The cast list is incredible for this film – Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Richard Schiff, Michael Shannon, the list goes on and from them you have a large clutch of Oscars and other major awards flowing over the sides from the screen talent alone. So why is the film such a disappointing bore?
I have to hold my hands and say that Superman is not one of my favourite superheroes because I find the idea of someone with that much power and abilities to be a fairly difficult character to empathise with in the first place – but as this was a genesis film I had hoped that the development of character would allow us the audience to see him as the outsider he should be and be able to relate to him more. Because the story is told through flashbacks this young alien coming to terms with his heritage was lost among the usual superhero clichés. That is the more interesting story and perhaps more focus on his upbringing rather than General Zod’s plans to turn Earth into the new Krypton it would have been a better balance.
The other issue, and it may be sexist to say so, but the over-involvement of Lois Lane as a main protagonist and central to every action scene was both unbelievable and unnecessary. I don’t just want a damsel in distress, but the fact that she is always there seemed to add more to the stuffed narrative than was needed. Henry Cavill comes across well, but the lack of character development left him as a two dimensional block of muscles with little emotion or area for a relationship to be built between him and the audience. Being muscly and good looking is not enough for a modern day superhero and with the humanity of Marvel superheroes I’ve always had difficulty caring for the DC big two of Batman and Superman. Batman’s strength has always been in the quality of the baddie and not the powers of the caped crusader; here the baddie was sub par.
Chris Nolan is on producing duty on this film and with what he achieved with the Batman Trilogy I’d hoped for more. In Batman Begins we empathized and were on the side of Bruce Wayne because of the tragedy in his life and this allowed us to just sit back and enjoy the two follow up films. I wouldn’t be bothered if I saw another of this franchise. Another bone of contention is the hour at the end which is just a collection of CGI effects – explosion, spaceship, Superman flying, building collapses, explosion: Repeat for an hour. The film needs to decide if it is a superhero movie which shows the life of its lead or a fun knockabout action film and it managed neither. During this never ending fight between Kal-el and Zod we’re supposed to see the struggle inside our hero as he tries not to kill the villain but instead show him the error of his ways – instead you get explosion, spaces… In the end the death of Zod is underwhelming and dare I say a pathetic end to an expensive and boring three hours of my life.
These are great actors who, in the circumstances, do all right with what they’ve been given but it’s such a weak hook in the first place to hang the idea on. The lack of warmth or humour in the script leaves you cold towards everyone – even the death of Jonathan Kent which should really be tugging at the heart strings (and f*cking ridiculous as well how he goes – seriously?). Having watched my fair share of superhero movies in the last decade or so this falls well short of the current standard from the Spider-man Trilogy to the new reboot of the arachnid superhero, Iron-Man’s brilliantly over the top and funny portrayal and the clever approach to the X-Men franchise that has seen several different movies but all doing a good job at entertaining the audience.
Man of Steel is one of those few occasions I’ve wanted to walk out of a cinema because I was bored – the other times were Blair Witch Project and Titanic . Disappointing? Yes, but as Superman is not a great character in the first place it was not unexpected.