Superman Returns…again. Man of Steel – Film Review

Is it a bird, is it a plane?…


Nope, it's our long anticipated review of DC Comic's latest venture in to the world of box office. Here's how Clarke Kent fared against our man on the ground, Ali Bianchi. 


Man of Steel (12A)

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon


After the relative flop of 2006's Superman reboot, DC Comics are now betting heavily on this latest iteration to be the saviour they are looking for to move them into a Marvel-esque masterplan of superhero spin-offs. Back into origin story territory, Man of Steel charts his escape from doomed planet Krypton, through his coming to terms with his new powers, and on to his showdown with Krypton baddie General Zod and crew.


While this is a firm reboot of the definitive Superman: The Movie, very few of the elements of the original remain. Gone is the playful, goofy, figure of Christopher Reeve's character. In his place is a much more moody, conflicted, but godlike hero, tormented by his powers, rather than revelling in them. Cavill certainly cuts an impressive figure, and on a visual level the film is a triumph. Krypton and its destruction act as a very effective introduction, while Superman's powers are given a real intensity and grounding.


With Christopher Nolan heavily involved in the project, it was certainly never going to be a LOL-fest, but the mood is unrelenting. Any half-hearted attempts at humour are lost in cliched dialogue and wooden delivery. Very few of the emotional beats hit home, dragged down by a plot that seems so intent on creating an adequate mythos for the Superman,  that it becomes bloated and unwieldy, with any attempts at love or pathos feeling flat and superficial.


A choppy first half gives way to a final act that is brimming with action sequences, veering terrifyingly close to the Micheal Bay school of "smash 'em, crash 'em and bash 'em". Sadly, even here the initially impressive fists fights lose their intensity, feeling like one set piece after another, each with diminishing returns.


Overall, we learn that Superman is really fast, and that he can hit really hard, which unfortunately seems to render his humanity a side issue. This is a shame, as so much of the joy of the original films is found in the Clark Kent persona – his relationship with Lois Lane, attempts to maintain his secret identity, being fully human yet fully alien – as opposed to his spandex-clad alter ego. The film is by no means a failure, but if this reboot is to enjoy the longevity and success of its Marvel counterparts, a little more heart and humour would go a long way. 


Rated: 3/5


Words by Ali Bianchi. Catch Ali and Adam's regular Film Clash podcast here.


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