Film / Theatre Reviews - Reviews

Man of Steel – Triumph or Washout?


There are mixed reports circulating the blogosphere with many flat out flunking Zack Snyder’s attempt to shape the controversial Superman franchise. Man of Steel has a dream team of Hollywood’s elite behind it but could it be a case of too many cooks?

It’s easy to see where this film fails and the problem seems to lie almost solely with the direction. The pace of the film is completely off; a labored and awkward introduction eats into the film’s running time creating a knock on affect on the overall development of the plot. Throughout the film, time is allocated to things that don’t seem to really matter, while other more intriguing aspects are left underdeveloped or maybe for the viewer to interpret. This makes the storyline seem convoluted and dull in parts, when in fact it isn’t. At the core of the film is a thoroughly interesting take on the origin story of Clark Kent, courtesy of screenwriter David S. Goyer (Blade, The Dark Knight Rises) and producer Christopher Nolan. However, one aspect of the film that’s handled exceptionally well and tastefully is the story of young Clark. The father son relationship between Clark and his father played (immaculately) by Kevin Costner is really moving and offers a real insight into how he develops into the hero he eventually becomes, where he learns that compassion. 

Sure the plot development may not be its strong point but thankfully that doesn’t take from how incredibly well acted and cast this film is. Amy Adams is particularly endearing as Lois Lane, witty and disarming she assumes the role with total confidence. Michael Shannon is sufficiently unsettling as villain General Zod, every bit as unnerving as his performance in Revolutionary Road. It’s intriguing to see Laurence Fishburne take on the role of Perry White while Russell Crowe succeeds in making the somewhat unreadable Jor El quite a compelling character. Last but not least, it must be admitted that Henry Cavill upstages everyone as Superman. He quite literally brings one of DC’s best loved and classic super heroes down to earth, making him relatable and intriguing as a character. Cavill’s Superman is not just another one dimensional super hero. Maybe that’s what the most enjoyable aspect of this film is, the elaborate action sequences are at times excessive and take from the plot but Cavill’s performance continuously grounds the film.

It seems flawless casting, stunning costume and set design, and spectacular effects are let down at times by poor decision making on Snyder’s behalf. We are referring to the man behind 300 and Watchmen, although enjoyable the same problems crop up in all three films. The core of the story is often neglected or compromised for a token blockbuster moment. In other words, at times watching something directed by Zack Snyder almost feels like watching something directed by a kid in an arcade. While he seems to be gunning for more explosions, essential pieces of information are often skimmed over or left out altogether.

While it might feel like we’re watching a film with conflicting direction (perhaps too many ideals colliding with the likes of Snyder, Nolan and Goyer all on board at once) it’s still thoroughly enjoyable and almost outshines the likes of The Dark Knight Rises in parts. It’s beautifully acted, the cinematography is incredible and it’s a shame it falls a bit flat at times. If you’re a Superman fan (or ever were) then you’ll find something in this. Don’t miss it on the big screen.

is also a presenter on RTÉ 2XM and contributor to the likes of BBC Across The Line and State Magazine.