Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 12th 2013 Contents A36
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, June 12, 2013
It has been a black eye to Hollywood that
throughout this, the unending and increasingly
repetitive age of the superhero blockbuster, the
comics most iconic son has eluded its grasp like
a bird or, if you will, a plane.
New hopes of box-office riches and franchise
serials rests on Zac Snyder s 3-D Man of Steel, the
latest attempt to put Superman back into flight.
But Snyder s joyless film, laden as if composed of
the stuff of its hero s metallic nickname, has nothing
soaring about it.
Flying men in capes is grave business in Snyder s
solemn Superman. Man of Steel, an origin tale of
the DC Comics hero, goes more than two hours
before the slightest joke or smirk.
This is not your Superman of red tights, phone
booth changes, or fortresses of solitude, but one
of Christ imagery, Krypton politics and spaceships.
Who would want to have fun at the movies anyway,
when you could instead be taught a lesson about
identity from a guy who can shoot laser beams out
of his eyes?
Man of Steel opens with the pains of childbirth,
as Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) and husband Jor-
El (Russell Crowe) see the birth of Kal-El, the first
naturally born child in years on Krypton. The plan-
et--- a giant bronze ball of pewter, as far as I can
tell--- is in apocalyptic tumult (the disaster film has
gone intergalactic), and General Zod (Michael Shan-
non) attempts to take over power, fighting in bulky
costumes with Jor-El.
His coup is thwarted (though not before killing
Jor-El, who continues on in the film in an Obi-
Wan-like presence), and he and his followers are
locked away, frozen until Krypton s implosion frees
them. Baby Kal-El has been rocketed away with
Krypton s precious Codex, an energy-radiating skull.
Kal-El rockets to Earth, setting up not a Midwest
reprieve to the lengthy Krypton fallout, but a flash-
forward to more explosions. Our next glimpse of
Kal-El is as a young adult Clark Kent (the beefy
Brit Henry Cavill) aboard a fishing vessel on stormy
seas, where he---shirtless and aflame---saves the
crew of a burning oil rig.
At this point, your Codex may be spinning. Work-
ing from a script by Blade scribe David S Goyer
and a story by Goyer and Dark Knight director
Christopher Nolan, Snyder has clearly sought to
avoid some of the expected plotlines and rhythms
of the familiar Superman tale. There s a constant
urge to push the story to greater scale---a desperate
propulsion that will surely excite some fans but tire
The film hops back and forth from Clark s grown-
up life and his Smallville, Kansas, upbringing with
Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane
Lane). Costner, back among the corn stalks, makes
the strongest impression of the cast as a severe
father urging Kent to hide his gifts.
We re meanwhile introduced to Pulitzer Prize-
winning journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams), fresh
off a stint embedded with the military for the Daily
Planet. Adams, as she usually does, helps animate
the film, as she plunges into a bulldog investigating
of Clark and spars with her editor (Laurence Fish-
Snyder brings to the film a sure hand for overly
dramatic compositions that take after comic strip
panels. He has a clearly sincere reverence for the
source material (originally created in 1938 by writer
Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster). He s a filmmaker
who, even with his last film, the abysmal Sucker
Punch, seems to precisely make the movie he intend-
ed.Eager fans will likely thrall to the film s many
overlong action set pieces, as Superman battles
with Zod and his minions. There s little creativity
to the fight sequences, though, which plow across
countless building facades.
But Snyder doesn t have the material or the incli-
nation to make Man of Steel as thought-provoking
as Nolan s Dark Knight trilogy. Superman
wrestles with his allegiance to humans or
his home planet, but the quandaries of a
superpowered man betwixt worlds doesn t
have any real resonance. The gravity that
cloaks Man of Steel is merely an en vogue
While Snyder has succeeded in turning
out a Superman that isn t silly (not a small
feat) and will likely lay enough of a bedrock
for further sequels, it s a missed oppor-
tunity ---particularly with a bright cast of
Shannon, Adams and Lane---for a more
Cavill s performance is less memorable
for his introspective brooding than for his
six-pack (a fetish for Snyder, the director
of 300). He s handsome and capable, but
one can t help missing Christopher Reeve s
twinkle. At least he smiled.
The awkward acrobatics to modernize
Man of Steel are most evident with its
explanation of Superman s shield. The "S
doesn t stand for Superman, but is a Kryp-
ton glyph (an element first introduced in
the original 1978 film) now defined as rep-
resenting "hope." But if "S doesn t stand
for Superman, Man of Steel is the one
with the identity issues.
Man of Steel, a Warner Bros release, is
rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-
fi violence, action and destruction, and
for some language. Running time: 144
minutes. Two stars out of four.
• Motion Picture Association of
America rating definition for PG-13:
Parents strongly cautioned. Some
material may be inappropriate for
children under 13.
The leaden 'Man of Steel' doesn't soar
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