnation the orphaned Kal-El/Clark Kent experiences the same problems that many adoptees face when learning that their ‘parents’ are not their biological mother and father, even while recognising that he has been fortunate in being raised in a loving environment. His confusion is compounded by the fact that his earthly parents tell him that one day he will change the world, but that the world isn’t ready for him yet and, thus, he must hide his powers from humanity.
But let’s start at the beginning: when his home planet Krypton comes under threat, the infant Kal-El is sent to Earth in a pod by his parents Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Faora-Ul (the German actress Antje Traue) in an attempt to provide a ‘saviour’ for the future. He ends up landing on a farm near Smallville, Kansas, and being raised by Martha (Dianne Lane) and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner). Meanwhile, the evil General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his cohorts, swear to find the boy and retrieve the ‘Codex’ that was in the pod and contains the means of their survival. By the time they track him down, the young Kal-El has grown into the adult Clark Kent (Henry Cavill). Clark meets Lois Lane (Amy Adams), a journalist for The Daily Planet, when she is on assignment in Canada covering a story about the discovery of a strange craft that has been found lying deep in the Arctic ice. It is at this point that Lois learns of Superman’s extraordinary powers when she follows him into the spacecraft.
Once Zod and his gang appear the film goes into overdrive, using visual and special effects galore, including a significant contribution from New Zealand’s WETA workshop (the list of SFX credits is almost as long as the film!), and Hans Zimmer’s ear-splitting soundtrack fills the cinema, maximising the various battles between good and evil. The number of skyscrapers that come tumbling down is like a looped scene of 9/11 footage - at times it is so over the top that poor old Superman’s fists seem permanently clenched as he heads off once more into the fray. Henry Cavill plays a convincing Superman (he’s certainly got the jaw for it) but Amy Adams’s Lois is very slight. The best work is done by the ‘parents,’ Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane.
It’s all well done, if a little overwrought, but judging by the preview audience reaction, everyone was caught up in it. One punter inadvertently hit the nail on the head when asked at the Sydney premiere for a word association to follow ‘steel (steal),’ his response being simply ‘money’. There’s no doubt that Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel will be making plenty of that at the box office.