Film review: Man of Steel (8 out of 10)

As a lad in the 1960s a lot of my early reading was based around what used to be called American Comics but are now Graphic Novels.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel

Superman was the ultimate hero figure, an all-powerful action man who was also a keen journalist.

I’m the latter but I never got near the former persona.

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There have been various attempts down the years to re-create Superman on the big and small screen.

Man of Steel

Until now, Christopher Reeve (at least in his first outing) has been the definitive man of steel, while the comparatively recent TV series Smallvile was a clever take on his early life.

Now. millions of dollars and a host of top actors have been brought in to raise the bar.

And that they certainly do.

Man of Steel is a massively long (143 minutes) and fully action-packed re-work of the subject.

It was fitting I watched it on Father’s Day (in a packed IMAX screen) as Superman is as much about father/son relationships as it is about good overcoming evil.

Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300, Sucker Punch) has produced a solid take on the story, although thankfully he steers away from the chronological life story.

The film does start on Superman’s home planet of Krypton with some breath-taking action and special effects that lay the foundations for the plot.

Channel Islander Henry Cavill plays Kal-El who is sent to Earth as his home planet Krypton explodes.

He is found by the Kents (played by Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) and brought up to respect and control his amazing powers.

However, Krypton’s General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his gang, having escaped Krypton’s downfall, seek out Kal-El for their own nefarious purposes.

This version of Superman attempts to give some scientific credence to the man of steel’s powers, although we do eventually move into the mumbo-jumbo realm.

The final action sequences are an assault on the senses as most of New York appears to be laid waste.

In fact, this is the film’s weakest part - just how many buildings, cars, tankers etc do we need to see wrecked to make the point?

It seems to be a recent theme in movies - smashing as much of a city to bits as possible.

Plus the 3D started off impressively but soon seemed a bit pointless and not really worth the effort.

Cavill is a good Superman, in the Christopher Reeve mould, and there are lots of solid performances from the likes of Costner, Lane, Amy Adams (Lois Lane) and Russell Crowe (Superman’s birth dad).

Snyder’s direction as Clark Kent attempts to find his place in society is nicely done, the subtlety being in complete contrast to the beginning and end.

There is, of course, plenty of scope for further Superman movies but it will be interesting to see how they get round the age-old problem - how can people not realise Clark Kent and Superman aren’t the same person?

Film details: Man of Steel (12A) 143 mins

Director: Jack Snyder

Starring: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Kevin Coster, Amy Adams,

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley

Steve Payne