Note: The film was converted into 3D and the 3D doesn’t enhance the film at all. I recommend seeing the film in 2D, which I will be doing again this weekend. This is a spoiler-free review.
It’s hard to sit here and write a review when all I want to do is walk right back in the theatre and watch director Zack Snyder’s glorious Man of Steel all over again.
Yes, Henry Cavill is completely dreamy and watching him in that navy blue and red suit does make my heart ache just a bit, but the film exceeds in every level a superhero film should. It’s action-packed, has an incredible ensemble of talented actors, all of which have led their own films at one time or another, and above all, the film has more heart than anything else that’s come out this year. Heart is what transforms a summer blockbuster into memorable movie status.
Unlike the Batman, Spider-Man and Avengers origin films, Man of Steel is told in non-linear order; it’s risky, but is brilliantly done by screenwriter David S. Goyer with the help of co-storyteller Christopher Nolan. Nolan had an advantage with Batman Begins since no one had really tackled a full Batman origin story in a live feature film before. The director certainly brought his visionary and story telling talents to Man of Steel, which he co-produced as well.
Man of Steel begins on the Planet Krypton, where Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) are preparing to launch their newborn son Kal-El to Earth. Krypton was taken over by General Zod (Michael Shannon) and the parents knew their planet was doomed and wanted more for their son.
When the spaceship crash-lands in a Kansas field, it’s the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), who find baby Kal-El, name him Clark, and take him in as their own son. In non-linear fashion, the film jumps to a bearded and young adult Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), who wanders from town to town, lacking self-confidence and burying his superpower identity.
From there, Snyder gives us several flashbacks of Clark’s childhood, showing how Clark was bullied and how his powers saved the lives of many, even at a young age.
Snyder’s Superman reboot is brilliant because heavy action is balanced by the superhero’s journey of self-discovery. We get an equal balance of summer action fun and follow Clark as he discovers how he came to be on Earth. This Superman is sure to be the first of an amazing trilogy.
We’ve seen Henry Cavill before, in Showtime’s The Tudors and in 2011’s Immortals, but as the title role in Man of Steel, Cavill gives the breakout performance of the year. I swear, even when the actor doesn’t have lines, it’s some of the best acting I’ve seen all year. He completely understands and captures the emotional back-story of Clark Kent and his journey before wearing the suit.
Amy Adams also does great work here as Lois Lane. Adams’s Lane is no damsel-in-distress. In her very first scene, she enters badass territory telling off the guys who won’t allow her to see the spaceship. What’s great about Lois in this Superman film is that the screenplay actually allows her to do things besides fall out of a helicopter and have Superman catch her! Imagine that! Look out for the scene with Lois and Jor-El (Superman’s dad). She’s a complete badass.
As much as I adored Cavill and Adams in this film, the winner for best supporting role must go to Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Clark’s human father. Costner grounds the film and provides the story with a ton of heart, the most significant factor in making a superhero film a great one. It’s Costner’s character that teaches young Clark not to reveal himself to the world, until the word is ready for him. The theme of Man of Steel revolves around this character and it’s Costner that brings the theme to life. Every scene he is in is fantastic.
When Man of Steel ends, take a few minutes and sit through the entire end credits so you can listen to the beauty that is Hans Zimmer’s score. And make sure to take a breather because you’ve just been hit with one of the best films of the year.