No one could argue that Henry Cavill isn’t handsome, but little of the charisma he demonstrated as Charles Brandon in The Tutors translates to his role of Superman in Man of Steel. Disclaimer: as far as superheroes go I consider Superman pretty white bread. The Christopher Reeves films did not change my perspective. The sad 2006 attempt at rebooting the film series (starring Brandon Routh) Superman Returns managed to make its protagonist even more like vanilla pudding in a plastic cup – and in this tale he fathered a child out of wedlock with the lovely Ms. Lane. In other words I do not entirely blame Cavill for making me imagine cotton-shaped sheep jumping over white picket fences while watching Man of Steel, I’m just saying his performance did not help.
Honestly, I am not trying to over emphasize how boring I found this movie, but the truth is that I started to write this review after seeing Steel while it was still in theaters and forgot about it. Now I do not remember most of it except to recall it was long and that the fight scenes went way, way too long. Seriously, a whole city is destroyed and all I wanted to do was stretch out and catch a few Zzzzs.
The film was directed by Zach Synder who made a name for himself with 300. He directed the super happy good-feeling oriented Watchmen (if you don’t know better, I jest). Christopher Nolan of Dark Knight fame, was a producer on Steel. High hopes were set after he won the approval/worship of the comic to film fan base with his interpretation of Batman – proving that a film series less than a decade old can be rebooted with great acclaim. God bless both dapper gents, they did try to make the man in the red cape darker but they kept his personality (along with something else) in a glass jar. Frankly I was more intrigued with Christopher Meloni’s Colonel Nathan Hardy than anything Mr. Man of Steel was up to.
For anyone who remembers Marlon Brando as Jor-El you will recall that his part, though pivotal, was relatively small. This time around Russell Crowe’s Jor-El has more screen time. I know that Crowe tends to divide audiences but I thought he was fine as Jor-El and actually wished that the whole film revolved around him because he felt livelier as an actor in comparison to some of his fellow thespians. I’m starting to warm up to Amy Adams as an actress, however her Lois Lane was blah. Kevin Costner (Papa Kent) seems content to be a supporting player within the realms of larger projects. Diane Lane was cast as Mrs. Kent who would have made a great impression in an action sequence if it didn’t go on and on and...at least she can take a licking and still keep ticking.
Speaking of the Kents, I thought it was a mistake for the film’s storyline not to include the now classic scene when the Kents found baby Clark. The whole thing about a toddler lifting a car oddly humanizes the man of steel and is classic Superman. Instead the audience is told how the Kents found their adopted son. Snore.
As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of city destroying going on in the narrative. The problem with trying to get as much bang for the 3D buck is that some filmmakers fall into the trap of thinking that blowing up more stuff is a great idea. Listen, I love things that go boom as the next person, however too much of a good thing leaves a bitter aftertaste. When poor Superman is beleagued from all sides, including the American military to General Zod and his minions, instead of feeling an excitement akin to a Saturday morning serial, the audience suffers from destruction fatigue.
I’m guessing the Hollywood powerbrokers realized there was a problem in Smallville so they making the jarring move of incorporating Batman into the Superman film series. It’s a risky move which stands to help the Man of Steel franchise while potentially hurting the Dark Knight legacy.
Man of Steel is set to be released on DVD on November 12th. There will probably be a director’s cut which usually means that an even longer version of the film will be available (yea!). It might play better on the smaller screen.