Superman has been reborn, and from hereon shall be known as the Man of Steel – at least according to Warner Bros. Pictures new CGI heavy extravaganza. Forget anything you think you know about Clark Kent and his alien alter-ego, as this latest interpretation starring Brit heartthrob Henry Cavill as Superman and the versatile Amy Adams as the spirited Lois Lane, turns everything that has gone before on its head.
Growing up in rural Kansas, Clark Kent knows there’s something different about him. It’s only after the death of Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner), the man he believed to be his father, that Clark begins to discover his true origins, and his role in the future of mankind.
If the human race wants to fight the threats, in whatever form, which will inevitably face them in the future, it could do worse than to look beyond the stars for a saviour, or so it would seem if director Zack Snyder’s new vision of the Superman legend is to be believed. From the opening scenes where the newborn Kal-El (later known as Superman / Man of Steel / Clark Kent – take your pick) is sent by his father Jor-El (a regally rugged Russell Crowe) from his home on the planet Krypton to Earth, in order to save both his own race and that of mankind from possible extinction, the film drowns in a sea of quasi-religious imagery, climaxing as the adult Superman floats through space arms outstretched messiah-like as he heads towards Earth for what could be Armageddon.
This however is also where the film’s main weakness lies. There is never any real question that Superman will overcome the threat – in the form of the evil Kryptonian renegade General Zod (Michael Shannon) – to the future of civilisation as we know it. As a result the final confrontation on Earth between the two aliens seems unnecessarily prolonged, and for little reason other than to show the filmmakers’ prowess at special effects.
Though obviously, by dint of its name, the film is meant to focus on the person of Superman, he is in reality one of its least interesting characters. Though Cavill looks the part, his ripped physique appearing almost alien-like in all its pumped-up glory in his glistening, skintight suit, he is required to do little more than smoulder (which he does frequently as he burns through anything and everything with his laser sight). Instead Lois Lane, the feisty reporter and Superman’s possible ‘love interest’ for future installment (which are already rumoured), comes across as much stronger. Yes she may continually get herself into scrapes which require her to be rescued by her new godlike boyfriend just in the nick of time. However as a journalist this is part of the territory, and Adams brings Lane a zesty fearlessness which makes her an equal partner (in as far as any mere human could be) with the ‘Man of Steel’.
Unfortunately, though visually arresting in places, Man of Steel lacks the metal to make it stand out amongst the abundance of superhero movies currently flooding the market.