directed by Zack Snyder
I was dubious of this new Superman movie from the outset. I absolutely love the character, the idea of Superman, and I as much as anyone yearned for a vital new chapter in the canon (even a reboot would suffice). Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns from 2006 is respectable in many ways, but it lacked a certain life, optimism, zest. So when I heard the meritless (and inexplicable Hollywood darling) Zack Snyder was on board to helm this new installment, my dreams seemed dashed. I worried so for my beloved Superman. I worried that the noble protector would be savagely reduced to a swinging dick aggressor who treats women only marginally less despicably as his morally vacuous nemeses. The glimmer of light that was Christopher Nolan’s stake in the works helped give me a sliver of hope, for if anyone could check Snyder’s alpha-male egomania and testosterone-addled hyperviolence, it would be Mr Nolan. [Note: I am not chipping away at Snyder’s ability to set a scene and craft action, because he is very competent at it. I am just arguing that context, subtlety and maturity seem scarce commodities in a Snyder movie.] Alas, Man of Steel finds itself floundering in under-thought storytelling, virtually non-existent character development and synapse-pummeling action that overstays its welcome, all of which is made worse by grim realization that Man of Steel shortchanges its audience by borrowing empathy from the grand Superman myth rather than attempt to generate its own ethos.
For shame, Misters Snyder, Goyer and Nolan.
That being said, I did not hate it. Thanks to the superb work of Michael Shannon, Amy Adams and Henry Cavill, I had something to care about. Poor Amy Adams, such a fine actress plagued by the Zack Snyder malady of having nearly nothing to do but be saved by a man (double for shame, Mr S), but she found a way give her shadow of a character grit and tenacity (bravo, Ms A). Thanks to Amir Mokri, the movie does looks great, and Henry Cavill really is a fantastic Superman, but the exhausting action sequence that hijacks the last third of the film begins as exhilarating (even I always wanted a Superman with teeth) and just goes on and on and on. It’s relentless, which doesn’t have to be bad, but it also reveals itself to be equally toothless in its overblown way as no character ever really gets hurt from the trade of titanic, city leveling blows. The noise and the camera work and the violence all seem to mute each other over time, like living in a city until the sound of sirens and horns and car wrecks don’t even register anymore.
But seriously, I didn’t hate it. It has its problems (that dog/tornado scene is stupid screenwriting at its height), but I would still be interested to see what else Henry Cavill and Christopher Nolan can bring to the table. But Mr Nolan, I would recommend shedding yourself of Zack Snyder, for his is the way to catastrophe (i.e. Sucker Punch).