As a film fan, there are few things more dispiriting than a much-anticipated film attracting a whiff of disappointment in the days ahead of release.

And, truth be told, that is exactly the type of vibe Man Of Steel has been getting this week, with early reviews pretty mixed.

But does Zack Snyder’s reboot deserve that shoulder-shrugging ‘meh’ of indifference?

Well, sadly, in many ways it does as although a quality superhero flick is alive and kicking here, it is buried below an avalanche of special effects and overly-noisy action sequences.

And it is all a massive shame, as at times Man Of Steel soars in ways I really hoped it would.

This is a different take on the Superman character than we have seen before, with much more emphasis on developments on Krypton and the reasons for Kal-El being sent to earth.

In fact, the opening 20 minutes or so are set on Krypton, with the villainous General Zod (played with relish by Michael Shannon) seeking to overthrow the ruling powers in a coup.


Zod and his armed goons are thrown off though by scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe), and the bad guys are packed off into a space prison.

Trouble is though, Zod’s fears that the politicians were destroying their planet prove very real, so Jor-El decides to send his newborn son to earth in a bid to protect their species.

We then switch to earth, with Snyder electing to use a series of flashbacks to show the now Clark Kent being raised by his adopted parents, played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane.

These scenes, which prove very effective, are mashed up with ‘present day’ footage which sees Henry Cavill’s Kent roaming the United States, moving on every time he has to use his powers in any way – in a manner that Dr Banner used to do in the much-loved Hulk TV series.

This is where the film really works, as the mix of emotive flashbacks and a partly-downbeat style really hit the spot.

But all that goes out of the window when Zod unsurprisingly escapes, tracks Kal-El to earth and sets his sights on capturing the Man Of Steel for the Krypton DNA he has within him.

To be fair, the action sequences that feature throughout are impressive enough, with epic scenes set on sinking oil rigs and the like.

But the problem is they become pretty relentless and repetitive, with the final 20 minutes or so a seemingly never-ending series of superhero smackdowns.

The whole thing becomes pretty exhausting and, just when you think things have come to an end, someone hauls themselves off the floor for yet another bout of fisticuffs.

Snyder seems to have a borderline obsession with creating as loud and chaotic a film as he can – and if that is what he wanted then it works.

But the ironic thing for a film that is so concerned with bombast is that things undoubtedly work best in the quiet moments – the scenes between Cavill and Crowe, Cavill and Costner and Cavill and Lane.


As Superman, Cavill certainly looks the part and he handles the physical elements with ease.

I’m still not totally sure of his ability as an actor though – but we’ll give him a pass this time round.

Costner, Lane and Crowe all deliver solid work and Shannon excels as Zod – exactly as intense and imposing as you would wish.

While Amy Adams is fine as Lois Lane the investigative reporter, there is precious little chemistry between her and Kent, which does not bode well for any planned follow-ups.

Whether Man Of Steel will fly at the box office or stall like Superman Returns did remains to be seen, but in my book this has to go down as a missed opportunity.

About The Author

Avatar photo

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle