In this battle of cinematic superhero dominance a clear divide has been made between the wildly different Marvel and Dc universes. The exuberant world of Marvel is a financially successful one appealing to everyone both old and young, expressing a softer more fabricated view on ‘superhero life’. Dc however couldn’t be more different, finding success in its beloved Dark Knight trilogy being extremely dark, gritty and realistic with its director Christopher Nolan being still undoubtedly clutched to, to aid the company to produce films of quality. With hope to replicate the trilogies success and widen the Dc universe to match Marvels ever expanding one, notorious superhero, Superman has now returned in Man of steel, seeing him fight his classic rival, General Zod with a gritty screenplay and the disposal of his kitsch red pants.
Prior to even his arrival on earth we are treated to Superman’s origins story seeing him blasted into the universe in an act of defiance from his parents as his planet Krypton comes under attack from the repressive General Zod (Michael Shannon) who opposes the natural birth of Superman (Henry Cavill) in favour of his more orderly system. Soon enough Superman lands on earth as the plot unfolds and he undergoes a journey discovering his purpose on earth. Whilst many superhero movies like to elaborate and over indulge in origin tales, here we are given the bare bones without the cheese and whimpering drama working heavily in the films favour as it fairly quickly gets it out of the way to make room for the more exciting, more important story at hand. Strong for the most part the film’s opening provides the energy necessary to fuel the rest of the explosive film, showing vast areas of Krypton unprecedented in the Superman franchise with huge amounts of money being spent on smooth CGI yet perhaps not enough on simple tripods to hold the cameras steady in scenes of much shaky annoyance.
These scenes of action are by no means only seen in the first act, oh… no, this opening sequence is simply the foundations by which the film builds its story and fantastic action set pieces. Used perhaps a little too much towards the end of the final act becoming quickly formulaic and contrived, these scenes were mostly hugely enjoyable seeing hovering battles between the two foes carried out with style and a fantastic soundtrack. Following in the footsteps John Williams is by no means an easy task; however Hans Zimmer does an excellent job in matching the films enormous scope with a soundtrack which makes you giddy with excitement every time it’s heard painting a rather huge smile on the faces of the audience. Perhaps expectedly the soundtrack however can barely compete against Williams original and this is certainly unaided by the sheer amount of times it’s used throughout the film, even in times when it doesn’t fit the action on screen it’s clumsily thrown in to almost comic effect. This is simply an irritating feature however in amongst truly riveting action scenes where a prominent sense of realistic peril is felt for each and every character both minor and major leaving you on the edge of your seat.
Consistently counterbalancing its successes throughout, Man of Steel lets itself down with a fairly poor script with thin character development for everyone but the protagonist. This leads for the love between him and renowned love interest Lois Lane (Amy Adams) to feel totally fake and subsequently disinteresting. The script is saved for the most part with terrific acting performances from the lead, Henry Cavill, filling the boots of Superman both visually and charismatically being suitably witty yet overwhelmingly confident with an impressive American accent to disguise his English origins stamping the seal of approval. Michael Shannon who fills the role of General Zod also does an impressive job but is undoubtedly burdened by his lack of screen time and poor script making him feel like an underused utility especially considering his outstanding acting credentials.
Is Superman super? Well no, not quite, but he’s certainly not a disappointment either being the superhero that Dc needed to kick-start their new set of films to rival Marvel after the conclusion to the Dark Knight series, being suitably dark yet extremely enjoyable. Yes the script is weak and yes is burdened with minor mistakes however Man of steel ultimately proved to be hugely entertaining despite its lack of a sustainable plot; it is quite simply bags of fun.
7/10- If you are able to brush past the films weaknesses a spine tingling and wildly epic tale of Superman can be found from his realistic origins to his action packed adolescence.